By Sharyn Rothstein
So the fancy hotel is costing you a bundle. How do you spend your waking hours in New York without mortgaging the house?
Enjoying Manhattan on the cheap isn’t impossible, but it ain’t easy, either.
Do what the real New Yorkers do. Follow these tips from a native:
There’s no excuse to not eat well when you’re in the city.
Great food is everywhere as long as you avoid the tourist traps.
If you’re in the Times Square area, for instance, venture to Ninth Avenue, which is full of ethnic restaurants to fit any budget.
Many top-notch eateries have less-expensive but still high-quality sister restaurants.
Craftbar (900 Broadway) is the sibling of Craft, one of New York’s hottest spots, and there’s a downstairs room at BLT Fish (21 W. 17th St.).
P.S. The spin-offs are not just affordable but also easier to get into.
An affordable place for families is Homer’s (487 Amsterdam Ave.) on the Upper West Side.
With $1 beers for adults, amazing donut sundaes for kids and plenty of video games, Homer’s makes everybody happy.
And, of course, there are the ubiquitous street-corner stands.
Once the exclusive home of hot-dog hawkers, vendor carts now offer everything from spicy chili to kabobs over rice.
BAG A BARGAIN
New York is famous for its shopping, but the $250 white T-shirt at Marc Jacobs isn’t everyone’s idea of a bargain.
Century 21 (22 Cortlandt St., between Church and Broadway) is the city’s biggest and best discount department store.
Part zoo, part shopper’s heaven, Century 21 offers deals on designer clothes as well as everyday brands, with an enormous shoe section to boot!
Meanwhile, sample sales are the bread and butter of a local’s closet.
Usually located in the Fashion District, these insider events are listed in the back of Time Out’s weekly magazine.
Expect fierce competition as women go head to head for severely reduced clothes from major labels.
And beware: There are no fitting rooms. Pull that dress over whatever you’re already wearing and pray it fits when you get it home!
SEE IT FOR LESS
Most visitors know about the TKTS booth in Times Square, where a couple hours in line will get you half-price tickets to Broadway shows.
Fewer are aware that TKTS has another box office at the South Street Seaport (open every day but Sunday), where the line is always shorter and the tickets are just as cheap.
If $50 still is too much to spend on a show, stop by a theater and inquire about its rush ticket policy.
Many venues, such as those controlled by the Roundabout Theatre Company and The Public Theatre, offer $15 to $30 tickets for same-day performances, usually about two hours before the curtain rises.
Currently, hits such as “Hairspray” and “Avenue Q” hold $20 ticket raffles two hours before each show.
More adventurous theater-goers will love the scene off- or off-off-Broadway.
Tickets almost always are less expensive (usually between $15 and $45 each) and the work often is innovative and daring.
Check the reviews in Time Out or New York Magazine for the week’s best picks.
As for museums, many of New York’s finest offer hours when admission is either free or significantly less than usual.
For example, there’s no charge at the Museum of Modern Art from 4 to 8 p.m. (a deep discount off the usual $20-per-person fee).
For more New York City information, visit the following sites:
Official NYC Tourism Site: www.nycvisit.com
Go City Kids, traveling with children: www.gocitykids.com/?area=197
Daily Candy, fashion, food, arts, culture for NYC: www.dailycandy.com/
The Insider NYC, great for museums, all 5 boroughs: www.theinsider.com/nyc/index.html