Vanessa Bayer at Brooklyn Comedy Festival

Here are the five coolest things to do in and around NYC this week. We publish a new list every Wednesday, covering Thursday through Wednesday. Stay tuned for insider updates on restaurant openings, festivals, exhibitions, shows, weekend escapes, and more.

August 21–23 | Music
Afropunk Fest
More than just a music festival, Afropunk Fest NYC—one of three such festivals around the globe—is a celebration of food, activism, art, and, of course, great beats. Originating from a 2003 documentary about the role of African Americans in the punk scene, the festival has developed a devoted following in the past decade. Participants can create original murals, shop at the DIY-focused SpinThrift Market, eat at one of the 20 food trucks present, and check out performances from superstars like Lenny Kravitz and Lauryn Hill.
Commodore Berry Park, Navy St. between Flushing Ave. and Park Ave., Brooklyn | From $45 | website 

August 22 | Music & Food
Hudson River Park’s Blues BBQ Festival
It’s hard to believe this fun and laid-back festival is in its sixteenth year. Now in its new, larger digs at Pier 26, the festival offers a whole afternoon and evening of free blues from such performers as the Otis Taylor Band and Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens. Sample food from some of the city’s favorite BBQ joints, including Mighty Quinn’s and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, while enjoying lovely views of the Hudson River.
2–9 p.m. | Hudson River Park, Pier 26 at N. Moore St., New York | Free | website

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August 23 | Last chance saloon
Hogs & Heifers Saloon
Pay your respects to a New York institution before it bites the dust. A remnant of what the Meatpacking district used to be, motorcyle dive bar Hogs & Heifers is closing its doors on August 23 after 23 years of business. The bar is a victim of the area’s rising rents, despite managing to maintain its status as local watering hole, tourist destination, and even celebrity stomping ground—Julia Roberts once hung her bra on the wall! So go raise a PBR and dance on the bar one last time in the place that helped inspire the film Coyote Ugly.
11 a.m.–4 a.m. | 859 Washington St., New York | (212) 929-0655 | website

August 24–30 | Comedy
Brooklyn Comedy Festival
Featuring up-and-coming and established comedians performing improv, sketches, standup, and more, the Brooklyn Comedy Festival is a relative newcomer to the scene but is already making a name for itself. Shows worth checking out include Comedy at the Grocery, at the Brooklyn Brewery, and Nighttrain, featuring Last Comic Standing finalist Myq Kaplan and taking place at Littlefield. For the intrepid there’s The Naked Show, at The Living Room, in which all the comedians are—you guessed it—in the nude.
Locations, times, and prices vary | website

Weekend escape
Fire Island
The remaining beach days of summer are numbered so get out there and soak up the sun! A trip to Fire Island—a 31-mile island off the coast of Long Island—is a bit like stepping back in time, with its historic lighthouse and its ban on cars (there are no paved roads). All the beaches are gorgeous and have their own character, but Ocean Beach (often called the “unofficial capital of Fire Island”) is a good place to start. Take a break from the sun to grab some lunch on the shaded deck of Matthew’s Seafood, then rent a bike at Ocean Beach Hardware to explore the island. Get to Fire Island via Long Island Railroad or the NYC Beach Bus.

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A native New Yorker, Katherine is a freelance food and travel writer who has eaten her way across the globe and is always on the lookout for her next great meal. She is an avid reader, insatiable traveler, sometimes photographer, and mom to inquisitive toddler.

Planning a trip? Check out the AFAR guide to New York.