From a new-age speakeasy to a buzzy cemetery attraction, these are the affordable attractions Big Apple locals don’t want you to know about
Holidays are about accumulating happy memories – not holiday debt – so here at 9Honey Travel we created the ‘$100 helpline’ for Aussie holidaymakers who know good value when they see it, and want to get the most out of a destination. Our mission: to find you the best travel experiences of a particular region for under $100.
New York lives up to its reputation as the city that never sleeps, but keeping up that 24-hour pace can put a serious dint in your wallet. While it’s easy to drop a house deposit trying to experience everything the Big Apple has to offer, those willing to venture off the beaten path will find plenty of affordable things to see and do. More importantly, they’ll tap into a completely different side of the city by meeting the people who actually live there.
Treat yo’self at a speakeasy sauna
Speakeasies – or rather speakeasy-style bars – have been a staple of New York’s hospitality scene since the days of Prohibition. While these facsimiles of the past may look old-timey with their Art-Deco furnishings and obscured entryways, the cocktail prices are not.
Instead of dropping $20 on a gimlet (plus tax, plus tip…), why not pamper yourself at a speakeasy spa instead?
CityWell Brooklyn is an urban sanctuary located on the ground floor of a three-storey walk-up in the industrial neighbourhood of Gowanus. This hidden oasis charges just US$40 for access to its steam room, cedar sauna, soaking tub, rain showers and lounge area. Unlike most bathhouses, you’ll also have access to the outdoors, thanks to their courtyard – perfect for watching the snow fall as you soak in the tub on a chilly January afternoon.
Because of limited space, guests are capped at around five people, so you’ll practically have the place to yourself.
For an even better bargain, visit during community hours (Tues-Thurs) for just $25.
There are plenty of treatments and special events to choose from (Shakespeare and steam, anyone?) but even those cost a fraction of what you’ll pay at a well-known Manhattan bathhouse.
Price: $35-$55 (US$25-$40)
Drink with the dead
So communing with the dead may not be top of your holiday to-do list, but the historic Green-Wood Cemetery is both the final resting place of New York’s most famous inhabitants and a hub for cultural events throughout the year.
From their free “Death Café”, an informal gathering to discuss philosophical, political or scientific ideas that’s inspired by the centuries-old European salon, to jazz evenings, the cemetery is surprisingly buzzy.
That said, the Dead Distillers Trolley Tour is easily the most popular event. Learn about the brutal Brooklyn Whisky Wars of the late 1860s (and meet some key players) before descending upon Kings County Distillery in the Brooklyn Navy Yard to sample the goods.
Price: $55 (US$40) for Dead Distillers Tour
Enjoy fine dining at a pop-up supper club
Skip the months-long restaurant waiting lists and join the throng of savvy New York foodies embracing the city’s pop-up supper clubs. Hosted everywhere from renowned museums, to chef’s homes and even subway train carriages, prices will vary depending on the club and night.
Wednesdays NYC is one of the best value supper societies, offering “potentially bizarre but tasty” seven-course dinners in a Chelsea loft for just US$85 (cocktail pairing is extra).
“We like to have fun with our food and take chances with our events,” says chef Jenny Dorsey. “Everything from virtual reality moments paired with dishes, to driving out paratroopers on toy tanks, to presenting guests with bugs in edible terrariums.”
The club aims to promote conversation that goes beyond the usual mundane chitchat, so come prepared to engage with your tablemates on subjects ranging from the nature of failure to your secret ambitions.
Join the mailing list to be notified about the next dinner.
Price: From $118 (US$85)