With the economy in the crapper, it's a bit difficult for many U.S. travelers to make it abroad anytime soon. In the meantime, it's a great time for those of us with itchy feet to explore the many places around the States that offer a unique and memorable experience.
We recently had a whirlwind weekend visit to New York City, and found there are definitely deals to be had. It seemed nearly every business in Manhattan was trying everything possible to attract tourist dollars. And with three area airports, plus connections to most major cities around the country, fares are low and seats plentiful. If you're on the east coast, train travel is the way to go. You arrive the in heart of the city at Grand Central Terminal, eliminating cab fare and traffic.
But what making the most of a budget-conscious trip once there? Here are some ideas from our recent Galavanting episode to get you started:
We stayed in the sleek & affordable Hotel 41 in Times Square, which has rooms starting at $149.00 a night. It's got boutique hotel charm, a very friendly staff, and plenty of amenities. Plus, breakfast and cappuccino are included.
Our first night out, we headed to the Jazz Standard for live music. They're the only major jazz club in Manhattan without a drink minimum, and the cover charge is between $20-$30 (low for NYC). After a spectacular performance by the Cindy Blackman Quartet, we went off in search of Sangria, Spanish tapas and lively atmosphere at Xunta.
If you're in the mood for bargain shopping, Daffy's is a good place to go, and they have locations all across Manhattan. Grabbing a cheap lunch and scenic walk around Chinatown is a fun afternoon. Don't forget the Dim Sum.
You can sample some luxury without breaking the bank, with Osteria del Circo's pre-theatre price-fixed dinner menus. They also have price-fixed lunches which started as a limited promotion, but became ongoing as the economic slowdown continued. It's a great way to have an upscale meal at a top-tier restaurant for much less money than it would have cost even several months ago. Go for the food, stay for the atmosphere and charming staff.
Be sure to top the night off with a drink and fab chocolate treat at Max Brenner's before catching the subway back to the hotel.
We did a few tourist trap things too of course, like ice-skating in Rockefeller Center. But that was a splurge, as over-charging seems to be something they haven't given up on yet...at least it's a little cheaper post-Christmas.
All-in-all, New York can be visited on a budget, especially if traveling with friends to split costs, and if you're willing to skip some of the touristy places that eat up your time and your money. And be on the lookout for special bargains -- which abound right now. The city even recently ran a promotion called "On The House" which gave free tickets to off-broadway shows. Be sure to check out NYGO.com's Deal-o-Matic section before your trip to find out any other great deals going on.