Take the ferry to Governors Island and rent a bike.
This is one of the most fun and most affordable NYC activities. Take the ferry to Governors Island from the southern tip of Manhattan (South Ferry). The ferry is free on weekends if you ride at or before 11.30 AM. Not an early bird? Don’t worry, a round trip is only $2.
Once you get to the island, head to the center to rent a bike: $15 for 2 hours. The island is beautiful, lots of twisting paths to explore, with incredible views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.
Afterwards, refresh yourself with snacks from one of the food trucks or a drink from a bar that looks out at Manhattan. Learn a bit about the history of the island or relax in a hammock. Bring a book and you could be happy here for an entire day (and may never want to leave).
Governors Island is open from May to October.
Attend a Sofar Sounds concert.
Want to attend a secret concert with 40 strangers in a beautiful apartment or after-hours at a trendy store? Sofar Sounds is one of my favorite discoveries I’ve made since moving here – and it’s not limited to NYC! They’re in 387 cities around the world – check out the link above to find them near you.
You sign up for a concert knowing only vaguely a time frame and a neighborhood. If you get off the waitlist, ticket pricing depends on your city. In NYC, tickets are $20 each and you’ll be able to buy a few for your friends as well. Then, they’ll send you an address and a time window for your arrival. Get ready for an amazing night with up to 3 new artists or bands. I’ve found some acts I’ve been truly obsessed with via Sofar, including the band Bailen (check out one of their tracks here).
Tip: make sure you explore the different event descriptions. They’ll let you know if the event is outside, BYOB, ETC. There’s something extremely special about sitting on the floor of the Frye Boots, drinking wine out of paper cups, and listening to bands you may have never heard of.
Pay what you wish at the Met.
(Beginning March 1, 2018, this will only be available to NY residents and NY, NJ, and CT students.)
If you buy a ticket at the Met from one of the ticket counters (as opposed to one of the automated machines or online), you can select the amount you would like to pay. The arts are important and we ought to be as generous as we can, but as a 20-something who doesn’t make much money and visits the Met every other month, $25 per visit is just not realistic. Instead, walk up to the counter and tell them you’d “like one ticket for five (or two or ten or fourteen) dollars.”
Once you’re in, the world is your oyster. The Met is the largest art museum in the US, with over two million pieces in its collection. My favorite sections of the museum include the Costume Institute, the Period Rooms, and the Islamic Art wing.
Pay what you wish is available for the Met Fifth Ave, the Met Breuer, and the Met Cloisters. P.S.: the Met Fifth Ave and the Met Cloisters have some amazing reading spots.
Stretch it out at Yoga to the People.
Yoga to the People is my favorite yoga studio in NYC. There are locations throughout the city, though I’m partial to their beautiful space with enormous windows on the Upper West Side, on Broadway between 103rd and 104th. It’s one of the most relaxing spaces in the city; I like to get there 15 to 20 minutes early to lie on my mat and read.
This studio is special for two reasons. First, it’s donation based. Come in, pay $2 for a mat if you need one, and then give what you can on your way out of the studio.
Second, it’s totally judgment free. The instructors often encourage the class to close their eyes while in an especially difficult pose. I’ve actually heard people laugh out loud at themselves when they fall. Hell, I’ve laughed at myself! The good vibes in the room are contagious.
Walk along the Hudson River.
Did you know the city is surrounded by parks along the rivers that separate it? The Highline is wonderful, but Hudson River Park is almost always less crowded and breezier. Start in the West Village and walk South until you hit Battery Park. It’s good exercise and full of great views of both the water and the city skyline.
Hudson River Park is also covered in benches and perfect for reading. Do you have a New York Public Library card? If so, head to the Hudson Park branch of the NYPL (this location is so quaint and cozy), pick up something new, and walk 2 blocks to the river. Open book and enjoy.