NYC in 3 days, get the local flavor
There are a million guides to New York City, many of them good, most of them trying to selling you something, and all of them saying the same thing.
All the guides say to get a view from the top: Rockefeller Center, Empire State Building, and One World Trade. Great suggestion if the weather is clear. Cynics and people on a budget might prefer Google Earth rather than wait for hours and pay $30-$60 per person.
All the guides promote boat rides because 4 of 5 NYC boroughs are islands. The cheapest (free) and most fun is the Staten Island ferry, though the new NYC Ferry system ($2.75) just came on line so Wall Street to Rockaway might be the ticket.
All of them say to visit what goes for curated nature in NYC: the Zoo and Garden in the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn. Also the hundreds of NYC parks, not just Central Park, are worth a walk about. This is certainly a great idea, but not particularly unique or special if you are time constrained.
All of them suggest a museum or three. This is an awesome and great idea for whatever moves you: natural history, modern art, educational, specialty, and obscure things. Depending upon the time of year, you might let the weather drive your desire to stay indoors. Important note: many museums are free on Friday evenings or pay-what-you-want, not the posted price.
And, so what else?
Street food and people watch.
Give your wallet a break and grab something from the street cart, food truck, or nearby deli; do not buy from any brand you know and have purchased from (aka, McDonalds, Starbucks) since you can do that at home.
Go to the nearest park or pedestrian alcove; there are hundreds located everywhere, but in particular near or on Broadway like 68th, 59th, 42, 34th, 23rd, 14th, Washington Square, and you get the idea. These locations have tables and chairs, with some of them also offering bathrooms.
Sure you can eat at top rated, hugely expensive restaurants — and you must splurge at least once — but give diversity a chance and choice. Try Soul, Cajun, Southern, Indian, Korean, Ethiopian, Jewish/Kosher, Urban (chopped cheese), and more.
Hunt for free or cheap
A real New Yorker knows the deals and can buy almost anything cheaper than anywhere if you know where to look. In Manhattan, the first choice is Chinatown for knockoff bags, shoes, and watches. Chinatown also excels at fresh foods of all types, prepared and raw though it is often more fun to browse the many Green markets like Union Square on Friday or Saturday.
Things are always happening in NYC with hundreds of free events, performances, and shows. You can search for “free events NYC today” or browse site like theskint.com, clubfreetime.com and Mommy Poppins for children.
Hope this helps! Enjoy New York City.
Links to 2 simple lists, no ads or popups either.