Ah, January, the time when all the gifts have been opened -- and all those bills have poured in. Don't feel like going out and spending a lot of money? How about going out and spending little or no money?
"Nowadays, you say free and people's eyes light up," says Nomi Dayan, director of education at the Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum, where visitors can enjoy an all-inclusive admission fee. "We used to charge an additional $8 for events, but it was confusing for the staff and sometimes upsetting for visitors. I think it is a great treat for people to come in and know that everything is included."
And it's not just museums offering deals: Look around, and you'll find discount movies, cheap skating spots and free classes. Here are some places where the budget-conscious can feel at home.
Visit a museum
For $5-$6, visitors have full access to the Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum. View all its galleries, experience an audio tour, watch films and take part in special activities. With advance notice, you can even get a guided tour.
Jennifer Ennis, 44, traveled from Middle Island with her husband and two children, a 2-year-old and an infant, for "Rubber Ducky Day," which included rubber duck-related activities, at the museum.
"It was just $12 for the four of us," Ennis says. "My daughter is 2 years old. At that age, you don't know what they'll want to do. So, it is good that they have a lot of crafts. She can try something and move on. And, you get to take something home. I like that."Next up for kids is I Heart Whales at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 10. Kids will learn about blue whales and decorate their own T-shirt with crafts provided by the museum. (Bring a T-shirt and dress to get messy.) Free with museum admission. Reservations are required.
WHEN | WHERE 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday and holiday Mondays, 301 Main St., Cold Spring Harbor
INFO 631-367-3418, cshwhalingmuseum.org
ADMISSION $6 adults ($5 ages 4-18), $19 for a family of six; free to active military daily; free to military family accompanying active military person Memorial Day-Labor Day by donation 11 a.m.-noon Saturday and Sunday
ALSO TRYFlash your Bank of America credit or debit card at select museums for free admission for one person the first full weekend of the month. Participating museums include The Long Island Museum of American, Art, History and Carriages in Stony Brook, the Long Island Children's Museum in Garden City, Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium in Centerport and Old Westbury Gardens in Old Westbury.Visit museums .bankofamerica.com for a complete list.
See a movie
With adult ticket prices as high as $16 for IMAX films, it's enough to make you stay home with a bag of microwave popcorn. Unless you know where to go.
Tuesday is bargain day at two theaters: At Elwood Cinemas (1950 Jericho Tpke., East Northport, 631-499-7800), where tickets are only $4, you could perhaps afford two movies if you have the time. The Regal Hampton Arts Cinema (2 Brook Rd., 631-288-2600, Westhampton Beach) is $5.For $7 ($9 for 3-D), you can see a movie at National Amusements Island 16 Cinema de Lux (185 Morris Ave., 631-758-9100) in Holtsville. The Bellmore Movies (222 Petit Ave., Bellmore, 516-783-7200) is $5.50. Glen Cove Theatres (5 School St., 516-671-6668, glencovetheatres.com) charges $6. Pay $6.75 ($9.75 for 3-D) at Seaford Cinemas (3951 Merrick Rd., 516-409-8700).
If Wednesday is better for your schedule, visit Malverne Cinemas 4 (350 Hempstead Ave., 516-599-6966), where you'll pay $5.50. Sign up for the email newsletter with Island Cinemas (708 Montauk Hwy., Mastic, 631-657-3297, island-cinemas.com) and get an email coupon each week allowing the purchase of up to five $5 movie tickets.
Take a class
This is the month when gardening magazines and seed catalogs begin showing up in mailboxes. If you're itching to get into the garden, take a free class to sharpen your skills.
INFO 516-334-0066, hicksnurseries.com
SCHEDULE 11 a.m. Saturday, "Landscape Rescue: Restoring Your Landscape After a Storm"; 11 a.m. Feb. 9: "World of Birds" for children and adults;11 a.m. Feb. 16: "Landscaping for the Birds: Attracting Songbirds to Your Yard"; 3 p.m. Feb. 16: "Impatients Are the Problem: We have the Solution" see complete schedule on their website.
For an added treat, attend the 23rd annual Flower Show, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. March 8-17. It is free and includes classes and demonstrations.
ALSO TRY Martin Viette Nurseries (6050 Northern Blvd., East Norwich, 516-922-5530, martinviette.com), which offers a free Winter Seminar Series with programs Saturdays through March 16, including its "Houseplant Festival," 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Feb. 23. Although free, you must register.
What could be better than getting some exercise and finding a bargain all in one? Not much, especially if you think ice skating is cool. One of the favorite spots to chill is The Rinx at Harborfront Park in Port Jefferson Village. Skaters aren't required to be area residents to get a good deal.
"We come every Sunday," says Loralie Smart, 44, of Mount Sinai, who was taking a break from skating with her daughter, Alina Chu, 7. "It is a 10-minute drive from our home. Gasoline and time are big factors for me. And, we decided to buy skates rather than pay $10 each time" to rent skates for the two of them.
WHEN | WHERE Check website for session times, Noon-1:20 p.m., 2-3:30 p.m., 4-5:30 p.m. and 6:30-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday; noon-1:30 p.m., 2-3:30 p.m., 4-5:30 p.m., 6:30-7:30 p.m. (private parties) and 8-10 p.m. Friday; 10-11:30 a.m., 12:30-2 p.m., 2:30-4 p.m., 4:30-6 p.m., 6:30-7:30 p.m. (private parties) and 8-10 p.m. Saturday; 10-11:30 a.m., 12:30-2 p.m., 2:30-4 p.m., 4:30-6 p.m., 6:30-7:30 p.m. (private parties) Sunday;101-A Broadway, Port Jefferson Village Center in Harborfront Park, Port Jefferson Village
INFO 631-403-4357, therinx.com
FEE $9.50 ($7 ages 11 and younger) Monday-Friday; $10.50 ($8 ages 11 and younger) Saturday and Sunday, holidays and school vacation; $11 for two-hour sessions 8-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; $5 skate rental; buy six sessions and get one free
ALSO TRY Mitchell Park Ice Skating Rink (115 Front St., Greenport, 631-477-2200, ext. 2, greenportvillage.com, $5 adults, $3 younger than 18 weekdays; $10 adults, $7 younger than 18 weekends; or the Port Washington Skating Center (70 Seaview Blvd., Port Washington, 516-484-6800, pwskating.com) charges $7 all ages, with $4 skate rental. Group of 10 or more get $1 off both admission and rental. Buy 20 sessions at a time and save $1 per session.