As fabulous and iconic as New York City is, it can be a very expensive, but it doesn’t have to break the bank.
Here are some tips to help keep a lid on your spending while visiting:
Top of the Rock
While I believe that the Empire State building is well worth a paid for visit, even just to see this fabulous art deco, highly energy efficient masterpiece, never mind the stunning 360 degree views, my recommendation is not to pay to visit the Top of the Rock, which is located on 67th, 68th and 69th floor of 30 Rockerfeller Plaza. There is a bar, restaurant and cocktail lounge on the 65th floor, we visited Sixty Five bar and Cocktail lounge, which has an amazing wrap around outdoor terrace giving pretty much 300 degree views of the city, so instead of paying to go to the top, pre book a table (a must) and enjoy a cocktail while watching the glimmering lights of the city which never sleeps.
Taken from terrace of Sixty Five Bar & Cocktail Lounge, Rockerfeller Centre.
2. NYC Parks
The most famous being Central Park, which is an enormous expanse (all 843 acres of it) of open green space, with walking trails, gardens, a zoo, statues and bodies of water, located in the heart of Manhattan Island, amongst the skyscrapers and hustle and bustle of the city. When strolling through the park, you could actually forget that you are in such a big city, except of course when you steal a glimpse of the impressive skyline through the trees. It was designed in the mid-19th century by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, and is the centrepiece of the City’s public parks system. Visit the impressive and very popular Boathouse restaurant in the park for drinks, coffee and cake, or even a gourmet meal.
A snowy Central Park in Feb 2016
A lesser known, but equally as impressive NYC Park is known as the Highline. It is a former elevated freight rail line, The West Side Line, which was transformed into a public park on Manhattan’s West Side around 2006, and runs from Gansevoort Street – three blocks below 14th Street – in the Meatpacking District, through Chelsea, to the northern edge of the West Side Yard on 34th Street near the Javits Convention Centre on the banks of the Hudson. It was inspired by a similar project in Paris, and has in excess of 5 million visitors per year.
Then there is the 585 acre Prospect Park, located in Brooklyn, which was also designed by Olmstead and Vaux, and is known for its mile long meadow, possibly the longest in any US park, which is also partly covered in natural forest, with over 30,000 trees.
One of my favourite parks in the city is Bryant Park, situated between 5th and 6thAvenue and 40 and 42nd Street, the main entrance is on 6th Avenue, as at the east side of the park, on 5th Avenue is the main branch of New York Public library, which forms a boundary of sorts. The Park is located entirely over an underground structure which houses the library’s stacks, built in the 1980s when the park was closed to the public and excavated and the new library facilities built below ground level while the park was restored above it. In wintertime, it transforms into a winter wonderland with an ice-rink dominating the huge expanse of what is lawn in the summer. There are of course plenty of places to eat and drink or simply sit and admire the impressive surroundings.
Battery Park, located at the south west tip of Manhattan Island is a quiet residential neighbourhood and great for a stroll, or a jog, or just to watch an impressive sunset – why not combine it with a visit to 911 memorial nearby.
3. Staten Island Ferry
You can buy tickets for the Liberty Cruise Ferry which takes you up close and personal with the Statue of Liberty, but instead of paying for a round trip on the (you can get off at Liberty and/or Ellis islands if you wish) why not take the free Staten Island Ferry, which takes you past Ellis Island with a decent view of the Statue, although obviously not as close as you get with the paid one. I would recommend just getting the next Ferry back to Manhattan again as there is not too much to do in Staten Island (at least not within a 10 minute walk of the ferry port in either direction, although they are currently building a commercial centre next to the port and you can see the ballpark)
A view from Staten Island Ferry towards the Manhattan skyline
4. Discount Shopping
For shopping visit Macy’s while the winter sale is on, in February, there was up to 75% off many lines, or check out where there are sample sales when you are visiting. These are held several times per year when retailers, particularly in the fashion industry want to clear old stock and you can find extreme savings on designer fashions including clothing, jewellery, handbags and accessories. Search Sample Sales New York before you leave for your trip.
5. Food and drink
Fancy a lobster dinner for 2? Then on Monday nights, the famous Docks on 3rd and 48thin Hells’ Kitchen offers a lobster dinner for 2 for only $60, fantastic value and extremely popular, so booking is recommended.
A visit to Chelsea market, a food hall, shopping mall, office building and television production facility located in the Chelsea neighbourhood of Manhattan, is well worth it, or a stroll along Bleeker Street near Greenwich Village which is famous for its bars, restaurants, and nightclubs many of which provide live entertainment in the evenings.
Also recommended is a visit to Eataly, the largest Italian marketplace in the world, comprising a variety of restaurants, food and beverage counters, bakery, retail items, and a cooking school. Eataly is located near to Madison Square Park, another city park and the site of the original famous venue – Madison Square Gardens and where you can see the unusual and famous flat iron building.
6. The Manhattan Skyline and Brooklyn Bridge
No visit to New York would be complete without seeing a stunning vista of the famous Manhattan Skyline. You can do this by taking a ferry or water taxi, or to see it for free, why not take a stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge at dusk and witness the spectacular sight of a million lights twinkling from across the water.
There is also a great restaurant under the Brooklyn Bridge, The River Café, although you have to book a table and it is fairly expensive, but very worth it, and it does have arguably the best views from a restaurant in the whole of New