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New York's 6 Best Culture Spots (On A Budget)

New York is famous for its arts and culture. Broadway, the Guggenheim, Little Italy, Chinatown - these are the places that people come from around the world to see. But New York can also be expensive, as locals know all too well. Here are some hidden cultural gems; inexpensive destinations from which one can sample New York's rich and diverse arts and culture without breaking the budget.

Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal
Photo Credit: Thinkstock

15 Vanderbilt Ave.
New York, NY 10017

Hours: The Terminal is always open; tour hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Price: Free; audio tours with headsets are $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and the disabled, $4 for students and $2 for children under 12
Click here for a calendar of events.

The transportation hub for all of New York, the terminal is also a great way to experience the art and history of the city. From the backwards Zodiac ceiling mural to the exotic Whispering Gallery to the ubiquitous acorns and oak leaves designed into the building detail itself, the terminal has many stories to tell. Entry into the station itself is free, and audio tours with headphones that explain the rich history of the terminal are available. An MP3 download of the tour is available here. Live concerts are also sometimes performed at the terminal.

Central Park Mall and Literary Walk

WWI memorial to the 107th Infantry Brigade
(credit: Nicholas Gauthier)

Central Park
New York, NY 10019 (from 66th Street to 72nd Street)
(212) 310-6600

The Literary Walk in Central Park has statues of William Shakespeare, Robert Burns, Fitz-Greene Halleck, Sir Walter Scott, and, for an eclectic touch, Christopher Columbus. The statues are located at the southern end of the Central Park Mall, a broad walkway flanked by one of America's last great stands of elm trees. The old Tavern On The Green restaurant by 67th Street has been turned into a visitor center with free information on the park and gift shop. Be sure to visit the WWI memorial to the 107th Infantry Brigade at the Park's edge on 5th Avenue and 67th Street.

Related: PopUp New York: Central Park's Hidden Gems

The Edgar Allen Poe Cottage

Edgar Allan Poe Cottage
(credit: Mariano Rolando/AFP/Getty Images)

2640 Grand Concourse
Bronx, NY 10458-4968
(718) 881-8900

Hours: Sat - 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sun - 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Price: Adults - $5, Students, children and seniors - $3

Come see the cottage where Edgar Allen Poe spent the last three years of his life before dying mysteriously on a trip to Baltimore. It is here that he wrote poems such as "The Bells" and "Annabel Lee" while seeking the fame and financial success that never came in his lifetime. See the rocking chair he sat in, the bed his wife Virginia died in and the kitchen where he took his meals. The cottage has recently reopened after a year-long restoration.

Related: The Five Best Spots For Family Fun In The Bronx

City Island Historical Society and Nautical Museum

City Island Nautical Museum
(credit: Nicholas Gauthier)

190 Fordham St.
P.O. Box 82
City Island, NY 10464
(718) 885-0008

Hours: Sat and Sun - 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. (closed mid-December to mid-March)
Price: Visitors donate what they can afford; $3-$5 per visit is generally acceptable

City Island, known as the "Seaport of the Bronx" and one of New York City's best kept secrets, has history dating back to Dutch colonization and earlier. During the 19th century, City Island was a major producer of wooden ships, including many yachts. The Nautical Museum, housed in a building that was once a schoolhouse, has an endless variety of historical artifacts from all time periods on City Island.  While there, be sure to visit the Crab Shanty for great lunch specials and anytime lobster deals under $20; the food is excellent.

Brooklyn Historical Society

Brooklyn Historical Society
Brooklyn Historical Society (credit:

128 Pierrepont St at Clinton St.
Brooklyn, New York 11201
(718) 222-4111

Price: Adults - $6, Seniors 62 and over - $4, Students 12 and over - $4, Teachers - $4, Children under 12- Free
Hours: Mon to Tues - Closed, Wed to Fri - noon to 5 p.m., Sat - 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sun - noon to 5 p.m.
Click here for a calendar of events.

Exhibits at the Brooklyn Historical Society feature that which is distinctly Brooklyn - Ebbets Field, the Brooklyn Bridge and families such as the Lefferts of early Brooklyn fame.  The Society also has several impressive lecture series, including "Inventing Brooklyn" and "Brooklyn Jewish Stories," which focus on key players in Brooklyn's history.  There are also informational walking tours led by museum experts through Brooklyn neighborhoods.  The most expensive of these events are under $20 and a number of them are free.

Staten Island Zoo

Staten Island Zoo

614 Broadway
Staten Island, NY 10310
(718) 442-3100

Hours: Daily 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.
Price: Adults - $8, Seniors 60 and over - $6, Children 3-14 - $5, Children 2 and under - Free
Click here for a calendar of events.

The Staten Island Zoo is very kid-friendly with a Children's Center themed after a New England farm, complete with a petting area and pony rides. Exhibits range from the tropical forest to the reptile wing to the African savanna. Species on display include vampire bats, fruit bats, meerkats, lemurs, servals and rock hyraxes. The zoo also has an aquarium exhibit with species such as a puffer fish, a moray eel and piranhas.

Related:  Staten Island's Top 3 Family Attractions

Nick Gauthier is a freelance writer and lives in the Bronx. His work can be found at

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