New York For (Almost) Free – My Guide

I was invited to the USA to speak about social enterprise at a conference called the Beyond Sport Summit.  I was on a tight budget while there, but I didn’t want to let that stop me exploring what New York had to offer.  Here are my recommendations for spending a few days in New York, without spending a lot of money.

The High Line

I saw pictures of the High Line in the newspaper about 6 months ago, and thought it looked really cool.  It’s a public park built on a rail line above the streets of Manhattan’s West Side.  It’s looked after by a non-profit group called the Friends of the High Line, and it’s a great place for a walk, or a walking meeting.   And we know the value of walking meetings, I already linked to the TED Talk in my last post.  My companions for the walk were sharing economy and collaboration experts Melissa O’Young of LetsCollaborate, and Odile Beniflah of carpooling.com.  It’s funny to be walking past apartment block windows, but it’s a beautiful place to spend an hour or so.

9/11 Memorial

Two huge pools cascade water into a dark abyss.  They stand in the footprint of the original towers, and are outlined with the names of those that died.  Around it, the new world trade centre is still being constructed, with the new One World Trade Centre being the tallest tower the USA.  Entrance is free, but $5-$10 donations are appreciated.  Book online to avoid queues. 

New Museum of Contemporary Art

The New Museum is usually $14 dollars, but on Thursday night from 7pm, it’s free. It gets busy, so arrive a little early to make the most of your experience.  You might get lucky and experience live performance art – we did.  On the 5th floor we were part of a live broadcast of contemporary music, recorded using only analogue technology – Hipsters would have loved it.

Modern Art

New York Library

Looking for free wi-fi, large desks and a place to get on with some work?  Check out the huge reading rooms at the top of the library. That’s where I wrote most of this blog post.  Desk space fills up in the afternoon, so arrive early and claim your spot.  Need a break, lunch or a meeting?  Head to the back of the building, and you are in the lovely Bryant Park.

The Library

Bonuses

Of course I didn’t do everything for free.  Transport, eating and the occasional drink all take their toll.  I was however very lucky to have the chance to experience some things for free,  that normally have associated costs. For this I’d like to thank my wonderful friends and connections in New York.

Green Spaces Coworking Office

As I’m sure you are aware, I’m a member of Hub Westminster in London, and a huge proponent of coworking.  When looking for coworking spaces in New York that shared the same values, I came across Green Spaces – “A sustainable coworking office and community for environmentally and socially conscious entrepreneurs.” I was warmly welcomed by community manager Eva, and founder Marissa, and introduced to members SportSetter and Runa Tea. I even had the opportunity to spend a couple of hours working in their beautiful space.

Empire State Building

Going up 1,250 feet (381m) in the centre of Manhattan, with views of the entire New York area is beautiful. Doing it at sunset, breath-taking.  Doing it for free, on an express pass? Amazing!  Of course, I have to thank my very good friend José Luis Hernández who works on the 34th floor of the Empire State Building, in Human Rights Watch, for this experience.

Accommodation

Finding somewhere to stay while away definitely eats into your budget.  I always recommend using AirBnB to find somewhere amazing that suits your style. This time, however, I didn’t have to use it, as I’m very lucky to have friends in New York. For most of the time, I stayed in Jamaica, Queens with the aforementioned José.  It’s a long way out from the city centre, but with a direct connection into Manhattan on the F Line, getting in was easy.

I also spend a couple of enjoyable, relaxing evenings  in New Jersey. I was staying with SaaS entrepreneur Stony Grunow, who runs DaddyAnalytics. With Stony, I foraged for mussels on the Jersey Shore, and we steamed them for dinner with some home-made fries.  Also joining us was our friend, John Williams, who wrote Screw Work, Let’s Play.  As you can imagine, we came up with some interesting new business ideas while hanging out on the beach…

The Jersey Shore

The Jersey Shore

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