It is interesting to watch the news these days. As we might expect, people are consuming less, searching for bargains. In these dire economic times, it seems that the decades of living on credit is over. People don't feel they can travel or eat out as much. So I say, come to the light! Why not make inexpensive living an art form?
Ted and I have been having adventures the entire seven years we've been together and about 50 percent of those years have been economically tight. By some definitions, even dire. But tough times have never stopped us from having romantic dates and exploring this city that has become our home.
First, Central Park. Worth an entire post by itself! It has taken me years of adventuring, but I know my way around this huge park like the back of my hand and still I find new pockets of natural beauty and quirky surprises. The zoo alone, despite it's size, is well worth a day's visit. It costs a mere eight dollars for adult admission and you can spend hours in front of the ant exhibit, the snow monkeys, the penguins and the polar bears. This biological gem is beautifully designed and it's good to be reminded about fragile ecosystems all over the world. Though Tavern on the Green and the restaurant at the boat pond are higher priced menus to avoid, visiting a deli before entering the park can buy you a picnic lunch or dinner that can be enjoyed on Sheep's Meadow (no dogs allowed...) or at the Bethesda Fountain or while waiting in line for free tickets to Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater. Skating in the winter is cheaper and more spacious in Central Park than at Rockefeller Center and once after a heavy snow, Ted, Maya and I even went sledding above the softball fields!
Skip chain restaurants. They are tourist traps and more expensive than in other parts of the country. But the biggest reason to walk that block or two farther West or East, depending on where you are, is that there are thousands of amazing places to get food from any part of the world, and of course, ordering it to be brought to your apartment is nothing short of a miracle. Better yet, call and then pick it up yourself to save on delivery tips. Now, thanks to Ted's sister Peg and her husband Stu, we were able to celebrate an early anniversary once at One if by Land, Two if by Sea down in the West Village. The service itself was astounding, and I'd never experienced a tasting menu before! But when we don't have two hundred and fifty dollars to spend on an evening out, we eat at some of our favorite restaurants that have no liquor license. This means that we can bring our own bottle of wine with us for under ten dollars (like Bogle Merlot), saving almost half the normal bill to eat out. 6th St. in the East Village is lined with half a dozen Indian Restaurants with this setup. (My cousin Molly introduced me to this
phenomenon years ago! Thanks, Molly!) Chili Thai on 9th Avenue is also in this category, featuring creative and fresh fusion dishes.
One of the best thing to have happened to NYC in the past 5 years is the completion and connection of the bike path that stretches from South Street Sea Port all the way up to the Little Red Light House under the George Washington Bridge. Adventures along this path include free kayaking on three of the piers in Clinton and the Upper West Side, lunch or dinner at the 79th Street Boat Basin (bring your dog and your bike!), happy hour at the Frying Pan , a resurrected sunken ship on Pier 66 at 26th Street, and free concerts in the summer. And why not take a ferry? Just being on the water and getting different views of the New York Skyline are well worth the low fares. Ted and I once picked up some takeout at one of our favorite inexpensive Indian Restaurants, paired it with a bottle of wine from the corner wine store, and parked ourselves at the little built-in table and swivel stools on our very own mini pier on the newly renovated Riverside Park South. The sun was setting and we had the best river-view in the city while feasting on Indian cuisine! And all for under forty dollars!
Riding across the George Washington Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge are fantastic adventures that are completely free. Once accross the GWB, riding up the Palisades puts you suddenly on a low traffic road with a view of only the river and lots of trees. And in the fall, what a wonderful way to leaf peep for the cost of your picnic lunch! If you don't have your own bike, bike rental is available all over Manhattan. You can even rent tandem bikes near the Intrepid museum on Pier 86.
All of this adventure for a low low price... and without burning oil or adding to pollution! (not to mention getting a workout!) Renaissance Girls never miss a chance to multitask.