It’s no secret that New York City isn’t exactly one of the cheapest places to visit. If you’re heading to the Big Apple, you’ll have to pay for travel and accommodations, which can be costly themselves. Then, you’ll want to have some extra cash if you plan to take in any of the sites or do a little shopping while you’re there. When it’s all said and done, it can be pretty expensive!
However, there is some great news for those of you traveling to the city. Here’s why: it is absolutely possible to visit New York City on a budget and still have a great time. How is it possible, you ask? Well, I’m going to tell you! In this post, I’m sharing exactly how you can experience the best of New York City for under $100.
One of the great things about New York City is that there are multiple modes of transportation you have access to. You can choose which one is right for you depending on where you’re going and how much you want to spend. If your destination isn’t far from your hotel accommodations, you can easily walk the city sidewalks to get there. Not only is this a great way to take in the sights and really experience the city, but it’s great exercise as well. And the best part? Walking is totally free!
However, you will likely need to use public transportation at some point, especially if you’re traveling a farther distance. You have three options for public transportation: a taxi cab, the subway, or a bus. While those New York taxis may be iconic, they aren’t always the most cost effective way to get around the city. Instead, you will likely want to check out the subway or the bus.
One of the best ways to navigate the often confusing NYC metro system is by downloading the official MTA app on your phone. Here are the iOS and Android versions.
For riding the subway or bus, you can purchase a Metrocard to get where you need to go. A regular Metrocard charges you $2.50 per ride, which can add up if you’re anticipating using public transportation often. So, if you know you’ll be riding the bus or subway more than eight times during your stay, spring for the seven-day Metrocard pass, which is $30. While it may seem like a lot of that $100 budget, it’s actually the most affordable option in the end.
2. Things to Do: Parks, Museums, & More
There are so many things to do in New York that it can be hard to fit it all into one trip. If the weather is great during your stay in New York, you might want to get some fresh air and soak up the sun at one of the popular parks in the area. Some of the free parks you can visit include Central Park, The High Line, and Prospect Park. All three are great locations to check out! If you’re in the city during the summertime, you could enjoy a concert at Central Park or even pay a visit to the zoo there, which would only cost $18.
If you’re just itching to get out on the water, the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park allows you to rent a boat for $15 per hour. However, if you’re looking for an absolutely free option, there are boathouses that provide free kayaking. Check out the Downtown Boathouse and Manhattan Community Boathouse, just to name a few, to find free kayaking. It’s a great way to get out on the water and get in a little exercise, too!
You can even head to Coney Island for a day of fun with Luna Park and the New York Aquarium in the area. At Luna Park, you can ride all the rides you want for four hours at just $32. While you’re there, you can even play games and grab a delicious snack. Over at the aquarium, you’ll find sea lions, penguins, and more with a $11.95 entrance fee.
For beautiful scenery, head to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, which actually offers free admission depending on the day and hours. All you have to do is check their website to see when they’re opening, based on the season, and check for the times they offer free admission. It’s a gorgeous place to visit, especially when the weather is nice out. If you can’t get in with free admission, you are suggested to pay $12 as a donation to the park.
If you’re in the mood for a more cultural experience, there are plenty of museums to visit in New York. Both the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History have an entrance fee that is a suggested donation. Donate what you can to support the museums and enjoy seeing all the exhibits they have on display. Suggested donation for adults at the Met is $25, and it’s $22 at the American Museum of Natural History.
3. Where to Eat
Of course, New York City is home to some of the finest restaurants in town. While they’re great to dine at if you’re willing to splurge a little, you’ll likely have to make a reservation in advance to even get a table at these popular restaurants. If you’re looking to save, there are plenty of options around the city for affordable, yet delicious, food. You just have to look for it.
There are a number of great pizza joints throughout the city, some of which will allow you to grab a “New York slice” for just $1. Who could resist that? If you’re a foodie and in the city on the weekend, you can head to Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg food fair. It takes place every Saturday and Sunday and is located in the East River State Park and the Brooklyn Bridge Park. They bill themselves as a “food flea market”, you’ll see why when you get there. The best part is you can find amazing food there for under $10.
If you’re looking to grab a drink at one of the local bars, keep your eyes peeled for ones that offer free drinks or discounts at happy hour. There are plenty around the city that will allow you to save the cash while enjoying a cool drink. One of the best resources for finding happy hours in NYC is NYHappyHours.com.
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