Frommer's New York City from $90 a Dayby Brian Silverman
Frommer's is the name you can trust for great travel bargains. Our acclaimed $-a-Day series is not for backpackers who want to rough it, but for travelers with taste, who've outgrown their student lifestyle and demand comfortable accommodations and good, authentic meals at a reasonable price. Each guide is loaded with detailed listings for mom-and-pop motels, B&Bs, comfortable guesthouses, good-value bistros, and ethnic restaurants. You'll find a bargain-hunter's shopping guide, affordable fun after dark, and complete sightseeing coverage, including the best things to do for free (or almost).
Our expert authors have already gone everywhere you might go--they've done the legwork for you, and they're not afraid to tell it like it is, saving you time and money. Every Frommer's $-a-Day Guide is up-to-date, with dozens of maps and exact prices for every single expense, so you can accurately plan each day's budget. Frommer's knows that affordable travel doesn't have to mean making sacrifices. It's about having fun and getting a great deal!
New York is notorious for its high prices. The answer? Frommer's New York from $90 a Day, which makes the Big Apple affordable. Unlike most of the competition, it's thoroughly updated every year to keep on top of the latest changes in this fast-paced city.
The guide is meticulously researched by expert author Brian Silverman, who has uncovered the city's best bargains. You'll rely on his candid, in-depth reviews of the city's best bargain accommodations, from rooms in charming B&Bs to spacious family suites, plus her tips on finding great weekend packages. Our author will show you incredible deals on dining, from the city's best pizza to affordable fixed-price dinners in French bistros.
We'll show you all the sights, plus the best things to do for free, from strolling Central Park to attending a TV show taping. Rely on us for a complete shopper's guide to affordable fashion and housewares, collectibles, used books, cheap CDs, and more. We'll also show you how to enjoy New York's legendary nightlife for less, with details on free Lincoln Center concerts, discount tickets for Broadway shows, great neighborhood bars, and hip clubs with low cover charges. You'll even get a color fold-out map and full-color subway map!
Read an Excerpt
Frommer's New York City from $90 a Day 2004
By Brian Silverman
John Wiley & SonsISBN: 0-7645-3905-1
Chapter OneThe Best of the Big Apple
New York is the concentrate of art and commerce and sport and religion and entertainment and finance, bringing to a single compact arena the gladiator, the evangelist, the promoter, the actor, the trader and the merchant. It carries on its lapel the unexpungeable odor of the long past, so that no matter where you sit in New York you feel the vibrations of great times and tall deeds, of queer people and events and undertakings.
New York is nothing like Paris; it is nothing like London; and it is not Spokane multiplied by sixty, or Detroit multiplied by four. It is by all odds the loftiest of cities. -E.B. White
Novelist and essayist E.B. White wrote these words in 1948; and in the 56 years since then, his description of New York remains accurate. And though the grandeur and importance of New York has not changed, New York is constantly changing. Restaurants and nightclubs become trendy overnight, and then die under the weight of their own popularity. (As the philosopher Yogi Berra said: "Nobody goes there anymore; it's too crowded.") Broadway shows, exercise fads, city politics, even neighborhoods are all subject to the same Big Apple fickleness.
But within this ebb and flow lies the answer to why we New Yorkers persist in loving our city so, despite the high rents, the noise, the crowds, the cab drivers who don't knowLincoln Center from the Lower East Side, and the more stark realities of high-security-alert days and living in the shadow of great tragedy. Nowhere else is the challenge so tough, the pace so relentless, the stimuli so ever changing and insistent-and the payoff so rewarding. It is why we go on; it is why we proudly persist in living our vibrant lives here.
Come witness New York's resilience for yourself-it's reason enough to visit.
1 How This Guide Can Save You Money
New York City is perpetually short on space and overflowing with people. It's a situation that turns the economy of supply and demand in the seller's favor, with vendors charging what the market will bear. The result has been stratospheric prices, some of the highest in the country. If you're used to getting a simple, comfortable motel room for $60 or so, get set for a shock.
That's the bad news-but there's plenty of good news, too. You can stay in New York City comfortably, eat well, and see and do everything you want without blowing your budget. There are plenty of great deals for the intrepid traveler who knows where to look for value and discounts. And there are more travel and hotel bargains now than there have been in years-if you know where to look.
You've already taken the first step: buying this book. I've done the initial legwork, scouring the city and loading the pages that follow with moneysaving advice, the top values and bargains, and the kind of New York travel know-how that comes only with years of research and experience.
