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By Elyse Sommer

May 23/06 Tip: Looking for New York City hotels (many for $150 or less), try New York Hotel Information

Tickets| Free Tours|Museum Bargain Tips| Shopping| Reader Suggestions

LINKS: Grabbing a Bite Before or After a Show. . .  Snacking and Dining in the Berkshires . . . California Restaurant Tips. . . General Links Page

Of course the place everyone knows about is the TKTS booth (see our TKTS page) and out of town visitors who haven't bought advance tickets gravitate here.

If you live in NYC, a TDF membership is a good investment for good deals on tickets. Also check out our general links page . You may also want to investigate some of New York's clubs where an annual membership fee enables you to check shows that you can then see for a service fee (up to $4.50 a ticket) as an audience extra or seat filler. The offerings range from Broadway shows during previews or shows that are not selling out, and some of the off and off-off-Broadway shows needing word of mouth exposure. At times also includes -- cabaret, concerts, lectures and film screenings. Membership fees are $99 to $125 and if you're an adventurous and frequent theater goers one or two events will pay for your annual membership. Audience Extras, Theater Mania's Gold Club, Play by Play, are the most popular and all have web sites with more details.

And, while some theater enthusiasts spend every moment in NYC in the theater, some like to vary their visit and with this in mind, here are some New York events that are free or almost free.

Free Tours
Alliance for Downtown New York leads a free 90- minute walking tour that includes stops at Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange every Thursday and Saturday at noon. Meet at the front steps of the National Museum of the American Indian; No reservations are necessary. For information on the tours, call 212/606-4064.

Historic Downtown Walking Tour. 90-minute walking tour for individuals (not groups) exploring the architecture, events and storied past of the neighborhood surrounding City Hall and its famous park. Includes Woolworth Building, Newspaper Row, African Burial Ground, City Hall, Tweed Court House, St. Paul's Chapel, Brooklyn Bridge and many other historical and architectural landmarks. Tuesdays at Noon at the NYC Heritage Tourism Center on Broadway, between Vesey and Barclay Streets. No reservations necessary. More information, per above.

Grand Central area tour by Grand Central Partnership, Fridays at 12:30pm. Meet at the Philip Morris Building, southwest corner of 42nd Street and Park Avenue. Reservations are not necessary.

Grand Central Terminal Tour. 1-hour historical tour of building. Meets at the clock at Grand Central's round information booth. No reservations are necessary; but limited to the first 50 people.

Museum Bargain Tips
Museum admissions can add up, so it's good to know about pay-what-you-wish and free admission days and times:

The American Craft Museum is pay-what-you-wish Thursday 6--8pm.
The Bronx Zoo is pay-what-you-wish Wednesday.
The Brooklyn Museum of Art is free from 5pm the first Saturday of every month.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is pay-what-you-wish Friday 6-8pm.
The Jewish Museum is pay-what-you-wish Thursday evenings 5pm--8pm.
A reader reminder: Not to be missed, is current exhibit devoted to the one and only divine Sarah-- called "Sarah Bernhardt: The Art of High Drama." It runs through April 2, 2006.
The New Museum of Contemporary Art is free Thursday 6- to 8 pm.
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) currently the highest priced Museum ticket in town ($20--$16 seniors) is free for all visitors every Friday evening, 4 to 8 pm. Tickets (can not be purchased in advance). Tickets to the museum's two movie theaters are free with your museum ticket. Movie tickets can also be purchased without museum entry ticket-- and the cost can be applied to a museum admission

If you're planning to be in New York In June, The Museum Mile Festival, the second Tuesday in June, has become an annual tradition. On that day the museums along Fifth Avenue from 82nd to 104th Street. are open and free from 6 to 9 pm. They include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and more. Some of the best entertainment may be found in the street as Fifth Avenue is closed off to traffic and musical performers and other entertainers often take over.

New Yorkers love a bargain and that includes shopping for clothes and jewelry and household good. Some of the best dressed New Yorkers regularly visit the city's various resale and thrift shops. Manhattan's upper east side tends to get some of the best merchandise. While most are hit or miss propositions, here are some considered most likely to be hits:

Designer Resale 324 E 81 (1st/2nd Ave), 11 to 7, Thurs to 8, Sat 10 to 6, Sun 12 to 5.
Encore 1132 Madison/84, Mon to Fri 10:30 to 6:30, Thurs to 7:30, Sat 10:30 to 6, Sun 12 to 6.
Exchange Unlimited, 562 Second Avenue, at 31st Street. 12:15 to 7 except Sun.
Housing Works Thrift 202 E 77, 10 to 6, Ssun 12 to 4
2/02/06 Update: Actually, this is like the Ann Taylor or Gap of thrift shopping, with several other locations: 143 West 17th Street, 143 West 17th Street (Mon-Sat 10 to 6pm, Sun 12 to 5pm); 202 East 77th Street, (Mon-Fri 11AM-7PM; Sat 10AM-6PM; Sun Noon-5PM); 306 Columbus Ave. (Mon-Fri 11AM-7PM, Sat 10AM-6PM, Sun Noon-5PM). An NYTimes Styles section article of this date proves that people in the theater as well as those attending the theater, are thrift shop junkies. It features a picture of Victoria Clark, the star of Light in the Piazza shopping for cookware at Housing Works and notes that her upper west side apartment is furnished mostly with thrift store purchases. My own daughter, a financial executive became Housing Works shopper after seeing some of my own second-hand treasures. -- e.s. New Location! 157 East 23rd Street, NY, NY (between 3rd & Lex) Mon-Sat 10AM-6PM Sun Noon-5PM (212) 529-5955 Sun Noon-5PM (212) 366-0820 202 East 77th Street, NY, NY (between 2nd &3rd) Mon-Fri 11AM-7PM Sat 10AM-6PM Sun Noon-5PM (212) 772-8461 306 Columbus Ave. NY, NY (between 74th & 75th) Mon-Fri 11AM-7PM Sat 10AM-6PM Sun Noon-5PM (212) 579-7566 New Location! 157 East 23rd Street, NY, NY (between 3rd & Lex) Mon-Sat 10AM-6PM Sun Noon-5PM (212) 529-5955 Irvington Institute Thrift 1534 Second Ave/corner 80, 11 to 7, Thurs to 8, Fri 10 to 6, Sat 10 to 6, Sun 12 to 5.
La Boutique Resale, 247 E 81 (2nd/3rd Ave).
Michaels, 1041 Madison/ 2nd fl, bet 79/80 St, Mon-Sat, 9:30 to 6, Thurs to 8 (Closed Sat July-Aug).

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