New York City has it all – diverse culture, delicious food, world-class entertainment, a majestic skyline, and a palpable energy that makes you want to explore every inch of the city. I definitely gave in to that energy during my recent visit, and my pedometer steps count can prove it. New York City offers countless attractions and sites to occupy your time. But for many, high cost can be a limiting factor to fully enjoy this city. I am here to help. I found some ways to enjoy the city that never sleeps without losing sleep over the condition of your bank account after your visit. Read on to find budget-friendly New York City travel hacks.
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1 Pay What You Want!
New York is known for its vast culture and is home to some of the most famous museums in the world. One such museum is the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “The Met” is not only the favorite hangout spot for Blair Waldorf and her cronies (forgive the Gossip Girl reference, I had too!), but it is home to over two million works of art. Located on Fifth Avenue adjacent to Central Park, it is a great place to visit and escape the elements after hanging out in the park. Another great aspect of “The Met” is that you can pay what you want for admission if you buy tickets at the counter. If you choose to pay in advance and skip the lines, adult admission is $25.
But wait, there is more. If you happen to visit New York City on the weekend (which I highly recommend), then you can also take advantage of a pay what you want for admission at the Guggenheim Museum. The Guggenheim Museum is also located on Fifth Avenue a few blocks north of “The Met” and houses the extensive art collection of American philanthropist, Solomon Guggenheim. The museum itself is a work of art designed by famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright.
The Guggenheim Museum also offers a pay what you want admission on Saturday evenings from 5:45 to 7:45. I advise showing up at least 5:15 because the line can get pretty long. When I arrived for my visit, the line extended around the block but I was able to enter after only about 30 minutes.
2 Sip Wine on a Rooftop!
Want to sip wine while enjoying rooftop views? Well hop on over to Brooklyn and check out Rooftop Reds Winery. They offer free admission, just reserve a spot on their page. You get a tour of their rooftop winery complete with rows of grapevines surrounded by a host of seating and hammocks. The wine itself is very tasty and affordable. This experience will set you back a whopping $0 and you get to kick back and look like a boss in the process.
Logistics wise, make sure you reserve a spot ahead of time and don’t just try to drop in. The building is located in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and you must have a pass to enter, which is provided to you when you reserve a spot. Be prepared to climb up a bunch of steps as the building does not have an elevator, or I missed it somehow.
3 Take a Dip!
Even though New York City is located in the Northeast, it can get pretty hot in the summer. After a full day of exploring the city, it would be nice to sit by the pool and sip cocktails. There is a small problem though, most pools are owned by hotels who only offer access to guests. If you don’t book a hotel with an associated pool, then you will have to miss out on that experience. BUT, there is a way to have access to not only a pool, but a rooftop pool which is ten times cooler. One more minor detail…it’s free!
La Piscine at The Americano Hotel offers free access to its rooftop pool on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5PM. It is first-come first-serve but no prior reservation is required.
4 Broadway on a Budget!
New York City is much more than Times Square. I’m not knocking it, but everything is overpriced because it is a tourist haven. You can find much better deals away from the glitz and flashing lights of Times Square. I suggest that you do see it at least once. It is dazzling but I suggest you take a few obligatory Times Square pictures and quickly move on. There is much more of the city to explore and better places to spend (and save) your money.
With that being said, I have one important caveat. Check out the TKTS booth located smack dab in the middle of Times Square. This booth offers Broadway tickets up to 50% off for same day showings of both Matinee and Evening shows. Tickets for matinee shows go on sale at 10AM and tickets for evening shows go on sale at 3PM. Get there early to snag tickets for your desired show because tickets are limited. You can use the TKTS app to see which Broadway shows are on sale for the day.
I was lucky enough to snag a pair of great seats to see Chicago. Brandy was guest starring as Roxie at the time and I was able to meet her after the show!
5 Bird’s Eye View!
There are many ways to get a peek at the famous skyline views of New York City. Some require you to reach down deep in your pockets and some are free. I prefer the latter.
Embed from Getty Images
Many reputable sources recommend taking the Staten Island Ferry to get a great view of the skyline from the water. The Staten Island Ferry offers free rides from the St. George Terminal located at the southern point of Manhattan to Staten Island. The ride takes about 20 minutes each way.
Since the idea of spending 40 minutes on a boat makes me cringe (I’m prone to motion sickness), I decided to find another way to get great skyline views. The Brooklyn Bridge connects Manhattan and Brooklyn and has a walking path that extends the full length of the bridge. A leisurely walk across this bridge reveals a great view of New York City skyline with the bonus of capturing the amazing architecture of the bridge.
Hungry after hiking across the Brooklyn Bridge? Check out his local’s guide to the best NYC pizza!
6Make a TV Cameo!
Many shows are filmed in New York including some talk shows that desire a live audience. You can sign up for tickets in advance on 1iota.com and score tickets to shows like Good Morning America, The View, and The Chew. I scored a ticket to Good Morning America and was seated right behind the anchor’s desk. Guess who got some air time!!
Many of these shows have celebrity guests and musical performers, so you not only get to sit in on a live taping and see the behind the scenes details, but you could get a bonus concert out of the deal.
Anna Kendrick was a guest during the live taping that I attended and we were all given a free copy of her book. That is a pretty good deal considering I paid nothing for the experience.
You do have to wake up super early to attend the taping of Good Morning America, fair warning. I was in line at 5:30 and there were at least ten people in front of me.
Another great way to see the famous sites without breaking the bank is to purchase a New York City Pass. For a flat rate, the City Pass offers admission to popular attractions like The Empire State Building, Ellis Island/Statue of Liberty, 911 Museum, Top of the Rock Observation Deck and much more. If you want to skip the line at “The Met” and the Guggenheim Museum, you can do so with the City Pass. Check out the link below for more information.
Now that you know how to enjoy the best of New York on a budget, you should definitely plan a trip ASAP. Even if you have been before, I’m sure you have not experienced all the cool things listed above. Even better, these activities are all affordable which will make you trip even more amazing.
If you enjoyed this post, please comment and share! Also, check out my New York City Foodie Walking Tour.