1. Rent a Citi Bike ($9.95 per person for a 24 hour pass) and explore the city – there is a 6 mile loop in Central Park that is beautiful or the Promenades along the East and West sides of the city offer stunning river views.
2. Trade dinner and a movie for breakfast and a matinee – 2 true New York bagels (Tal on the Upper East Side is a favorite) will run you around $6. And the Loews Orpheum nearby plays classic films for just $6 a tickets at 2 pm on Sundays in the Fall.
3. Buy a cheap lock and a sharpie from a local hardware store, write your initials and place your love lock on the gate below the Brooklyn Bridge – forever immortalized. Plus the views are worth the walk.
4. Take a ferry to Governor’s Island (just $2/person round trip!) for the day – you’ll have money left over to pack a picnic.
5. Expand your palette and try Indian Cuisine at Milon in the East Village – the portions are big so you can split an entry and BYOB means you can bring your own 6-pack of beer or bottle of wine. Tell them it’s your birthday and they’ll put on quite a show.
6. Get a little competitive at Spin NY where renting a ping pong table (and endless balls) for a half an hour will cost you $20. Loser pays.
7. Indulge your sweet tooth by stopping by one of the cities best candy shops and filling up on your favorite nostalgic treats – Dylan’s Candy Bar is like the Willy Wonka of the Upper East Side.
8. Go window shopping along Fifth Avenue – even if you don’t go into the stores the window displays (Bergdorfs especially) are works of art.
9. Take a stroll along the Highline – start in Chelsea and walk towards the Meatpacking District. When you’re done, split a pizza wedge (1/3 of a pie) from Artichoke Basille for $15.
10. Take the Subway to Williamsburg ($10 for 2, round trip) on Saturday and check out the wares at Brooklyn Flea plus use the remaining $10 for food/drink from Smorgasburg vendors.
11. Visit the Metropolitan Museum and take in the classics, plus pop up to the rooftop for sprawling views of Central Park – and a little secret.. while admission is technically $25 that’s actually only a suggestion – so if you can only pay $10 each that day, you’ll still get in.
12. If you’ve got the time to get in line, grab tickets to a Late Night show (Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers are always a hit) for free – and even if the actual show sells out, you’ve got a chance to test out just their monologues for a surefire laugh.
13. Have dessert for dinner at Momofuku Milk Bar where the cereal milk flavored soft serve ice cream and the ‘crack pie’ are legendary.. and will ring in somewhere around $10.
14. Volunteer for the day helping walk dogs from a local shelter – you’ll be doing some good while also getting to spend time with adorable pups – win, win.
15. Find a new favorite at a local a beer tasting – Jimmy’s No. 43 in the East Village offers six 3 ounce pours for $10 each on Tuesday nights.
16. Play a round of mini golf at Pier 25 with Hudson River views and prices of just $5/person.
17. One of my all time favorite dates – rent a row boat ($12 for the first hour) at the lake in Central Park. So romantic that you’ll be sure to see at least 1 marriage proposal while you’re out there.
18. Sing your hearts out at Karaoke Boho in the West Village – where happy hour well drinks are cheap and hourly room rates are $4/person.
19. Browse one of the cities many outdoor markets (the Union Square Farmer’s Market is open every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday) and go home with a big bouquet of fresh flowers.
20.While the drinks won’t be cheap, the views are incredible at some of New York’s best rooftop bars – try Top of the Strand for a front row seat while the Empire State Building’s lights come on.