The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is is a military museum in New York City that showcases the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier and houses the submarine USS Growler, the Concorde SST, and the Space Shuttle Enterprise.
This year, 1,250 museums and cultural institutions across the country are participaing in the Smithsonian program, which offers two free tickets to those who register online.
If military museums are not your thing, you can visit the City Museum of New York or the Cooper Hewitt design museum for free. However, you must download you tickets in advance for this September 23, 2017 event.
If you’re in Washington, DC, you can get free tickets to the Kreeger Museum of modern art, the National Building Museum, or the Newseum.
In the olden days before the internet, you could pick up lots of great tourist information and maps at various international tourism offices in New York.
Walking down Fifth Avenue on our way to JNTO, we passed the main entrance of the New York Public Library and stopped. I had never been inside the library to see the iconic Reading Room. We were there. We had to go in.
It turned out that the Reading Room was closed to the public due to ongoing repairs. I asked the lady at the information desk what other parts of the library we should see, and she encouraged us to sign up for the free building tour. So we did.
Free Building Tours of the New York Public Library
The tour guide was terrific. We got to see the Periodicals Room, the Map Room, and learn about the history of the library and the history of New York City. We never made it to JNTO, but this was a most worthwhile detour.
The New York Public Library offers free one-hour tours at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Mondays to Saturdays, and 2 p.m. on Sundays (except during the summer.) Sign up at the reception desk in Astor Hall.
By the way, if you are in New York at Christmastime, the New York Public Library displays an enormous Christmas tree, decorated with beautiful birds. There were lots of people taking family photos in front of the tree.
Free Ice Skating at Bryant Park
While you are in the vicinity, you might want to try out the free ice skating in Bryant Park, which is right behind the library. There is a large skating rink and during the holiday season the park is ringed with vendors like a European Christmas market. If you need to rent skates the cost is $15. Compare that to Rockefeller Center where admission is $12 for adults, $15 for children, and skate rental is $12.
The rink at Bryant Park is open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day from late October through through March 1, 2015.
Juggling Class and More at Bryant Park
Bryant Park offers lots of other free entertainment: Ping pong; juggling classes; Tai Chi; fitness club; and more.
Take a ride on Le Carrousel, which plays French cabaret music. It costs $3 per ride, or $15 for ten tickets. There is no charge for parents to ride alongside their small children.
On Saturday February 14, 2015 at 1 p.m. there will be a free Mardi Gras celebration at Le Carrousel, featuring a Cajun band and a magician.
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I can’t tell you how many reports I’ve read about the Andaz Fifth Avenue on other miles and points blogs. They all praise the view of the New York Public Library.
Next time you are passing by, I suggest you go in.
Twenty Los Angeles area museums open their doors to the public on Saturday January 31, 2015 for the tenth annual Museum Free-for-All.
The list of participating venues includes diverse art, cultural heritage, natural history, and science museums.
There are a number of top attractions participating — such as the Los Angeles Museum of Art and the California Science Center, but if I had my druthers I would head over the the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits.
Kids love dinosaurs and what could be better than an active excavation site for dinosaur fossils? We spent half a day at the Tar Pits when we last visited LA with our then school-aged daughter. Regular admission is $15 per adult and $8 per child, so free admission is a really great deal for families!
Los Angeles Museums Participating in 2015 Free-for-All
Here are links to the museums that are participating in this year’s open houses. The Jan. 31 offer is good for general admission only and does not apply to specially ticketed exhibitions.
I purchased a ticket on the US Airways shuttle for myself, and secured companion pass tickets for my husband and daughter. The tickets cost $99 each, plus tax of about $20. This was about $4oo in savings, compared to the cost of two full price tickets.
We each checked a bag, which normally costs $25 per flight. We know we’d need extra suitcase space for all the sales we hoped to hit on Black Friday. The checked bags flew free because of the credit card. This equalled another $150 in savings.
The US Airways credit card carries an annual fee of $89, but it came with 40,000 frequent flyer miles. I am saving those miles for another trip.
The current offer for the US Airways credit card is even better: 50,000 Dividend Miles after the first purchase and payment of an $89 fee. Plus, you get the two companion passes and free checked bags.
If you are following along, that is a terrific deal!
You have to be a bit crazy to fly the day before Thanksgiving. I am happy to report that despite a two hour weather-related delay, everything went smoothly.
Earn Frequent Flyer Miles at Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company
To be perfectly frank, I don’t know if this is the best bagel shop in New York or not.
The bagels are very fresh and very good, and the place earns four stars on Yelp.
But the key thing is that this shop participates in the Rewards Dining program.
