New York City Deals
There are many sites devoted to free or budget activities in New York, such as theater in parks and museum free days. A budget conscience traveler would be well served to search them out, and in return save some substantial money while still basking in the full city experience and culture – and often avoid more heavily trafficked tourist spots.
Here are a few of my personal finds while ambling about the Big Apple over the past four days. In addition to 35-50 cent fruit on the street, and two dollar hot dogs from the many local food carts, I think these are also worthy of mention.
One food cart note: My cousin Mark is currently upset at the “Nuts for Nuts” carts. Apparently their price used to be $1, and due to tough times the price has increased $2. Granted its just one dollar, but he says few industries raise their rates by 100%.
Transit: I didn’t take a cab once. All my travels were on foot, bike, or subway. Upon arrival I purchased a seven day MTA card for $25. All buses and subways are two dollars a ride, so for me this card more than paid for itself.
The MTA site lists various unlimited passes. I prefer these, as you don’t need to keep track of how many rides are left or pay to refill your card in a busy station. When you arrive ask any subway attendant for a map. Once you get your lines down its a breeze, and you can always refer to it for finding the quickest or shortest route.
I was going to list the Guggenheim Museum’s temporary $10 entry price due to exhibit rotations, but I just checked and unfortunately its back up to the standard $18 rate tomorrow. But currently on display is a comprehensive exhibit featuring various works by Catherine Opie. For a solo traveler I think her photographs alone are well worth the $18 rate, and although $18 may be a tad above “budget,” for a photography enthusiast it would be time well spent.
Metro Bicycles. There are locations scattered about Manhattan. After visiting the Guggenheim and the National Jewish Museum I popped into their Upper East Side location at Lexington and 88th Street hoping to cruise around Central Park, (and get off my sore foot.) I looked up the nearest “bike rentals” on my phone and found them a few blocks away. At $7 per hour and just four blocks from Central Park this is a wonderful way to see the park and surrounding neighborhoods. I also made my way up to Harlem, taking pictures of the brownstones and beautiful old churches. The staff at this location was friendly and welcoming, AND they’re FAST. They don’t bog you down with a bunch of paperwork – just a quick ID check and credit card swipe and you’re on your way. A personal thanks for making my Central Park time enjoyable.
The New York Public Library. I saw two exhibits here, both for free. Currently at the main building, (at 5th Ave and 42nd,) is a small exhibit devoted to the history of Art Deco design called “Art Deco Design: Rhythm and Verve“ The entire room isn’t much larger than a Starbucks, but I spent 45 minutes looking at the photographs and studies of design, fonts, style, and music. Their blog lists free lectures coinciding with this exhibit, including the upcoming “Fashion of the Art Deco Era” on November 7th.
If you’re a fan of Art Deco design, and your big western home state lacks its presence, then a walk through Rockefeller Center is a must. I passed through here my first day and spent almost an hour gawking at the brass railings, elevator doors, streamlined chrome moldings, and enormous murals. You can visit the observation deck for $18, but I did the Empire State Building instead.
A second library exhibit is “Not a Cough in the Carload;” a photographic history of vintage cigarette advertising. As they say some of these ads are quite humorous -for example Santa smoking cigarettes, and the entire family, (wife and kids,) presenting Dad with cartons of Kents for Father’s Day, but it does reflect the ruthless tactics that the cigarette manufacturers still employ to this day.
More on this from last week’s post.
“Due to our current knowledge of the dangers involved with cigarettes, some of the images are actually humorous in nature and while we are having some fun with the exhibition, this is also a compelling story about the way the tobacco industry kept people smoking for generations,” said Dr. Jackler.”We are talking about an industry that put profits above all consideration for its customers’ well-being.It is still relevant today, because while the ads are much more subtle and constrained, the message and goals are still the same.”
“Not a Cough in the Carload” is on display until December 26th at the Business Library’s Healy Hall at 188 Madison Avenue. (closed Sunday.)
If you like Mexican food Blockheads offers healthy cooking – and more importantly $3 margaritas. (At least their location on 50th Street in the Theater District.) Check their site for other locations.
by James Van Dellen