Exploring New York City on a Very Tight Budget

New York City is one of the most exciting cities in the world. It’s a city of culture, adventure, and history. One of the few downsides to a New York City experience would be the cost. It’s not a secret that New York is a very expensive city. Fortunately, there are many things that both visitors and residents can enjoy without liquefying all their assets for a weekend of excitement on the little island of Manhattan.

It’s safe to say one of the many appeals of New York City, is the distinctive differences in culture that lie within each neighborhood. It’s true what they say, that New York City isn’t actually a city. It’s a world. One of the most inexpensive activities is simply walking around the city and noticing the changes as you walk from one district to the next. Experiencing life in the West Village is different from life in Midtown. Chinatown is nothing like the Upper East Side. Find your favorite New York neighborhood and investigate.

When you explore the city, truly explore it, without an agenda or schedule, you will start to notice so many subtle hidden treasures – from street art, to landscaping, to architecture. There’s so much history hidden in the city, but if you look hard enough you can find it. Take the beauty that is Grand Central Station. It may not be free to ride one of the trains, but it is free to explore the station. Make a checklist of hidden features inside the station and see if you can find them all. Such as the hidden brick of the main ceiling that reveals what the station looked like before restoration, the hidden bar, and the amazing whispering gallery where visitors are able to hear the whispers of each other from diagonal corners of the room. See more secrets of Grand Central at

Another exciting hidden gem of the city is the abandoned City Hall stop along the 6 train subway line. For just a minuscule subway fare of $2.50, you get to go back in time and see a piece of New York City history. Once a popular downtown stop along the 6 line before the length of the subway trains expanded, the City Hall stop now serves as the turnaround for all 6 trains. If you enter a downtown bound 6 train on its last stop, and wait for a bit, the train will continue down the line passing the abandoned stop in it’s turnaround to become an uptown bound train. It’s one of the most fascinating, beautiful, and inexpensive hidden gems of the city.

New York City is also known for its amazing parks located all over the island. They are free to enjoy and full of beautiful sights and fun adventures. If you are visiting New York City, don’t miss the chance to walk through the High Line Park, an old suspended train track converted into an incredibly beautiful park, full of lush foliage and breathe-taking views of the city’s west side.

It goes without saying, that Central Park is a must-see when exploring Manhattan. It’s beautiful anytime of the year, but best during spring and fall, when you can take advantage of great whether and visit the gorgeous (free) attractions through out the 800-something acres of man-made park. Some of the visitor favorites are Belvedere Castle, Bethesda Terrace, Bow Bridge, Central Park Gazebo, and Strawberry Fields.

Another iconic, free must-see is the Brooklyn Bridge. The walk up, down, and back again is exciting and the view from the top is astounding.

The list of free, cheap, and easy activities can go on and on. Don’t forget to Window shop along Bleecker Street, Broadway in SoHo, and 5th Ave (especially Bergdorf’s during the holidays). From free plays in the park to free admission nights at the museum, experiencing New York doesn’t have to be about tossing money. Neither does eating in New York.

It’s mid-day in Manhattan, you need to refuel, but with your budget you aren’t able to eat $20 – $30 dollar meals three times a day. Luckily, there’s no need to. Almost around every corner you can find a dollar pizza or hot dog shop, like 2 Bros. or Papaya Dog. Not only are these fast food joints extremely affordable, they’re tasty too. It’s the perfect New York lunch.

Another way to save a lot of money is choosing where to spend it wisely and not throwing it away on some overly hyped tourist attraction. Residents and visitors alike agree that Escape the Room, Sleep No More and Queen of the Night are amazing attractions worth the money; As well as, The Top of the Rock and the bike tour of Central Park. Don’t miss your chance to see at least one Broadway show and one off-Broadway show, and taking advantage of the lottery will save you tons of money. Grabbing a Frrrozen Hot Chocolate at Serendipity 3 on the upper east side is a must for any visitor or new New Yorker.

New York City is an excursion that is worth experiencing, and it doesn’t have to be an option for only the wealthy. Even if you are a broke college kid or a recent graduate with a light-wallet, the city is your playground. You can make the most of it without spending every cent you wish you had.