So you want to go to New York but you know its the most expensive city in the USA and that’s likely going to be a little hard on your budget… Well, never fear. There ARE things you can do in this city that won’t break the bank.
All it takes is a little “city saavy”!
From Battery Park, the Bronx Museum of the Arts, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn Heights and Brooklyn promenade, Coney Island Board Walk, the Chrysler Building, Central Park, and the Flat Iron Building …(yes, I’m going alphabetically and I’m on F…) there are a myriad of things to do.
The most important thing when visiting this city is just to be open to new sights and sounds. Don’t get caught up on getting to all the land marks, rather get caught up in the energy and vitality of this city. Here on some more ideas for you.
Take to the water
Despite recent stories of hapless tourists being charged $200 a ride by alleged scammers, the Staten Island ferry is still as free as it has been since 1997 and offers a dazzling view of the southern tip of Manhattan, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty as it chugs out across New York Bay to the fifth borough and back again. Also free at weekends (although it’s $5 on weekdays) is the Ikea ferry that runs from Wall Street to the Swedish furniture store in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and the East River ferry from Manhattan to Brooklyn ($4 weekdays, $6 weekends) is another scenic option.
Find Budget accommodation
Accommodation costs in New York can be as high as the city’s famous skyscrapers, but there are usually some bargains to be had among the array of properties available for holiday let on Airbnb, particularly if you avoid Manhattan. A bargain probably still means $100 a night for an apartment but, if you are willing to stay in a room in someone’s place, rather than having an apartment to yourself, you can cut the price to under $60. A flat-swap website such as HomeExchange is another option. Rooms at the Bowery House hotel-hostel in Nolita start at $109 a night for a double, while the summer rates at the Chelsea International Hostel on West 20th Street start at $75 for a single room with a shared bathroom, $140 for a private en suite double and $62 a person to stay in a dorm.
Eat Out Smart
For the classic American diner experience, sit yourself down in one of the red-leather booths of the Waverly restaurant (cheeseburger $8.05) in Greenwich Village. Or if you want a wider selection head to Williamsburg on a Saturday orBrooklyn Bridge Park on a Sunday to visit Smorgasburg, an increasingly popular collection of open-air food stalls. Restaurants can be pricey in New York – especially once you factor in the mandatory 15%-20% tip – but Gruppo in Alphabet City is a good option for inexpensive and very tasty thin-crust pizza, and Cafe Argentino (499 Grand Street, +1 718 782 9477) in Williamsburg offers a $10 brunch.
Get up on the roof
New York was made to be seen from up high but, unfortunately, the observation decks of the Empire State Building, the Rockefeller Center, and the new 1 World Trade Center are costly. Another option is to go to a rooftop bar and make a drink or two last while you enjoy the view. The best in town is the Standard hotel in the Meatpacking District, which has a beautiful copper-coloured bar on the top floor and a busy roof garden overlooking the Hudson River. Also worth trying is 230 Fifth in Midtown, while in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the Wythe hotel has a sweeping view across the East river of the Manhattan skyline. It’s unbeatable in the early evening as the sun goes down.
Stroll in the park
Pay what you wish for art
They don’t like to shout about it but the $25 fee to enter the prestigiousMetropolitan Museum of Art in Central Park is actually a “recommended” amount: you can pay what you wish. The Whitney Museum of American Art, which has just reopened in a brand-new building at the southern end of the High Line, also allows you to pay what you wish on Fridays between 7pm and 10pm. The Museum of Modern Art on 53rd Street is also free on Fridays from 4pm.
Get some exercise
During the sweltering summer, the city opens dozens of free outdoor swimming pools across the five boroughs, many of them enormous. Asser Levy pool on East 23rd Street might be a good place to start. If you prefer a cycle ride, you could try picking up a Citi Bike from the city’s on-street cycle-hire scheme. There are stations spread across Manhattan below 60th Street, and in several areas of Brooklyn including Williamsburg, Brooklyn Heights and Fort Greene.