The dizzying variety of things to do in New York City can make any newcomer confused. As a native New Yorker, I've written some tips on where to go and what to see, and as a student, I'll show you how to enjoy it on the cheap.
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Step 1: Transportation
The first thing to figure out when you come to a new city is the transportation. New York has a great public transportation system and I'll show you how to utilize it to the fullest extent. The only thing you need for public transportation is a metro card or some coins.
A few rules of the metrocard:
1. Never buy a metro card from a person. I've had someone try to sell me a "$20" metro card for only $14. Those stuff are scams!!! Only buy your metro card from the machine in or right outside a train station.
2. Never buy a single use metro card, and if you will be using public transportation a lot, fill it up each time with at least $10 or $20. For some reason the single metro cards are more expensive and after a single use they're worthless. Buy a regular metro card and fill it up with however much you want to put on it. Larger amounts of money will earn you a bonus and add extra money on your metro. (It's not a lot of money, but it can give you a free ride if you use it enough.)
3. You can't be refunded if you have extra money on your metro card but you can transfer the money to a new metro card
4. Buying extra time is a waste of money. Ever since they started charging $1 for each new metro card, I've been worried I'll need to buy a new card or extend the time once it expired, but a few days before it expired, as I was adding more money to it, the machine simply noted it was expiring soon and asked if I'd like a new one, free of charge!
5. One payment has a time limit of two hours and one transfer. This means that once you swipe your card, you can transfer from a train to a bus, bus to a train, or from a bus to a different bus line. Once you exit a train station, your metro card won't transfer to another bus station since you can always transfer a different train within a station. If you're travelling somewhere within the two hours limit you can use your transfer on the return trip if you've taken a train there and you take a bus back and vice versa. You can also use the transfer if you take a different bus line than the one you took there. Check for alternate ways to travel and use your metro wisely.
6. You can pay for a bus with coins and request a transfer if you need one. However, the transfer only works for buses.
Step 2: Free and Cheap Attractions
New York has many free attraction if you know how to look for it. These are a list of free attractions you can check out. It is not a comprehensive list, but it will guide you to many of the free places the city offers.
1.Museums: Many museums are free, many have a free or discounted day and some prices are pay what you wish. Some of these include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, American Museum of Natural History and the Tenement Museum. If you do a bit of research, you'll find lots more to choose from.
2.Parks: There a ton of great parks in NYC where you can relax or people watch. Central Park, Bryant Park, Prospect Park, and Brooklyn Bridge Park are just a few.
3.Zoos, Gardens, and Aquariums: The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, Staten Island Botanical Gardens, Queens Botanical Gardens, the Bronx Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, and New York Aquarium are all free or inexpensive.
4.Walking: New York is a great city for walking. The Brooklyn Bridge is popular to walk over, and it's fun to walk around the different neighborhoods in the city.
5.The Statue of Liberty: The best way to see her is to take the Staten Island Ferry, which is free, then hop right onto the return boat.
Step 3: Places to Check Out
These are neighborhoods that are a must-see and places that you shouldn't leave without visiting.
1.High Line - This is an abandoned railroad track turned park above street level. There are many entrances along the route so you don't need to walk the entire track. I would recommend ending at the meatpacking district and checking out Chelsea Market, a few block away.
2.Grand Central Station is a popular destination for tourists.
3.Union Square Farmer's Market is open Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
Some cool neighborhoods to check out are Times Square, Williamsburg, China Town, Greenwich Village, Park Slope, SoHo, and the Financial District.
Step 4: Free Events
Summertime has the most free events but some events are year round and some only in the winter.
1.Movies - There are many free movie nights in different locations. You can research the movies they play on different nights at several locations.
2.Shakespeare in the Park - It's held in Central Park and tickets are free. However, you need to wait in line really early because tickets go out fast.
3.Kayaking - The Downtown Boathouse offers free kayaking for half an hour on the Hudson River.
4.Concerts - There are many free concerts playing in the city that you can attend.
5.Biking - Governor's Island offers free biking on Fridays. The boat to the island is also free.
1. Bryant Park offers free ice skating in the winter, but you need to bring your own skates or rent them.
NYC Parks host many free events. You can check their website for many more free events.
Living Social, TripAdvisor, and Groupon are great resources where you can find cheap deals in NYC.
Step 5: Nightlife and Food
There are a ton of places you can go to enjoy a night out but I'm only mentioning a few that are different from the norm.
1.Minus5 Ice Bar is an ice bar that is open all year round. Bring a coat!
2. There are many rooftops bars and lounges you can go to. I'd recommend going to one as the view is incredible!
3. Groupon has cheap tickets to Broadways shows but if buy from the TKTS booth that day you can also snag super cheap tickets.
MyFab5 is a great resource for finding good food in the city.
That's all for know! Let me know if you found this useful, used any of these tips for your trips to NYC or have any other tips to share.