8 Actually Fun Things to Do in NYC This Weekend

A Mid-Autumn Festival feast, churro lollipops, and more.

Milu’s Mid-Autumn Festival dinner
Milu’s Mid-Autumn Festival dinner | Photo by Evan Sung
Milu’s Mid-Autumn Festival dinner | Photo by Evan Sung

A sure sign fall is on the way? The 95th annual Feast of San Gennaro festival starts this week. Moreover, we’ve got the autumnal equinox and the Mid-Autumn Festival coming up, so this is your last official weekend of summer (sob).

Luckily, it’s jam-packed with ways to celebrate the remaining days of this sunny season. For the sweets-crazed, there’s a triumphant return of a tasty churro shop. For dance lovers, a free concert from one of Brooklyn’s most innovative troupes. And for everyone else, we guarantee there is something fun to eat, see, or do this weekend. Read on for eight actually fun things to do in NYC.

And for more actually fun things to do, check out our podcast, streaming below.

Sample the goods at a new all-day cafe from the chef behind Estela

Rockefeller Center
Chef Ignacio Mattos is the mastermind behind two of NYC’s hippest spots—Estela and Altro Paradiso—so it should be no surprise that his newest restaurant is already one of the most talked-about openings in town. Lodi is an all-day restaurant, bakery, and bar in Rockefeller Center whose menu is influenced by Italy’s relaxed and delicious cafe culture. Think mozzarella and tomato panini, porchetta with pepper marmalade and arugula, and desserts like baba al rhum. Don’t miss the breads, either; many are made from freshly milled grains courtesy of the large stone mill in the space.
Cost: Prices vary

Find new ways to eat churros at this reopened shop

A fresh churro is a thing of great beauty: simultaneously crunchy and chewy, piping hot, and glittering with cinnamon and sugar. And luckily, now that La Churreria has reopened, you don’t have to hop a plane to find a legit version. Founded by chef Jesus Lolo Manso (who also owns Socarrat Paella Bar), here, aside from the classic golden, fried churro sticks, the shop also has churro bites to dip into sauces like strawberry, matcha, and dulce de leche; savory items like churro egg sandwiches; and for the young (at heart) chocolate-dipped churro lollipops. Just make sure you practice rolling your Rs before ordering.
Cost: Churros from $4

Check out the return of a popular Black chef pop-up at this buzzy Brooklyn spot

Saturday, September 18 and Sunday, September 19; 12 pm-8 pm (or until sold out)
Prospect Heights
This weekend marks the return of Olmsted’s beloved Black Entrepreneur Series, where up-and-coming chefs take over the restaurant’s kitchen and introduce their unique dishes to new fans. This weekend, Mohamed Wahiba of Tripoli Events will be manning the burners. Expect a menu that melds both his Libyan roots and Italo-Mediterranean influences with dishes like wood-fired pizzas and homemade pastas.
Cost: Meals from $25

Celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival

Various locations
The Mid-Autumn Festival, which is also known as the Moon or Mooncake Festival, is one of the most important holidays celebrated by many East and Southeast Asian cultures. And although the actual date isn’t until this Tuesday, there’s no reason why you can’t partake in its signature foods early. Traditional mooncakes, often filled with red bean or lotus seed paste, are easily found at many bakeries in Chinatown, like Golden Fung Wong or Chiu Hong, and more unique flavors are on offer at Bake Culture, like black sesame mochi or pineapple egg yolk. Taro is another traditional food for the holiday; we recommend trying Lady M’s divine purple yam crepe cake. And, if you’re looking for a true feast, pick up Milu’s Mid-Autumn Festival dinner, which includes a dry-aged duck crown, sticky rice with mushrooms and Chinese sausage, and a walnut pie with sesame and salted egg yolk.
Cost: Prices vary

Raise a glass at these Oktoberfest events

Various locations
Fun fact: while the word Oktoberfest would imply that the festivities start in, well, October, generally the fun gets rolling in mid-September. And since the actual event in Germany is canceled this year (we don’t need to tell you why), many NYC bars and restaurants are taking up the mantle. Here are a few of our favorite specials and events: sample TALEA Beer Co.’s fall flight, which includes Festie, their Oktoberfest-inspired lager (available September 17); be transported to Munich at Schaller & Weber’s Oktoberfest pop-up, which has goodies like jumbo pretzels, and beers on tap from Bavarian brewery Weihenstephan; embark on an Oktoberfest-themed sail up the Hudson (complete with a German polka band!) with Circle Line’s Bear Mountain Cruise; and check out Bronx Brewery’s Oktoberfest on September 18, which will have German-themed treats from Empanology and plenty of their Das Bronx beer.
Cost: Prices vary

Celebrate abuela’s cooking with this special tasting menu

Sunday, September 19
East Williamsburg
Were you lucky enough to grow up with a Venezuelan grandma? Or, if not, have you always wondered what her cooking would be like? Regardless of your answer, you’ll be comforted by Casa Ora’s Abuelita’s Tasting Menu, a limited-time, multicourse meal in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month (here’s our list of more local Latino-owned businesses to support). Dishes will include everything from fresh and light ceviche, tender beef brisket, or an airy passion fruit mousse, with an optional add-on of cocktails created by Eleven Madison Park veteran and Casa Ora founder Ivo Diaz.
Cost: $65 per person

Celebrate the autumnal equinox with a pig roast

Sunday, September 19, 1 pm-7 pm
A sure sign of the changing seasons is Il Buco’s annual Sagra del Maiale, or pig festival. This year, the menu is especially strong, with meat dishes like Fossil Farms’ porchetta and blueberry balsamic mostarda panini and slow-roasted Iberico pork shoulder in txakoli wine, plus sweet treats like apple ricotta fritters. The entire celebration will take place outside of the restaurant and proof of vaccination is required.
Cost: Tickets from $25

Watch this death-defying dance troupe for free

Hudson Yards
STREB Extreme Action is hard to define: it’s dance; it’s theater; and it’s a little bit circus. The performances will also certainly make your jaw drop: the troupe members are known for their death-defying skills as they run, jump, and swing from set pieces and each other. This weekend, catch them for free at Manhattan West, where they will be premiering a new work called Kaleidoscope, as well as showing two works premiering in the US for the first time. The entire show will be outdoors on the two-acre plaza outside the Manhattan West complex.
Cost: Free

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Juliet Izon is a contributor for Thrillist.