The $50-and-under out-of-town-guest tour
Entertain visitors all weekend without having to reach for the plastic once.
Wed Jun 4 2008
Going to a game at Yankee or Shea Stadium can be prohibitively expensive, especially after factoring in the price of booze (a necessary component when dealing with the ponderous nature of America’s pastime). On the other hand, baseball is a New York institution—something one must experience while in town. The solution: Buy two tickets to a Cyclones game ($8, $12 or $15 each) and enjoy the beachside breeze at KeySpan Park (1904 Surf Ave between 17th and 19th Sts, Coney Island, Brooklyn; 718-449-8497).
Don’t fill up on frankfurters at the park; instead head down the block to Nathan’s Famous (1310 Surf Ave between Stillwell Ave and W 15th St, Coney Island, Brooklyn; nathansfamous.com), site of the notorious hot-dog eating contest. Print out a coupon off the website and enjoy a second wiener for a nickel.
Coney Island isn’t all bearded, sword-swallowing freaks and rickety roller coasters; check out the true history of the place (for free) at the Coney Island History Project’s exhibition center (1000 Surf Ave at 10th St; 718-265-2100, coneyislandhistory.org).
When the Brooklyn Bridge was constructed 126 years ago, the idea of watching free movies under its majestic span would’ve probably been met with incredulous stares and accusations of witchcraft. Today the idea is received with cries of “Kick ass!” Empire–Fulton Ferry State Park’s annual series Movies with a View offers one of the best—and cheapest—New York alfresco experiences available, not to mention a stunning eyeful of Manhattan (brooklynbridgepark.org).
The legendary and intrepid New York Philharmonic plays a number of free concerts in each borough throughout the summer. Attendance is a must for lovers of both music and freedom (nyphil.org).
The Downtown Boathouse (several locations along the Hudson River, downtownboathouse.org) hosts free 20-minute instructional kayaking trips on weekends and holidays. A morning paddle on the Hudson is ideal: You’ll sweat out your hangover and get a break from your guest if entertaining has become a chore.
Governors Island Ferry
Photograph: Dawn Shurmaitis
Many consider the Staten Island Ferry to be the best of the local boat rides—but then again, millions of people also think President Bush is doing a swell job. Actually, the No. 1 free saltwater voyage of the summer is the Governors Island Ferry (reopens May 30, 2009, departs hourly Fri–Sun from the Battery Maritime Building, 10 South St at the East River, govisland.com) to the historic military site. Be sure to bring your own Coronas and corned-beef sandwiches for a picnic in the sun. Just don’t fall asleep and miss the last ride off the island (5pm on Friday, 7pm on Saturday and Sunday).
Another New York landmark that we’d go out of our way to visit is the scene of Venkman, Stantz and Spengler’s first supernatural encounter at the New York Public Library (498 Fifth Ave at 42nd St, 212-930-0800) in Ghostbusters. Take in the splendid architecture with gratis building tours (Mon–Sat 11am, 2pm; Sun 2pm).
Artichoke Basille's Pizza & Brewery
While New York is known for pizza, it’s a mistake to rush into the first pie joint you encounter. Instead, order a couple of pieces of the butter-wine-sauce–fortified spinach and artichoke pie ($4 a slice) at Artichoke Basille’s Pizza & Brewery (328 E 14th St between First and Second Aves, 212-228-2004). NB: There is always a line around the block, but waiting is totally worth it.
Now, most tourists are going to flock to some high-profile scene at MoMA (Fri 4–8pm free), but it would be a crime to let them ignore the “Up Close: Henry Darger” exhibit at the American Folk Art Museum (45 W 53rd St between Fifth and Sixth Aves, 212-265-1040; Fri 5:30–7:30pm free). Featuring work by the late artist and janitor Henry Darger, as well as contemporary artists inspired by him, the show will satisfy any hankering your guest has for images of prepubescent hermaphrodites waging war against child enslavement. And what visitor to New York doesn’t want to see that?