I live in New York City and I've got some time off. What should I do?
December 28, 2005 8:42 AM   Subscribe

I live in New York City and I've got some time off. What should I do?

I've been living in New York (Astoria, Queens) for about 5 months. The first couple of weeks I spent getting settled, then school started. Up until last week, school is all I've really been concentrating on, with a few social engagements here and there. I'm on winter break now, and while lounging about watching that DVD set of 24: Season 4 that I got for Christmas is tempting, I'd like to get out and do some things while I have all this free time!

A little bit about me and my intrests: I'm a 3rd year photography major, 27 years old, and female. I've got a valid student ID, and I'm not too proud to use it for the student discount. I'm already making a list of galleries and museums that I'd like to visit, but if you've seen something amazing/interesting, spit it out, I might have missed it. I'm not really a girly-girl, so window shopping and little botiques don't do it for me. I don't really have a problem with going places (movies, plays, restaurants) alone, but I will probably have visitors here & there over the next couple weeks, so suggestions for singles and couples (not in the romantic sense) are appreciated.

I'd rather avoid touristy things/areas this week since a lot of people are on break and (presumably) doing touristy things in nyc, but classes don't start again until the 16th, so I still have a couple of weeks after the New Year to do that stuff if I want to. Even though I've lived within an hour of Manhattan all my life, there is a surprising amount of things I haven't done. (Should I try going to the tkts booth as a single person? Do I have a better chance of getting a decent ticket?)

I'm actually getting out of town with a couple friends for New Years, so I don't have to worry about what to do that night (thank goodness).

Since I am currently an unemployed student, cheap or free is good, but definitely not required.
posted by AlisonM to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (19 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I am out the door to see the Darwin exhibit at the Museum of Natural History. (Its $25, not sure what a student ID gets you, or if there is a pay-optional time.)

If its fantastic I will report back.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:57 AM on December 28, 2005

posted by madmath at 9:04 AM on December 28, 2005

The Pixar exhibit at MoMA sounds cool.

I think you could have good luck as a single person at the TKTS booth. It's worth a try regardless, if you have all that free time.

If you want to avoid tourists, maybe try some of the lesser known museums? This is a pretty sizable list.
posted by danb at 9:11 AM on December 28, 2005

The Russia show at the Guggenheim is fantastic. I'm not generally a fan of that museum, but this show is worth it. Also, I know you live in Queens, but have you checked out the Panorama of the City of New York, yet?
posted by dame at 9:25 AM on December 28, 2005

The Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria is small but outstanding--awesome exhibits about film, many with interactive elements.
Also, the movie screenings are free with admission. We saw the Marx Brothers' Animal Crackers on the day we visited.
posted by serialcomma at 10:03 AM on December 28, 2005

Walk. A lot. Go to Chinatown, go to Manhattan Valley, to Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. Wander. It's the only way to get to know the city. Also, in that spirit, a trip to the New-York Historical Society and/or the Museum of the City of New York are in order. Enjoy!
posted by scratch at 10:15 AM on December 28, 2005

Take some time and check out the other million questions about what to do in NYC.
posted by justgary at 10:52 AM on December 28, 2005

(Went to the Darwin exhibit at AMNH a few weeks ago -- it was good but not great. The Pixar exhibit at MoMA is excellent, and they are screening a bunch of Pixar films this month, so check the calendar.)

Art and Museums: Gallery hopping in Chelsea? How about the International Center for Photography in midtown? The maps exhibit in the NYPL on 42nd street? A day trip up to DIA: Beacon. Go to The Lower East Side Tenement Museum and learn how we used to live. Brave the crowds at the Met, pay a dollar to get in, and spend the entire time in the deserted archival room where they keep a bunch of stuff that's not on actual display in glass cases. Or try to go to every room in the Met. Play with old subway cars and turnstiles at the Transit Museum. Designing the Taxi is on display at Parsons until January 15th. The Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum? How about the Museum of the City of New York? Ever been to PS1? The Whitney Museum of American Art? Watch any TV show you want at the Museum of TV and Radio. Catch some outdoor, public art.

Food: Get some candy at Dylan's Candy Bar or Economy Candy. Visit all of the street vendors nominated for a Vendy award last month. Go on an eating tour of all of the well-known pizzerias. Or bakeries known for their cupcakes. Or all of the famous chocolatiers (and get a single truffle and some hot chocolate at each). Or cream puffs, or dumplings, or gelato. Or a Lower East Side Eating Tour.

Movies: Go sightseeing for famous movie sights, like on a Ghostbusters tour. Or see just how many movies you can see on a single visit to the AMC 25 by movie-hopping.

Watch the Manhattan skyline from the Promenade in Brooklyn Heights. Go on a Big Onion Walking tour. Take the Staten Island Ferry just to see the Statue of Liberty. Walk Broadway all the way from its origin downtown to all the way back uptown. Explore Central Park's nooks and crannies from the Great Lawn to the Strawberry Fields to the Zoo to Carousel. Hang out in a dog-run or two for some free entertainment. Ride every train on the MTA at least once. See some no-name rock bands at CBGB's while you still can. Explore Grand Central and take some time-lapse photos. Go uptown to Columbia or the Church of St. John the Divine or the Cloisters or Grant's Tomb. Browse bookstores like Housing Works, Coliseum, The Strand, St. Mark's Bookshop, or Gotham Book Mart, or specialty ones like Japanese bookstore Kinokuniya or art bookstore Rizzoli. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Flip through the archives of NewYorkology, Forgotten NY, or Manhattan User's Guide for more ideas. Subscribe to Flavorpill NYC for more events and happenings. Buy a copy of the latest Not For Tourists guide, and just browse the listings in back.

