Great Hall Balcony Bar at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the most famous museums in the world. The museum houses vast collections of some of the world’s greatest art, but in addition to the art, it offers an experience that not everyone knows about. The Great Hall Balcony Bar is open every Friday and Saturday night from 4:00 – 8:30 pm. Tables on the second floor balcony overlook the Great Hall, artwork provides the backdrop, and a trio of classical musicians provides the finishing touch on this truly world-class experience. Entrance to the museum is a suggested donation, so you can pay what you wish, and save that money to instead sip a drink on the balcony while enjoying the live classical music.
Verlaine may look like one of those hip downtown bars that send you home at the end of the evening with a tab in the triple digits, but it’s actually a haven for those on a budget. Boasting a happy hour that lasts until 10 pm every night of the week and reasonably priced tapas plates, Verlaine is the perfect place to bring a friend or a date for a drink and a bite without breaking the bank. During their seemingly endless happy hour, their famous lychee martini is only $6. With over 1.5 million served since 2001, New Yorkers have declared this cocktail one of the best in the city.
Verlaine, 110 Rivington Street, New York, NY, USA +1 212 614 2494
The Cloisters, located in Fort Tryon Park in northern Manhattan, is a branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Entrance to The Cloisters is a suggested donation, but if you visit within one week of visiting The Metropolitan Museum of Art, your entrance is free, so make sure to save your receipt or simply pay what you want. The Cloisters is a truly beautiful museum nestled within an equally beautiful park. The name, The Cloisters, refers to the fact that the building itself is made up from pieces of, and in the style of, several monasteries and convents from medieval Europe.
Winter Village at Bryant Park
The annual Winter Village at Bryant Park is a delightful holiday tradition. The Winter Village consists of booths selling holiday gift items and treats, as well as a 170 by 100 feet ice skating rink. To hold onto your money, grab your ice skates, walk past the holiday booths, and head straight to the ice skating rink. You can rent skates for a fee, but admission is free, so if you bring your own skates you pay nothing! Then skate away in the center of midtown, surrounded by the delicious smells and festive sights of the Winter Village. Afterwards, if you like, you can treat yourself to a warm apple cider or hot chocolate. You deserve it after working up a sweat on the ice!
NY Philharmonic: Concerts in the Parks
Held at the Great Lawn in Central Park each summer, the free NY Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks event draws large crowds, so you’ll want to get there early to snag a good spot. Bring a blanket, friends, a light picnic, cross your fingers for no rain, and enjoy a world class classical music performance in the open air in the middle of Central Park. Just as magical as the music itself, is the shared experience of having a picnic with hundreds of strangers as the sun goes down, while music fills the air.
Summer Solstice in Times Square
Every year on the summer solstice, there is a mass yoga class held right in the middle of Times Square called, you guessed it, Summer Solstice in Times Square. This is a free event, but you’ll want to make sure and register for a spot, as the event has become very popular in recent years. The roads in Times Square are blocked from traffic and instead filled with yoga mats and people ready to find a moment of relaxation in an area that no one would usually refer to as relaxing. The event is also streamed live so that people around the world can participate, but there is nothing quite like taking part right in the heart of New York City.
The best views of Central Park can be seen from Belvedere Castle, located inside the park near the entrances at 79th Street on the East Side or 81st Street from the West Side. Though it was never a functioning castle, it has served its purpose of adding to the beauty and majesty of Central Park since it was built in 1865. It also serves as one of New York’s five visitor centers. Take an afternoon to visit this quaint little castle nestled in the park, take in the views, watch the birds, and just pretend for a moment you are looking out over your vast kingdom. There’s no harm in dreaming, is there?
Belvedere Castle, Central Park at 79th Street, New York, NY, USA +1 212 772 0210
Summerstage is an annual festival held during the summer months at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park. Most of the concerts are free, but there are always some shows by big name artists that will require you to buy a ticket. You can still enjoy those shows for free, though. Rather than pay the ticket fee to get inside and get jostled by the crowd, you can find a spot on the grass just outside the fence and enjoy the music while happily lounging on a blanket with your friends.
Summerstage, Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, New York, NY, USA + 1 212 360 2756
Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Ceremony
The Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Ceremony has been a tradition for over 70 years. For many, it marks the beginning of the holiday season. The tree, generally between 70 and 100 feet tall, is a sight to behold. The first official tree lighting ceremony was held in 1933, although the tradition began unofficially a few years before, during the height of the Great Depression. In 1931 construction workers erected a tree and decorated it at the site while building the plaza at 30 Rockefeller Center. They would line up next to the tree to collect their paycheck this week. Now, thousands of people fill the area to view the tree lighting ceremony and ring in the holiday season.
Little Red Lighthouse
The Little Red Lighthouse is a favorite destination for New Yorkers in northern Manhattan. Located in Fort Washington Park, in the shadow of the George Washington Bridge, the Little Red Lighthouse is the last surviving lighthouse in Manhattan. It inspired the 1942 children’s book The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge by Hildegarde Swift and Lynd Ward. It was taken out of service in 1948 and in 1979 was added to the National Registry of Historic Places. Today it serves as a quaint reminder to visitors of times gone by.
Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola
New York City is the city that never sleeps, and apparently jazz is the music that never sleeps either. The late night sessions at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola start at 11:15 pm and charge a cover of only $5 on Tuesday and Wednesday and just $10 on Thursday and Friday. No reservations are required, so if you’re out on the town and have a sudden itch that only jazz music can scratch, head on over to hear the talented up-and-coming musicians in the jazz scene.
Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, 10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY, USA +1 212 258 9800
Irish Hunger Memorial
The Irish Hunger Memorial is a beautiful and fitting memorial for the Irish Hunger Famine. Built on an angle, the memorial is meant to look like the Irish countryside and contains stones from every county in Ireland. It even includes an authentic Irish stone cottage and potato fields. The memorial sits on a base of limestone, where you can read the history of the Irish famine and about famine all over the world. After spending some time in the Irish countryside, head a little further south to take a walk around Battery Park to take in views of the water and the Statue of Liberty.
By Heather Hanson
Heather has lived in New York for 11 years, and when she’s not traveling, she spends her time enjoying all the restaurants, bars, museums, and green spaces throughout the city.