The Metropolitan Museum of Art, its Fifth Avenue location above, offers pay-as-you-wish admission for New York state residents so you can save and still enjoy its galleries. Diego Cagara / The Spot 518
NEW YORK — One day. One city. Could that work?
When people think of New York City, they often assume that it is too expensive and flooded with camera-wielding tourists and their fanny packs. While that is true to an extent, it does not mean that the Big Apple is not worth visiting. Unlike going as a stereotypical tourist, you should travel smart if you want to stay within a budget.
Upon first impression, the city has a contrasting atmosphere from the much quieter Capital District. Since it’s only a two-and-a-half-hour drive away, a quick day trip does not sound impossible. But in order to travel smart, you should plan ahead and decide what places you would like to visit, as well as reserve some money for transport and food.
First, in order to experience the city even for a day, you need to figure out first how you would like to head down there.
Sure, there are Manhattan-bound buses and trains available like Greyhound, Megabus and the Amtrak throughout the Capital District but you would have to adhere to their departure schedules. Also, there is always the frequent risk of witnessing your bus or train get delayed — or worse, canceled.
But if you would like to make it a more exciting road trip, you could opt to drive down yourself, if you have your own vehicle and sufficient gas money. That way, you make up your own schedule of when to leave your house and manage your time to get your road trip snacks or to-go coffee.
If you do drive down, you should decide firsthand where you’d like to park your vehicle. SpotHero, a website that allows you to look up locations of hourly or monthly parking areas, is a great option to search for places to park within or around Manhattan. Its slogan, “Park Smarter,” goes along with our theme of traveling smart too. With SpotHero, you can compare parking prices, which are much cheaper than typical Manhattan parking rates overall. For more information, visit spothero.com.
Since Manhattan is an expensive place to park in, you are recommended to park near Manhattan instead, like in neighboring Brooklyn or Newark, New Jersey. It’s recommended to find a parking area near a subway station or ferry, which are cheap options to then get into Manhattan.
Regarding the ferry, one option is to park at the Ferry Parking Garage in Weehawken, New Jersey, which is across the street from the Port Imperial Ferry Terminal on 4800 Avenue at Port Imperial, Weehawken, New Jersey. This terminal provides ferry service — which offers spectacular views of the city’s skyline from the waters — to Pier 11/Wall Street in Lower Manhattan and Midtown/West 39 Street. A one-way adult ticket is just $9 while children aged five and under go free; those aged six through 11 are $6 and it is $8.25 for seniors and the disabled. For more information, visit www.nywaterway.com.
Museums and attractions
One of Manhattan’s strengths lie in its comprehensive subway system which allows travelers inexpensive journeys to pretty much wherever they’d like to go, whether for museums, tourist attractions, restaurants and more. For more information on subway fares and maps, visit new.mta.info.
If you’re not into spending much money on tourist attractions or
points of interest, the city offers many other free and cheap options for an ideal day trip sightseeing.
The New York Public Library, on the corner of 42nd Street and 5th Avenue, offers a quiet respite from the metropolitan traffic outside. Stacks of books and encyclopedias, including an incomplete yet official Gutenberg Bible copy, populate its vast Reading Room and halls. Along with free WiFi and its iconic marble lions at its entrance, it also offers many opportunities to take photographs.
Moving on, there are numerous museums across the city that offers either free access or pay-as-you-wish admission so that you can still enjoy rich galleries without breaking your wallet. Examples include:
9/11 Memorial and Museum, on 180 Greenwich St. — free public admission on Tuesdays, 5 p.m. to close; free admission for 9/11 family members, veterans and rescue workers
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, art museum on 1071 Fifth Ave. — pay-as-you-wish every Saturday, 5 to 8 p.m.
Grand Central Station, the largest train terminal worldwide at the corner of Vanderbilt Avenue and East 42nd St. — free access to its concourse to admire its grand chandeliers, illustrious ceilings and decorative archways
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, art museum most famously known for its Fifth Avenue branch on 1000 Fifth Ave. — pay-as-you-wish for New York State residents and for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut students
The Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), fashion museum on 227 West 27th Ave. — free admission
Nature and landscape
For those seeking nature-themed attractions or landscape shots, there are also free and pay-as-you-wish places to check out, including:
The Bronx Zoo, on 2300 Southern Blvd. in the Bronx — free admission on Wednesdays
Brooklyn Botanic Garden, on 455 Flatbush Ave. in Brooklyn — free admission on Fridays, 8 a.m. to noon from March to November
New York Aquarium, on 602 Surf Ave. in Brooklyn — pay-as-you-wish on Wednesdays, from 3 p.m. to close
Staten Island Zoo, on 614 Broadway on Staten Island — free admission on Tuesdays after 2 p.m.
Central Park, runs along Fifth Avenue — free urban park for relaxation and attractions like the Bethesda Fountain and John Lennon’s Strawberry Fields memorial
Staten Island Ferry, a 50-minute ride from Whitehall St., Lower Manhattan to St. George on Staten Island — free admission; offers picturesque views of New York Harbor, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
Brooklyn Bridge, connects Manhattan and Brooklyn — free access; offers scenic day-and-night views of the Manhattan skyline
With all these suggestions and tips, it is possible to enjoy New York City for a day road trip, where you can plan ahead, decide which best parking spot and attractions to pick, not break your wallet, and time when you want to enter and leave the city.
Saving money happens when you travel smart.