In spring and summer, New York City swells with visitors, but as it gets hotter, residents often start heading for greener, quieter, and less congested pastures. During the warm weather months there is no shortage of activities in New York -- both outdoor and indoor -- to lure you. We've rounded up some hotel, airfare and package deals, along with suggestions for free events and activities to do in the city's many parks, museums and streets.
Flight and Hotel Deals
Spring hotel deals can be found at Hotels.com (tel. 800/2-HOTELS; www.hotels.com). Click on New York and prices start from $139 per night for the Hotel Pennsylvania. Other options include the new, contemporary Dream, priced from $249, and the historic Hotel Chandler from $175, located in Murray Hill. Hotels.com is also running a Memorial Day special in cities across the country. Prices are valid May 23-June 5, based on availability. Properties in New York range from the Hotel Belleclaire near the Museum of Natural History from $110 to Salisbury Hotel, near Carnegie Hall, from $239.
American Airlines (tel. 800/433-7300; www.aa.com) is also running a "Great Spring Savings" sale on flights between select cities, valid for travel through June 8. Sample fares include Austin, $298; Baltimore, $128; Chicago, $148; Dallas, $258; Los Angeles, $338; Miami $258. It's also worth checking their last minute (you can search the approaching weekend or the following) netsaver deals for offers between specific destinations.
Travelocity (tel. 888/892-8356; www.travelocity.com) has put together a promotion called "Oh, the Places You Can Go," to and from big cities around the country. Atlanta-New York is priced from $153; Boston-New York $105; Miami-New York at $143 Availability is not guaranteed, some taxes are not included, and prices will of course fluctuate; these were checked on April 11.
If you can act fast, the "Spring is in the Air" sale with United Airlines (tel. 800/UNITED-1; www.united.com) has a booking deadline of Friday, April 21 for off-peak travel good April 24-June 8. Depending on your departure city, it's worth comparing to competing sales from other major airlines. For example, Washington, D.C.-New York is priced from $54 one-way, based on round-trip ticket purchase (American offers the same rate from Washington Reagan Int'l to New York-LaGuardia), but Chicago-New York is priced from $74 one-way, also based on round-trip purchase, which is slightly more than the American Airlines offer. There is a minimum three-night stay.
Expedia (tel. 800-EXPEDIA; www.expedia.com) is running a special at the Ameritania Hotel, in the northern part of the Theater District, for $643 for round-trip airfare and three nights hotel, based on travel from May 4-7 from Atlanta. The rooms feature CD players, wireless Internet, platform beds with Belgian linens and constant complimentary caffeine: coffee, tea and espresso are available 24 hours daily. The Bentley Hotel, priced from $609 for three nights of accommodations and airfare, is also available. This deal, however, is for last minute travel: You must book by April 24 and travel by April 27 from Atlanta to New York.
Special Events and Free, Fun Stuff
For an overview, check out New York City's Official Tourism site (tel. 212/484-1222; www.nycvisit.com). Click on "What's New" to find its newsletter for Spring/Summer, which includes information on a slew of activities, from flower shows to suggestions for outings such as On a Shoestring Weekend (April 28-30), Family Weekend (May 19-21), and suggested itineraries for Mother's Day and Father's Day.
It may be expensive to stay here as a tourist and live here as a resident, but there is no shortage of free things to do. Most bookstores, from the large chains (Barnes and Noble) to the smaller ones (Shakespeare & Co) offer free readings and signings. Springtime means the TriBeCa Film Festival (www.tribecafilmfestival.org), running through May 7. If you can't nab tickets to a screening, check out the festival's free drive-in screenings (sans cars) at the World Financial Center Plaza, at dusk, April 27-29. If you're coming after the festival closes, take heart: summer signals free films. Bryant Park's (www.bryantpark.org) Summer Film Festival presents free screenings of classic films at dusk; at press time, however, the schedule was not posted.
