Top 10 Cheap New York Attractions
New York, New York, it's one special town. From celebrity chef restaurants to century old architecture, you can do nearly anything in the 'city that never sleeps.' In fact, it can be too easy to feel overwhelmed with things to see if you're a first time visitor, or even a frequent one and you're on a budget. Instead of becoming overwhelmed, check out these 10 top cheap (and free!) New York City attractions.
Top New York Attraction #1: Hit the flea markets
Nothing beats shopping on New York City's 5th Avenue, except getting all that great stuff for so much less! Instead of giving your wallet a workout in couture alley, head to Hester Street or the Brooklyn Flea and get handmade and vintage clothing and accessories for much less. While these markets can be very DIY, they're a hidden secret of New York fashionistas, appearing in national magazines and television shows. The fantastic finds and homemade street food you find at these markets make them a top New York attraction.
Top New York Attraction #2: Make a date on top of the Empire State Building
Ever since Cary Grant stood at the top of this New York attraction in An Affair to Remember, women everywhere have been swooning for that kind of city romance. Stop dreaming and start living by making a date with your loved one at the top of the Empire State Building. And though normal entry is somewhat expensive, you can get a great deal with several New York City guest passes, and it's well worth it.
Top New York Attraction #3: Flip through books at the Strand Bookstore
With over '18 miles of books' you won't lack for any reading material here. The Strand, as it's called by the locals, sits in the middle of Union Square and is a great place to spend hours perusing, breathing in that library smell, and discovering a few gems you didn't know you wanted. It's also a fantastic place to do some New Yorker people watching.
Top New York Attraction #4: Dine at a celeb chef restaurant during Restaurant Week
New York City is a hotbed of celebrity chefs. Whether you like Italian food, Mexican food, street food, or fast food, there's some eatery with top chef pedigree right around the corner. Meals at these top foodie attractions can be pricey - except for a few weeks out of the year when New York Restaurant Week is in full swing. Restaurant Week menus offer deep discounts such as lunches for $25 and dinners for $35 at very chic tables. It's a great opportunity to try something new from a favorite chef for a little dough.
Top New York Attraction #5: Bike Central Park
As a major New York attraction, Central Park is a tourist's no-brainer, but instead of stopping in for a quick look or taking a pricey horse-drawn carriage ride, go for a bike. Several local shops like Bike Tours and Central Park Bike Shop offer a cheap and eco friendly way for you to tour the 800+ acres of green in New York's most beloved public space.
Top New York Attraction #6: Circle the globe in one little city
It's easy to become tense in such a busy place, but go ahead - suspend your sense of reality and loose yourself in all the fantastic cultures of New York City. From Koreatown to Little Brazil, Little India to Sunset Park, and everyone's favorites, Little Italy and Chinatown, there are hundreds of cultures waiting for you. New York City is one big melting pot, and to understand the city you must know it's people. That's why these ethnic enclaves are top NYC attractions.
Top New York Attraction #7: See a show in an unexpected place
Broadway is known across the world as the place to go for amazing live shows, but New York plays host to dozens of other events that will save you enough cash for a shopping excursion, too. Seats at the Metropolitan Opera House begin at just $45 and Lincoln Center, who hosts everything from hip hop Shakespeare to jazz bands, offers tickets for as low as $30. Not only do you get more show for your buck, but these venues are top attractions on their own.
Top New York Attraction #8: Pay your respects Downtown and see the future of NYC
It's an important pilgrimage for visitors to New York City to stop by what used to be the twin towers of the World Trade Center. However, 10 years later, the city is rebuilding itself in many ways and the subway stations and memorials of the former World Trade Center are a great place to witness this. For other examples, check out the former train tracks turned park, the Highline, and Hearst Tower, home of the major media corporation and a great example of LEED architecture.
Top New York Attraction #9: Grab gourmet lunch on a budget
How do you follow up that rich, amazing celebrity chef dinner? You cook yourself a special lunch at some of New York City's top markets. At the Grand Central Market at Grand Central Station you can purchase slices of meat and cheese, fresh baked bread and bottles of wine to take back to your hotel room. Then stop by the Union Square Greenmarket for the freshest produce, fruit drinks and flowers in the city. Finally, visit Eataly, Mario Batali's Italian market where you can sip berra and peruse aisles of panini, focaccia, and fresh cheeses for a fraction of the cost of Batali's other eateries.
Top New York Attraction #10: Go to a Museum - in the outer boroughs
The Met, the Guggenheim and MoMA are all fantastic but the other boroughs of New York City have excellent museums, too! Brooklyn's namesake Brooklyn Museum is slowly taking ground over MoMA's fans by offering edgy and constantly revolving exhibits in one of the borough's hippest neighborhoods. In Queens you can find a plethora of galleries celebrating the areas rich Asian heritage. After a free Staten Island ferry ride see the Jacques Marchais Tibetan Museum, NYC's only museum of Tibetan art where prayer flags and meditation are calming.
Photo by Jerry Ferguson Photography on Flickr.