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New York City – especially Manhattan, its most famous borough – has a well-earned reputation for being an expensive place to visit and live. It’s hard to set foot out of your hotel room or apartment without bleeding money. But take it from me, a former penniless New York City editor. There are still fun New York-y things you can do in the City that won’t break the bank.

Check out the Freestanding Public Art Exhibits If you’ve visited New York City’s most famous museums lately, you’ll know that the “suggested donation” or ticket prices are pretty steep. If you can’t stomach paying $22 to see modern art, keep your eyes peeled for freestanding sculptures around the city – Park Avenue South tends to be a hotspot for some of the city’s best public art exhibits.

Play Chess and Checkers at Central Park If you stay away from the restaurants and the boats, Central Park remains one of Manhattan’s most cost-effective – and most labyrinthine – venues.  But if you get tired of simply strolling through the park’s 843 acres, take a breather at 64th Street and have a relaxing match of chess or checkers at Central Park’s Chess and Checkers House.

Hit the Highline One of the coolest artistic/architectural/recreational chimeras to hit Manhattan in recent years. A linear park built cradling Manhattan’s lower west side,  the Highline is a prime spot for relaxation and people watching.

Window Browse on Fifth Avenue Never underestimate the power of big ideas. Head down Manhattan’s famous Fifth Avenue and check out the window displays of tony department stores like Tiffany & Co., Saks, Henri Bendel, and Bergdorf Goodman. Some of the finest artistic displays you’ll ever see; inspiration for free.

Ride the Staten Island Ferry If you’re feeling claustrophobic amid all of those skyscrapers, head to Manhattan’s downtown and hop on the Staten Island Ferry for a free cruise and eyeful of one of the most famous statues on Earth.

Visit the 9/11 Memorial Pay homage to the victims of one of the ugliest attacks in recent American history by visiting the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. Reserve your free guest pass online.

Watch the Sunset from Brooklyn Bridge Natural beauty in New York City tends to be limited to the man-made variety. But there’s no better spot to watch all-natural sunsets than from the Brooklyn Bridge. Great for runners, too.

Ride the Subway It was good enough for JFK Jr…. As much as the spotty service, fare hikes, and questionable health standards might frustrate locals, the New York City subway is still one of the cheapest ways to get around the city. $2.25 is the current fare, and it’s a flat fee for any line, any distance, and within 2 hours, you get a free bus transfer, or vice versa. Explore the boroughs and check out the local color – mariachis, b-boys, and all of New York City’s subcultures will be sharing the ride.

Get an Earful at Marie’s Crisis  Leave New York City without stopping by Broadway?? Well, you might have to if you don’t feel like paying ˜$100 or standing on long TKTS lines. What to do? Head to Marie’s Crisis – piano bar extraordinaire. The former residence of Revolutionary War luminary Thomas Paine, Marie’s is now a magnet for Broadway hopefuls and sometimes the stars themselves. The entertainment is free, but a drink’ll cost you. Good news: no minimum!

Dine at a Food Truck New York City’s street food offerings have evolved far beyond hot dogs and pretzels in recent years. Find every kind of tasty treat imaginable at NYC’s fleet of food trucks – quality eats at reasonable prices, usually under $10, from cupcakes to Korean barbecue to Israeli vegetarian food to tacos.

What are your favorite things to do in Manhattan on the cheap?

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