Since I live in New York I received a lot of emails asking about tips. So here is a list of the most essential things you should know for your next visit.
1.) Free museum visits and admission by suggested donation
Many New York City museums offer admission by “suggested donation” and I recognized that most visitors do not know this. In clear words – you can pay what you want, even if it is one penny.
For example, you can visit the Met Museum and pay just 1 Dollar for full access. But their website does carry this request: “To help cover the costs of special exhibitions, we ask that you please pay the full recommended amount.”, which is shown at the counters when you enter the museum.
I usually pay what is either in my budget or what I think is worth the visit.
Here is a list of museums, which you can visit and decide what to pay:
Met Museum of Art/The Cloisters - ($25 recommended)
American Museum of Natural History ($19 recommended)
Museum of the City of New York - ($10 recommended)
Brooklyn Museum - ($12 recommended)
Studio Museum in Harlem - ($7 recommended)
Museum of Biblical Art - ($7 recommended)
P.S. 1 MoMA - ($10 recommended)
el Museo del Barrio ($9 recommended)
Queens Museum of Art - ($5 recommended)
Bronx Museum- ($5 recommended)
Sculpture Center - ($5 recommended)
Staten Island Museum - ($3 recommended)
And then there are free museum:
Museum of Modern Art
Admission is free for all visitors during Target Free Friday Nights,
held every Friday evening from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m.
The Forbes Galleries:
10:00 a.m. — 4:00 p.m. on Tuesdays through Saturdays.
Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology
Museum of American Finance
Tuesday through Saturday from 10-11 a.m.
National Museum of the American Indian
Weekdays you can experience German language and culture exhibits
for free at the Goethe Institut.
Sony Wonder Technology Lab
Swiss Institute of Contemporary Art
2.) Free Concerts and closed Avenues
There are quiet a few outdoor events all over New York – usually from June till September – the largest concert festival is the New York SummerStage.
SummerStage is an annual, free performing arts summer festival founded in 1986 which takes place at Rumsey Playfield in New York City’s Central Park and, since 2010, in parks throughout the five boroughs of New York.
Visit: www.summerstage.org for more info.
Summer Streets is an annual celebration of New York City’s most valuable public space –the streets. On three consecutive Saturdays in the summer, nearly seven miles of NYC’s streets are opened for people to play, walk, bike, and breathe. Summer Streets provides more space for healthy recreation and encourages New Yorkers to use more sustainable forms of transportation.
3. Free open-air Movies
In Summer you will find some cool venues to enjoy a variety of free movies beneath the stars in New York City. I really like the places along the rivers, e.g. at the Hudson on Pier 1 in Riverside Park or in Brooklyn Bridge Park with fantastic views on the skyline.
Bryant Park Summer Film Festival
Summer on the Hudson
Movies With A View from the Brooklyn Bridge
Central Park Film Festival
Celebrate Brooklyn! Music & Movies
Coney Island Flicks on the Beach
Movie Nights on the Elevated Acre
Red Hook Summer Movies
4.) Kayaking on the Hudson
In summer it gets really hot in the city. So what is better than going onto the water. And again: all for free!
The Downtown Boathouse offers various locations, where you can pick up your kayak and after a short introduction you’ll be on the water. There is usually a nice little breeze along the Hudson, which helps a lot.
More info at: The NYC Downtown Boathouse
5.) Use Buses
I see that most visitors are just using the subway system. But why not use buses?
I mean, our visitors walk a lot – I remember, when I was visiting NYC any additional step hurt at night. So there is an alternative. Take the bus, it is really easy to get around. Busses in Manhattan usually go either Up- or Downtown on the same avenue or crosstown on that particular street. And even if you miss a stop, it is not far, as busses stop at almost every second corner.
You just have to know:
- enter the bus in the front.
- you can use your unlimited Metrocard for the buses.
- there is a card reader right next to the bus driver.
That’s it and it can save you a lot of pain – plus: it takes you even quicker to the next destination.
And if you do not have an unlimited Metrocard you can also switch once from bus to subway or subway to bus without paying extra. You always have one free transfer!
