Expert Tips from Real LocalsExpert Tips from Real Locals

Get the invaluable, inside story on exploring New York - the tips most New Yorkers don't want you to have!

Explore the outdoors and Waterfalls

Most of the year, New York City is all about outdoor activities with great weather, wonderful parks, gardens, and waterways surrounding us. In our Neighborhood, one can enjoy the Rockefeller Center Channel Gardens featuring an ever-changing display of flowers and verdant shrubbery. Hidden gems include waterfalls at Greenacre Park (East 51st Street between Second and Third Avenues) and Paley Park (East 53rd Street at Fifth Avenue), rooftop garden at 40th Street and 3rd Avenue, and the midtown waterfall at 48th street between 6th and 7th Avenues featuring a glass tunnel you can walk through. View on Map

Aerial view of Bryant Park, New York

Connect in Bryant Park

With a lawn the size of a football field, two promenades, good food kiosks and other attractions – including free Wi-Fi – Bryant Park is a popular hangout spot. Pick up a new skill with free juggling lessons, weekdays from noon to 1 p.m. (equipment provided). For a nostalgic experience, ride Le Carrousel, with 14 animals revolving to French cabaret music (June to October, $3 per ride). On Monday evenings in summer there's a free outdoor film festival. In the winter, you can whirl around the ice skating rink. 42nd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenue. Website View on Map

Horse and carts riding in Central Park, New York

Take a break in Central Park

Come to New York's vast green leisure space to walk, jog, smell the flowers, sunbathe and people watch – just like New Yorkers do. If you want to learn more about the 843-acre oasis, laid out by Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux in the 19th century, the Central Park Conservatory offers a bunch of tours, many free. You can also download a Central Park App, which highlights 200 points of interest (at the App Store or Android App on Google play, free for a "lite" version or $2.99 for the entire app). Website View on Map

Experience the Hudson River at a more intimate scale at Clinton Cove

Hudson River Park is a 550-acre riverside park and estuarine sanctuary located on the west side of Manhattan. Clinton Cove (W 54th St to W 59th) incorporates beautiful landscaping and boating activities; the Cove has an extraordinary feature called a "get-down" which allows visitors to get closer to the water – below the level of the bulkhead. View on Map

Exterior of Museum of Modern Art, New York

Free Friday nights and sculpture mornings at MoMA

Picasso, Matisse, van Gogh and others represented in a massive collection make the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) one of the most popular museums in the city. Most days, adults pay $25 for admission. With UNIQLO Free Friday Nights you can come in between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. to see everything including the permanent collection, special shows, films and the sculpture garden, at no charge. The sculpture garden is also open free, daily, from 9 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. Sip your coffee while admiring a Giacometti. 11 West 53rd St. View on Map

Exterior of Carnegie Hall, New York

Get to Carnegie Hall

As the old joke goes, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice." You can also pay big bucks for a concert at New York's beloved music hall, which opened in 1891. But there's another way to get inside: Take a guided tour. Tickets are $15 for adults, the tours offered four times a day on weekdays, twice a day on Saturdays and at 12:30 on Sundays (unless there's a private rehearsal or a performance going on). No reservation required, but arrive early to purchase tickets at the box office. 881 Seventh Ave. Website View on Map

New York tour guide presenting to tourists

Take The Grand Tour

Take a free walking tour of the Grand Central Terminal and surrounding Midtown neighborhood (no booking required) and delve into social and architectural history. Two-hour tours start at 12:30pm every Friday, meeting in the sculpture court at 120 Park Ave (the S.W. corner of East 42nd & Park), across from Grand Central Terminal. Grab a quick bite in the terminal's basement and look up for the Whispering Gallery, a low, ceramic archway near the Oyster Bar where fascinating acoustical anomalies occur. Combine with a visit to the Annex of the New York Transit Museum, just off the Main Concourse in the Shuttle Passage near the Station Masters office. View on Map

