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Best Budget Activities in New York

By: Cityseeker
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Imagination Playground

Imagination Playground is a revolutionary space conceptualized by David Rockwell of Kodak Theatre fame. This interactive playing field promotes the free play philosophy significant to a child's all-round development and growth. The safe, walled area features random objects like foam blocks, cloths, cartons, crates, wagons and sand giving children the rare opportunity to build their own games and toys from seeming waste items, in turn nurtuting their creative minds. A favorite among locals and tourists alike, it is a recreational oasis amidst Burling Slip's urban backdrop.

New York, NY, United States
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Governor's Island

A short ferry ride from Lower Manhattan takes visitors to the serene and verdant Governors Island, where the city seems as if it is a world away. The island showcases its picturesque self during summers; in fact, it only opened to the public after 200 years of restricted military usage. The island affords some incredible views of it surrounding waterscape, Red Hook, Brooklyn, the Verrazano Bridge and the Manhattan skyline. The island is also home to some stirring historical sites like Castle Williams, Liggett Hall and the Admiral House, which are an escape into the island's past. Having played an integral role in the American Revolution, this island is a coastal paradise par excellence.

New York, NY, United States
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High Line

The High Line is an urban oasis filled with beautifully manicured landscapes. It sits above the city on old train tracks that were installed as part of the West Side Improvement Project back in 1929. The line was primarily used to transport goods along the Lower West Side, but with the advent of vehicles in the 1950s and more accessible routes elsewhere, the last train eventually ran in 1980. Thereafter, the elevated tracks fell into disrepair, and the whole structure was nearly demolished. It was instead converted into an innovative public park, delighting locals and visitors alike. Today, the High Line is a cherished sanctuary away from the bustle of city life.

New York, NY, United States
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Bryant Park

New Yorkers love this small park in the heart of Midtown. With its French benches, colorful flower gardens, green lawn and numerous cultural events, Bryant Park is a peaceful place to take a moment to watch the world go by. Named after poet William Cullen Bryant, the site of this historic park has played an important role in New York City. After being officially designated a public park, the site's fortunes rose and fell with the times. A brilliant restoration in the 1990s transformed the space into the beautiful midtown oasis it is today. The park's March hours vary throughout the month, so be sure to check the website before visiting.

New York, NY, United States
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Prospect Park

This beautiful Brooklyn park was created by the same architects responsible for the splendid Central Park in Manhattan. Unlike its more famous cousin in Manhattan, Prospect Park sits pretty amidst a primarily residential area and is not surrounded by skyscrapers. Many Olmsted fans dub this 526 acre (212.87 hectare) park his crowning achievement. It features horseback riding, ice skating, tennis, paddle boats and a carousel, as well as the Prospect Park Wildlife Center. There is a band shell for concerts, and Prospect Lake is often teeming with ducks, geese and swans.

Brooklyn, NY, United States
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Heckscher Playground

Central Park's Heckscher Playground is the oldest and also one of the largest at 1.8 acres (0.73 hectares). The playground has standard features such as swings, slides, and see-saws, as well as a large grass field and six softball fields. Other highlights include a group of concrete hills with a series of ladders and tunnels and a water feature for kids to play in. The playground has its own restrooms and snack carts located in the Heckscher Building.

New York, NY, United States
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Central Park

An emerald expanse in the thriving, concrete jungle that is New York City, Central Park lies in the heartland of the Manhattan borough. It commences its labyrinthine stretch from Midtown, all the way to Harlem. It was created in 1857 by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who envisioned a sprawling green space in the center of the island. The park spans 843 acres (341.15 hectares) and bustles with life throughout the day, even as the layered, multi-hued fold of the city's skyline unfolds at its hem. The park's 21 playgrounds are speckled with ornate fountains, sculptures, myriad bridges and arches, together forming an urbane respite where several come to find peace from the city's chaotic pace. Attractions within the park include the Bethesda Fountain, the Conservatory Garden, Belvedere Castle, and Central Park Zoo.

New York, NY, United States
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Astoria Park Pool

The largest pool in the city, Astoria Park Pool is a true New York treasure. This pool measures in at 330 feet (100 meters) and was designed to hold 3000 people. With a magnificent view of the Triborough Bridge sitting just along the horizon, a more scenic setting for a public pool is hard to imagine. During a scorching New York City summer day, there are few places more desirable to find yourself in.

Astoria, NY, United States
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New York Chinese Scholar's Garden

Located in The Staten Island Botanical Garden, this garden was designed by the Landscape Architecture Corporation of China and has a collection of beautiful pavilions, walkways and courtyards. Scholar gardens are a concept unique to the Ming and Qing dynasties around 200 years back. A scholar or administrator belonging to the royal court would design these enclosed gardens. In these gardens the scenery changes beautifully, leaving a wonderfully dramatic impact. Guided tours are conducted on weekends, please check the website for specific timings.

Staten Island, NY, United States
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Staten Island Zoo

This is a great place to go with younger children. It is a small zoo with a large variety of animals and one of the largest reptile collections around. It also has a petting zoo that young children will love. The Staten Island Zoo is cash only.

New York, NY, United States
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Flushing Meadows Corona Park

At over 897 acres (363 hectares), the Flushing Meadows Corona Park is Queens' largest and New York City's fourth-largest. It is the site of two former world's fairs, one in 1939 and the other in 1964, as well as the home to the famous symbol of the 1964 Fair: the Unisphere. While its immaculate pastures are home to several public facilities such as the Shea Stadium, the home of the mighty New York Mets, the USTA National Tennis Center, along with the New York Hall of Science, the Queens Museum of Art, the Arthur Ashe Stadium, Citi Field and the Louis Armstrong Stadium are definitely Flushing Meadow's most noticeable sights. The park really comes to life during the American Open, when it receives its highest number of attendees.

New York, NY, United States
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Coney Island

Brooklyn's Coney Island became one of the city's leisure hotspots in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, following the introduction of the Coney Island & Brooklyn Railroad streetcar line. Since then, the area has been swamped by resorts and attractions. Following the decline of World War II and the years of neglect the park endured after, the area has burst back into life and is home to Luna Park, the Aquarium and of course, the beach. A three-mile-long boardwalk runs the length of Coney Island into Brighton Beach. There is sometimes a circus, but always something strange to see. Also, don't let the non-holiday cooler months deter you from visiting; it is much less crowded, and the stores remain open.

Brooklyn, NY, United States
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