Picnic in the Shakespeare Garden – One of the most quintessentially New York theatre experiences is completely free: Shakespeare in the Park at the outdoor Delacorte Theater. Yes, you have to get there early (though there’s now also a virtual line online) and, yes, even the web offers no shelter from the occasional tempest. But if you do decide to go, bring a picnic dinner and enjoy it on one of the benches in the adjacent Shakespeare Garden, which has been planted exclusively with flower and herbs mentioned in Shakespeare’s poems and plays: rose, fennel, rosemary, columbine, and many more (they’re labeled for your convenience).
Hamilton Grange – Obsessed with Hamilton? You can visit a museum in the real house where Hamilton lived (it's mentioned in the show), now part of the National Parks system. Hamilton Grange National Memorial is in Saint Nicholas Park in Manhattan. It is located at 414 West 141st Street, between Convent Avenue and St. Nicholas Avenue.
A Contemporary West Side Story – With the opening of its new northern section in 2014, the two-mile-long elevated arboretum called the High Line—built on an abandoned elevated rail line—has an entrance on 34th Street, just a few blocks southwest of the Broadway theatre district. Exotic plants aren't the only things growing there. The most dramatic West Side Story in Manhattan right now is the way the Highline has stoked a massive development of the far West Side, replacing warehouses with luxury apartment buildings that have strained the creativity of some of the city’s top design firms. Marvel at the botanical wonders, and the architectural wonders growing side by side.
Thursday in the Park – You can see free excerpts from current and upcoming Broadway shows every Thursday at lunchtime during the summer at Bryant Park, plus, on many Monday nights, free classic movies on the lawn behind the main branch of the New York Public Library (the one with the famous lion statues in front). Bring a blanket to stretch out on. Plus, a pretty fountain, goodies from concessionaires and a merry-go-round, all just two blocks from the center of Times Square.
Waitress, The Great Comet, and More at Broadway in Bryant Park Concert
Food, Glorious Food – If you are a serious foodie, or simply want a good bowl of kimchi or a slice of serious Stilton before or after your show, Manhattan has become a mecca for themed gourmet eatery malls, from the classic Chelsea Market (everything) and Eataly (mainly Italian), to the recent Gotham West Market (everything), and the brand-new Le District (mainly French).
The Village – Though increasingly gentrified away from its bohemian roots, Greenwich Village still boasts little theatres, boutiques, and bistros on every corner. You can stroll down MacDougal Street and still see some of the places mentioned in Fun Home during Alison's father's trip. Plus, for the hardcore theatre fan there is…
Do You Know Your Showtunes? You'd better, if you're planning to visit Marie's Crisis. This tavern, just across Seventh Avenue from the gay landmark Stonewall Inn, is not your usual piano bar. They love Broadway musicals here, and every night there is a sing-along of old songs, new songs, and all the songs you love.
By the Cool Purple-Yellow-Red Water – In addition to bathing in all that culture (the Metropolitan Opera, The New York Philharmonic, New York City Ballet, Vivian Beaumont Theater), Lincoln Center on Ninth Avenue between 62nd and 65th Streets has a beautifully landscaped plaza complete with sycamore trees and a fountain. The highlight, however, is the reflecting pool, a quiet place to read and have a snack while you're waiting for the doors to open.
Miracle Half-Mile – Strolling down Fifth Avenue from 60th to 50th Street, you will pass landmark after landmark that were the settings for famous show, or mentioned in famous lyrics. The whole neighborhood will make you hum.
Inspiring Island – Do you love Ragtime, Rags and countless other shows about immigrants? Most of them came through Ellis Island, where new arrivals to America were processed for the better part of 60 years. Lots of history (you can look up your own ancestors in their huge database) and the city's most inspiring view of the Statue of Liberty. Now part of the National Park System. Accessible only by ferry from the southern tip of Manhattan, adjacent to Battery Park.