New York City Favorite Tips by Dabs
New York City Favorites: 1,129 reviews and 1,091 photos
Favorite thing: I saw this service advertised in one of the budget travel magazines, I sent off a note to see if I could get one for my recent trip but they didn't have a greeter available. Try to send a request off as soon as you know you will be visiting, they request 4-6 weeks advance notice.
It's a free service where a volunteer local person takes visitors for a 2-4 hour tour of New York City, you can request a specific area or you can leave it up to the Greeter to plan a visit for you.
Favorite thing: I saw Big Onion recommended by someone on Fodors, the walks are $12, last about 2 hours long and the guides all hold history degrees.
The only one I had time for was on Saturday, a tour of Gramercy Park and Union Square. It wouldn't have been my first choice of an area to explore but it was interesting and the guide was very knowledgable about the subject matter.
There's also a book for sale (you can buy on Amazon) if you want to self tour, The Big Onion Guide to New York City-Ten Historic Tours.
Some other walking tours that I've seen recommended but didn't have time for:
Municipal Art Society of New York
Foods of New York tours
Free walking tour of Lower East side
NYC Visit searchable calendar
Favorite thing: NYC is one of the most expensive cities to visit in the US. Here are a few ideas to help save a bit of money:
Big Apple Greeters (see separate tip)-free
Central Park walking tours-free
For a few more ideas
New York Metro
Theater see separate tip for more info
Check out the TKTS booths for 1/2 price theater tickets but be prepared for a wait and to pay cash
A better idea might be to sign up for one of the advance discount purchase options like Playbill or Theatermania and get theater tickets without standing in line or try Broadway Box to find the discount codes.
If you visit all the included attractions, you can save some money with a City Pass
General budget savers including hotels
New York Metro
Favorite thing: I was standing in Madison Square taking a picture and a couple of very fat, friendly squirrels walked right up to me. Apparently they are well fed and not at all afraid of humans. The squirrels in Chicago aren't quite as fat, perhaps they need to take up the low carb Atkins diet and forgo the bagels and pizza :-)
Favorite thing: New York City is home to many celebrities, if they don't live in California they seem to live in NYC. Chicago? All we've got is Oprah and Roger Ebert!
My one and only celebrity encounter before this trip (not counting local celebrities Roger Ebert and Dennis Rodman in Chicago) was in Prague when we saw Ric Ocasek from the Cars and his beautiful model wife Paulina Porzikova having a picnic with their children. So as I'm strolling on my walk with Big Onion Tours in Gramercy Park, who do I see? Ric Ocasek (without his lovely wife) snapping photos as he walked down the street. Pretty weird, huh?
In 2007, we were walking into the Toys R Us in Times Square and I walked right past a guy and thought, hmmmm, he looks a lot like Harry Hamlin. Turns out it was, he and his wife Lisa Rinna popped into a black town car (with driver, of course) and drove off. My niece was cursing, well 13 year old cursing that is, that she didn't get a photo or autograph but I figure the poor guy is out shopping with his family, isn't that enough torture? ;-)
Favorite thing: Although Chicago is the birthplace of the skyscraper, New York City held the title for world's tallest building ffor 80 years from 1894 when the Manhattan Life Building was erected until 1974 when the Sears Tower in Chicago was completed.
A timeline of the world's tallest buildings can be found here:
Favorite thing: Although you are not likely to find discount tickets for whatever the hot production is, there are several ways to get discount tickets for long running productions and off Broadway plays.
I prefer to get tickets ahead of time, the lines at TKTS can be an hour +, do you really want to spend your time in the Big Apple waiting in line?
Here are a few suggestions:
Broadway Box has discount codes that you can use to purchase tickets on the official seller's website or by phone. Frugal TheaterGoer has useful information about finding discounts.
You have to sign up for TheaterMania and Playbill to get at the discounts but both are free to join and you can also sign up for their newsletter that alerts you to discounted shows
If you are already in New York and don't have access to a computer, you can try the TKTS booth in Times Square but see my tourist trap tip regarding TKTS.
A couple of other methods that I've read about but never tried:
Show up at the theater 2 1/2 hours before the performance and sign up for the lottery (bring a photo id). Tickets should be $25 or less.
If you're a student, you can get same day rush tickets, check tdf.org or telecharge.com for each show's policy.
And the least appealing option for really hot shows, many of the big hits have SRO tickets after the full price ones sell out for about $25 but you have to stand for the whole performance.
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