Whether you are visiting tourists or living in New York, the costs of experiencing this city may seem daunting. Here are some money-saving ideas:
- Do FREE stuff. Go to parks, museums, attractions, and events for $0.
The website NYCGO is a fantastic source for planning your itinerary of free things to do. Another cool website to check for free events is Eventbrite. Here is also a list of always free and sometimes free admissions to museums.
And if you’re a New York City resident, definitely get a complimentary IDNYC card that offers you free admissions into museums and entertainment discounts (including shows, sporting events, and theme parks).
My friend Karina and I used my new ID to get into El Museo del Barrio. Their AMIGO membership allowed free admission for a guest and me.
Just chilling at Bryant Park fountain: Click on the calendar on their website to see listed free events, including yoga, tai chi, and fencing.
Read a book or sip on some coffee here. You can also take a complimentary tour at the Schwarzman Building. That’s the beautiful New York Public Library right next to Bryant Park.
Central Park is a great place to have an inexpensive picnic. My friend’s church sometimes holds “A Day in the Sun” where we have service, games, and food at the park. This photo was from this past Easter. You know how sharing pics of other parents’ kids online can be controversial? I love how the balloon secures the anonymity of this child.
There may be a fee to go to One World Observatory ($32!), but you can see a lot right on the ground level: One World Trade Center and the Memorial Pools.
If you would like to go up to One World Observatory, you can save 20% off the admission fee on MasterCard Mondays. For any attraction, I highly recommend googling possible promotions.
2) Seeing a Broadway show is usually on people’s list of “must-do’s” in NYC. Check out this site for discounted lottery, rush, or standing-room-only tickets.
Karina and I were able to get rush tickets the day of at the box office. Snazzy orchestra seats for $32 each! Those tickets can run up to $184 so they were a steal.
3) Taxis and Ubers can get expensive. I rarely take a cab anywhere. A weekly/monthly Metro Card saves me a lot of money. But walking is another fantastic method of saving money AND a wonderful way to see the city.
You can see a lot of nifty street art that you would be missing in the train or a car. Hey, you may catch a fleeting work of Banksy.
One of my favorite things to do while walking around the city is window shop. And yes, that includes staring at presentations of delicious food.
I also like to windowshop…windows? I melt over really adorable building facades. So it is very common for me to pull over from power walking at normal NYC speed to stop and gush at super cute cafes, restaurants, and apartments. It happens WAY too often in the West Village.
4) Ok, let’s talk about food. Food can be pricey here. But because we have so many options, it IS possible to eat out without crying over your bill.
You can get some bargain meals at street carts. One of my go-to carts is The Halal Guys. Yeah, I heard Oprah endorsed them as the best in the city and that they’re millionaires now. But their main staples are still about $6-7! I always get the combination (chicken and gyro) rice platter. It is SO good. I douse it with the special white sauce/red hot sauce, and I am in heaven.
This was right before my dish nearly collapsed and spilled all over me. Eating this on the benches near the carts on a sunny day brings me happiness. My friends love this so much that I literally packed one up for a flight to LA to bring to my friend. It was in my backpack nestled in icepacks. TSA was bewildered when they searched me. It was worth it.
So yes, street carts. You can get tacos, pad thai, hot dogs, etc! Besides street carts, be sure to research CHEAPO restaurants and happy hour deals. Something like Xian Famous Foods that serves a ridiculous spicy cumin lamb burger for $3-4. And Crave Fishbar has amazing $1 oysters during happy hour. Yelp is your best friend when it comes to finding those one $ sign establishments or a crazy good happy hour deal.
Sticking to inexpensive meals and even planning ahead by packing food from home will save you money. Saving money is good, but make sure to treat yourself at times. You’re in New York City! Don’t deny yourself all of the life-altering food experiences here. You will regret it.
As much as I wanted to avoid Dominique Ansel’s bakery and its obscene line for cronuts, I totally went for the first time when friends came into town. I guess it shouldn’t have been a surprise that the cronuts were sold out by 4pm. (I hear they’re sold out by 7am!) However, it did come as surprise to find out that cronuts are actually not their #1 seller. The DKA is. It’s basically a flakey croissant with a caramelized crust. I now understand why it is so popular.
I loved it so much that I bought another to-go.
When I was waiting in the horrible line for the second DKA, I decided that I needed to justify waiting in said horrible line by making another purchase. Above is their frozen S’more. A custard ice cream coated in chocolate wafer chips and all stuffed inside a marshmallow that gets torched. Mmmmmm. Like I said, treat yourself!
So those are four simple tips for enjoying the city on a budget. Below are more places that cost no dinero.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral with its new facelift
Washington Square Park
More of WSP
Times Square..if you dare