By Maude Standish
The J to Jamaica, Queens
Not only one of the cheapest and fastest ways to get to JFK, the J is a great way to see parts of Brooklyn and Queens from a bird's eye view. Once the J emerges from the Essex stop and crosses the Williamsburg Bridge, it primarily remains above ground before it lands at Jamaica station. Because of this it offers both a panoramic and intimate view of the city. You'll catch both glimpses of the Manhattan skyline, as well as views of people's backyards with their grills and laundry lines. It's the perfect ride for jotting down notes for your future memoir on the "New York Experience" or reading one of the many Brooklyn authors circulating the Best Seller list these days.
Staten Island Ferry
When I have visitors from out of town, one of the first places I take them is Staten Island. No seriously, even if we only set foot on the island to turn right back around, the commuter ferry offers one of the best views (and bars) of the city. Catch it at sunset, and you'll see all over lower Manhattan lit up by a pink sky ala Ghostbusters and the Statue of Liberty looking truly glamorous and alluring. The boats bar sells Budweiser tall boys and hot dogs for dirt cheap. Best of all sitting on upper deck, you'll be reminded that New York really is an island by the smell of seat salt in the breeze and the beautiful boats surrounding you.
Art in the Subway
Though it may wear you out, New York is a city that famously never sleeps. From bars that are open until 5 am to all-night diners, the city is perfect for those night owls whose blood starts rushing at the stroke of midnight. Unfortunately for those looking to bring the night down on the budget, most options available post-witching hour include $10 well drinks. One thing that never costs or closes is the endless entertainment of the MTA train stations. Sure, you can jump on a train and opt to watch the endless reality TV style drama that drunken riders offer. But, if you want a slightly classier pastime, treat the train stations like galleries and take a tour of more than 230 artists. One of our favorites is Tom Otterness' "Life Underground" in the 14th street subway stops featuring bronze rotund figurines playing with sewer gators and oversized tokens.
Bx29 Local Bus to City Island
Yes, we are suggesting you get on a bus. I know it may seem counterintuitive, but this bus will actually take you to one of the secret best spots in the city. No longer do you have to take off for the Cape er Rhode Island to find yourself a quaint fishing village, instead just jump on the Bx29 bus to City Island to experience beach shack food, New England mansions, piers to ponder on and sailor taverns to get drunk in. If it's a nice day, you might consider bringing a bike on the bus, as City Island is the perfect size for leisurely rides.
The B to Brighton
You'll be shocked at how easily the B lands you right at the beach. Yes, the ride is long, but bring along a buddy or a good book and you won't even notice it. Even though it's too cold for a quick dip these days, Brighton Beach still warrants a visit as it's a great spot for a fall evening promenade. Wrap a scarf around your head like all the cute little Russian ladies and dip instead into one of the great Russian bars or restaurants for a warm-me-up shot of Vodka. You'll feel like you've flown to a soviet state without coughing up the cash for airline travel.
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