Locals Only: Playing Tourist in New York City


Despite living in arguably the greatest city in the world, New Yorkers don't always do a great job taking advantage of events and landmarks that draw millions of visitors each year. Since my job and lifestyle take me out of town quite often, I find myself making an active effort to visit my favorite museums, wander neighborhoods I hold dear and even brave crowds to see the latest tourist attractions while in NYC. Here are some of my favorite "touristy" spots that locals can enjoy again and again without the usual NYC pricetag:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Although the museum asks for donations of $25 per visitor, this is merely a suggestion and patrons of the arts must only shell out what they wish to pay. As a local, you can break up the massive museum and visit different wings on each trip, giving you time to explore exhibits without a time limit.  

The Staten Island Ferry: Running year-round and transporting 70,000 passengers each day, this ferry route predates the bridges that now connect Manhattan to outer boroughs. The 25-minute ride is completely free and offers outstanding views of the city skyline, Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty. On sunny days, grab a spot along the outdoor railing for some of the best sightseeing in town. 

Central Park: In warmer months, Summerstage takes over the city's parks, including Central Park, with free and ticketed concerts. No matter what time of year you visit, its grounds can be explored by bike, foot, even boat, but my favorite way to spend a lazy day in the park is to picnic with friends. 

New York Public Library: The main branch of our spectacular library system looks out over Bryant Park and was one of my first stops when I moved to NYC. The 19th Century Beaux Arts building is a masterpiece in its own right (don't miss the elegant reading room!) and is home to countless works of art as well as rotating cultural and literary exhibits.  Admission is free but some special events do require tickets. 

The High Line: Built atop elevated train tracks, this park winds for 1.5 miles along Manhattan's western shoreline. A favorite for young New Yorkers entertaining visiting parents, this public park can feel more like a parking lot when pedestrian traffic jams on warm days. To avoid crowds and add some romance, come with a date in the evenings and enjoy a stroll at dusk paired with ice cream cones from vendors posted along the path.