Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

August 22, 2017
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Cheap thrills in New York

How to make the most of a long-weekend in Manhattan without losing your shirt

Getting the most from the city that never sleeps means more than pushing yourself to keep up with Manhattan’s bustle. You want to see the sights and have some authentic experiences, too — including saving your dough like a local in the know. Here’s a plan for a weekend jaunt that will make you feel like a native without breaking the bank.

Friday

2PM: Bay watch

Whether it’s your first time or a return visit, seeing New York’s skyline from the water is always a spellbinding affair. The Circle Line (Pier 83 at West 42nd Street and 12th Avenue; tel: 212-563-3200; circleline42.com; adult fare for the 3-hour cruise, US$34) is the way to go: its three-hour circumnavigation of Manhattan will help you get your bearings, learn about the latest landmarks and see the city’s evolving waterfront up close from the open-air upper deck of a boat.

5PM: Artful saving

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) (11 West 53rd Street; tel: 212-708-9400; moma.org is still basking in the raves of its major expansion a few years ago, a transformation that also set a new benchmark for admission prices. But, you can see the Picassos, Monets and Modiglianis and save the US$20 fee by going on Fridays between 4PM and 8PM when it’s free. Don’t forget the MoMA gift shop; it’s full of artful and inventive items you may want to keep for yourself.

It’s worth remembering that the wonderful Metropolitan Museum of Art (1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street; tel: 212-535-7710; metmuseum.org) has a recommended admission policy only, so don’t feel compelled to hand over the suggested US$20 fee. In the past, I’ve mumbled something about exchange rates and they happily accepted a fiver and let me in. What’s better is that the vast museum is open until 9PM on Fridays and Saturdays.

8PM: Food reduction

Dining luxe for less has become the mantra at restos once accustomed to Wall Street expense accounts. A few blocks from the MoMA, the wood-fuelled grills and oven at Beacon (25 West 56th Street; tel: 212-332-0500; beaconnyc.com), headed by Chef Waldy Malouf, stokes a Stimulus menu at 20-percent off and a Burger Bar that starts at US$9.

Saturday

9AM: Dress for less

Shopping is more than a pastime in New York — it’s a competitive sport in which retailers entice consumers with eye-catching displays and a world of merchandise.

If it’s bargains you’re hunting, head for the Lower East Side. Stop at the iconic Russ & Daughters (179 East Houston Street; tel: 212-475-4880; russanddaughters.com) for a schmear of cream cheese on a fresh bagel to fuel the trek and then comb the Orchard Street Shopping District for designer classics from Donna Karan, Jones New York and Liz Claiborne as well as for leather accessories and shoes. I came away with a US$10 down jacket and a nice leather wallet for a buck. Check out 8coupons.com for additional neighbourhood savings.

12PM: Living in the past

The Lower East Side is a historic and once gritty part of town that is also home to trendy small bars, galleries and the New Museum of Contemporary Art on The Bowery. But, to get a flavour of how things once were, don’t miss The Tenement Museum (108 Orchard Street; tel: 212-982-8420; tenement.org; adult tickets US$20), for a revealing guided tour through a restored tenement, a typical dwelling from an era when people lived in close quarters and disease was rampant. The tour is so popular reservations are a must.

1PM: Cultural feast

For lunch, Little Italy and Chinatown are close by for affordable fare in lively settings overrun with tourists. Venture a little further to TriBeCa where Matsugen (241 Church Street; tel: 212-925-0202; jean-georges.com) now has a prix-fixe lunch for US$26 and a seven-course dinner for US$38 featuring fresh Japanese cuisine.

3PM: The today show

If you’re already downtown, head for the much less busy TKTS Discount Booth (tel: 212-912-9770; tdf.org) on South Street Seaport at the corner of Front and John Streets, rather than the popular location in Times Square, to grab last-minute tickets to a Broadway show. Don’t forget that many Off Broadway venues (Signature Theatre Company, Pearl Theatre Company, Public Theatre among them) mount first-rate productions and have their own discount policies. The Metropolitan Opera Company also has US$20 rush seats for day-of performances.

5PM: Physician on the roof

Rise above it all and feel the pulse of the city below at the storied Rainbow Room (30 Rockefeller Plaza, 65th floor; tel: 212-632-5100; rainbowroom.com), 65 floors up the Rockefeller Center. Admire the Art Deco décor while sipping a Manhattan that you paid for with the money you saved by not dropping US$20 for an elevator ride and by ignoring the aggressive pitch to sell you souvenirs at the Empire State Building.

If it’s an outdoor rooftop experience you’re after, Top of the Rock (30 Rockefeller Plaza, 70th floor; tel: 212-698-2000; topoftherocknyc.com) is five floors above the Rainbow Room. You’ll have to pay US$18, however, to get to this stunning perch over the city from the basement of this landmark building.

8PM: Night vision

If you skipped the theatre, don’t worry: New York is full of street theatre on every block. Which is why a leisurely stroll can be one of the most rewarding experiences the city can offer. Head for the newly landscaped and restored Washington Square in the heart of Greenwich Village and drift westward along pretty brownstone-lined streets under a canopy of trees.

Café and restaurant patios spill out onto the streets in good weather and offer a perfect spot for people watching. I like the affordable European flavours (stinging nettle soup, suckling pig) at August (359 Bleecker Street; tel: 212-929-4774; augustny.com), a romantic spot with a back terrace under a glass roof. Afterwards, jazz clubs beckon like the legendary Village Vanguard (178 Seventh Avenue South; tel: 212-255-4037; villagevanguard.com](http://www.villagevanguard.com)) and keep the beat going into the small hours.

Sunday

9AM: Morning glory

Brunch in New York is a ritual some rely on as their last stop after clubbing the night away. There are as many varieties to brunch — think soul food in the Village at the Pink Tea Cup (42 Grove Street; tel: 212-807-6755; thepinkteacup.com), seafood at the River Café (1 Water Street, Brooklyn; tel: 718-522-5200; rivercafe.com) on the Brooklyn side under the Brooklyn Bridge, or French at Pastis (9 Ninth Avenue; tel: 212-929-4844; pastisny.com) in the Meatpacking District — as venues that cater to the most relaxed meal of the week. While patrons flip through their Sunday New York Times, those without tables could be in for a long wait, so call ahead and see if reservations can be made.

11AM: Green peace

Time to walk off the cheesecake and eggs Bennie at the city’s newest attraction, the High Line Park (thehighline.org). This piece of urban fantasy opened in June, turning an abandoned, elevated rail line on the west side into an oasis of sculpted paths and gardens for indigenous vegetation. It’s so popular, there’s often a queue to get into the park at Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District. With ever changing views of the Hudson River and the city — and plenty of benches to rest and take it all in — reserve at least two hours for this amble to 20th Street and back again. The next time you’re in New York, this aerial park may be completed to 30th Street or even further into midtown.

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.

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