Planning a trip to New York? Here are some suggestions for maximizing your budget, including information on museums and free sites.
New York Budget Tips
New York & Company is New York's official tourism marketing organization. NYC & Company operates four visitor information offices in Manhattan.
The flagship office is located at 810 Seventh Ave., between 52nd and 53rd streets. It is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Holiday hours are from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. You can reach them by telephone at +1-212-484-1222.
NYC & Company also operates several smaller information offices and kiosks.
The newest visitor center resides in what was once the famous Tavern on the Green restaurant in Central Park. It is located at 67th Street and Central Park West and is open daily from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Also on premises is a nice book shop and a smattering of New York’s favorite food trucks.
The NYC Heritage Tourism Center is located on the very southern tip of City Hall Park, on Park Row in far lower Manhattan. It is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. and on weekends 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Holiday hours are 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.
A Chinatown Visitor Information Kiosk is located at the triangle between Canal, Walker and Baxter streets. It is open daily from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m and from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. on holidays.
There is also a visitor center located in Harlem’s Studio Museum, at 144 W. 125th St. It is open Monday through Friday from12 p.m. until 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. This center is closed on holidays.
New York & Company can be reached by telephone at +1-212-484-1222 and online.
Following are entrance costs for admission to some major New York City museums.
Metropolitan Museum of Art: technically free, but it encourages donations of $20 (adults); $15 (seniors); $10 (students); visitors can give any amount; Note that the ticket fee to the Met includes same-day admission to its uptown sister museum The Cloisters
Museum of Modern Art: $20 (adults); $16 (seniors)/$12 (students); free (aged 16 and under)
P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center: technically free, it encourages contributions of $10 (adults); $5 (reduced)
The Frick Collection: $18 (adults); $12 (seniors); $5 (students); pay what you wish (Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum: $18 (adults); $15 (reduced); free (12 and under)
Whitney Museum: $18 (adults); $12 (reduced); free (18 and under); pay what you wish (Fridays 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.)
American Museum of Natural History: technically free, with suggested donations of $16 (adults); $12 (reduced); $9 (12 and under); free (two and under); Note that admission to special exhibits, IMAX films and space center and planetarium costs extra, or a SuperSaver ticket grants full access to the museum; SuperSaver tickets run $32 (adults); $24.50 (reduced); $20 (12 and under)
Brooklyn Art Museum: suggested donation of $10 (adults); $6 (reduced)
Empire State Building: $19.29 (adults); $17.45 (seniors); $13.78 (12 and under)
Free (or very nearly!) Sights
New York is expensive, no doubt about it. While there's no way to avoid this basic fact of existence, there are all sorts of ways to wring every last cent out of the city.
Bridge Views. Brooklyn Bridge during the day offers some of the best, most iconic views of Manhattan.
Ferry. Riding the Staten Island Ferry is free. From the ferry deck, views of Lower Manhattan are absolutely amazing. Note that you must disembark from the ferry in Staten Island, even if you just plan to turn around and get back on it.
Bryant Park:. Bryant Park holds a free movie series, as well as other free services and events, during the summer. It's also a free wireless Internet hotspot.
Food. Stock up on cheap food at delis, grocery stores, pizzerias and street vendors. Yes, dear Cheapos: street vendors. You should never fear a street hot dog. Many a struggling actor has survived on street hot dogs, and the three to seven of them that you scarf while visiting will only make you stronger.
Museums. While they do have ticket booths and suggested donations, admission to the American Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the PS1 is technically free. Other museums, including the MoMA and the Brooklyn Museum, have specifically designated free days, either weekly or monthly.
Summer Stage. From May through Labor Day, New Yorkers and visitors alike are treated to completely free shows—music, dance and theater— at venues from Central Park to the Bronx. Be prepared to queue up for admission.
Parks. New York's parks are public and free. Central Park, among others, is a true urban masterpiece. Other great New York City parks include Riverside Park, Tompkins Square Park, Washington Square Park, Battery Park, Prospect Park (in Brooklyn), Madison Square Park and Union Square.
Police Ride-Alongs. Admit it. You've watched a ton of American cop dramas, some of them set in New York City. Haven't you always wondered what it would be like to ride along in a police car? Well, take advantage of the underpublicized Civilian Ride-Along Program. Stop by New York City Police Headquarters at 1 Police Plaza by City Hall in Manhattan. You'll be asked to provide photo identification and complete an application clarifying where you are staying (or where you live) in New York. Specify a precinct and you'll be able to ride along for two hours. New York City residents are not permitted to ride along in the precinct where they live.
Times Square. Times Square at night is pretty remarkable. Battle gawking visitors for sidewalk space and snap away. Caution: while going camera crazy, keep your bags zipped up and valuables tucked away.
Members of the AARP can obtain discounts on hotels, museums, airfares and car rentals. They can be reached in the United States by telephone at +1-800-424-3410 and online at the AARP Web site. Be sure to ask about a discount if you do not see one listed, as some discounts are not advertised.
The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is the most widely accepted form of student ID and provides discounts on sights, accommodations, food and transportation. Applicants must be working toward a degree at a secondary or post-secondary school and must be at least 12 years of age. The card costs $22 and is valid until the end of the year issued. All cardholders have access to a 24-hour emergency helpline. In the United States call 1-800-223-7986 or click onto the ISIC site.
For non-students 25 years and younger, the International Youth Travel Card, IYTC, also offers many of the same benefits as the ISIC. The card costs $22 and is valid for one year. Find out more information about the IYTC here.
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