And if you ever get tired, have a nice sit and people-watch all of the cross-dressers, wannabe MTV-stars, clueless tourists, ladies with tiny dogs in purses, student punks, folks in traditional ethnic dress from a hundred different countries, crotchety old men, Jewish grandmothers, lesbian mothers, crazy cabbies, secretly-rich dogwalkers, and more.
posted by kathryn at 11:17 AM on December 28, 2005

Come up with a project idea and take pictures!
posted by xammerboy at 11:29 AM on December 28, 2005

Brooklyn Bridge. Either direction.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 12:12 PM on December 28, 2005

My favorite NYC museum: The Lower East Side Tenement Museum. Precede or follow that by a walk around that neighborhood - Chinatown is not too far away.
posted by cajo at 1:01 PM on December 28, 2005

Since you live in Astoria, you can go to other parts of Queens (Sunnyside, Jackson Heights, Flushing, Kew Gardens) for walking tours and ethnic food sampling. The most diverse place in the planet is Queens. The Thalia Hispanic theater in Jackson heights often has original Spanish language theater and dance.

I second the Russian Exhibit at the Guggenheim. Then you can take the train to Coney Island and see a freak show and go to Brighton Beach to practice your new-found appreciation of Russian culture. Walk the boardwalk to get some local color (Even in winter people will be walking, strolling, and biking unless it is a record-breaking cold snap)

Go on a Sunday morning to Borough Park or any really Jewish Orthodox 'hood. You may feel like a fish out of water, but as long as you are respectful, things should be OK. But it is a major culture clash.

You can take the A Train to Jamaica Wildlife refuge in Jamaica Bay. Winter is down time, but they still have a lot of birds and some birds from the Arctic that overwinter there. (I saw a snowy owl there once.) Many nature photographers, but I don't know if that is your area of interest/expertise.
posted by xetere at 2:34 PM on December 28, 2005

Come to a NYC Metafilter meetup! I'm sure we'll be having one in the next few weeks; we love each other too much to go too long without seeing one another.

There's a show Off-Broadway called The Awesome 80's Prom. It's one of those interactive deals where the cast pretends you're part of their high school class, and you all dance together as the story goes on around you. I've been two (or three?) times and it's always buckets of fun.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:36 PM on December 28, 2005 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Hey everyone, thanks for the great suggestions so far.

justgary - I am combing through the other nyc threads, but I just posted this in case theres anything new or if my question sparked something in someone's brain that hadn't been mentioned yet.

kathryn - awesome suggestions, and since its supposed to rain all day tomorrow, I'm totally going to try movie hopping. I've never done it before even though there's a 21-screen place near my old home, but hey, I've got time to kill tomorrow.

ThePinkSuperhero - I've been meaning to come to an NYC meetup, but you guys always have them on weekends when I'm out of town or when I already have plans! I'll keep an eye out though for the next few weeks...with the exception of New Years, I'll be around.

Also, um, this may be a little late, but I do have a car, so if something is out of Metrocard reachable range, thats awesome too.
posted by AlisonM at 3:25 PM on December 28, 2005

The Memling Portraits exhibition at the Frick ends on Saturday. As a photographer, you must go. (And who does that guy on the top left remind me of?)
posted by IndigoJones at 3:37 PM on December 28, 2005

I went to the LES Tenement museum after seeing it mentioned in a previous AskMe thread and took one of the tours of their restored apartments. Very much worth the time, I thought.

Cooper-Hewitt, National Design museum was also mentioned above - I read about its exhibit Fashion in Colors and would like to see that too.
posted by PY at 5:04 PM on December 28, 2005

Walk every block of manhattan. Seriously. There is so much random, bizarre, fun and beautiful stuff out there. Pick a different neighborhood each day, and go for a walk. It's a beautiful city out there - lots that still needs to be documented. When you're done with manhattan, move on to queens and brooklyn. :)
posted by jba at 11:27 PM on December 28, 2005


Based on your love of photography, I would highly suggest Brooklyn Museum's current photo exhibition by Edward Burtynsky. It is leaving January 15th.

Also, this past summer I tried to see a lot (and save money) so I would try googling the following to see if these possbilities still exist.
-Standing room only tickets (or lottery tickets) for plays and musicals. I saw the play 'Doubt', the musical 'Wicked','Lion King' - etc. for about 20 dollars per ticket.
--Museums such as MOMA and the Guggenheim are free (or reduced entrance free) on Friday evenings. Crowded but - free!
--I would also highly recommend the MET. There are tours scheduled throughout the week (i.e., music room, paintings, Egyptian exhibits) - the art springs to life since you have a guide explaining bits and pieces about the various exhibits. The entrance fee is a suggested fee (not required payment) -if you don't feel comforatable paying less and go to the museum frequently, you can join the museum for approximately 80 dollars for the year and enter as many times as you wish. Seriously, if you have never seen the museum, check it out - there is even an Egyptian temple inside the museum.
-The Cloisters is really beautiful and unique

I have only lived in NYC the past few months, too, so I'll be watching this section for new ideas and places to explore also.
posted by Wolfster at 9:54 PM on December 29, 2005

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