Since moving to Pennsylvania more than two years ago, we’d been promising the kids that we’d take them for their first visit to New York City. Delusional dreamer that I am, I had long envisioned the occasion involving an expensive overnight stay, but since we so far have been humiliatingly unsuccessful at luring our financial ship to shore, we decided it was time to temper our grandiose desires and settle for a day trip.
And though we didn’t take the Acela up from Philly, cruise a limo to a Broadway show, dine like kings and queens at Nobu and spend the night in a suite at the Plaza, we did still manage to have one hell of a good time.
In the interest of helping those of you who, like myself, have chosen a thus-far less-than-lucrative career path, I offer you …
The Official Daddy Scratches Guide to Family Fun
in New York City … for Broke-Ass People!™
Step One: Park your car at the St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island, where all-day parking costs just $8 Monday through Saturday, and is — hold on to your hats — FREE on Sunday! (We didn’t know about the free-Sunday-parking thing, so already we’re up $8. This day is practically paying for itself.)
Step Two: Board the ferry and ride it across the bay to Manhattan for — dig this — FREE! I know, right? The fact that they offer this service free of charge, seven days per week, is mind-boggling to me. BONUS: You’ll cruise right past the Statue of Liberty … which is far more impressive on a day when the fog isn’t thicker than pea soup.
Step Three: Can’t afford those expensive tickets to a full-scale Broadway production? Not to worry: Upon disembarking from the ferry, you can treat the family to a magical performance by two shirtless dudes covered in prison tattoos!
Step three: Cabs are for sissies (and also for people who can afford to take a cab). Suck it up and ride the subway! Sure, you might get pushed onto the tracks by a mentally disturbed stranger … but that risk just adds to the excitement of your urban adventure!
Step four: Two words: Times Square, where sightseeing and people-watching is still free … mostly. (OK, that was more than two words.)
SPENDING ALERT: Lovable characters like the ones shown above line the streets of Midtown Manhattan … and by “Lovable characters” I mean “Enterprising pan-handlers who’ve secured professional-quality costumes guaranteed to lure in many children, the unsuspecting parents of whom will be expected to grease the outstretched hands of said characters after said characters have posed for a photo with said children.” (For the record: This was not a surprise to me. I mention it here as a public service. Speaking of which: It’s entirely possible that a goodly number of the folks dressed in these get-ups are registered sex offenders. You’re welcome.)
At the opposite end of the spectrum from potential pedophiles who conceal themselves in costumes, we have, of course, Times Square mainstay The Naked Cowboy:
Zan, upon seeing The Naked Cowboy for the first time:
“He must not have gone to college!”
I couldn’t bring myself to tell him that a dude whose full-time job is to stand outside in his underwear makes more than me. Don’t believe me? According to his official website (yes, the underwear guy has an official website), he’ll preside over your wedding in Times Square for the modest price of $499 … but, you know … yay college!
Still, my questionable career choices notwithstanding, we are nonetheless living it up in the Big Apple …and we’ve barely spent a dime! Don’t worry, though: In Part 2, I’ll show you how to really blow your budget all to hell … and have a great time doing it!
To be continued in Part 2 …