There’s something that draws us all to New York City. Whether it’s variety, history or glamour, the city that never sleeps is one of the biggest tourism destinations in the United States. However, the Big Apple is also known as one of the most expensive cities in the world.
Don’t let finances keep you from experiencing all that New York City can offer. There are simple ways to see the city on a budget. I recently spent four glorious days in NYC and I didn’t break the bank. Here’s how I did it.
1. Take the Subway
I recently fell madly in love with the subway. I’ve spent my life in the midwest and the southern United States and pride myself on my driving abilities. However, there is something so freeing about being able to get yourself from the southern tip of Manhattan to Central Park with only your legs and a MetroCard. I found navigating the subway to be easy, especially with the help of my Google Maps — much like I would when driving, all I had to do was put in my destination and I’d find exactly which train to hop. And it’s affordable. A single ride is $2.75, but you can get an unlimited pass for seven days for $32. Or you can load it up with 5, 10, 20 dollar increments. It all depends on how much you’ll be traveling.
2. Buy a CityPASS
If you’re interested in seeing some of New York’s biggest attractions, you’ll likely save by getting a CityPass. Currently, if you spend $122 (for an adult) or $98 (for a child) you get admission to six different New York destinations. It gets you into the Empire State Building, the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Then, you get to choose between the next list of three destinations: Top of the Rock or the Guggenheim; Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island or a Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise; and 9/11 Memorial & Museum or Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Not only are six locations included in the pass, but you also get to skip the ticket booth upon arrival at each. Definitely a deal.
4. Hotel Tonight
Perhaps the biggest expense when traveling to New York is the hotel. During my last trip, I used an app called Hotel Tonight, which allows you to book the last few rooms in establishments at a discounted rate. You can only book them seven days before your arrival (at the earliest) but I was able to get a nice room near Times Square for $181 a night.
5. Today Tix or TKTS
If you’re a musical nerd like me, the biggest draw to New York City is to see a show. Tickets can easily go for $200 to $400 a pop, though, which is definitely not in my budget. There are options for discounted rates, though. Today Tix is an app that shows you a slew of shows and their discounts, while TKTS is a brick and mortar that offers a similar service. Granted, when you’re visiting with affect rates, but these are a great way to snag hot seats cheap.
6. Use Your Mini Fridge
When booking my hotel, I always make sure that I have a mini-fridge in my room. Eating out for every meal is another big budget killer. Instead, I stopped by a local grocery store and grabbed a few things to keep on hand and save me from eating out every meal. A few yogurts and maybe a bag of chips can take care of breakfast and midnight snack cravings.
7. Do Your Research
New York City is known for exquisite dining. You can easily spend $100 on a meal. But it’s also known for wonderful, affordable eateries that will fill you up on a budget. There are a million of these restaurants in every corner of the city. If you look things up before you go, or have a list you can refer to, then you’re much more likely to eat a good, affordable meal. This is actually a trick I learned from a New Yorker, who refuses to eat anywhere without reading it’s Yelp profile. My favorite affordable stop is called S’Mac and it’s some of the best, most creative macaroni and cheese that I’ve ever eaten. Oh, and I can usually make a few meals from the leftovers.