Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Top Ten Ways to Relax in New York City (On a Budget!)

Anyone who reads this blog must know how much I love New York City. I mean, why else would I write a whole blog about living here, right? New York is a vibrant, eclectic, exciting, and intensely interesting place to live.

Which also means that it can be hectic, frazzled, stifling, and overwhelming, too. There's a reason those high-priced, $400 facial type spas exist (and it's not just because The Real Housewives need something else to do).

While Dan and I were at the beach a few weeks ago and I was thinking about how relaxing I find it there, I realized there was one "top ten in New York" list that I had never seen. And so, without further ado, I bring you:

The Top Ten Ways To Relax in New York City Without Prostituting Yourself to Pay For It:

1. Enjoy a (plastic) bottle of wine while watching Shakespeare in the Park. Seeing Shakespeare performed in Central Park for free has been a New York tradition for fifty or so years now, but the recent advent of the online ticket lottery has taken all the stress out of snagging some tickets. Head over here to enter yourself into the lotto any time before 1 PM on show day, and with a moderately flexible schedule, you're sure to get tickets. There's nothing more relaxing than seeing great theatre at sunset with a breeze blowing and the city muted around you, in my opinion. Bonus relaxation points: bring a bottle of wine with you to enjoy during the show. Food and drink are totally allowed in the theater, the only rule is no glass.

2. Walk home after midnight. The city is ever so much more peaceful then.

3. Ride the Staten Island Ferry. This is another freebie steal. Get out on the water, take in the stunning skyline views, and get up close and personal with Lady Liberty herself. Sit outside on the top level for the best views and zen. Get off at Staten Island and grab the next ferry right back and you've got a full 90 minutes of tranquility lined up. Just avoid commuting hours (7-10 AM and 4-7 PM).

4. Have drinks at a rooftop bar.

5. Get a pedicure. Unlike everything else in New York, pedicures are cheap. Cheaper than they are elsewhere. And there's nothing so relaxing as being forced to sit still for a few minutes in the middle of the day, plus there's no better way to feel fresh, groomed, and pampered than to have a cute, new coat of nail polish on.

6. Sip on an over-priced and calorie-laden latte at Starbucks, cuddled up in an armchair and watching snowflakes fall through the windowpanes.

7. Lay in the middle of the lawn in Bryant Park after dark.

8. Eat dinner at a sidewalk cafe.

9. Take the B train to Brighton Beach. Sure, it's not the cleanest or nicest beach, but it IS pretty incredible that you can hop on the train in the concrete jungle of Midtown and hop off an hour later at the beach.

10. And I know this isn't actually in the city, buuuut if all else fails, get out of the city! There are so many great places to escape to overnight or for the weekend without even having a car! Take the metro north railroad to a quiet inn in Connecticut or to a cabin in the Hudson Valley. Take NJ Transit and stay at the Jersey Shore (I promise, it's not all like that TV show...). Take Amtrak to a weekend getaway in Philly. It doesn't have to break the bank, but just getting away from the hustle for a couple of days can really do wonders for your sanity.

What are your best relaxation tips in New York City?


  1. I love your ideas, and completely agree with you on the greatness of hopping on a subway, riding an hour and getting off at the beach--it's so relaxing! Here are some of mine:

    Walk or ride a bike down the greenway next to the Westside Highway--you get a great view of the Hudson and the whirring of the cars creates this nice sound wall of white noise. Get a drink at the big bar at 79th St.

    Wandering around Central Park, particularly in the northern part by Harlem Meer

    Go to the Met right when it opens, pay what you wish and then head straight for the temple of Dendur. Pretend you're in that scene from When Harry Met Sally.

    Make your own tours: with a little research beforehand you can make a little mini-tour of sights referenced in favorite books, TV shows and movies--ditch the bus and do it yourself! When J.D. Salinger died I found a few spots in Central Park that are referenced in Catcher in the Rye, and we did a little tribute tour one cold Sunday afternoon.

  2. Love the tips! Definitely saving this post for when we finally get to make another NYC trip!

  3. @themanhattanfoodproject: Love your tips, too! Especially the idea of creating your own tour, which I have yet to do, but now am planning on!

  4. Great post!! There are tons of little secrets in Grand Central too - other than the markets & shops (the glass walkways, the whispering gallery) and I think the tours are free too.

    I'm also a HUGE fan of the Cloisters. I'll extol them to anyone who will listen. Admission there is also whatever you can/want to give and you can just walk around in Ft. Tryon park if you want for what is – in my opinion – the BEST views of the Hudson River in all of NYC. I swear it transports you to Europe for a few hours.

  5. @Dancy: Ooh, I'm a bad Midtowner and really haven't spent the time exploring Grand Central that I should. And my dirty little secret is that I've never been to the Cloisters (although I've been to Ft. Tryon park several times)...must change this!!

  6. All of those ideas sounds glorious! I want to get back to the Big Apple so bad. :)

  7. Looking at yards and yards and yards of fabric in the garment district. So many beautiful fabrics!

  8. What a nice experience I felt here in property sunshine coast all that I need for a apartment is here already hmmmm…it’s perfect to me, The moderate climate and even year round rainfall makes it one of the greenest places in Australia…

  9. These tips are great, Kate! I wish you had advice for non-NYC residents. Well, here's what I do every weekend to unwind from stress: I buy Lavender and smell its aroma using a vaporizer. Accessories aren't hard to find, so I use it as often as I can. Have you tried it before, Kate? I hope I helped someone out there with my tip. Keep blogging!