Since this is my inaugural Day Pass post, and I want you to feel like you’re getting your money’s worth, we’re going to do New York for free. Did you know you could do that? You can. Minus the cost of food (and subway rides–get a day pass!). But there are plenty of ways to do that on the cheap. We’ll touch on that another time. Today is all about free funtivities*. Let’s jump on it.
We’re kicking off our day at Grand Central Station on the East Side. And in the interest of full disclosure, now that there are tall buildings every which way in the city, the light doesn’t stream in like this. But isn’t it to die for? It’s likely that your mode of transportation has you arriving at Penn Station, or worse, a major airport. So rush here as quickly as possible to pretend like this is how you got things started. There is something so old-timey about those high ceilings, and intense windows. It makes me feel like I’m in the era of Mr. Gatsby. If you want to see every corner of the station (and I do believe you should), print this out, and show yourself around. Maker sure you bring a friend along to try out the whisper gallery.
If it’s a nice day, you can walk to Central Park. If not, take the 6th uptown to 59th Street and you’re there.
This is the San Remo, and it’s my favorite part of the park. It’s on the west side, around 74th St.
In terms of seeing New York for free, there is nothing original about Central Park making the list. But it’s worth it. No matter where you go, or what you choose to see, it’s going to be beautiful. Coming in at the bottom of the park, you’ll be near the zoo, the skating rink (if you’re there in the winter), and the carousel. Those all cost money. But if you’re willing to walk up to The Great Lawn, you’ll come across one of my favorite free parts of the park, Belvedere Castle. Climb up to the top and look out on the world.
There are several trains that cut across the city, but I much prefer walking through the park. When you come out on the west side, head to Bryant Park.
Bryant Park is home to the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, aka the main branch of the New York Public Library. Swoon. This is the one with the lions out front. The one where Carrie almost got married.
The one that was being renovated last time I visited, so forgive the iPhone pictures. As soon as I walk up the steps and through the doors, I’m content to wander around, and soak up all the history here. Think of everything that’s happened here in 101 years of existence. Think of how many people have wandered the halls, browsing for their favorite book. Think of what people could have been whispering about, before being shushed by the librarians! You can take a free, guided tour at 11:00 or 2:00, Monday – Saturday.
Then, head west to 7th Avenue, and down to 50th Street, hop downtown on the 1, and get off at 18th Street. You’re on your way to Chelsea Market. Walk west to 9th Avenue, and down between 15th and 16th Streets. Look for the giant, warehouse-esque brick building with the sign. And the Anthopologie on the street level.
Chelsea Market is a fun stretch of New York food, and you are on a cooking blog tour. There’s Sarabeth’s Bakery, an essential part of any New York trip, an Italian market with every kind of olive oil and pasta under the sun, a Posman Books where the cookbooks are showcased right up front, a dairy for the milk-lover in all of us, and a killer gelato place, where, if you’re willing to cough up a couple of bucks, will change your life. But I know, I know, I said this was a free day, so keep moving. Up. To the High Line. (18th St. between 10th and 11th Avenues)
The High Line is a beautifully converted, formerly abandoned train track that spans several blocks above the city. There are plants, there are benches, and it is just gorgeous. If you want to hear all about the transformation, go Tuesday at 6:30 for the free walking-tour. Stick around till dusk if you want to see the stars. And goodness gracious, if you’re planning a budget-busting trip back in the fall, grab a ticket to Colicchio’s Chef’s Dinner.
And if you can muster the strength for one more stop on your journey, then get on the E down to the end of the line. To Ground Zero.
And this is where we are now. You still need visitor passes to enter the memorial, available here, but you can generally stop by in the evenings without much of a wait if you forget. The biggest crowds arrive in the morning, and last till about 1:00 in the afternoon. I like it better the fewer people there are around. Because being here gives me goosebumps.source
Lower Manhattan is also a great place to walk around if you’re into history. This was the extent of the city back when it was first started, and there are about a zillion other sites you could poke around, if you’re so inclined.
*Funtivities is a word SCL and I coined that I just googled and found out is already a “real” word.