Exterior of Rockefeller Center, New York

See Public Art at Rockefeller Center

Some sights in the 22-acre Rockefeller Center come with a steep price tag – for instance, going up to the Top of the Rock observation deck. But there are also free attractions in the complex, built during the Great Depression in the 1930s. The seasonal giant Christmas tree is one, and watching ice-skating on the winter rink is another. But any time of year you can admire the art deco features and art, including a statue of Prometheus and another of Atlas holding the world. Between 48th and 51st Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Website View on Map

Exterior of the Museum of Arts and Design, New York

Appreciate design at The Museum of Arts and Design

This contemporary, four-level museum focuses on 21st century design – stuff that shapes our everyday lives. The multi-disciplinary collection includes ceramics, blown glass, metal objects, jewelry, digital photography, wood furniture, quilts and more. Changing exhibitions delve deeply into such topics as the art of scent or innovations with mannequins. On KLM Thursdays (sponsored by the Dutch airline), from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., there's no set admission fee – you are encouraged to pay whatever you want. 2 Columbus Circle (59th St. and Eighth Ave.). Website View on Map

Exterior of St Patrick's Cathedral, New York

Witness majestic Beauty at St. Patrick's

With its impressive twin spires, St. Patrick's Cathedral is the largest Gothic-style cathedral in the U.S. Head inside the massive bronze doors, with reliefs of American saints, to see the recent major renovation (the façade was also redone) and admire the 19th century architecture, glass Rose Window, 7,000-pipe organ and museum-quality artwork. To learn some of the history, take a free tour with a volunteer (times and days listed online). If you time your visit right, you may catch a free concert by a visiting choir. Fifth Avenue between 50th and 51st Streets. Website View on Map

Exterior entrance to New York Public Library

Unleash your inner bookworm at the New York Public Library

The main branch of the NYPL, a stunning Beaux-Arts landmark dedicated in 1911, is one of the best free attractions in town. Check out the famous lion sculptures (Patience and Fortitude) outside and head inside to see the sumptuous spaces housing rare manuscripts, maps and other treasures – the Children's Center has the real stuffed animals that inspired Winnie-the-Pooh. Docents share facts and tales on free, guided tours at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday to Saturday, and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Bonus: There's free Wi-Fi. Fifth Avenue at 42nd St. Website View on Map

Exterior of the Drama Book Shop, New York

Hang out with Theater Folk

The Drama Book Shop has been part of the New York theater scene since 1917. Now located in a modest storefront location off Times Square, the bookstore is so beloved by thespians it even received a Tony honor in 2011. In stock are thousands of plays, movie scripts, librettos, sheet music, biographies and books on theater. This is a place where you'll feel part of the theater scene, including listening to free in-store readings and discussions with playwrights and directors. You may even bump into a famous actor or two. 250 W. 40th St. Website View on Map

Exterior entrance sign at Christie's Auction House, New York

Browse treasures at Christie's auction house

You may not be able to afford to bid but you can see what's going on the auction block for free at Christie's. The building impresses with its grand exterior of limestone and bronze, glass canopy and high entranceway, with mural by artist Sol LeWitt. In the salesrooms you may catch a glance of lyrics by a famous musician, dazzling jewels, precious antiquities, fine art or the estate of a celebrity. Find listings and hours online. 20 Rockefeller Plaza (on 49th between Fifth and Sixth Avenues). Website View on Map

Interior of the Paley Center for Media

Watch classic American TV shows

The Paley Center for Media has in its archives more than 50,000 TV shows and radio programs. While the museum's ground floor offers exhibitions at the Steven Spielberg Gallery and has a nifty TV-centric gift shop, it's the fourth floor that's the real attraction. There you'll find dozens of Mac computers where you can order up titles from the collection, watching episodes of, for instance, "Cheers" or "Seinfeld." It's worth the suggested $10 contribution for admission. 25 W. 52nd (between Fifth and Sixth Avenues). Closed Monday and Tuesday, other days open noon to 6 p.m. View on Map