If you're in the city on Sundays, head over to Town Hall (123 W. 43rd St; tel. 212/840-2824; www.the-townhall-nyc.org) for free classical performances as part of its "Free for All at Town Hall" series. Dates are set for May 14 and June 11 and 25 at 5pm and May 28 at 2pm and 7pm. Artists include the string quartet Ethel, pianist Konstantin Lifschitz, violinist Arabella Steinbacher, and guitarist Sharon Isbin with Susanne Mentzer, a mezzo-soprano. The free tickets can be claimed at the door at noon on the day of the performance.
Admission to museums isn't cheap, but a number of New York's best offer free or pay-as-you-wish hours. Between 4pm-8pm on Fridays the regular $20 admission to the Museum of Modern Art (www.moma.org), which recently reopened after renovations, is waived. The Brooklyn Museum of Art (www.brooklynmuseum.org) is free 5pm-11pm on the first Saturday of every month and offers many free programs. On Fridays between 6pm-9pm, pay what you wish to enter the Whitney Museum of American Art (www.whitney.org); right now the Biennial Exhibit is up until May 28.
Another artistic endeavor you might want to check out is a destination in and of itself: the Rem Koolhaas-designed Prada store (tel. 212/334-8888) in Soho. The store, which opened in 2001, is an unorthodox but compelling reinvention of retail space; the architecture gives you a great excuse to look at clothing most people can't afford. Need additional incentive? The exhibit "Waist Down: Skirts by Miuccia Prada" has arrived, and it's running through May 31 after stints in the company's Tokyo and Shanghai locations. From the first women's collection to the latest pieces, one hundred skirts are inventively displayed -- there are no real models. Prada Soho, which recently reopened after a fire in January, is located at 575 Broadway, on the corner of Price Street.
You also don't have to pay a dime to cruise around the island to admire the view. On a clear spring day, you might consider a ride on the Staten Island Ferry, which provides a great view of lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty; it's free. The ferry departs from Battery Park in Manhattan. A walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, just north of City Hall, takes you about a half an hour -- or longer if you're leisurely -- and is a fine way to pass the time on a beautiful afternoon.
Parks and Parades
For the price of a subway ride, which can be negligible if you buy a one-day Fun Pass from MTA (www.mta.nyc.ny.us), head to Coney Island and its Astroland Amusement Park. Of course, the rides aren't free, but it's another fine spot for people watching on this legendary boardwalk and amusement park. Speaking of parks, the mother park of New York City, Central Park (www.centralpark.org) is home to countless activities, many of them free, like lounging around with a book and a sandwich under a big weeping willow. Brooklyn's Prospect Park (www.prospectpark.org) holds many free music and other events, including its own Gay Pride Parade on Saturday June 10; Brooklyn's Pride week runs June 5Â¿10 (www.brooklynpride.org). New York's LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) Pride Week runs June 18Â¿25th (www.hopinc.org), including the march in Greenwich Village on Sunday June 25.
Museum and Hotel Room Packages
The MoMA offers several promotions in conjunction with nearby hotels based on availability. Head to their site and click on "visiting the museum, then "hotel and travel offers." The Buckingham Hotel (tel. 888/511-1900; www.buckinghamhotel.com), for example, offers a "MoMA is Back" deal good through June 30 for a deluxe suite, two VIP tickets to the museum, for $269 per night plus tax; a two-night minimum is required. And as reported here earlier in the month, Millennium Hotels recently launched a special program called Millennium on View, or MoV, with many museums in major cities across the country. (You can link to the company through MoMA's site.) The company's Millennium Broadway and Millennium UN Plaza properties (tel. 866/866-8086; www.millenniumhotels.com) are also offering a MoMA package good for continental breakfast, two VIP admission tickets, available for standard room (from $229) or a premier room (from $289) through May 31, exclusive of taxes, at the Broadway property; the UN deal is good through December 31 for a standard room from $229.
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