Offbeat New York

Lower Manhattan On A Budget

by Maureen Hennessy

We have all heard how terribly expensive New York is, but there is quite a lot you can do for little or no cost at all.

Your first stop should be at the main Visitor Information Center at 810 Seventh Avenue, between 52nd & 53rd Streets. You will find heaps of free brochures and discount coupons for nearly everything you want to do and very helpful multilingual staff to address your questions there. You can also buy travel passes for subways and buses, as well as other discounted tour passes.

You could save time and trouble by going on line to and click on the link for the Official New York City Guide, which contains lots of good information and many coupons for area attractions.

There is also a Visitor Information Kiosk located at the southern tip of City Hall Park on the Broadway side at Park Row. It's open from 9 to 6 weekdays and 10 to 6 weekends and holidays.

Many museums in New York City have at least one day when no admittance is charged, and some only request donations. A list of these is available through the Visitor Information Centers.

The Big Apple Greeter is a nonİprofit organization whose mission is to share New York City's wonders with the world. Knowledgeable and enthusiastic volunteers take visitors through the City's diverse neighborhoods, sharing all the hidden secrets known only to those who live in the neighborhoods.

This free service allows New Yorkers to show their pride in their neighborhoods and honor the great city in which they are privileged to live. This really is the most exciting and rewarding way to experience the Big Apple! The guides are volunteers who know where you can find great bargains and they know the special places as only insiders can know them. The volunteers also share the history behind the sights.

The Alliance for Downtown New York operates a free bus service called the Downtown Connection, which provides free bus service for visitors, workers and residents. Running between South Street Seaport and northern Battery Park City, riders can hop on and of at designated stops around the southern tip of Manhattan. The service runs from 10 am to 8 pm daily.

The South Street Seaport is a recreation of a 19th century fishing port and a 12-square block historic district in lower Manhattan. There is a Visitor Center where you can get information on current activities in the area of the seaport. Interesting shops beckon on Pier 17 and you can also see the biggest wholesale fish market in the country, the famous Fulton Fish Market. There is a memorial to the victims of the Titanic on Fulton Street.

You will also want to visit the South Street Seaport Museum to get an intriguing glimpse into the history of what was once the country's leading port. When you visit the South Street Seaport Museum, the exhibits in our galleries and on our historic ships are just the beginning of a fantastic voyage back in time. The museum is located on the site of what was once this country's leading port and is now a twelve-square-block historic district in lower Manhattan. You can step back into the past and experience 18th and 19th century buildings on stone-paved streets.

Founded in 1967, the South Street Seaport Museum traces the history of the Port of New York through its galleries and exhibits, living history programs, programs and events, educational programs for children and adults, and the largest privately owned collection of historic vessels (in tonnage) in the United States.

If architecture interests you, you are going to love lower Manhattan. The New York Civic Center houses a number of historic buildings including the Hall of Records, the Municipal Building and City Hall. The famous 1913 Woolworth Building is a fine example of Gothic architecture.

One block north on Water Street, there are numerous cafeterias and restaurants ranging in price from budget to break-the-budget. A personal favorite was the Water Street Deli & Pizza at 12 Water Street. Serving pizza, sandwiches, salad bar, pasta bar and other cafeteria-style and deli- style offerings, the food was terrific and very affordable. The sheer variety of food offerings was impressive. They are open 24/7, so you can eat whenever the stomach growls. You can eat on the premises, take-out or have the food delivered.

A Bit More Upscale
Every time I return to my favorite city, I find new reasons to love it. I usually find budget accommodations, and one of my favorites is the Big Apple Hostel on 45th between 6th and Broadway – not only is the location ideal, but the price is right for a dorm bed. It's kept spotlessly clean, highly secure and perfectly located right off Times Square. But I like to finish my stay in style, and in 2004, I found very pleasant accommodations at the South Seaport Suites, reasonably priced and close to some interesting sightseeing including the Statue of Liberty, Chinatown, off-Broadway theater and an astounding variety of restaurants. A fully-stocked kitchen, complimentary coffee and tea and continental breakfast make the price even more reasonable. There is a computer in the lobby for use by tenants and Wi-Fi can be accessed throughout the hotel with your laptop.

For a special treat, a friend and I ventured a bit uptown from my hotel one evening for dinner at San Martin restaurant between Lexington and Third on East 49th. Spanish cuisine is featured there, with delectable seafood pastas, paella and tapas. Owner, Ramon San Martin graciously seated us and saw to our impeccable service. This place is worth a splurge, but the prices are quite reasonable for Manhattan and I highly recommend it.

Maureen Hennessy was born in California and lived in a number of states including California, Washington, Texas, Louisiana and Oregon. Maureen has traveled extensively in the US, Asia, New Zealand, Europe, North Africa and the Americas but New York City remains an allİtime favorite. Maureen is author of How to Go Almost Anywhere for Almost Nothing – a guide for the economically challenged traveler. She has written several of travel-related articles for Good Housekeeping, Vagabond, 1st for Women, Outotown, Marco Polo, After Dark and numerous newspapers and other publications. Her writing is also syndicated through Senior Wire, which distributes to senior publications throughout the US and Canada. She enjoys hearing from readers at

Another   Website

Thanks to FreeFind for providing the search technology for this website.