Did you know that around 50 million tourists visit New York every year? With so much to do, it is no surprise that NYC is such a popular tourist destination. Attractions such as the Empire State Building, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, Times Square, etc, make this a must-see American city.
The only downside? A trip to the big apple can get pretty expensive.
However, if you’ve been wanting to plan a visit, you should know that it is totally possible to have an amazing time in NYC on a budget. In fact, just like there are many expensive spots, the city is also full of cheap and free attractions.
In addition, you can always find fantastic deals that will allow you to experience the city’s most popular spots at a cheaper price.
So, if you find yourself wanting to spend 2 days in New York on a budget, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to discover how you can make the most out of your visit without dropping ridiculous amounts of cash.
Planning Your Trip to NYC on a Budget
To get the most out of your trip, you should plan an itinerary. This way, you’ll know exactly what you want to do and won’t waste time figuring it out when you get to New York.
A good way to go about it is by making a list of all the things you want to do and splitting them out by day. This way, you’ll know exactly where you’re going and exactly how much you are spending.
Don’t forget to leave room in the itinerary for your meals! There are a bunch of affordable eating options all around the city that you don’t want to miss.
There is nothing worst than going on a trip and not knowing what to do when you’re there. By having a clear idea of everything you are doing, you’ll save time and even money by not wandering around the city to find your next activity.
In addition, this will allow you to prioritize items on your list, helping you stick to your budget. With so many options, giving yourself a chance to prioritize attractions, restaurants, and experiences will allow you to get the most out of your time in New York.
In addition, this is a great way to visualize where your budget will be going. This way, you will be able to determine if there are days when you’ll be able to splurge a bit. Of course, there is no need to splurge on anything, but if you find yourself wanting to, knowing how much you can spare in advance will be helpful.
Figuring Out How You’ll Get There and Where You’ll Stay
Once you have a general idea of how you are going to spend your time in the city, it is important to figure out how you’ll get there and where you’ll stay.
This depends on where you’re coming from, but the cheapest way to get to NYC is almost always flying there. You can find cheap flights by using travel websites such as Expedia or Google Flights.
If you’re visiting New York for the first time, you don’t want to miss the rush of excitement you’ll get from looking down at the city from the window seat of a plane.
Furthermore, you’ll need a place to sleep once you get to the city. Some hotels have incredible deals that can allow you to experience the city in luxury while on a budget. For example, check out Westgate NYC – Specials for their latest deals.
A good way to save money when traveling is to determine if you’re flexible on the dates. Sometimes, if you are not set on a specific time and date to travel, you might be able to save some money.
Some dates are more popular than others. If you want to save on flights and accommodation, a good rule of thumb is to avoid holidays and long weekends. These are very popular dates for tourists, so everything is more expensive.
What to Do in NYC on a Budget
Being on a budget does not mean that you cannot get the full New York City experience. In fact, there are many ways you can see the most popular attractions without paying full price.
A lot of museums offer free entry as well as “pay what you wish” options. Figuring out the days and the times when these museums are free is a great way to get the full NYC experience on a budget.
In addition, you can go sightseeing around the city for free. Times Square is a great tourist attraction where you don’t have to spend any money. The same thing goes for Central Park.
However, if you feel like you’re missing out on other NYC attractions such as the Empire State Building, there are a few options that can help you save money.
Some companies offer city passes at discounted prices. A lot of times, these tickets allow you to see multiple attractions per day during your stay. This is a great option to save some money while also getting to see all the most popular NYC attractions.
Furthermore, if you were hoping to see a play while you are in the city, you can still do so without spending hundreds of dollars on tickets. You can find discounted tickets at The TKTS stand in Times Square. You can also check online at TodayTix.
In addition to museums and attractions, NYC is also known for being the spot where many shows are filmed. If you know when you are going ahead of time, you can get free tickets to be part of the live audience at one of your favorite shows through their websites.
How to Get Around
New York City is huge, and if this is your first time visiting, you must know exactly how to get around.
The best way to get around NYC on a budget is by using the subway. The city is known for having a fantastic subway system. In fact, a lot of people living in NYC on a budget also use this as their main way of transportation.
This is because getting around NYC any other way can get expensive. Of course, you’ll always be able to find a taxi or a car service such as Uber or Lyft if you need it, but it will get pricy.
As a tourist, you can invest in an unlimited Metro pass for as many days as you are staying there. That way, you’ll be able to ride as many times as you need for the entirety of your trip.
A 7-day unlimited card retails for about $33. This is bound to save you money on transportation if you are planning on going all over the city during your stay.
Because the city is so big, it is important to have a general idea of where everything is before you get there. This way, you’ll be able to strategize your days in the most efficient ways.
There are apps like HopStop that can help you navigate all the ins and outs of New York’s public transportation.
If you were hoping to go see Lady Liberty, the Staten Island Ferry is free and takes you right by the Statue.
Furthermore, if you plan to spend a lot of time sightseeing, a good way to go about it is to rent a bike. This way, you can reduce the walking required. Plus, riding a bike is also great exercise and a lot of fun.
Where to Eat
New York is known for having some of the best restaurants in the world. However, a lot of those five-star eateries come with a high price tag.
If you are looking to explore NYC on a budget, you will have no problem finding amazing and cheap spots to eat. The city is full of delicious local restaurants, so go explore those before going to nationwide chains.
Here are some tips for finding the best and cheapest food for each meal.
New York City is famous for its bagels. The best part? bagel shops are often very cheap and you can find them all around the city. In addition, a good NYC bagel will keep you full for hours.
A great thing about NYC is that you can find amazing food trucks pretty much all over town. Of course, some of them will offer cheaper items than others, but overall, eating at a food truck is a great way to try NYC favorites without breaking the bank.
You can also stop by one of the street food carts and get an NYC famous hot dog.
A fun lunch idea is to buy food and go eat it in Central Park. You can get blankets and soak in the beautiful New York skyline while you eat. You’ll have a great time, and you’ll be saving money in the meantime!
For dinner, you can get a $1 slice of pizza. Yeah, that’s right… ONE dollar. There are great spots all over town where you can get this sweet deal.
However, if you don’t mind spending a little more on dinner, you can pick a spot in Little Italy or Chinatown. You’ll find incredible options that are also not expensive.
If you are looking to drink while in the city, look out for places that offer happy hour deals. This is a great way to explore other New York restaurants while staying within your budget.
If you are planning on going out, a cheaper way to do so is by buying alcohol at a liquor shop and pre-gaming before you hit the town.
Other Free Things You Can Do Around the City
Besides sightseeing and taking advantage of museum-free days, there are also plenty of other free activities around the city.
Some examples include food markets and festivals, and even free concerts. In addition, you might run into a free art exposition, and even some awesome street performances.
NYC is full of art and culture, and a lot of time, the public gets to see some of its gems for free. Although the popular tourist attractions are certainly trendy for a reason, the city is full of other surprises that will make your trip even more memorable.
Before you go, do some research on events happening at the same time as your stay. You’ll be surprised at how many of those events are free.
In addition, a lot of brands love to host pop-up stores around the city. If you stumble upon one, go check it out! Sometimes you’ll even get entered in giveaways and get some free goodies just for stopping by.
Ready to Explore NYC on a Budget?
Now that you know that it is totally possible to explore NYC on a Budget, it is time to get to planning. As you can see, there are many fun things you can do in New York for free, and there are also many ways to get discounts on big attractions.
Having a perfect travel itinerary is a great way to get the most out of your trip while sticking to your budget, so start there!
Whether you are visiting NYC for the first time, or your tenth, you’ll find it easy to get around the city on a budget following these tips and tricks.
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