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New York City done under budget!

It’s quite surprising in a city brutally known for its consumerism, there are many things you can do in New York that does not require you to spend even a penny! Because of its commercial power, many stores in New York spend a ton money to make their interiors attractive. These guys are an attraction in and of itself. Of course, you’ll have to spend a hefty sum of dollars if you want to buy things, otherwise, though, they’re more than happy to welcome you as mere visitors.

The 3 stores that blew my mind:

FAO Schwarz

Three floors of toys, giant stuffed animals, life-sized Batman made from Lego, The Big Piano, you name it, FAO Schwarz seems to have ’em all. It is a guarantee that kids will be in heaven here. Forget that, even adults will immensely enjoy this store (guilty!). An entire section of the main floor, dubbed FAO Schweetz, is dedicated to all kinds of candies imaginable (care for bacon mints, anyone?).

The Big Piano

They even have a muppet workshop so you can have a personalized muppet!

Bonus point: the cute and friendly toy soldier standing guard outside the store entrance on 5th Ave.

The American Girl Place

An entire wall dedicated to doll outfits

I’m slightly creeped out with this one, but Julie positively squealed with delight when she stepped into the store. You can buy a doll and dress her in whichever way you like, complete with accessories. They even have salons and spas. FOR YOUR DOLL.

See?

M&M’s World

An entire store filled with chocolate and all things M&Ms? ’nuff said. The Hershey Store down the street pales in comparison to this giant – I kinda felt sorry for them.

Damn right they are!!

Aren’t these guys adorable?

Now onto the more cultural attractions New York has to offer:

Central Park

Spanning across Manhattan from Harlem to Midtown, this beautiful green space is HUGE.

You can spend an entire day walking through the length of the park or just chilling on one of its fields. Just make sure you wear comfortable footwear and have a water bottle with you in the summer months! New York heat is brutal!

A regular day in the park…

9/11 Memorial

Built where the twin towers once stood, the Memorial consists of 2 fountains, which serve to honor and remember those who perished during that horrific morning of September 11, 2001.

The plaques surrounding each fountain list the names of all the victims, from office workers, those on the flights, as well as the rescue teams. While somber, the Memorial was a poignant and powerful experience.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Located amid the office buildings and fashion stores on the posh 5th Avenue, the Cathedral is almost hidden from plain sight. The fact that it is under construction and is surrounded by many scaffolding also do not aid in its first impression. But, let none of that deter you from going in! It is stunning inside!

Stunning interior of the cathedral

New York Public Library (NYPL)

Guarded by the iconic lions (named Patience and Fortitude) and holding approximately 50 million items throughout its network, the main building of the New York Public Library on 5th Ave., nestled comfortably beside Bryant Park, between 40th and 42nd Sts., is simply beautiful.

Exterior facade of New York Public Library

Its majestic interiors are constantly swarmed with camera-totting tourists, whispering excitedly, and posing with  the books (again, guilty! I couldn’t help but join in with the fad).

Heck, I wouldn’t mind studying EVERY DAY if my library was this sexy..

Staten Island Ferry

Operated by the City of New York, the ferry transfers passengers from St. George Terminal on Staten Island to Whitehall Ferry Terminal in Manhattan all the while also treating those on board with a magnificent view of the famous NYC skyline and the Statue of Liberty. Oh and the best part? It’s absolutely FREE! I didn’t actually get on this as our CityPASS includes a City Line Cruise on the river, but I’ll be sure to go on it next time I visit NYC.

The Grand Central Terminal

With its humble beginning in 1869, today the Grand Central Terminal boasts a 16,000 square foot waiting room with a classical facade, a deep emerald ceiling, and a ton of stores throughout its concourses. It sees approximately 21.6 million visitors annually, making it the world’s 6th-most-visited-tourist-attraction!

Beautiful!

Times Square

People..EVERYWHERE!!!

Do I really need to explain this one? It’s pretty much the essence of New York: bright lights, crowds, shopping giants, & broadway theatres.

On those stairs in the middle of Times Square

The Marilyn Monroe Subway Grate – Lexington Ave. & 52nd St.

That’s right. We went there. And took a picture with it.

Trying to imitate Marilyn’s pose… not as elegant, I’d say..

There you have it – An expensive city done under budget! Have you been to New York? What else would you recommend to see?

Photo Credit: Marilyn Monroe Picture

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