Best Reason to Hail a Cab: The C Train
Morning commuters are getting restless as they shift their weight back and forth on the Upper West Side's 72nd Street subway platform, waiting for a train they feel may never come. "This just makes me crazy," one woman exclaims, tapping a black patent leather heel and shaking her head. Maybe that's why they named it the C train, or maybe it's because of the creeping, crawling way it snakes through subway tunnels, like Charon's doomed ferry steering through the underworld-when it finally does decide to show up. Tying for the worst of the 18 subway lines as rated by NYPIRG's Straphangers Campaign in their 2011 "State of the Subways" report card, the C has the least daytime service and breaks down more than any other line. But at least it's clean and you're likely to get a seat after all that heel tapping-probably because no one else wants to ride it.

Best Place to Rediscover the Comics and Memorabilia of Your Youth: Forbidden Planet
840 Broadway (at E. 13th St.),
Have you ever found yourself walking toward Union Square and suddenly noticed a plastic Yoshi staring at you from a nearby shop? That would be Forbidden Planet, and beyond its doors is an impressive collection of comic books, manga and graphic novels. However, Forbidden Planet is perhaps best known for its multimedia-themed collectibles and merchandise. From apparel to toys to posters to virtually whatever, Forbidden Planet is a treasure trove of products to keep your closet geek at bay. But if merchandise and memorabilia don't completely satisfy your nostalgic needs, the store also hosts regular in-store appearances and signings by comic book authors, illustrators and the like. After all, the only thing more appealing to your inner geek than an out-of-production Wolverine action figure is one that has been signed by someone from Marvel Comics.

Best New Public Transportation: East River Ferry
The subway is hot and crowded and the bus can be unreliable, but thanks to this year's latest transportation innovation, The East River Ferry, getting around Manhattan, or even to far-flung destinations like Queens or Governors Island, can be easy, cheap and scenic. A $4 ride, which you can pick up at East 34th Street or Pier 11 in the Financial District, will shuttle you quickly to a number of spots, from Williamsburg to Dumbo or even Long Island City, with the oddly is-this-really-New-York-City feeling of being on a boat. On nice days the decks are the place to be, taking in the sun and watching the East River glisten almost as if it was the Mediterranean. On less pleasant days, stay indoors and thank your lucky stars that you're not shoved into a speeding box with a thousand other wet, unhappy commuters. Besides fostering an appreciation for the waterfront we never had before, the ferry has made heading to hard-to-reach parts of town a snap and made everyday city life a bit more like a day trip. In our experience, nautical garb only makes the journey more pleasant.

Best Picnic Area in Central Park: West 100th Street near the pool
Let's face it: Central Park is too damn crowded, at least during the times you want to be there. But the tourists haven't yet figured out that the park extends north of the reservoir, so enjoy the space while it lasts. There are quite a few nice spots up there to spread a blanket and take off your shoes, but none better than facing the pool, the charming pond near the park's northwest corner that receives more shade than any of the main lawns, where rushing waterfalls provide the background noise.

Best Place to Meet the Knicks: The Sky Room
330 W. 40th St., 33rd Fl. (betw. 8th and 9th Aves.), 212-380-1195
There's a world above our world in Manhattan; from the street, The Sky Room (on the rooftop of a Times Square building) blinks like a distant star. But the trip up costs only your coat (they often lose it), and when you pop up on the sky top, you may, depending on the day, feel like an alien-a midget among Knicks. But they're gentle giants, and you'll soon relax. And marvel: from the Sky Room's sky-nested deck bar, Manhattan glitters like red, green and gold star shards, a metropolis unlike the one you live in. And looking down at this other Manhattan-and up at the tall, tall men-can even be affordable; just order a soda.

