A Frugal Hello From NYC!

by Katy on December 14, 2015 · 27 comments

Leaving PDX

My mother and I photographing our matching shoes at the Portland airport, a local tradition.

Good morning from New York City!

My mother and I are here until Friday to help my sister Jessica celebrate her 50th birthday. Yesterday was a travel day from Oregon, but I figure than any day of airline transit, however unpleasant is always going to be better than the experience Lewis and Clark or The Donner party had. (Seriously, air travel is a bit of a miracle!)

Today we’re going to hit up The Metropolitan Museum of Art, (s’up, “suggestion donation” museum!)  and then mosy over to Zabars so I can pick up delicious and unique New York consumables to give as holiday gifts. (Go ahead, so it . . . say “unique New York” over and over again. You know you want to do it!)

Transportation will be public and tiring fun will be had. I’m looking forward to time with family this week, as well as much touristy enjoyment. I try to do different things with each visit, and will chronicle my week here on the blog.

Do you have favorite thing to do when you visit New York? Please share your ideas in the comments section below.

Click HERE to read my NYC on a Budget: Cheap-Ass Katy in The City post!

Click HERE to read about the insane day my son and I had in lower Manhattan a few years ago.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Brenda December 14, 2015 at 7:55 am

I live about 4 hours away from NYC, so it is cheap travels to catch a bus trip heading there- easy to do as numerous places offer them. And I never seem to spend much- always fun to just walk around and see the sights-the Christmas tree, Rockefeller Center, Central Park, the store windows, Times Square, the people. One memorable time was when Charmin had public bathrooms with all these funny, friendly people working there. They carried on a little conversation as you waited, dancing around to the music, and they would clean the bathroom before the next person went in. It was hilarious, a relief to use a clean bathroom in NY, and such a funny memory to have! You can easily stumble on crazy(and free!) things like this in NYC!


janine December 14, 2015 at 8:34 am

Last trip to NYC was several years ago. My friend and I went for the purpose of seeing the Metropolitan Opera. This wasn’t a cheap venue – as I recall the tickets were in the $350 range but this once in a lifetime experience was wonderful.
However, the remainder of the trip was based on frugal principles. We ate at a good cheap vegetarian restaurant in Greenwich Village, visited Central Park (their zoo is similar to ours in size – was interested in their landscaping which enhanced their exhibits), took a tour of Harlem on Sunday to experience a church choir which fell short of expectations, but the rest of the tour was fantastic – Hamilton’s house (who knew it was in Harlem?), a street filled with women sporting native African dresses – I spotted a dress very similar to one a friend wore to her wedding in Africa, and friendly people made up that day. Finally, we haunted flea markets and I found a piece of inexpensive pottery for sale from a Minnesota Company I am familiar with. A city with incredible treasures.


Carolyn December 14, 2015 at 8:49 am

I have only been to New York once, during the time we lived outside of Boston. We drove in (cheaper than train tickets at the time) and stayed for free from some travel reward nights.

Just walking around the city that I had seen so many times in movies and on TV was enough entertainment for this Midwestern gal. It felt so familiar and surreal.


Valerie December 14, 2015 at 8:49 am

Was there last weekend. Stayed at Double Tree by Newark Airport. Took NJ transit into Penn Station, NY. Walked to Bryant Park(find booth with No chewing candy samples), NY public library is right there too(took pictures at tree), then on to Grand Central to check out the Holiday shops, had lunch in Time Square(did splurge at Bubba Gumps), then onto Rockefeller Center tree was crowded but beautiful and our last stop was my favorite church on 49th(the actors chapel). Yearly stop but first time to catch Mass and stop with priest that has a sister living in our state. Fabulous time and only splurge was lunch. Enjoy your time with family. Weather is wonderful.


Randi MacDonald December 26, 2015 at 9:48 am

Next time avoid all restaurants in Time Square( tourist traps). Eat local!!


Clifford April 29, 2016 at 7:20 am

Lol 🙂
Nice share Katy.


