Spend Less in New York – Budget Tips for NYC

in Trip Locations

With its Broadway shows and high-end department stores, a vacation in New York City can be a drain on your finances. But you needn’t spend a fortune to enjoy your time in the Big Apple. In this article we look at frugal entertainment options in The City That Never Sleeps.

Everyone wants to see the Statue of Liberty, but you needn’t spend money on a tour to do it. Just hop on the Staten Island Ferry for free for a great view of Lady Liberty and Upper New York Bay.

You can’t always rely on free travel in New York City, but you can get it for less. Using the city’s affordable public transport during off-peak hours can save you more than 60%. If you’re making several trips that can still add up, so an unlimited day pass may be your best bet.

If you want to see more of the city, why not join a tour? This sounds like another expensive proposition, but it doesn’t have to be if you know where to look. If you plan ahead you can use the services of Big Apple Greeter, an innovative non-profit group which matches tourists with locals keen to show off their city. Each tour is completely free, and there’s a no-tipping policy.

If you haven’t booked a Big Apple Greeter, you can still see the city for nix. The Times Square Expose Free Walking Tour sets off at noon every Friday from the Times Square Visitor’s Center. It takes walkers to heritage theaters and brand new buildings and offers a real insight into this busy Manhattan hub.

If you prefer to take things at your own pace then visit AudioSnacks, a website with plenty of audio tours that you can download straight to your MP3 player. With this kind of tour you can simply pause the recording to take a better look at the areas that interest you, or skip past the dull parts. Not that there are too many dull parts of New York City!

There are also plenty of free shows and concerts around the city, particularly during summer. In the warmer months you can see films every Monday in Bryant Park, or take in a rock band or Shakespearean play in Central Park. Things slow down during winter, but the local street press should help you sniff out something at any time of year.

You haven’t really seen New York until you’ve seen some of its finest museums. While entry to The Guggenheim and Museum of Modern Art is on the expensive side, there are plenty of museums that only require a small donation. It’s poor form to only offer your silver, but a dollar or two can buy you a morning’s entertainment at the American Museum of Natural History, The Cloisters, The Sculpture Center, the Museum of the Moving Image, and more.

Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty

But a tourist can’t exist on entertainment alone. While you’re sightseeing your tummy will inevitably start to rumble. Steer clear of those fancy pants restaurants with their Michelin stars and opt for more modest fare. New York City’s delis are famous for their great bagels and sandwiches, and the first class coffee. Or if you feel like something a bit naughtier, indulge in a hot dog from one of the many street vendors. Both options should give you change for a fiver, leaving plenty in your wallet for a tacky souvenir or the subway ride back to your hotel.

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