Cheap & Free New York City
- Cheap & Free New York City
- New York City on a Budget: Cheap Eats and Shopping
Everyone wants to visit NYC and take a bite out of the Big Apple. But a trip to New York can also take a huge bite out of your wallet.
You CAN visit New York on a budget and still have a great time. Find out how to spend less on food, entertainment, and transportation while still having a great travel experience.
If you’re visiting New York on a budget, check out these 5 ways to make your money go further in the big city.
Indulge in New York Style Pizza
Eating out in New York City isn’t cheap. A good way to enjoy the sit-down experience without breaking the bank is to go to one of the city’s many outstanding pizza restaurants.
A large pizza usually runs $16 to $20 plus a little more for each topping. This is a cost effective way to dine out as a family or a group.
For tasty New York City pizza (we’re talking a thin hand-tossed crust) and a good atmosphere we recommend the following restaurants:
- Grimaldi’s Pizzeria in Brooklyn (one of the most popular)
- Lombardi’s Pizza in Little Italy (the first pizzeria in the U.S.)
- John’s Pizzeria in Greenwich Village
Tip: NYC Pizza Restaurants are notoriously cash only so come prepared with cash to avoid being at the mercy of the on-site ATM machines.
Read more about New York City Pizza Restaurants.
Visit Museums for a Fraction of the Admission Price
New York City has a great selection of museums that attract many visitors. At $18-$25 per adult ticket, however, those admission prices can really add up.
Many museums offer a break by having certain time periods during the week designated as either free or “pay-as-you-wish”. The latter means that you can walk in and hand the cashier whatever amount suites you to enter the museum.
With a little extra planning, you can visit an awesome museum either for free or for a fraction of the normal admission price – perfect if you are visiting New York on a budget! Museums that offer this include the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, the Whitney Museum, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Frick Collection.
More details on how to save on museums.
Get Discounted Broadway Tickets
Seeing a Broadway show is a fun thing to do in New York City. But at over $100 per ticket, this can make for quite an expensive evening if you’re visiting New York on a budget.
Wouldn’t you jump at the chance to see Broadway for half price? Well, you can when you buy tickets at the TKTS booth! If you don’t mind standing in line on the day of the performance, you can get tickets 25% to 50% off.
More TKTS info, how to do it, and if it’s right for you.
Forget About Taxis and Take the Subway
Using the subways to get around doesn’t just make your visit cheaper; it actually adds to the experience. The subway system is a vital part of what makes the city run and gets millions of New Yorkers to where they need to go every day.
If it’s good enough for New Yorkers, then why not make it your primary method of transportation? You can travel all around the city for a week for just $30 when you purchase a 7-day unlimited MetroCard. You could easily spend that same amount on just a few taxi rides.
More information on the New York City subway system.
You can also use public transportation to get from any one of New York’s three major airports to Manhattan. Find out how.
Take a Free “Cruise” Aboard the Staten Island Ferry
Who doesn’t love a free boat ride?
This half-hour ferry trip across the New York Harbor goes right past the Statue of Liberty and Governor’s Island. You will also enjoy looking out across the harbor to see the buildings of Lower Manhattan and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge that connects Staten Island and Brooklyn.
This ferry service between South Ferry Terminal (near Battery Park in Lower Manhattan) and Staten Island is utilized by commuters and tourists alike. Once you get to the ferry terminal on Staten Island, you can immediately board a ferry going back to Manhattan. The entire round trip takes about 1 hour.
This bargain is hard to beat. Many of our more frugal guests choose to view the Statue of Liberty in this fashion rather than paying money and standing in line. You won’t get as close to the statue, but did we mention it’s free?
New York City on a Budget: Cheap Eats and Shopping
Who says you have to spend a bundle to have a blast in New York City? With a little insider information, you can feast on delicious meals, buy swanky clothes and load up on gifts and souvenirs without blowing your budget. In fact, you might find that even the swankiest places aren’t as much fun as these quirky low cost joints.
Three ‘Must Try’ Cheap Eats
Amy’s Bread treats you right with delicious pastries and hearth-baked breads at prices that are easy on your pocketbook. With three locations in Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea Market and the Village, their hearty chili bowls or sandwiches on hand-cut bread are recognized as some of the best in NYC.
Shake Shack always has a line, but it’s worth the wait to try their Chicago-style hot dogs on poppy seed buns with an extensive choice of salad toppings, relishes and even celery salt for that perfect bite. For a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, try their handspun shakes or floats that only cost about $5. You’ll find Shake Shack in five Manhattan locations, Brooklyn, and even at Citi Field during baseball games.
Mooncake Foods understands how to make the most of inexpensive ingredients to deliver a great selection of Asian style comfort food with most menu items coming in under $10. If you don’t want to dine in their eclectic used furniture motif, just order a meal to go at their Soho, Chelsea or Hell’s Kitchen locations and stroll to the nearest city park to have dinner while indulging in NYC’s favorite sport, people watching.
The Best in Budget Shopping
Pop-Up Shops sprout up all over the city, especially during the holiday season, with bargains on everything from cool clothing to makeovers — not to mention plenty of unique gifts and samples to taste. Check for them around Bryant Park in the winter, where there’s also a free ice skating rink and cooking demos.
Don’t forget to sneak out the city’s hidden sample sales, these may happen in a hush – hush manner but you can be kept in the loop with sites like Top Button and don’t forget blogs! Check out Sample Sally to see where it’s all happening.
For the best of vintage where you can even snag a Vivienne Westwood or a Valentino at budget prices you can rummage through places like Cheap Jacks or Village Style, if you travel to Brooklyn you will find some amazing thrift stores like Vintage Warehouse where everything is $20 and under.
Goodwill Stores in NYC can be virtual gold mines where you can score gently used trinkets donated by the rich and famous. From vintage evening gowns to outlet stores that sell items by the pound, you’ll find the content of a Goodwill Store reflects the neighborhood’s ambience, so when you discover a borough of NYC that suits your fancy, seek out their local branch and go treasure hunting.
Housing Works Used Book Cafe is more than just a cozy place to peruse great used books selling for less than half the cover price while sipping on a latte or nibbling on a scone, this non-profit company pursues relentless advocacy for the less fortunate in NYC. Often the host of charity auctions that result in some astounding bargains, this wireless hotspot attracts all types and fosters community involvement instead of crass commercialism. Located in Soho, time spent at this bookstore/cafe may not only lead to you that perfect book to take home, but your purchase will finance programs that will be helping locals long after you leave NYC.
If you are looking for cheap hotels in New York to complete your thrifty stay, HostelBookers supply chic hotels and hostels on a budget throughout the city.