I've probably had a months worth of holidays and business trips to New York over the last couple of years and have got to know the place pretty well. So I've compiled this list of cul'cha, tours and cheap things to do that I just roll out whenever anyone asks me what to do in New York City.
New York City Duck Tour
All the information I found about it said it has been discontinued but that was a couple of years ago. There might be something similar that has replaced it. Basically they drive you around New York pointing out the sights in an amphibious DUKW (pronounced "duck") vehicle then it drives into the Hudson and you take a boat ride along Manhattan Island then back the the start. It cost about $20 each but loads of fun.
The Staten Island Ferry
Costs about $5 to get to Staten Island then it's free to come back. It takes you right past the Statue of Liberty and is about 20 times cheaper than a Statue of Liberty cruise. You can come back anytime so you can have a look around Staten Island. There's a couple of nice cafes once you get out of the ferry port.
Guggenheim Art museum
Even if you don't like art it's worth going to see their amazing staircase. If you do like art there's usually a world class exhibition on.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Set on the edge of Central Park (the nice end). Lovely gardens out the back.
Fancy a run?
Most of the joggers run around "Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir" which is the largest body of water in Central Park. There is a path that goes all the way around with plenty of water fountains along the route. It's about 1.5 miles around so you shouldn't have a problem. There's plenty to see along the way.
Central park open air theatre
The only problem is that tickets are like gold dust. They sell them on the day and people start queuing really early so check before you go.
Grand Central Terminal (Station)
You've probably seen it in films but it got renovated and cleaned up a few years ago to a very high standard. Plenty of posh bars, coffee shops and nice places to eat.
Bohemian part of New York. Lots of art shops, music shops, eateries.
Film and TV tours
Basildon Room - Waldorf Astoria
If you have been to Basildon Park (just outside Reading, UK) there is a huge mirror in one of the rooms and the tour guides say that the sister mirror is in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Well it is, in the Basildon Room and if you ask nicely at the desk they will let you in to see it (for free). It's a nice excuse to get you into the hotel which is a spectacle in itself.
Well that's some of the things I've enjoyed doing on my trips to NYC. Have fun and let me know how it goes.