How to Visit New York Without Going Broke

New York City is one of the most expensive cities in the world, and for good reason. It's the place of bright lights, beautiful sights, and exquisite bites. However, vacationing there can be insanely expensive. Fortunately, we've compiled some tips to help you get more from your New York experience without breaking your budget.

1. Purchase a Tourist Pass

A tourist pass will allow you to see more of New York, for a smaller investment of time and money. The New York Pass is a tourist card created by New Yorkers, so you can really get a complete view of the city, with free entry to more than 80 NYC attractions. Many theatres and venues also offer a ticket lottery, student rush, or other ways to get free or discounted tickets, if you show up at least 20 minutes before the show begins.

2. Take a Free (or Discounted) Tour

Tours are usually very affordable and you can find them anywhere in NYC. The double decker bus tours throughout Times Square are a tried-and-true favorite that can show you around New York's most popular neighborhoods and destinations, but they can be expensive if you purchase them off the street peddlers. Instead, search discount sites like Groupon, LivingSocial, Google Offers, Yelp Deals, and Amazon Local Deals for discounts on tours and attractions.

There are also endless hiking, walking, biking, shuttle, and bus tours that can help you get more from the area, without spending much. If you'd like to take a tour from your phone, consider apps like Stray Boots, which will allow you to complete a tour at your own speed and pace.

3. Save on Shows and Entertainment

If you want to take in a Broadway show, you can find the best discounts at Goldstar and the TKTS booths in Times Square, Brooklyn, and South Street Seaport. You can also just walk through Times Square to find guaranteed free comedy shows and entertainment. You'll quickly find street peddlers offering free shows throughout Time Square, but make sure to ask if there are any fees or drink requirements associated with the tickets, or else you may end up spending more at the bar than you anticipated.

4. Take Advantage of Free Entertainment

Free entertainment can be found all around the city at any time of the year, particularly during the warmer times of the year. Subscribe to Free New York City Concerts to find out which free concerts and special events will be taking place near you. You can also get the full New York experience by attending a free show taping.

5. Spend a Day at the Museum

There are a number of museums throughout the city that offer free admission on certain days, such as the MoMa, The Cloisters, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Brooklyn Botanic Gardens also offers free entry on Tuesdays. Consider also attending a free gallery opening. You'll be able to enjoy free art, wine, and socializing opportunities.

6. Have a Picnic in the Park

New York is home to some of the most beautiful sprawling parks in the world, such as Central Park, Prospect Park, Bryant Park, and Highline Park. There are always events going on and things to see and do at the park that won't cost you much, like Free Shakespeare in the Park and free public kayaking programs at the Downtown Boathouse. You can also visit one of the small bodegas or cafés bordering one of the parks to pick up an affordable lunch to enjoy picnic-style at the park.

7. Find a Festival or Fair

There is always a festival going on in NYC. Whether it's a food, film, or music festival, there are always fun things to see, great things to eat, and prime people watching to enjoy. Union Square also holds street fairs, farmers markets, and holiday events throughout the year, if you like to walk and shop. You can also walk the Brooklyn Bridge and Williamsburg Bridge for a once-in-a-lifetime experience and photo ops. Coney Island can also give you the theme park experience, while combining great food, arcade games, and the beach and boardwalk. Just make sure to watch your spending at this tourist hotspot and keep the purchases to a minimum.

8. Don't Blow Your Budget on Shopping and Food

You can find cheap bagel and pizza spots around the city and great local stops in Chinatown, where $5 can actually take you far. Food trucks are also a quick way to sample the city's food, without going broke. Take advantage of lunch specials and happy hour whenever possible; they are great ways to enjoy your favorite restaurants' best food and drink choices for cheap. Drinking at the bar can cost you an average of $15 per drink, so look for BYOB places, happy hour specials, or just pregame at home.

Another great way to try some of New York's trendiest eateries is through food festivals and events, such as Smorgasburg and Restaurant Week. There, you can taste little bites of the city's best foods without having to purchase an entire meal. At certain events, like A Taste of Fifth, once you purchase the ticket to the event, you can taste all the food you want. (See also: $20 in New York City: The 15 Best Ways to Spend It)

SoHo may seem like a tempting stop, but you'll blow your budget in no time if you let your shopping instincts get the best of you. If you feel the need to shop, take advantage of NYC's famous thrift and discount stores, flea markets, outlets, and sample sales.

What are your favorite ways to save money in New York City? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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Guest's picture
Carey at

Good tips!