NYC’s Best Culture (That You Can Enjoy for Under $5)
We feel smarter already
Between rent, Broadway tickets and $6 matcha, this city is expensive. (Understatement of the century.) What’s a highly sophisticated gal without unlimited funds to do? Until you can donate for your own wing at the MoMA, these seven tips should tide you over.
Become a Wine Snob
The most respected wine shops in the city—Astor Wines and Spirits, Union Square Wines and Sherry-Lehmann Wine & Spirits, for example—offer free tastings by producers throughout the year, so you won’t have to shell out an arm and a leg to know what a well-aged Bordeaux should taste like. Take notes and soon you’ll be navigating any wine list like a pro.
Museum-Hop on the Cheap
Whether or not you’ve made the move to procure the IDNYC card (you should!), you can take advantage of free or pay-as-you-wish days for museums around the city. Or, if you’d rather not battle the crowds, check out lesser-known museums that are always free, like the American Folk Art Museum or The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
Take a Hike
Gawking at leaves is lovely, but if you’re really looking to get in touch with your inner Thoreau, check out the NYC Parks Department’s free educational hikes and nature walks through areas in all five boroughs. Each walk is led by a park ranger who’ll educate you on everything from the flora of Prospect Park to Staten Island’s most haunted landmark (Halloween, anyone?).
Get Artsy at the NYPL
If gallery openings feel a tad too intimidating (did these people step out of a Wes Anderson film or what?) it’s time to turn to the most under-utilized free resource in the city: the public library. Yes, your library card can facilitate escapes with tons of books (and e-books), but the NYPL also offers free discussions with artists and architects in its lineup of lectures and classes at branches across the city.
Listen to Your Surroundings
The next time you’re taking in the gorgeous fall weather on a leisurely walk, trade your latest podcast obsession for a selection of free audio walking tours. The New York Times offers a terrific selection on the city’s architecture and design, and Southside Stories offers a free in-depth audio experience that features long-term residents of South Williamsburg.
Make Your Phone a Cultural Rolodex
Not all apps are created equal, but the good ones can mold you into a bona fide culture vulture for less than the cost of a latte. Discover street graffiti via Geo Street Art ($3), channel your inner New Yorker writer through the magazine’s Goings On app (free), find the nearest art exhibits and galleries on NYArt Beat ($2) or tool around town using a variety of tours through GPS My City (free).
Go Back to School
Relive your college days without the astronomical tuition bills and all-night study binges. Some of the city’s best universities—Columbia, NYU and the New School—offer free lectures and film screenings in fields from the medical sciences to music to politics and everything in between. The best part? You don’t have to be a student or alumni to participate.