Accommodations will be your biggest hurdle, although visitors have regained their bargaining power in the post-9/11 world. Every other aspect of New York is manageable if you look before you leap, which is how regular New Yorkers manage. The city tends to snag people who, exhausted, sit down at the first restaurant they see and end up with a huge bill-or those who stumble into a chic boutique to buy a souvenir that can be had for a fraction of the price with a little effort. Keep an eye on the goal, and you'll see New York has more affordable culinary and bargain hunters' delights than you'll have time to enjoy.
With average museum admissions hovering around 10 bucks a pop and guided bus tours starting at $30 for the basic look-see, you could spend a fortune on sightseeing and activities-but you don't have to. Start perusing these pages, and you'll find more to see and do for free and on the cheap than you could squeeze into one vacation (or two or three or four). I'm not suggesting that you skip everything that has a price tag; certain New York experiences shouldn't be missed. But read the pages that follow and you'll know what's worth your hard-earned dough-and what's not.
THE NEW-YORK-FROM-$90-A-DAY PREMISE
The idea is this: With good planning and a watchful eye, you can keep your basic daily costs-accommodations and three meals-down to as little as $90. This budget model works best for two adults traveling together who have at least $180 a day to work with and can share a double room. (Single rooms are less cost-efficient.) This way, if you aim for accommodations that cost around $120 for a double-a reasonable budget-you'll be left with about $30 per person per day for food (less drinks and tips). Snare a room for less-doable in this economic climate, especially in a less busy season or if you're willing to share a bathroom-and you'll have more left over from your $180-per-day budget for dining.
In defining this premise, we assume you want to travel comfortably, with your own room rather than a hostel bunk (even if it does mean a shared bathroom), and dining on good food. This book will serve you well even if you don't need to keep your two-person budget to a strict $180 a day, but you want to get the most for your money. It will, on the other side of the coin, also meet your needs if you want to travel on the ultracheap-for less than $90 a day-by staying in hostels and eating super-inexpensively.
Sightseeing, transportation, and entertainment are all extra. But I've got plenty of suggestions on how to keep those costs down, too. What you choose for entertainment will have a huge effect on your overall budget. If you go to nightclubs every night, you'll come home with a lighter wallet than if you spend time taking in free concerts or browsing galleries. If you seek top-name entertainment on Broadway or the cabaret circuit, you'll pay more than if you take a risk on tomorrow's stars at an Off-Broadway show or a no-cover bar. Only you know how much money you have to spend-but if you follow my advice, you'll be able to make informed decisions so that it's money well spent.
Even if you stick with freebies, the Big Apple guarantees a memorable time. After all, to the late, great Quentin Crisp, every flat surface in New York is a stage-and you're guaranteed a nonstop show.
2 Cheap Thrills: Frommer's Favorite Free & Affordable Experiences
Best Attraction: If you have time to do only one thing on your visit to New York, sail to the Statue of Liberty. No other monument embodies the nation's, and the world's, notion of political freedom and economic potential more than Lady Liberty. It is also the ultimate symbol of New York; the personification of the city's vast diversity and tolerance. Note: At press time, visitors can tour the grounds only at Liberty Island; the statue itself had not yet reopened to visitors. Whether this status will change is unknown at press time. Even if it doesn't, standing at the feet of Lady Liberty makes a more-than-worthwhile journey, especially in these reflective, patriotic days. See p. 210. Best Building: Empire State Building. Like the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, once again the tallest building in New York, is one of the city's definitive icons. Runners-up include the Art Deco masterpiece, the Chrysler Building, and the triangular Flatiron Building. See chapter 7. Best Street: This was a tough choice. Fifth Avenue has the reputation, but has lost some luster the past few years with the proliferation of chain and theme stores, so my pick is Broadway. Beginning at the southern tip of the island downtown, Broadway runs from Wall Street, up through Chinatown, SoHo, and Greenwich Village, past the Flatiron building at 23rd Street, into the heart of Times Square, and then up to Columbus Circle, past Lincoln Center and the Upper West Side, all the way to the northern tip of the island. No street captures the diversity of Manhattan better than Broadway. Best Bridge: Manhattan has five major bridges connecting the island to other shores, and the most historic and fascinating is the Brooklyn Bridge. For a close-up look at what was a marvel of civic engineering when it was built in 1883, and a real New York experience, walk across the bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn. See