NYC doesn't have a good reputation for being affordable, but there are some fabulous bargains to be had. Like these:
Smoked Salmon bagel ( huge & so great, about $8) from Zucker's Bagels & Smoked Fish, Tribeca. This place makes the kind of bagels I dream about -- perfectly chewy & just soft enough. Pictured is one of my favorite breakfasts -- beautiful bagel loaded w/ Scotch smoked salmon (not too salty!), capers, red onion tomato & cream cheese.
Walking the colossal Brooklyn Bridge is free, an awesome and thrilling experience, and what I did to work off the bagel carbs. It only takes about 20 minutes each way & if you're like me (yes, I'm glad you're not, also) echoes of Walt Whitman's poetry will come thrusting through your skull (like the haunting Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, which timelessly describes the scene there before the bridge was built).
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Roof Gallery. The incomparable Met has a suggested entry fee -- I usually give $2-3 and stay for hours. While there this time, I saw the brutally powerful Francis Bacon show and an excellently curated & informative Pictures Generation show. Since the weather was ideal, I enjoyed a cocktail on the roof while walking around Roxy Paine's madly gleaming metal "tree" which creates interesting juxtapositions w/ the stunning billion-$ uptown real estate beautifully visible from up there.
MOMA is free on Fridays from 4-8pm, and while the line always looks scary long, it moves really fast (will probably take less than 15 minutes). I love the macabre mask-laden art of James Ensor, and MOMA's huge exhibit did not disappoint! Also good was an In & Out of Amsterdam show.
Ray Johnson at Richard L. Feigen & Co. Visiting NYC's tremendous art galleries is absolutely free and I usually spend at least a whole day checking out the scene. I find Time Out NY to be the best overall guide to them. Here's a few shots from some neat shows I saw.
Lawrence Weiner at Marian Goodman Gallery
Gallery hopping inevitably leads to the most art-dense part of the city -- Chelsea. But there's more than galleries there. Like this winningly architecturally oddball brand-new park created across old elevated train tracks that's popular w/ picnickers The Highline
Also in Chelsea is this excellent and not very expensive artisanal pizza joint which also has nice wines... Loved the crunchy fresh Radicchio Salad ($7) and the marvelously charred roasted Fennel & Sausage Pizza($17) from Co., Chelsea
Elettaria, in Greenwich Village might have the best happy hour in town -- 1/2 price yet sublime cocktails (like the deep, dark & wonderful pictured Black Pearl made w/ bourbon, black strap rum, very aromatic bitters & demerara sugar), expertly shaken by a bartender just featured in New York magazine (whose pissy mood was almost excused because of his skill). There's also HH $5 bar snacks made by an Iron Chef America competitor (who's related to Alive's John Ross!!!!), a beautiful room & the hippest modern music, too!
You can see free concerts overlooking giant ships on the piers like the Versus & Superchunk show I saw (bands from an era when "indie rock" actually meant something) @ South Street Seaport
The marvelous Zinc Bar has terrific cheap shows, too. I especially like their Brazilian Monday Nights -- only $7 cover! Last week, I saw Cidinho Teixeira & Friends, Zinc Bar
I love NYC theatre (but NOT those sappy musicals!)...you can get 1/2 price tix at TKTS booths, like the one near Times Square. I did that to see Mary Stuart which featured tour-de-force acting & an indoor rain storm. Even cheaper ($26!) was the play I came to see -- the super hilarious and spikey barb-loaded God of Carnage w/ James Gandolfini, Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis & Marcia Gay Harden. Having recently won the TONY award for best play, it was sold out, BUT, if you know how to get SRO tix (show up @ theater two hours prior to play) like me, you can see it for a pittance (actual price was over $100).
To do all the zig-zagging all over Manhattan, I always get a (good for all buses and all subways @ all times) $27 /7-Day Unlimited Metrocard