JD December 14, 2015 at 9:24 am

My husband and both of our daughters have been, but I never have been to NYC. I don’t live nearly as far away as Katy, but far enough to make it a trip I doubt will ever happen for me. My daughters enjoyed their trip there (senior trips) so much so that one has been back since then, but my husband was being shipped overseas in the Navy and had to spend a day or two in NYC in route to Europe. His memories were strictly unhappy because he didn’t want to go. My daughters enjoyed Central Park, Trinity Cathedral, and the museums.


Thrifty Writer December 14, 2015 at 9:31 am

theskint.com is usually good for cheap and free NYC events (and points you to good Groupon deals in NYC).
The Juilliard School has many cheap/free dance, drama and music events: https://events.juilliard.edu/
The temporary Museum of Feelings is free – only here through tomorrow (though there could be a line): https://www.themuseumoffeelings.com/visit
The Museum of Art and Design is Pay What You Wish from 6 – 9 pm on Thursday (too bad you’re leaving Friday, since Friday night is when most museums are Pay What You Wish): http://www.madmuseum.org/exhibitions

The Parker Meridien hotel on 55th street usually has a gingerbread monument display around this time of year – it’s free, though you pay $1 if you want to vote for the best one (proceeds to go City Harvest).

That’s all I can think of at the moment.


Queen Lucia December 14, 2015 at 10:29 am

Actor warm up: You know you need unique New York. (Repeated till tongue loosened)

Frugal warm up: You know you need fabulous frugal finds from unique New York. (Repeat till purse strings tightened.)


A. Marie December 14, 2015 at 10:54 am


I’ve described my own NYC “favorite frugal things” in a comment on one of Katy’s earlier NYC posts, so I’ll only recap these briefly: (1) having a very generous BFF on the Upper West Side with a spacious apartment; (2) getting into a lot of museums for free with BFF’s museum memberships; (3) riding public transport (although I will always look like an out-of-town dork as I go through turnstiles); and (4) investigating the city’s thrift shops (there are three within a stone’s throw of BFF’s subway station).


Lisa K December 14, 2015 at 6:29 pm

I wanna be friends with your BFF! Seriously, having local connections makes any place better!


Kim from Philadelphia December 14, 2015 at 11:03 am

Walk the High Line
Chelsea Market
Central Park
Chinatown for dim sum
Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge
Tenement Museum
The Strand bookshop
Explore the lower East Side
Tenement Museum
Green Point, Brooklyn


Kim from Philadelphia December 14, 2015 at 11:15 am

I guess I like the Tenement Museum so much I mentioned it twice!


Sheryl December 14, 2015 at 11:23 am

I like riding the Staten Island Ferry a clear day. Free, and great for taking photos of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty.


Nancy December 14, 2015 at 11:36 am

My husband and I have been there three times in cold December. We like to go running in the mornings from our hotel, to and through Central Park. It has always been cold, and snowy, and invigorating. We would run past happy kids sledding. It is one of my favorite memories, except for the days when when it was garbage day in the park,
and the stench from the garbage by the restaurant would almost do me in.


Jennifer December 14, 2015 at 1:41 pm

I like to get those smashed penny’s at every place I go. Yes I know, I am paying money to lose money. It’s so much cheaper than most souvenirs and I keep them all in a small book that I( and I only) will always be able to enjoy.


cathy December 14, 2015 at 2:03 pm

My kids each have one of those books and love collecting the smashed pennies!


Isabelle December 14, 2015 at 1:46 pm

I went to NY once, with a bunch of skinny ladies (I’m not) wanting to go shopping to skinny-girl stores and places where they sell 500$ sunglasses. Can I say that I did not fit in at all (size and budget wise) and did not enjoy myself one bit? Plus, crazy traffic, non-stop honking horns, rude waiter at a restaurant. Nope, maybe NY is not for me. But, then again, maybe it was just a bad experience and going back would be different…


Marcia December 14, 2015 at 2:02 pm

I think the last time I was there was 1965, returning from England. I live in New York State and never go there. Too many people–I like small town life with small cities if I need a taste of city life. Which I don’t, very often.

My preference is always woods, solitude or small populations. Big Cities are just not my style, although I have been to many of them!


