People from all around the world love America's largest and most populous city. Known as "The Big Apple" and "The City that Never Sleeps," New York City gets millions of visitors each year. Iconic neighborhoods, restaurants, the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, and many other tourist attractions have all helped draw a record number of 65.2 million visitors in 2018, a number that is expected to increase in the coming years.
The downside of New York City is that it's a very expensive place to visit. However, if you're bound and determined to knock seeing this amazing city off of your bucket list, there are ways to do it, even when you don't have a lot of change to spare.
Here are 5 tips for exploring The Big Apple on a budget.
1. Visit at the Right Time
Visiting New York City at the right time can help save you money, especially when it comes to hotels. The most expensive times to stay in New York City are during the peak tourist season, which is from May through August. Holidays are also an expensive time to be in The Big Apple. For example, getting a hotel room facing Times Square on New Year's Eve can cost as much as $3,000. Even a hotel room without a view of the famous ball drop costs $999.
The average price for a hotel in New York City is about $277 a night, but if you go there during the winter, (except during the holidays), the cost will drop below $200.
If you want an even cheaper hotel rate, January 4th through January 10th is the least expensive 10-day period of the year. If you can't bear the thought of going to New York in the winter (where they get cold temperatures and snow), you can try early April, September, or November.
2. Download Apps to Your Phone
There are a variety of apps you can download that will track how much you're spending while exploring New York City. Downloading these apps can be very helpful when it comes to staying within your budget. Some of the best expense-tracking apps for travelers include Trail Wallet and Mint. In order to help you save money, a few more apps you'll want to download include TKTS, which allows you to get discounted tickets to Broadway shows, and ShopDrop, which will help you find the best sales.
There are also other helpful apps that enable you to find cool restaurants, parks, and hidden gems in New York. Also, if you don't want to carry a map of the city wherever you go, there are plenty of apps that will help you with navigation. To assist you in getting around, one of the best apps to use is Citymapper. Another app called OpenTable allows you to make reservations at restaurants throughout the city.
3. Look For Free Things To Do
New York City is known for its museums, its many tourist attractions, and Broadway shows, all of which cost money. However, you may be surprised to know there are actually a lot of free things to do in The Big Apple. Some of these free (and fun) things to do include:
- Have a picnic in Central Park
- Watch "The Today Show" being filmed
- Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
- Visit the Museum of Modern Art on Fridays from 4 to 8 p.m.
- Tour Alexander Hamilton's Harlem Estate
- Ride the Staten Island Ferry
- Visit the New York City Library located in the Schwarzman Building on 42nd Street and 5th Avenue
- Kayak the Hudson River
With all of these free and fun things to do, you'll not only get to explore different parts of The Big Apple, but you'll be sticking well within your budget.
4. Take the Least Expensive Transportation
While you're exploring New York City, you'll find that it takes money to get from one location to another. In order to save money, you'll need to find the least expensive modes of transportation. The good news is, New York City's public transportation system is a convenient an inexpensive way to travel. Using a MetroCard will allow you to take a New York City bus or subway. A single ride costs $2.75, but if you're getting on the subway or bus several times a day, this adds up quickly. The best deal is to get an unlimited pass, which you can either get as a weekly pass or monthly one. A weekly pass costs just $32.
Another relatively inexpensive way to travel in New York City is via taxi. The minimum fare for a taxi is $2.50 with an average price per trip of $10. If you're tempted to rent a car, you might want to think twice, as driving in New York City can be quite a challenge, plus the price of parking is outrageous.
If you're a little more adventurous and want to get some exercise, renting a bicycle is also an inexpensive option.
5. Use Coupons When Eating Out
If there is one thing New York City is famous for, it's their food. Eating out every day can get expensive in a hurry, however. Food expenses for two people in a week can easily exceed $1,000. One way to curb your spending but still enjoy fine dining in The Big Apple is to use coupons whenever you eat out. You can find coupons for a variety of eating establishments online. There are also apps you can download to help you find cheap food trucks and other less expensive eateries.
If you want to fully experience eating in New York City, you'll want to hit the various pizza shops that sell pizza for just a dollar a slice. You can also find a hot dog at one of the many hot dog carts for about $2.50. Other places to eat in New York City while staying within budget include the Lower East Side, as well as Chinatown, and Greenwich Village.