Cheap NYC fun
June 23, 2008 9:43 PM   Subscribe

The Staten Island Ferry is said to be "one of the best values in New York City" because it's free and offers great views of the city. What are other "best values" in NYC, including shopping, food, activities, and anything else that's surprisingly inexpensive.

I'll be moving to the City later this summer I need to not blow my nestegg.
posted by HotPatatta to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (19 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
FreeNYC is a good source for free or cheap events.
posted by hooray at 9:52 PM on June 23, 2008

Walking about Manhattan is free, and very entertaining.

I don't know if this is still the case (I fear it is not) but, dim sum in China Town used to be amazingly affordable. But back then, it wasn't so widely known. I used to go to a place right where Doyer Street bends.
posted by Goofyy at 10:40 PM on June 23, 2008

In addition to the Brooklyn/Manhattan/Williamsburg/GW/Triborough/etc bridges: Roosevelt Island Tram - $2 one way, an amazing view.
posted by suedehead at 10:40 PM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

AMNH (The famous American Museum of Natural History) - general admission is technically free / donation.

Wandering around, taking buses and subways, is free / low cost.
posted by coffeefilter at 10:51 PM on June 23, 2008

Free Shakespeare in the Park
Free Movies in Bryant Park
Free concerts at Central Park Summerstage, Prospect Park, Battery Park
Pay what you can days at all the Museums
First Saturday at the Brooklyn Museum
Free Kayaking with the Downtown Boat House
Ushering shows off-broadway and seeing them for free
Hole-in-the-wall ethnic restaurants
Flea Markets on 6th Avenue
Canal Street

The trick to living in New York is not giving into the many temptations to spend your money.
posted by brookeb at 10:51 PM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is pay-as-you-go. If you're an art geek, put a few days into it.

Bethesda Terrace in Central Park is beautiful.
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:31 AM on June 24, 2008

Check out the River to River Festival. They have tons of free concerts, tours, etc all throughout the summer.
posted by mcroft at 4:46 AM on June 24, 2008

2 summers ago, before moving to NYC for the summer, I got a copy of NYC Free and Dirt Cheap, which turned out to be *really* useful.

Some of my personal favorite cheap/free things:

Free outdoor movies in Hudson River Park by 12th St., and on the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Bridge (to get a good seat for Bryant Park, you pretty much have to show up before 5pm, which is incompatible with most work schedules, but at Hudson River Park at least, nobody shows up so you can sit nice and close, and the movies are just as good.)

The Upright Citizens' Brigade Theater, for cheap and very funny improv (they have a free show Sunday night at 9:30 as well)

Mamoun's falafel on Macdougal street, just south of Washington Square. $2.50 for a falafel sandwich. There are lots of other cheap places in the area, tucked in between the expensive ones.

Century 21 on Cortlandt Street is a discount department store with lots of (relatively) cheap shopping.
posted by goingonit at 5:25 AM on June 24, 2008

Buy a bicycle. Get a free NYC Bike Map. Ride to wherever your fancy strikes. Try out hole in the wall restaurants, go to the beach in the Rockaways, Red Hook, Coney Island, the Little Red Lighthouse, the Cloisters in Washington Heights. Ride over the Brooklyn Bridge at first light, a truly beautiful sight to behold. Explore!

(Always carry a spare tube, pump and tire levers, as well as a Metrocard for train bailouts.)
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 5:34 AM on June 24, 2008

The thing with the Met and the AMNH and a handful of other museums is that they're pay what you wish but they don't really make that very clear at the ticket counter - they display the suggested price and you have to kind of assert yourself to pay whatever lesser amount you pick. It can feel awkward, but it's totally legit. It's a requirement b/c they get funding from the city - here's a bit of an explanation.
posted by yarrow at 6:51 AM on June 24, 2008

For a couple bucks you can hop a bus from the Port Authority to Mitsuwa Plaza, which is this rather fun Japanese grocery store with an amazing food court (and by "grocery store" I mean "the size of the place is on par with Giant/SuperFresh/PathMark/whatever you're used to). Just as importantly, you can walk behind the building and all of a sudden you're right up against the river and have an amazing view of Manhattan. Definitely a great way to spend an afternoon.
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:00 AM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

a place right where Doyer Street bends

I believe that place claims to be the oldest dim sum house in Chinatown.
posted by oaf at 7:44 AM on June 24, 2008

If you want to minimize discomfort at "suggested admission" museums, hand over your small-denomination bill (or coins) at the same time you ask for an ticket. This avoids the awkwardness of being told the admission is $20, and you (either apologetically or defiantly) paying a fraction of that.

Although I wouldn't feel too bad about paying less than the full suggested amount. Maybe someone in museum management can tell me I'm wrong, but I always assumed that to offset my $1 donation, there remain enough wealthy New Yorkers seeking to maintain their place in the social hierarchy through the lavish support of classy joints like the Met. I am happy to benefit from this expression of wealth inequality, noblesse oblige, and social climbing.
posted by hhc5 at 8:55 AM on June 24, 2008

Definitely subscribe to the Nonsense NYC e-mail list- a weekly e-mail of all that is strange and cool in NYC, much of which is cheap.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:23 AM on June 24, 2008 [3 favorites]

Mamoun's falafel on Macdougal street

Damn you, goingonit, the lines at lunchtime are long enough already!

And the FINY (Free in New York) mailing list often has interesting free or cheap event listings.
posted by JaredSeth at 10:37 AM on June 24, 2008

Ride the A train up to 207th and take a hike in Manhattan's only remaining natural forest, Inwood Hill Park. Then walk south a little ways to Fort Tryon Park and visit the Cloisters. Gorgeous views over the Hudson, you almost forget you're in the city.
posted by martini at 1:04 PM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Just to note, Mamoun's has been closed down by the health inspector, so never mind. All good things must come to an end, I guess.
posted by goingonit at 5:30 PM on June 27, 2008

goingonit, when did that happen? I just got lunch from Mamoun's two days ago. Oh and germane to the thread, under 5 bucks for lunch there.
posted by JaredSeth at 6:35 PM on June 27, 2008

Just went to Mamoun's for lunch and confirming it is still open (and still cheap and delicious).

Not that I'd let a health inspector tell me otherwise. Hell, Mamoun's could have a giant rat slicing the lamb for their shawarma and I'd probably just ask for some extra sauce on it.
posted by JaredSeth at 1:10 PM on July 9, 2008

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