New York City is known for being pricey, but that does not mean that you can’t visit on a budget. There are many things to do in NYC that do not require money.
1. Visit NYC at the Right Time
New York City is busy at all times in the year, but during peak tourist times, like the summer months and during the holidays, hotel prices will sky-rocket. If you visit during a less busy season for out of town travellers, you’ll find much better rates.
The Cheapest times to visit NYC:
- January – early April
- September – November (excluding holidays)
2. Find a Cheap Flight to NYC
Getting there does not have to be an expensive fete. However, there are times when you will find great flight deals to NYC because it is a major holiday destination. Be sure to include both JFK and La Guardia, or even Newark, in your search.
3. Take the Train to and From the Airport
Whether you fly into JFK or La Guardia, you will be far from the city when you land. But instead of calling for a taxi or Uber, which will cost you at least $40 – $50, take the shuttle to the metro. It is very easy to do and will save you a lot of money.
4. Find Cheap Accommodation
Hotels in New York City are known to be expensive, even for low quality accommodation.
However, you have two options when it comes to finding cheap accommodation:
- Go super cheap – Find the cheapest room you can find and be prepared for the worst. Some people have paid $100 a night for the worst hostel. It was as big as a closet with a window looking out to a wall and a dirty shared bathroom.
- Find shared apartments – Alternatively, you can locate a shared apartment where you will find the rooms will be well decorated. You will have to share the bathroom, kitchen and living room however you will have your own room (in most cases). Since everyone is contributing to the upkeep of the home, there is less pressure on one person and therefore the cost is significantly lower.
5. Find Free and Cheap Things To Do
There are so many things to do in NYC that will cost you nothing. Fill your days with free and cheap activities to save yourself some money!
Below is a list of free and cheap things to do in New York City:
- Walk along the High Line
- Picnic in Central Park
- Explore the street art in the Bushwick neighbourhood
- Watch the Today Show being filmed
- Take a Free Walking Tour
- Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and explore the Dumbo neighbourhood
6. Get the Metro Pass
You can get an unlimited Metro pass to save lots of spending money during your trip to NYC. You can either get a 7-day unlimited pass or a 30-day unlimited pass.
It costs $32 (plus $1 for the reusable card itself), but if you use the metro 11 times (which you surely will), it will pay for itself.
7. Get the NYC CityPASS
If this is your first-time visiting New York City and you want to see many of the major landmarks, the New York CityPASS is a really good option. Starting at $132 per adult, it will truly save you money in the end if you want to hit all the major attractions (a 41% savings for an adult).
You will get entrance to 6 activities throughout the city. Additionally, at most attractions you will stand in a separate line, which in every single attraction you visit, will be much shorter than the line for purchasing tickets.
Go through the list of attractions included and mark the ones you want to see to determine if it makes sense for you to purchase.
CityPASS includes admission to (prices are for adults):
- The Empire State Building (value $53.25)
- American Museum of Natural History (value $28)
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art (value $25)
- Top of the Rock Observation Deck (value $39.20) OR Guggenheim Museum (value $25)
- Ferry Access to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island (value $18.50) OR Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises (value $37)
- 9/11 Memorial & Museum (value $24) OR Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum (value $33)
8. See the Statue of Liberty for Free!
If you are on a tight budget, skip the Statue of Liberty tour altogether. Instead, take the Staten Island Ferry (yes, it’s free) and brings you right past the statue.
And even if your budget isn’t that constricted, this is a good, less-touristy option.
9. Pay-As-You-Wish Museum Entry
Did you know that some of NYC’s most well-known museums have pay-as-you-wish entry all the time? Even the American Museum of Natural History. This makes these national treasures accessible to all.
However, if a museum isn’t pay as you wish, there’s a good chance they have specific days or times that entry is free. Here are some examples:
- 9/11 Memorial: FREE on Tuesdays from 5 – 8 p.m.
- Museum of Modern Art (known MOMA): FREE on Fridays from 4 – 8 p.m.
- New York Botanical Garden: FREE all-day Wednesdays, and from 9 – 10 a.m. on Saturdays
Look through this list as it is a list of free museum days, so you know when to plan your visit. Just know that on free entrance days, there is obviously a longer queue.
10. Get Discount Broadway Tickets
Most people want to see a Broadway show when they come to NYC. You should do some research to find the most affordable shows so that you don’t get caught paying more than you should.
However, there are ways to score seats at a Broadway show really cheap. The most common way to get your tickets cheap is to head to a TKTS booth where you can bag same-day tickets that can be down to half price!
Getting discounted tickets to Broadway shows
If you can’t get a cheap ticket, but you still want to be entertained, you can visit the Ellen’s Stardust Diner, order a milkshake and fries and prepare to be wowed by the talented performers that are oftentimes up-and-coming Broadway starts.
It easy to visit and enjoy NYC on a budget, if you are willing to do some homework then you will surely get the best deals and get to experience everything that you want, and more.