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Big Apple bargains

Brooklyn Bridge tour
Guided tours give visitors the history behind New York City. This group takes in the view from the Brooklyn Bridge  

Taking the financial bite out of exploring New York

June 23, 2000
Web posted at: 11:06 a.m. EDT (1506 GMT)

In this story:

Arts on a budget

Summer celebrations


Editor's note: This is the third in a four-part series on how to travel affordably to some top tourist destinations

(CNN) -- Wall Street wonders make a fortune in the financial capital of the world, and while vacationing there, you easily could spend one. But you really don't have to.

Amid New York City's elegant hotels, swank restaurants and big-bucks boutiques are dollar-saving deals ranging from cut-rate theater tickets to free tours of the town.

Click for tips on where to sleep, eat and shop in New York
Tips on affordable travel to top tourist destinations:
  • San Francisco
  • Chicago
  • New York
  • Paris

    If you're planning a trip to the Big Apple, it's wise to figure out what you're going to do before you get there.

    "New York City is big and it's complex and there's tons of stuff to see and do, so planning is really, really key," said Karen Cure of Fodor's Guide.

    The budget-minded shouldn't hesitate to check out some of the city's most famous sights, which also are affordable.

    "You want to see some of the basics of the city, which aren't expensive at all, like the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, which you can see for free from the Staten Island Ferry," said Nathan Lump of Travel and Leisure magazine. "Places like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which has a suggested donation fee so it can be as inexpensive as you like."

    Statue of Liberty
    More than 30 million people visited New York City last year, spending more than $15 billion  

    If you want to see New York as New Yorkers see it, take advantage of one of the free, two- to four-hour tours offered by volunteers with an organization called Big Apple Greeter. While guides will be happy to point out places like Rockefeller Center, their goal is to show off the city's neighborhoods and take tourists to places they might not otherwise see.

    After you've headed off the beaten track, consider exploring the New York Stock Exchange, one of the city's top 10 tourist destinations. It offers free, half-hour tours, with tickets available on a first-come, first-served basis.

    Arts on a budget

    For most visitors, a trip to New York isn't complete without a Broadway show. Ticket costs can be forbidding, but there are ways to avoid paying the full price. Every day, for example, the TKTS booth in Times Square sells leftover Broadway tickets with discounts as high as 50 percent.

    TKTS discount ticket booth
    For half-price tickets to Broadway shows, get in line at the TKTS booth the day of the show. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m.  

    It's open from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. for evening shows Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays for matinees, and noon to 8 p.m. Sundays for matinees and evening performances.

    TKTS isn't exactly a well-kept secret, so get there early to avoid the long lines. Or try the other booth at the World Trade Center, which often has shorter lines.

    If you just can't swing "The Lion King," there are lots of lower-cost options.

    "Theater performances are very inexpensive if you go off-Broadway, and the amateur performers in New York City are highly professional," said Cure of Fodor's Guide.

    Fans of the bard can head to one of the free outdoor performances of Shakespeare in Central Park, including "The Winter's Tale" through July 16 and "Julius Caesar" from August 8 to September 3. Tickets are available on the day of the performances at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park and the Public Theater on Lafayette Street. Once again, get in line early, or you'll miss out.

    free concert
    Central Park hosts free concerts all summer long  

    For music, visitors will find free concerts in Central Park all summer long, from the New York Philharmonic to top pop music acts.

    For visual art, the Metropolitan Museum's suggested donation is $10 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens. That includes a visit to The Cloisters, a reconstructed European monastery at Manhattan's northern tip that showcases one of the world's best collections of medieval art.

    At the Museum of Modern Art, admission is $10 for adults, $6.50 for students and seniors, and free for children under 16. There's one key exception though: Visitors who stop in on Friday from 4:30 to 8:15 p.m. simply pay what they wish.

    Summer celebrations

    Summertime tourists can look forward to a few extra visitor-friendly freebies. On the Fourth of July, they'll get to see what's being touted as the largest-ever tall ship parade in New York Harbor, followed by a fireworks celebration that sponsor Macy's promises will be the most elaborate yet.

    Jackson Diner
    The Jackson Diner in Queens is a good off-the-beaten-path spot for Indian food  

    Borrowing from Chicago's successful bovine venture last summer, New York presents CowParade 2000, a public art show featuring more than 500 painted cow sculptures decorated by city artists. The cows will be auctioned off for charity at the end of the summer, when they'll move on.

    While Manhattan is the center of New York's Universe, there are plenty of attractions in the city's other boroughs. In Queens, the Jackson Diner is legendary for its Indian cuisine.

    "Queens is a part of New York that a lot of people don't go to and really should," Lump said. "Walking down the streets in Jackson Heights is in many ways like taking a world tour."

    Weather: New York City
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    World Maps and Guides: New York
    Driving Directions
    Currency Converter

    Guide to free summer concerts, plays in the Big Apple
    June 15, 2000
    Barnyard battle afoot over NYC cow sculptures
    June 2000

    Big Apple Greeter
    Metropolitan Museum of Art
    Shakespeare in "Central Park"
    New York Stock Exchange
    Statue of Liberty
    Museum of Modern Art
    "The Lion King", the Broadway Musical

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