Be Part of the Studio Audience

It's fun—and free—to attend the tapings of popular television shows – Your choice: Daily Show, Dr. Oz Show, Good Morning America, Inside the Actors Studio, Late Night, Live! with Kelly & Michael, The Meredith Vieira Show, Saturday Night Live, The Rachael Ray Show, Today (NBC), The Tonight Show, The View, and The Wendy Williams Show – NYC&Co present an updated list of available TV Show Tapings. Website View on Map

Audience view of Theater production in Central Park, New York

Concerts in the Park

Free Shakespeare in the Park is not just about appreciating the bard's works; it is a New York summer tradition. A who's who of famous actors has performed in the Public Theater's productions including Meryl Streep, James Earl Jones, Patrick Stewart and Denzel Washington. The venue for the two plays performed each summer is Central Park's outdoor Delacorte Theater (enter at 81st and Central Park West or 79th Street at Fifth Avenue). Tickets distributed at noon the day of the show (fans start getting in line hours before that). Website View on Map

Live performance at the Lincoln Center, New York

Free Music at Lincoln Center

Immerse yourself in New York's vibrant performing arts scene by attending one of the weekly free performances offered in Lincoln Center's David Rubenstein Atrium. The performances cover a spectrum of music styles – jazz, hip-hop, Latin, soul, country, classical, for instance – & feature national and international touring artists as well as local performers (including students from The Juilliard School). Sometimes there's even swing, salsa or other social dancing to live music (check the calendar online). Seating is first-come, first-served, & it's best to get there by 6:30 p.m. 61 W. 62nd St., Broadway between 62nd & 63rd Streets. Website View on Map

Live Jazz performance at St. Peter's Church, New York

Catch Jazz at St. Pete's

Midtown Jazz at Midday, with programming overseen by jazz pianist Ronny Whyte, gathers musicians from New York and around the world in concert, Wednesdays at 1 p.m., in the Sanctuary of St. Peter's Church. A donation is requested. In summertime, there are also free, one-hour lunchtime concerts by well-regarded artists, held on the outdoor plaza (they move inside if it's raining), Thursdays at 12:30 p.m. St. Peter's Church, 619 Lexington Ave., at 54th Street. View on Map

Kids interacting at an exhibit at Sony Wonder Technology Lab, New York

See free movies at the Sony Wonder Technology Lab

For kids especially, playing with the latest PlayStation games and gadgets at The Sony Wonder Technology Lab (SWTL) is a kick. Entrance to four-story, interactive museum/entertainment center is free. On Saturdays, there's the addition of a movie series – you can watch screenings of such classics as "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" and "From Here to Eternity." Screenings are at 12:15 p.m. and 3 p.m. (listings are online). Reservations are recommended. 550 Madison Ave, Sony Plaza at 56 St. (56th and Madison Avenue). Website View on Map

Theater production of Aladdin on Broadway

Stand up for a Broadway show

One of the cheapest ways to see a popular Broadway show is to get a Standing Room Only ticket. The tickets run about $27 and are available at the box office on the day of the show. The catch is you don't get a seat, but rather are assigned a standing area in the back of the Orchestra section (there's usually a place to lean). Sometimes, a friendly usher will direct you to a seat after intermission. Website View on Map

Close-up of badge worn by Big Apple Greeter tour guides

Tour with a local

Freelance local guides show you Midtown sights, and you can tip them accordingly. Free Tours by Foot freetoursbyfoot.com offers a Midtown tour through Times Square and past some of the city's iconic architecture – including the Theater District, Bryant Park, the New York Public Library, Grand Central Terminal, the Chrysler Building and St. Patrick's Cathedral. Reservations are required. Big Apple Greeter bigapplegreeter.org is a non-profit organization that provides cheerful volunteer New Yorkers to show visitors their favorite things about their neighborhoods. Reservations are required. View on Map

From rail to trail, scroll down an elevated park.