I favor the United Mileage Plus Dining program, but most of the major airlines run a similar rewards program with the opportunity to earn their frequent flyer miles at the same list of restaurants.
If you make ten purchases at participating restaurants in a calendar year, you can earn 5 times United Mileage Plus miles every subsequent time you dine at a participating restaurant. (You earn 3x miles for the first ten purchases.) Couple that with a rewards earning credit card to increase your savings.
Thus, if you stop in for bagels or coffee once in a while, you will be on the fast track to earning five times miles at hundreds of participating restaurants.
Do you earn frequent flyer miles through the Rewards Dining program? Have you find any gems that you would like to share?
Do you ever wonder how much the person sitting next to you on the plane paid? It seems that airfares are constantly changing and totally unpredictable.
The same can be true of hotels. The room rates go up and down depending on the hotel’s model of supply and demand.
We had a recent hotel stay at the Radisson Martinique on Broadway. I locked in two award nights well in advance — 50,000 Club Carlson points for a two-night stay.
We decided to add a third paid night on to our stay, so several weeks ago, I made a reservation to extend our stay. The room rate at the time was close to $300 per night, plus tax, bringing the total to nearly $350. That’s a lot to pay for a room at a 3 star hotel.
It wasn’t worth bidding for a Priceline hotel because it would be really inconvenient to move hotels for one night. Also, since we were traveling with our teenage daughter, we needed a room with two beds, and Priceline only guarantees that the room will accommodate two adults. In New York City, hotel rooms are notoriously small, and often cannot accommodate three people.
Check the Room Rate and Call if it Drops
I had booked the room at the AAA rate. Each week I checked online to see if the rates had dropped. If so, I called the hotel and requested that they adjust my rate. I did this four times, and four times, the hotel graciously adjusted the rate downward. We ended up paying $172 for the room. With tax, it came to $200.
I love the location of the Radisson Martinique, right in K-town in the center of Manhattan.
We took advantage of pre-Black Friday sales at Macy’s, and went up the Empire State Building — both less than two blocks away.
Thanks to the Martinique app, the hotel comped us breakfast each morning.
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Click here to compare current rewards credit card offers.
Travelzoo is offering admission tickets to the Met for $19, or four tickets for $60.
The usual “recommended” admission to the museum is $25 per adult, and free for children under 12.
The regular fee includes admission to the museum including all special exhibits plus same-week admission to The Cloisters. The website states: “To help cover the costs of exhibitions, we ask that you please pay the full recommended amount.”
If you would like to pay less than full recommended admission, please go directly to The Metropolitan Museum of Art to pay as you wish.
I turns out that that the Met and a number of other New York City institutions are required to accept voluntary donations for admission.
You can pay whatever you want, every day, all year long.
The execution of this policy was the subject of some litigation in 2013. The lawsuit contended that the museum was obscuring the option to pay less than full price, because the sign by the entrance indicated “suggested donation” in small print. You can read more about this issue in The Atlantic and the New York Times.
I have fond memories of visiting the Met and the Cloisters as a kid. Both were pretty magical places, where I felt transported back in time.
I think the admission fee is fully worth it to visit a world class art museum. However, if the cost of admission is holding your family back from a visit, know that you can pay what you wish and it is perfectly okay.
Pay What You Wish at the American Museum of Natural History
Some other New York museums that have the pay what you wish policy are the American Museum of Natural History, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Cloisters, and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.
My sister lives in Helena, Montana (HLN) the capital of the Big Sky State. The population of Helena is less than 30,000 people.
The airport there is really tiny. Long-term parking is $15 per week; you leave your payment in the drop box when you exit.
There are only about six flights per day out of HLN. The flights are not only scarce, they are also expensive.
My sister wanted to come east for our Mom’s 90th birthday and our Uncle’s 95th, so I offered to buy her a ticket.
Well there was no way she was going to let me buy a ticket.
But she would allow me to pay for her ticket with frequent flyer miles — miles that I had accrued largely through credit card sign-up bonuses.
That’s the reason I collect miles and points!
Extreme Travel Hacking for the Sandwich Generation
When I attended my first frequent flyer meet-up a few years ago, one of the old timers informed me that frequent flier miles should not be used for domestic flights. Excuse me?
I was told that I could get a much higher value if I redeemed points for international first class travel.
Over the past several years, I have redeemed hundreds of thousands of miles for flights — and all of these flights were economy class domestic travel.
Most people think of family travel as traveling with children. Our family travel is traveling to see family, or flying family members in for a visit. To me, that is maximizing the value of frequent flyer miles!
I don’t care whether I have to spend 25,000 miles or 50,000 miles for a roundtrip ticket. The “point” is that we use the miles to get where we need to go.