6.) THE ROOSEVELT ISLAND TRAM
On March 1, 2010, the tramway was closed as part of a $25 million project to upgrade and modernize the system. Now it is operating again. And it is worth to try it out.
Roosevelt Island had been connected to Manhattan by this trolley line that crossed over the Queensboro Bridge from its opening in 1909. Trolleys to and from Queens stopped in the middle of the bridge to meet an elevator, which then took passengers down to the island. As the only connection to the rest of the city from the island, the trolley remained in service until April 7, 1957, long after most other trolley service had been dismantled in the city, and was the last trolley line in New York State. At that time, a bridge to Queens was completed, requiring a roundabout trip to reach Manhattan.
Then it was opened again in July 1976 as a temporary solution for the island’s commuting needs. As the subway project fell further behind schedule, the “tram” became more popular and was converted into a permanent facility.
More info here: www.rioc.com/transportation.htm
As far I know, you can use your Metrocard for it!
7.) Staten Island Ferry, East River & Hudson River Ferry
The Staten Island Ferry departs Manhattan from the Staten Island Ferry Whitehall Terminal, South Ferry, at the southernmost tip of Manhattan near Battery Park. On Staten Island, the ferry arrives and departs from St. George Ferry Terminal on Richmond Terrace, near Richmond County Borough Hall and Richmond County Supreme Court. Service is provided 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The Staten Island Ferry is quite a reliable form of mass transit, with an on-time performance of over 96 percent. The Staten Island Ferry has been a municipal service since 1905, and currently carries over 21 million passengers annually on the 5.2-mile (8.4 km) run.
The Staten Island Ferry operates year round. You can use your Metrocard for it and it offers spectacular views on the skyline of NYC. For more info visit: www.siferry.com
The East River & Hudson River Ferry is another cool way to get around in New York and easily takes you e.g. to Williamsburg in Brooklyn, which absolutely worth a visit. Or if you are interested to see Jersey City you can cross the Hudson within a few minutes. NY Waterway is a private transportation company running ferry and bus service in the Port of New York and New Jersey and in the Hudson Valley.
For more info visit: www.nywaterway.com
8.) Biking in NYC
Believe it or not, New York is great for bike riding – especially in summer. It is fun and you got to know the city from a very different angle of view.
First of all: the city invested a lot in bike riding. There are many new bike lanes all over the city, although there are still some crazy areas where I not would suggest to bike. One of those streets is Canal Street for example. But other than that there are great greenways along East River and Hudson River and even through the city you will find nice spots. I would definitely recommend to wear a helmet and if you get into an area with crazy traffic, just walk the bike to the next corner and take the next smaller sidestreet.
Here is a list with good maps which will help you to get around: www.nycgovparks.org
And then here are the links to a few organizations, who did their job to make a greener city, too:
Just to mention a few!
There are bike rental stores all over the city and you will find BIKE AND ROLL along Hudson River Park, in Central Park and at the Brooklyn Bridge!
9.) Eateries all over the city
New York has thousands of restaurants and it is a lot of fun to explore the culinary scene. In fact, compared to Europe or Germany, going out is much less expensive. Sometimes there are even events, like the NYC Restaurant week or you find great lunch or dinner deals, almost everywhere.
Another thing you should know is, that New York has a Restaurant ABC Grading System. Do you know about this?
That means almost all restaurants got inspected by the NY Health Department for sanitary and health conditions. You will find these grades usually at the entrance of each restaurant and it shows either an A, B, C or grade pending sign. An A Grade is the best one you can get and I usually visit restaurants with an A, sometimes B grade. But you must realize, it will just give you an idea about the sanitary conditions, it will not tell you how good the food is.
Here you can check the sanitary grade of restaurants online: www.nyc.gov
Goldstar is another great website where you can buy deals for almost everything related to NYC – www.goldstar.com.
You will find really good deals on Broadway shows, sports events (like basketball, American football or baseball), comedy shows or even nice dance parties on a boat in the New York Bay (we tried that, paid $3.5o per person and had great fun). Sometimes events are for free, sometime for a few dollars and sometime half price off.
Check it out and maybe you can add a nice event to your travel plans.
Happy travellings, Sandra
PS: And here is a video which gives you another few ideas:
New York City – 10 Things You Need To Know