The High Line, built on a railway, stretches from Gansevoort Street to West 30th Street (between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues). Enjoy walking tours to learn about the High Line's history, Live Performances, kids programs during the summer and special series and events in the spring and fall (thehighline.org or follow @highlinenyc). View on Map

Meet a Fire Fighter at FDNY Fire Zone

34 West 51st Street at Rockefeller Center between 5th & 6th Avenue. The kid-friendly learning center, presents a fire safety presentation in which adults and children alike are taken through a simulated fire experience. The Engine Truck at the entrance is the favorite playground for kids of all ages. The gift shop, run by the FDNY Foundation, is the official store of the FDNY, offering licensed Fire Department merchandise, including T-shirts, job shirts, jackets, hats, toys, collectibles and souvenirs. View on Map

Tiffany & Co department store exterior sign

Learn something new about your favorite Apple devices

Apple Stores hold free workshops on a variety of topics and summer camps for youngsters (ages 8 to 12) where they learn to make movies by storyboarding ideas, shooting video and creating an original soundtrack. You can sign up for individual sessions for $99 per year. You will find Grand Central Terminal store less crowded than the Fifth Avenue store. To register, use your Apple ID at apple.com/retail/learn View on Map

Ladies' boots on display in fashion boutique

The joy of eating is a thing in NYC

In New York, you can find some of the most expensive shopping anywhere, but also get expensive stuff cheap. The best way is at designer sample sales. These sales pop up around the city, as design houses rent spaces to liquidate stock – at 65% or more off retail prices. There are nuances, for instance you can't return what you buy, most of the samples are in small sizes, and you may not be able to try anything on. Several websites track the sales including Sample Sale Avenue Website View on Map

Eat Eclectic Food from one of NYC's most beloved Food-Trucks

There are now hundreds of mobile purveyors of fine foods out on the street. One of the most famous is just right down the hotel's entrance, the Halal Guys food truck; the line up of people may discourage you but it moves fast and the food is definitely worth it. From lobster and crab rolls, Korean-Mexican fusion, grilled cheese, Belgian waffles, New York City food trucks are serving up delicious on-the-go meals at most popular NYC's locations. Check @morristruck, @waffletruck on twitter, kimchigrill.com, to see where the trucks are parked. View on Map

Group taking part in fitness class

Shape up with a free fitness class

Shape Up NYC is a New York City Parks & Recreation Department program that offers free weekly fitness classes at dozens of locations. All the classes are taught by expert fitness instructors, and included are yoga, Pilates, aerobics and Zumba. All you need to bring is a lock to secure your belongings in a locker. You can find a listing of classes online. In Midtown, options include free Pilates Thursdays, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., in the aerobics room at the Gertrude Ederle Recreation Center, 232 W. 60th St. Website View on Map

Cruise New York Harbor on a Luxury Yacht

Cruise companies offer fantastic sights of both sides of Manhattan without leaving your seat on a cruise. Circle Line, Zephyr Yacht Harbor Cruise (circlelinedowntown.com) and Water Taxi's Hop On/Hop Off service are the favorites. The Classic Harbor Line (sail-nyc.com) offers a more intimate, crowd-free luxury yacht experience. Enjoy peace on their Schooner sail boat; they turn off their engine five minutes after leaving the pier! View on Map

Ride the subway to the beach

Coney Island is one of the city's most popular beaches, home to a burgeoning arts community and New York City's most famous amusement park; it is a must-see destination for many visitors to the big apple. Coney Island can be reached easily by way of New York City's subway system; take any southbound D, F, N or Q trains to Stillwell Avenue. Your trip will take about an hour. Website View on Map

Visit the city's highest observation deck atop One World Trade Center

One World Observatory Deck offers more than just an elevator ride up the city's tallest building–Visitors to the 104-story skyscraper are greeted by emotional recorded testimony from workers who built the tower and a virtual recreation of 500 years of Manhattan topography. Sightseers can wander the rest of the observatory which features a grab-and-go cafe, a bar and a steakhouse — all with stunning views from above 1,250 feet. Website View on Map

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