p. 203. Best Historic Building: Despite all the modern steel and glass skyscrapers in New York, there are still many historic marvels standing, and the best of those is the beaux arts gem, Grand Central Terminal. This railroad station, built in 1913, was restored in the 1990s to recapture its initial brilliance. Even if you don't have to catch a train, make sure you visit. See p. 205. Best Museum: American Museum of Natural History. You could spend your entire visit to New York at this 4-square-block museum and not run out of things to see. From the famed dinosaur halls to the newly renovated Hall of Ocean Life, the Museum of Natural History houses the world's greatest natural science collection. See p. 202. Best Art Museum: Metropolitan Museum of Art. Not just the best art museum in New York, but the best in North America. The number of masterworks here is mind-boggling. See p. 206. Best Park: Though New York has many very wonderful parks, there is no real competition here. Central Park is one of the world's greatest urban refuges; a center of calm and tranquility amongst the noise and bustle that is Manhattan. See p. 237. Best Place to Take the Kids: Again, Central Park. With a carousel, a zoo, two ice-skating rinks, and numerous playgrounds and ball fields, Central Park is a children's wonderland. Best Neighborhood to Stroll: Though I'm partial to the Upper West Side, I have to give the nod to Greenwich Village. With its historic streets, hidden cafes, cozy restaurants, and eccentric characters, Greenwich Village is a constant but pleasant barrage on the senses. See chapter 4. Best Jogging Path: The Reservoir in Central Park. Also known as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, this 1 1/2 mile path is the preferred path of presidential candidates, among others. See chapter 7. Best Parade: New York is famous for its parades, notably the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and the St. Patrick's Day Parade, but the best parade in New York is the lesser-known West Indian-American Day Parade. Held on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, this is the biggest parade in the city. The music-calypso, soca, reggae, and Latin, the carnival costumes, and incredible Caribbean food make this an unforgettable experience. If you are lucky enough to be here on Labor Day, don't miss it. See chapter 2. Best Street Festival: Ninth Avenue International Food Festival. For one weekend in the middle of May, the Ninth Avenue Food Festival is the perfect illustration of ethnic diversity in the city. You'll be able to taste foods from restaurants and cuisines from Afghani to Peruvian. See chapter 2. Best New Year's Eve Celebration: Fireworks in Central Park. Avoid the madness of Times Square and head to Central Park where, at midnight, fireworks are set off and a midnight running race commences. See chapter 2. Best Free Event: Perennial favorites SummerStage in Central Park, now drowning in corporate sponsorship and slowly becoming a "paid" event; and Shakespeare in the Park, which is becoming more of a showcase for the celebrity of the moment; are losing their luster, leaving Lincoln Center Out of Doors as the winner. I've seen many great performances at the 4-week festival each August, on the plaza of Lincoln Center, including jazz great Sonny Rollins, the traditional Spanish dance troupe, Danzas Espanolas, and a children's sing-along my son still talks fondly about. There is something for everyone at this wonderful free event. See chapter 9. Best Performance Space: There are few greater spaces in the world than Carnegie Hall. Visually and acoustically brilliant, Carnegie Hall attracts an amazing array of talent. But remember: Never ask a New Yorker how you get there. (Practice, practice, practice!) See p. 305. Best Jazz Club: Village Vanguard. The acoustics and sight lines aren't great, but you can't do better for finding consistently good-quality jazz. The Vanguard is a New York institution. See p. 317. Best Budget Jazz Club: Smoke. This cozy Upper West Side jazz club is emerging as one of the best in the city. There's no cover charge Sunday through Thursday, with Tuesday, for the tremendous "Hammond Organ" night and Wednesday, for the "Hot Pants Funk Sextet," not to be missed. See p. 316. Best Underground Musicians: You can hear a wide variety of music by undiscovered talent in subway stations, much of it very good. My favorite is Classic Soul, a melodious doo wop group. Try to catch them, or others, at one of the major subway stations like Columbus Circle, 34th Street, Times Square, or Union Square. For more on underground musicians, see chapter 9.
Excerpted from Frommer's New York City from $90 a Day 2004 by Brian Silverman Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
Brian Silverman has written about travel, food, sports, and music for publications such as Saveur, Caribbean Travel & Life, Islands, American Way, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. He is the author of several books including Going, Going, Gone: The History, Lore, and Mystique of the Home Run (HarperCollins), and co-editor of The Twentieth Century Treasury of Sports (Viking Books). Brian lives in New York, New York, with his wife and son.
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