New York City, one of the most glamorous places in the world, isn’t really a friendly place to budget travelers. True story: I even had a $16 pastrami sandwich, which was one of the cheapest items on the menu. However, you can’t dismiss the city because of price. Here are five tips to help you have fun in New York City on a budget.
Take public transportation – unlimited pass
Metro is the way to go. New York is one of the biggest cities in the world, and you can’t move without the subway, unless you want to take a taxi. Lucky for us, the New York City Subway has an unlimited ride MetroCard; a seven-day unlimited pass is $29 and a 30-day unlimited pass is $104. Considering that a single-ride is $2.35, it really saves a lot of money.
Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
You don’t have to go to a rooftop bar at a fancy hotel to enjoy the Manhattan skyline. You can do the same by just walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, which connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn over the East River. The best views of Manhattan, as well as the Statue of Liberty, can be seen from Brooklyn Heights on the other side. Moreover, the bridge itself is pretty impressive. It was completed in 1883 and is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States. It was also the first steel-wire suspension bridge. Be careful though–it’s a popular bike commute for locals, so try not to stand in the middle of the bike lane.
Test your luck – Broadway musical lottery
Are you a fan of theater? I am. Of course it would be nice if we could see all the shows we wanted, but often budget won’t allow it. However, there’s an alternative solution. A lot of Broadway musicals are now running a lottery everyday before the production. The winner can purchase two tickets for $25 to $35 each. Considering that the original ticket could be worth over a hundred dollars, it’s a pretty sweet deal. And, of course, it’s not so easy to win, but why not try. It’s fun! I participated for the “Book of Mormon,” but I didn’t end up winning tickets. However, the girl next to me won on her 38th try. Good for her! Who knows–you could be the next winner.
Take free walking tours
The fame of the city comes from its history. There are a number of free walking tours you can take to learn about the city from an expert. I went on a free tour of Grand Central Terminal, which meets every Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. Our guide described the history behind the architecture, showed us old photos of the terminal and shared his insider tips about the surrounding buildings. Don’t forget to visit the lobbies of the Chennin and Chrysler buildings, as they hold some of the finest art deco designs in the country.
Art museums – know when to go
Even on a tight budget, you can enjoy some of the finest art museums in New York City. A few museums offer free entry on selected days of the week. For example, The Museum of the Modern Art (MoMA) is free on Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.; the Whitney Museum of American Art is pay what you wish on Friday 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.; the Guggenheim offers the same deal on Saturday evenings from 5:45 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.; and The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) allows you to pay what you want, but $25 is the recommended donation for adults.
Restaurants in New York can be outrageously expensive, but there are certain things that you can only get in NYC for $1: pizza and hot dogs. And you know what? They’re not bad at all! Mediocre hot pizza is much better than gourmet cold pizza. And of course, it’s just one of those things you have to eat in NYC.