Church choirs, hangover cures, avant-garde dance.
“Hightail it up to the Roosevelt Island tram—you can use your MetroCard—and go to the Noguchi Museum. Taking the tram is how Noguchi used to get to his museum. It lets you off at Roosevelt Island, where there’s the beautiful Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park (1 FDR Four Freedoms Park, Roosevelt Island), designed by the architect Louis Kahn about 40 years ago, that only opened recently. It’s two long corridors that form a V pointing to the East River. The sweeping vistas are so fantastic. From there you can take this little bus that circles Roosevelt Island, and it lets you off at the bridge that leads you into Astoria. It’s a short walk to the Noguchi Museum (9-01 33rd Rd., at Vernon Blvd., Long Island City; 718-204-7088), which is this tranquil spot with a beautiful sculpture garden. You’re like, ‘Am I really in New York?’ ” —Laura Wills, owner of Screaming Mimi’s
“The music at Saint Thomas Church (Fifth Ave. at 53rd St.; 212-757-7013) is absolutely extraordinary. The choir is, I think, the best in the city. The choral Eucharist service on Sunday is outstanding. You don’t have to go for religion—go for the music. And for the fashion: It’s a mix of both very classic, British-feeling tweeds and other staid outfits alongside the eccentric New York City people in their big hats. While they’re listening to the service, I’m usually sketching the people I see.” —Maira Kalman, artist
“The Ziegfeld Theatre (141 W. 54th St., nr. Seventh Ave.; 212-765-7600) in midtown is a giant old twenties-style movie house—it has almost 1,200 seats—where they hold a lot of premieres and events, but they still have screenings where you can just walk up and buy a ticket on the spot. See something huge that you would want to see on the Ziegfeld’s gigantic screen (the Metropolitan Opera screens its Live in HD events there; The Wolf of Wall Street, fittingly, played there recently). But the event of seeing something at the Ziegfeld is so unique that it almost doesn’t matter what you see. It’s also a great place to recover from a hangover.” —Michael Chernus, actor
“Go see a movie at the IFC Center (323 Sixth Ave., at 3rd St.; 212-924-7771) and then watch a pickup basketball game at the West 4th court across the street. On the weekends, that’s when the leagues come out. I think that basketball is the most beautiful sport; the athleticism reminds me of Baryshnikov. It’s dance, in my estimation. I’m going to go see the Nets play in a couple of weeks, but it’s a totally different experience watching people at West 4th. Watching those games with a makeshift crowd feels so New York.” —Annie Clark, a.k.a. St. Vincent, musician
“The history of downtown is what makes New York City such an exciting place, so I would take anyone from out of town to a dance performance at Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church (131 E. 10th St., nr. Second Ave.; 212-674-8112). St. Mark’s is this beautiful church that’s been used by the downtown avant-garde scene since the sixties. It’s a real community anchor. It houses the spirits of Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham, John Cage and Merce Cunningham, as well as present-day dancers, because this beautiful space was a meeting place then for an extraordinarily inventive community and still is today. Really, you can go any night of the week. The program is always excellent.” —RoseLee Goldberg, director and curator of Performa
“I mean, being in New York, even as a Puerto Rican, but who was married to a Jew, Jewish deli food is very important in my life. So a morning visit to Zabar’s (2245 Broadway, at 80th St.; 212-787-2000) is a real must-do. My favorite thing, when I used to live across the street, was to listen to a woman, a very New York–y woman, saying, ‘Give me a nice piece of flounder!’ As opposed to what, a rotten piece of flounder? Such a Jewish thing! And I’ll tell you a wonderful thing that happened to me at Zabar’s. I was in line at the front of the counter, and they’re playing Muzak, and at one point they were playing a beguine, and the gentleman next to me looks at me, I look at him, and without saying a word, we start partner-dancing! And when it was over, we went back to the nice piece of fish. I love having lunch at the Modern (9 W. 53rd St., nr. Sixth Ave.; 212-333-1220), the Museum of Modern Art’s restaurant, just because it’s very elegant. The food is good—I’m not going to say it’s fantastic—but the atmosphere is pretty fabulous. And, oh! The Museum of Modern Art shop! I’m a real shopgoer at all museums. Another thing I never get tired of is visiting St. John the Divine (1047 Amsterdam Ave., at 112th St.; 212-316-7540). It absolutely rivals any of the glorious cathedrals in Europe. I just walk through the whole thing slowly, and that takes a whole afternoon. For Puerto Rican food, I like Sofrito (400 E. 57th St., nr. First Ave.; 212-754-5999). They’re very, very good. They make mofongo. Doesn’t that sound like a dirty word? “Hey, up your mofongo!” Mofongo is simply mashed fried plantains which have tiny bits of crispy, crispy pork and garlic. It sounds weird, but it is so good you just want to die. —Rita Moreno, actress