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Budget-Friendly Activities In New York City

Photo Credit: Thinkstock Photo Credit: Thinkstock
New York City can be a fun and exciting getaway, however many feel that it is too far out of their wallet's reach. Planning a New York City vacation can be fun while still being very budget-friendly. Everything from finding affordable accommodations to dining at quality restaurants and exploring museums to taking walks in the park are all within reach. Start planning early and you are sure to find things to enjoy while visiting New York City, no matter how tight your budget may be.

One of the best things about visiting New York City is the luxury accommodations scattered throughout the city, most of which are centrally located, making it possible to walk to just about everything you want to do. Even if it is not within a decent distant, chances are your hotel will put you just a short cab drive away. However, most people believe that you have to pay a small fortune to find quality accommodations in the Big Apple. For the most part that is true, however, it is still possible to find quality accommodations without having to break your piggy bank back home.

Here are some of New York City's most popular, yet affordable places to stay:

Photo Credit: Thinkstock Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Dining throughout the Big Apple can get a bit expensive, especially if you plan to dine at all of the city's finest restaurants, including those owned by celebrity chefs. However, your New York dining experience does not have to sacrifice quality food while trying to stay within a tight budget. You will find affordable restaurants to suit all pallets, including ethnic cuisine and pizza.

Some of the best pizza restaurants in the city that are very budget friendly include Best Pizza, Di Fara Pizza, Joe's Pizza, Keste Pizza & Vino and Lucali. Other popular budget-friendly restaurants in New York City include Biang!, The Burger Garage, Corner Bistro, The Hot House, Petey's Burger and The Shake Shack.

Related: Dining Out: The Best Outdoor Restaurants in NYC


When it comes to finding budget-friendly activities, New York City has a wide variety of activities perfect for visitors with all different types of interests. You will find everything from tours to museums and parks to attractions.

Must-see museums with affordable admission prices (free for students on select days) include The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, Fashion Institute of Technology Museum, Museum of the Moving Image and The New Museum. Popular places in the city to go for a walk include the High Line and the Brooklyn Bridge. A five-minute ferry boat ride from Lower Manhattan is free to those looking to get amazing views of the city from Governors Island. Also, the New York Public Library has been the backdrop for many hit movies and offers more than just being a library. The Chelsea Galleries are also free to visit and there is no pressure to make a purchase.

Parks in New York City are the perfect place to take stroll, relax and people watch for free. Popular parks in the city include Bryant Park, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Washington Square Park and Prospect Park. Central Park is another must-see park in the city and there are free, 90-minute walking tours on select days of the week. The General Ulysses S. Grant National Memorial, aka Grant's Tomb, is the country's largest mausoleum and free to visit.

Be sure to drop in at Time Out New York for free concerts happening throughout the city. This is a great resource for anyone planning a visit to the Big Apple on a tight budget.

Tours of local breweries are a great way to experience New York City without breaking the bank. Take a tour of the Brooklyn Brewery for samples of house brews and affordable tastings.

Related: NYC's 11 Best Picnic Spots

Photo Credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images Photo Credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images
Budget Travel Tips

As you can see, there are ways to make your New York City getaway more affordable. Everything from affordable hotels to restaurants and inexpensive to free events and activities help make visiting the Big Apple perfect for budget-conscious travelers. Other budget-friendly tips for visiting New York City include:

  • Biking: Instead of paying for a taxi or having to walk everywhere, consider renting a bike and riding it throughout the city.
  • Coupons: Check online for museums and other attractions for free days and any coupons available for reduced admissions and fees.
  • Groupings: Look at a map and group everything you want to do in a centrally located area. Because you can walk to everything you only have to pay for the cab ride there and back to your hotel.
  • Memberships: Memberships to select attractions and hotel clubs make it possible to save money during your visit and while traveling. There may be a small cost for membership, but in the long run it may be more affordable when visiting.
  • Passes: Get a subway or bus pass for your entire stay in the city. Costs for the entire stay versus just single days are more affordable offering unlimited uses during your stay.
  • Tourist traps: Think outside of the popular touristy areas of the city and consider exploring the neighborhoods of Tribeca, Greenwich Village and NoHo.

Do not let the fear of being expensive prevent you from enjoying a vacation to the Big Apple. Contrary to popular belief, New York City can be very budget-friendly. With a little searching and planning ahead of time, you too can find your way to an affordable big city getaway.

Heather Landon is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has combined two of her passions - writing and travel - to share her experiences with others. You can read more of her articles at
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