New York City is known for its extravagance, its fast-paced lifestyle, taxi's, pizza, and last but certainly not least--the hole it can burn in one's pocket. However, the city offers a plethora of activities to choose from which won't break the bank. The months heading into summertime provide a perfect occasion to frequent some true New York City hotspots. 

Leisure day activities

To top the list is the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. Located in Prospect Park, the Botanical Gardens offer both travelers and New Yorkers a relief from the hustle and bustle of life in Manhattan. On Tuesdays the park is free to all visitors. For the ambitious Saturday morning crowd, who opt out of a late Friday night, the entrance is free from ten to noon.

The garden hosts an array of flora and fauna, a lake, a Bonsai museum and an orchard of Cherry Blossoms. From April 2-May 1 the park hosted a month-long celebration, Hanami, which celebrated Cherry Blossom season through Japanese cultural traditions. Though the official festival has concluded, the trees are still in blossom and are worth the short trip to see.

Setting budding trees and cherry blossoms aside, the Brooklyn Botanical Garden offers the convenience of being set in Prospect Park, a 585-acre urban oasis designed by landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, famed for their Central Park design.

If escaping to the Botanical Gardens isn't an option or desire, New York is well known for its museums. For art lovers, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a bargain at a suggested donation of $10 for students and $20 for general admission. Fret not bargain hunters, as museum goers can donate whatever they can afford, and any donation will grant them access to the museum. Currently the museum is hosting the Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty, which celebrates the late designer and his contribution to the fashion industry. The exhibition runs through July 31, 2011.

If fashion does not strike ones fancy, there are plenty of other exhibits, films, and lectures to attend at the museum. 

Also in the works this spring is The International Postcard Show, which will be held on May 20th, 21st, and 22nd at the New Yorker Hotel. A one-time entrance pass is $7, but for $10 one can peruse the museum at their leisure on a 3-day weekend pass.

The exhibit will host postcard illustrations of the cities family businesses that serve New Yorkers. There will be over 35 dealers exhibiting and selling over two million postcards. The exhibit is not only for postcard enthusiasts, but for the novice collector and the public as well.

Music and nightlife

For the more musically inclined, head to Barbes in Park Slope, Brooklyn, to hear gypsy jazz guitarist Stephane Wrembel and The Django Experiment perform for a small crowd. Wrembel, who composed the theme track to Woody Allen's, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, is a Sunday night regular at Barbes. There is no cover to get into the bar and no fee to watch the show. A $10 donation is asked, but it's up to the discretion of each audience member to choose whether to donate. With a modest drink at the bar, it's possible to spend less than $20 on what could prove to be an entertaining and eventful night out.


Where beauty is concerned, a great way to save a buck is to make an appointment at a beauty school. If it's time for that summer haircut, head to Carsten Aveda Institute, where a female haircut is $20, a bargain which is hard to beat.  If there are any underlying concerns regarding quality, rest assure that the stylist will be monitored by an instructor. The experience may prove to be a stress free and affordable one. Services are not limited to one gender, nor are they limited to a simple haircut. Other services include discounted visits with an esthetician.