If you're visiting New York City this summer, here are 10 tips that can save you money and still provide an authentic Noo Yawk experience.
NYC has plenty to offer to tourists - Broadway shows, Central Park, Times Square, Highline Park, Statue of Liberty, The Met and the list goes on and on.
But unless you know your way around, NYC is an expensive city that'll soon leave a big, gaping hole in your wallet.
Here are a few pointers to how you can save money and still have a fun time in New York City:
1. Get a NYC MetroCard. Cabs are not only expensive but you have to pay a tip on top of the fare. Take my advice and get a 7-Day Unlimited Pass for $29. You can use the MetroCard for unlimited subway and local bus rides until midnight for 7 days from day of first use. The 7-Day Unlimited Pass cards is available at MetroCard vending machines, subway station booths and neighborhood stores.
2. It's good to have a NYC map with you. Get a free subway map from one of the subway station booths. Even if it's not a street map, the NYC subway maps still give you a rough idea of where you are. Or you can head to the Times Square Visitor Center on 7th Ave (between W.46th St and W.47th St) for a free map. Keeping a map beats having to bother harried New Yorkers for directions.
3. A visit to NYC is incomplete without catching a Broadway show. But Broadway prices are in the stratosphere. So I suggest you head to one of the TKTS booths to get a discount of upto 50% off regular ticket prices for same-day Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. The midtown TKTS booth is in Times Square (Broadway and W.47th St). The lines can be long, so get there early.
4. Taste the culinary delights of NYC without emptying your wallet. Over the last five years, there's been an explosion in the sheer variety and number of food carts and trucks in Manhattan. Here are a few recommendations - Chicken Biryani at Biryani Cart (6th Ave at W.46th St), Chicken Pad Thai at Tuk Tuk Boy on W.50th St betweeen 6th Ave and 7th Ave and King of Falafel (E.53rd St and Park Ave) for the Falafel Sandwich. Also, don't miss Vanessa's Dumpling House restaurant on Eldridge St in Chinatown for fine Chinese food at insanely low prices. For great New York bagels, take the 1 train to Absolute Bagels (Broadway. between W.107th St and W.108th St) on the Upper West side.
5.New York City is not all concrete jungle. There are several oases strewn across the city. Make time for at least a few of them. My recommendations are Central Park (midtown), Highline Park (elevated park on the West side), Prospect Park (Brooklyn), Riverside Park (Upper West) and Rockefeller Park (downtown Manhattan).
6. Enjoy the rare exhibits at one of the world's finest museums, The Met, without paying full price. Although the admission fee at the Met is a steep $25, it's only a "Recommended" fee. Pay just a dollar or whatever you fancy and get in. Current exhibitions at the Met (as of July 5, 2012) include Buddhism along the Silk Road: 5th–8th Century, The Dawn of Egyptian Art, Historic Images of the Greek Bronze Age and Spies in the House of Art: Photography, Film, and Video.
7. Take the Staten Island Ferry for free from the Whitehall Ferry Terminal (a.k.a. South Ferry) in downtown Manhattan to St.George Ferry Terminal in Staten Island. You can see the Statue of Liberty on the way. On the return trip, take in the view of the tall buildings in downtown Manhattan. Depending on your perspective, the tall buildings are either a tribute to Man's ingenuity or an eyesore.
8. Walk down Brooklyn Bridge, a 129-year-old suspension connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn. Head to Center St to access the bridge from the Manhattan side. Spend a couple of hours at Brooklyn Bridge Park and recharge your batteries for the return trip.
9. Recharge your cell phone, laptop computer or tablet for free at Bryant Park in Midtown Manhattan. The city has installed 42 electrical points in Bryant Park, which is close to the grand New York Public Library building. By the way, several places in New York City including Central Park, Times Square, Battery Park and Bryant Park have free WiFi.
10. Visit the art galleries in Chelsea. These galleries often hold free exhibitions where even ordinary folks like you and me can ogle at fabulous pieces of art by both upcoming and established artists. Most of the art galleries are located from 16th Street to 27th Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues.