It happens every year. You will see and hear about it on the local, national, and perhaps even international news channels… The droves of shoppers are coming this weekend. Many of us have experienced it in the past and said aloud, “Never again!” You know what I mean — Black Friday weekend in the busiest city in the world.
For those who are seeking an alternative to standing in lines at the monoliths in Times Square, burning up your credit score, and avoiding the fa-la-la-la-la pressure to spend as much as possible, I put together a list of 5 places to visit and things to do outside of shopping. Now is a time to act like a tourist with our friends, family, and guests who came for Thanksgiving and stayed the weekend.
#1: Tiger Mountain at Bronx Zoo
The Bronx Zoo is home to Tiger Mountain. Imagine being in the heart of NYC one minute and then nose-to-nose with a tiger just a quick subway ride away. The zoo is a part of the Wildlife Conservation Society and has a long history of protecting their big cats through conserved areas, global anti-poaching regulations and public education. Your visit will not only be awesome but also informative.
Tip: It’s easy to get to by bus, the Metro North Harlem Line to Fordham or my favorite way… Hop on the #2 subway with your gang and disembark at Pelham Parkway. Head west towards the Zoo’s Bronx River entrance at Gate B.
#2: Ice Skating at Lakeside Park (Brooklyn)
Head out of Manhattan for the sights, sounds and distinct vibes of Brooklyn — it’s only across the river. I recommend the Lakeside Park for their state-of-the-art facility and skating rink. You will encounter every age and skill level with plenty of room to learn. They offer skate rentals and lessons, so check out their website for more information, hours, and directions.
Tip: Ask a local inside the park where to stop for lunch, coffee or a snack. There will be plenty of nearby vendors.
#3: Staten Island Ferry Freestyle
The Staten Island Ferry is one of the last operating ferry systems in New York. The vessels have been transporting people between Manhattan and its surrounding boroughs long before bridges were introduced. Today, the Staten Island Ferry provides almost 22 million people with ferry service annually: taking almost 70,000 passengers daily between St George on Staten Island and Whitehall Street in Manhattan. I think it is the best and most economical way to see the Statue of Liberty. You get to see the statue in all of her glory without waiting in lines or wasting a good part of your day trying to get to the crown. Best of all, it’s free. Check at the terminal for operating hours.
Tip: All the money you saved by seeing the statue and spectacular views from the harbor can be spent on a local business and I recommend a pizza and libation at Pier 76 and then head back on the free ferry to lower Manhattan.
#4: Manet – Degas Exhibition at The Met
Frenemies from the 19th century are brought together with a must-see exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Manet/Degas examines their friendship, rivalry and ambitious work that shaped the development of modernist painting in France. There are over 150 paintings and works on paper that include several masterpieces that are rarely loaned for the viewing public.
Tip: I live on the Upper West Side and, pending on the weather, I highly recommend that you walk from the 81 Street entrance at Central Park West and pass (or take pictures of) the gorgeous Belvedere Castle. Across from there is the impressive Great Lawn. The short walk to the museum is just through a short tunnel (it’s safe). The entire walk should take no longer than 20 minutes and worth the stroll.
#5: Museum of the Moving Image – Jim Henson Exhibition (Astoria)
Both adults and children love this dynamic experience that takes visitors through the creative mind of Jim Henson and his work on Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, Fraggal Rock and more. Of course the museum has puppets, film clips and behind the scenes footage that still continue to inspire all generations.
Tip: If you want to discover the burgeoning Chinatown of New York, it’s located in Queens at the last stop on the #7 subway — Flushing Main Street. Click here to read my latest article about this neighborhood.
Photo Credits: Companies and Museum websites, PK Greenfield