Part 2: NYC Trips Don't Have to Cost Big $$

As Aaron Stein relates, in this second part of his two-part column series on NYC travel experiences, alot of fun and even great art can be had for a lot less than many people think.

Babylon resident and insurance broker Aaron Stein shares his insight and knowledge gained from many day and weekend trips spent in the Big Apple. In Part 1 of this two-part series, he detailed how he and his better half enjoyed a spectacular New Year's Eve weekend without spending a fortune. Here he offers up more tips and tricks for enjoying the city without breaking the bank.

Deals abound in the city.

A couple of years back, we caught a special at the Hotel Belleclaire, an older and smaller hotel on 77th Street just off 9th Ave. For $169 (according to their website, the price has increased to $199 now) you get a room for the night, breakfast the next morning at a great diner across the street (which also provides the hotel's room service) and two all-access passes for the Museum of Natural History, one of our favorites.

We had dinner Saturday at the Playwright Pub, then spent a pleasant night at the hotel. In the morning, we took a wonderful walk in Central Park. We were amazed at how beautiful and well-kept it is. When the museum opened, we took full advantage of the passes, seeing several movies as well as the Darwin exhibit that was there at the time.

Of course Broadway continues to be our big attraction, and that's where city visits can get a little expensive. Make no mistake, it costs a bundle to see a popular first-run show. But again, Playbill.Com and others have good discounts sometimes, and there is always the TCKTS booth on Times Square where you can pick up half price tickets on most days, as long as you don't have your heart set on one particular show.

Finally for now, at least, never underestimate the enjoyment of just walking up and down Broadway and the surrounding area, window shopping and people watching.

Artists can be found all over but especially on 42nd between 7th and 8th. This last time in, I had two pieces of spray paint art done to the colors and content that I wanted. They cost $20 each and are now hanging in my office. If you have never seen this done, it's absolutely fascinating.  Of course you can always have a caricature done of yourself and friends, or whatever you want.

The one thing I will warn you about is that sometimes casual strolls through the city can prove  dangerous, like visiting the Diamond District. We did that one Sunday morning on one of our treks, and it ended up costing me $750, but that did get me a beautiful diamond ring.


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