I recently spent an entire month in New York City and, besides being one of the best months of my life, it turned out to be a surprisingly inexpensive visit! For all my fellow travellers out there, I have put together a short guide of my experience and advice on how to do New York on the cheap. Here’s to the big apple!
Tourist activities: Many tourist activities are free or next to nothing. THE MET is by donation and you can enter with a donation of just $1.00. MOMA is free on a Friday nights, The BROOKLYN BRIDGE is free, and The STATEN ISLAND FERRY ( from which you can see the Statue of Liberty!) is free. Central Park likewise deserves a good complimentary stroll, as does Times Square, Coney Island, The Chelsea Highline, and Grand Central Station- all free and beautiful picture taking spots. I did spend money to go to the top of Rockefeller Centre (cost $30), which I personally felt was worth it to see see this spectacular city of lights from above (and from which you can see the Empire State Building). My biggest advice on how to see NYC?: walk! You never know what lovely neighbourhood you will stumble across- and trust me- they are plentiful.
Theatre: I spent just $200 on a total of 7 shows ( four of which were Broadway productions). TODAYTIX and TKTS are great apps through which you can scope out cheaper tickets for that evening and that week. I did not pay more than $50.00 for any show and was lucky enough to get last minute rush tickets for ‘Once’ priced at just $40.00. The seats were partially obstructed, which did not impede my enjoyment at all, and were in a private box which made for a wonderfull overall viewing experience. I got those tickets by going to the theatre directly after being told at the TKTS booth that the half price tickets were $75. Going to the theatre directly In search of tickets is something I recommend as they don’t necessarily advertise their student/ general rush tickets or partially obstructed viewing tickets. Recommended Productions: Once, A Gentlemens a Guide to Love and murder, Bullets over Broadway.
Travel: Transportation was my cheapest cost by far. I bought a monthly metro card for just $113.00 which works out to just $28.25 a week. This is an unlimited card you can use and saves you from ever having to take a taxi (or walking for that matter if you so choose) as the subway runs all night. I must say I was extremely impressed at the efficiency and easibility of the subway. Weeklong and 3 day cards are also available for purchase. Plus- you will probably be treated to awesome music on your journey from various buskers! (Tipping appreciated of course).
Food&Drink: Eating out in New York is quite comparable to my hometown of Vancouver so the cost was nothing particularly surprising. You can most definitely find good deals ( such as that dollar piece of pizza!) if you seek them out. Happy hour in turn is a great money saver, with most bars offering this between 5-8, and during which time drinks can be as cheap as $2.00. Bottoms up! Many bars also offer a beer and a shot for less than $10.00 if you are looking to get intoxicated fast and cheap. Be warned! Recommended bars and restaurants: Hogs and Hiefers, Biergarten, Marie’s Crisis (bars) Red Bamboo, Artichoke Pizza, Organika (restaurants).
Accommodation: I was fortunate enough to couch crash with various friends and family for most of my stay (to who I am all eternally grateful!). I did however book accommodation for my last eleven nights through the airbnb website. I cannot recommend it enough, especially for such an expensive city as New York. There is some controversy with the legalities of it in New York City however until any changes occur in the system I say take advantage of this wonderfully inexpensive housing opportunity! I was lucky enough to live in Queens, Manhattan and Brooklyn during my stay and enjoyed spending time in all the different neighbourhoods- something I would definitely recommend.
New York is magical. I think everyone should visit at least once in a lifetime. Hopefully the above advice can make that financially viable! Get in touch with any further questions you might have and I would be happy to assist.
To conclude, I have put together a list of some random (and humorous) observations I have made about New York. Enjoy:
– You should always have an umbrella. You will need it.
– You are bound to get stabbed by someone’s umbrella in the subway at some point. Watch out.
– Manhattan is the most interesting place in the world to people watch
– Homeless people are not consistently ignored (I often saw people engaging in lengthy conversations with them) and they attempt to display a sense of humour to passers-by. (One of them told me I dropped my smile. I gave him $2.00)
– There is an incredible array of healthy eating options
– Happy hour rocks!
– The ‘right of way,’ for both cars and people, does not exist
– It is impossible to get to bed before 4:00am. Bedtime is more like 7:00am. -There will always be someone singing on the subway at 4:00am. And at 7:00am. -The city is smaller and more friendly than you think. – You will overhear the funniest snippets of conversation in passing people on the street that you will ever experience. So funny in fact, I am using them to create a play (more on this later)
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