Kim A December 14, 2015 at 2:19 pm

I recognize the rug. I was at the Portland airport in September. I liked the fresh piney scent they pump into the airport. No ideas for NYC, but just want to say enjoy your trip. I love flying across the US.


Karen December 14, 2015 at 3:16 pm

When you go to the MM of Art go up to the deck where you can buy drinks. You don’t have to buy drinks but it is a good place to view the city.

If you are going to a show, a man who worked the front ticket office in a theater told us to go to the theater in the am of the evening you want to see a show and see if there were any discount tickets for the show. This way you do not wait in line and you get the show you want. As I recall we did this twice, one time getting 20% off and the other time 35% off.


Katy December 14, 2015 at 9:06 pm

We ended up not going to the Met, as we were almost there and realized we were in front of Ronald Lauder’s Neue Gallery, which houses the Kilmt painting featured in the movie “Women in Gold.” we stopped in our tracks and paid the admission. We watched the movie tonight, as I was the only one who had seen the movie. Worth every penny. Wil do the Met tomorrow instead.


Marie-Josée December 14, 2015 at 7:04 pm

The last time I was in NYC was three weeks prior to 9-11. It was the first summer we actually could afford to take a week-long vacation away from home and we hesitated between NYC and Toronto. I am so happy we chose to go visit NYC! My son, who was 9 at the time was (and still is) very much into architecture was so excited about visiting the Twin Towers. We toured the North Twin Tower (it was beautiful, non-windy day and we were allowed to go onto the outer deck and enjoy the incredible view). This is a priceless memory for all of us and we cherish the pictures we took during that visit. We spent a wonderful week in the city, staying right in Manhattan, near Hell’s Kitchen at the Travel Inn. We enjoyed a two-day hop on and off bus tour, did a river cruise around the city, visited the Empire State Building, the Intrepid Sea and Air Museum and Grand Central Station. We tried visiting the Natural Science Museum, but it was a rainy day and half of NYC decided they wanted to visit the museum as well, so we passed our turn. Visited Macy’s and Central Park Zoo, as well as the F. A. Schwartz Toy Store. We took a walk in Central Park every day and saw several celebrities. It was sweltering hot and I swear, we must have walked 50 miles during that week. I have never returned to NYC, but my children have returned on several occasions with school or with friends. They were always elected group leaders of their school groups because they were a little familiarized with the city. My husband and I look forward to returning to spend a few days. We would like to see a musical on Broadway, visit the Museum of Fine Arts, the Natural History Museum, Central Park and just walk around and soak up that incredible vibe.

Other than the Twin Tower visit, I was incredibly impressed (read my jaw literally dropped) when I saw a complete apartment hanging vertically on the wall of a building. This was an ABSOLUTE NEW YORK IKEA ad!



AnnW December 14, 2015 at 7:58 pm

A Must See: the origami Christmas tree at the Museum of Natural History. The animal ornaments are really big. The Central Park Zoo is really special. Used to be free, but they spent a lot of money fixing it up. Check AARP and AAA for discounts.


Winn Moreno December 15, 2015 at 11:19 am

My husband and I took our first trip without the kids to NYC a few months ago (during the heat wave, ugh!). We’ve been there several times “pre-kids” so this time we tried to be a little more budget-savvy. We were lucky to stay at my husband’s best friend’s apartment in Harlem. Staying with friends or family saves A LOT. We ate at local, affordable restaurants or cooked at home. We saw several exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum (another suggestion donation museum), walked the Brooklyn Bridge (my first time!), spent time in Central Park, and walked the High Line at night. I recommend walking the High Line at night. It offers a unique perspective that I prefer than the daytime view! During the nighttime walk on the High Line I was also able to see my favorite street art (the iconic Times Square Kiss) in a different light. And yes, that is my favorite because I’m a nurse, too 😉


Katy December 15, 2015 at 6:55 pm

My mother has brand new knees, so we’re minimizing walking.


ar-fragrance May 31, 2016 at 11:32 pm

I like to get those smashed penny’s at every place I go. Yes I know, I am paying money to lose money. It’s so much cheaper than most souvenirs and I keep them


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