Best Park for Live Music: Washington Square Park
Steve Earle walks his dog here, and Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas can occasionally be seen pushing a stroller under Washington Square's massive white arch, but it's the impressive and varied assortment of amateur and semi-professional musicians that make this West Village park the best spot for live (and free!) music. Drum circles, impromptu acoustic jam sessions and staged sets from jazz-infused NYU trios set the soundtrack for an afternoon around the Square's fountain. Sure, Central Park's SummerStage brings in the big name acts, but without stilts and a pair of binoculars, you'll have a hard time getting a glimpse of the action at those jam-packed sweat fests. Instead, head over to Washington Square on an early Sunday afternoon, snag a bench or a spot by the fountain and open your eyes (people watching opportunities abound) and ears to the musical majesty awaiting.

The Best Place to Use the Restroom in NYC: Times Square Marriott
1535 Broadway (at 45th St.), [](
The lines for the bathrooms can be outrageous during the intermissions of Broadway shows. Homeless people have populated the restrooms of Starbucks. So where is someone in the know supposed to duck in for the bathroom? Try the Marriott Marquis' second-floor bathrooms. Clean and well-populated with stalls and urinals, the Marriott is close enough to the majority of Broadway theaters to make standing in an endless line unnecessary.

Best Place to Rescue a Smaller Dog: Bideawee
410 E. 38th St. (betw. FDR DR.

Best Bookstore: McNally Jackson
52 Prince St. (betw. Lafayette and Mulberry Sts.),
This bilevel Soho book mecca is always packed, and that shouldn't be surprising. It's stocked with a large but well-curated selection of books, from fiction to travel guides and cookbooks, and boasts an impressive selection of readings, in-store book clubs and seriously good-looking patrons. There's even a coffee shop off to the side of the main level in case you find yourself under-caffeinated or unable to leave the store without tearing into your new purchase. What's most appealing about McNally, though, is the feeling of shopping at a locally owned store that's not at all lacking in selection. There are none of the impersonal touches that chain stores can have and all of the New York charms they could never cultivate if they tried. Sure, you can order any book you'd like online, but the experience of shopping at McNally is more than worth the effort.

Best Record Store: Other Music
15 E. 4th St. (betw. Broadway and Lafayette St.), 212-477-8150
Most people are downloading their music these days, whether they're buying it on iTunes or downloading it illegally. But if you're looking to buy records-yes, the good old-fashioned kind-or CDs, Other Music in NoHo is the place to go. Staffed by knowledgeable if slightly aloof young people who seemingly live in hip Brooklyn rock clubs, the shop stocks not only the best in new, must-have music but a nice collection of used LPs and CDs that are discounted in price and offer a bit more eclectic a selection. The real secret about Other is that while the staff can seem a bit too cool, they're actually quite helpful, whether you're looking for the newest release from a practically unheard of band or something a bit more mainstream. If you've ever missed the classic record store experience or found yourself looking for something that hasn't yet hit the store that lives in your computer, give Other Music a spin.

Best Reason Not to Miss Law and Order: All TV Shows Still Filming in New York
Some of them (The Good Wife) use New York to stand in for some place else. Some of them (Boardwalk Empire) film in New York to evoke days of yore. And some of them (Bored to Death, Damages, Gossip Girl, White Collar) take advantage of their filming location to show off the Big Apple's many trendy and hidden sites in all their glory. All of them, mercifully, provide employment for the many local performers who feared they'd lost a home when the Dick Wolf evergreen came tumbling down in 2010. And as a result, terrific actors like Jayne Atkinson, Heather Burns, Len Cariou, Santino Fontana, Lisa Joyce, Danny Mastrogiorgio, Laila Robins and Paul Sparks don't have to flock across the country to find work.

Best Tourist-Free Outdoor Shopping Mall: 5th Ave. betw. 14th and 23rd Sts.
Let's face it, sometimes New Yorkers just need to step into an H

Best $20 Gym Not in a Creepy Basement: Blink Fitness
E. 4th St. (at Broadway),
Tiny basements with limited ventilation and budget-friendly gyms just don't mix. Blink Fitness manages to buck tradition with spacious, light-filled, airy facilities so pleasant, you will actually find yourself wanting to go to the gym. A little sister of Equinox, Blink has every piece of up-to-date equipment your fancier gyms have, minus the classes to keep costs down. But who really enjoys those sweat-filled rooms full of Zumba-dancing strangers anyway? At $20 a month, there's no reason not to join.

Best Busker: Asian Hipster at the 1st Ave. L Station
There's something about the hipster Asian gentleman who often sits at the First Avenue L station, guitar in hand and harmonica perched on his neck. His voice isn't classically good. His notes are not exactly crisp. He kind of sounds like a drunken, high-pitched Tom Waits at times. His accent is a bit off, as is his pronunciation of certain words, but I'll be damned if he doesn't melt you heart every single time you hear him. He just sits there on the benchs, playing a Rolling Stones cover, unperturbed by the masses walking by, singing his heart out. What he lacks in correct enunciation he more than makes up for with his perfectly mournful tones. There's nothing better to hear when you're returning to Brooklyn after a night that didn't exactly go as planned.

Best Subway to Occupy (and Work On) Wall Street: No. 2 and 3
While other trains are stuck in the station, you can beat your broker Downtown and Occupy Wall Street with a 15-minute ride from the Upper West Side. While the A train has the largest "big play" express jump in Manhattan from 59th to 125th streets-which made for comic fodder in the indie classic The Brother From Another Planet-and the additional glamour of inspiring a jazz standard ("Take the A Train"), stop for stop, nothing moves you up and down Manhattan quicker than the 2 and 3 trains during rush hour. Added bonus: the No. 1 is often waiting across the platform if you are looking for a local station.

Best Street Exemplifying the Excesses of Capitalism: Freedom Place, Trump Place
66th Street at Freedom Place
This street is actually named in honor of three civil rights workers slain during the Freedom Summer of 1964. But like all idealistic endeavors, it eventually succumbed to the pressures of capitalism and is now lined with residential towers emblazoned in gold lettering with the namesake of Donald Trump. If you haven't had enough development in the 14 years since its groundbreaking, Trump Place is expected to expand by another seven buildings before it's complete. By then, you may be able to watch the Donald sporting an oxygen machine, sitting at a boardroom table in outer space tell a 39-year-old, fresh-out-of-rehab Justin Bieber, "You're fired."

Best Lawn That's Empty on a Weekend Afternoon: Rockefeller University campus, Turtle Bay
On-campus housing is limited at Rockefeller University, so you pretty much have this oasis to yourself when class is out of session. Between ignoring your cell phone and getting engrossed in a novel, be sure to explore Manhattan's forgotten campus, home to one of the world's best biological sciences program. The rustic sculpture installation on the campus' north end makes you question whether the old cliché about scientists in lab coats never seeing the light of day could possibly be true.

Best Place to Experience New York Like It's 1608: Inwood Hill Park Indian Caves
Inwood Hill Park (at Dyckman St.), 212-304-2278
Some folks would probably argue that NYC has been going downhill ever since Henry Hudson started poking around out in the harbor. That's fine, because in New York City, there's even a place for the naysayers. The Wiechquaesgeck indians used the caves in Inwood Hill Park as a sort of pre-Columbian summer camp, complete with shellfish feasts and cool summer breezes. It is one of the very few places in Manhattan where it is actually conceivable to pitch a tent and frolic in the woods. Imagine a slightly more rustic version of the Hamptons and you get the idea.

Best Off-the-Beaten-Path First Date Spot: Les Enfants Terrible
37 Canal St. (at Ludlow St.), [](
Way down on the Lower East Side there exists a radius of a few blocks that avoid the collection of sidewalk stumblers, women walking barefoot while holding their high heels and guys in collared shirts fighting in the middle of the street. In that space is a hip little French (or is it Brazilian?) restaurant/bar full of attractive people, good music and dark lighting. Les Enfants Terrible can get a little crowded, but it's intimate and not too bustling and has a general vibe and out-of-the-wayness that will give your date the idea you're in the know. Sure, your date's eyes might linger a little too long on the younger version of Audrey Tautou seated next to you or the scruffy, scarf-wearing cigarette smoker hanging outside, but chances are that will end up rubbing off on you by the end of the night.

Best Outdoor Concert Series: SummerStage