New York is an expensive city to live in, but it doesn’t mean that you cannot visit The Big Apple on a tight budget. The amazing city offers plenty of free attractions and things to do, so you can easily enjoy your NYC vacation without breaking the bank.
The first rule for budget travel to NYC is to do what New Yorkers do: use the subway to get around, eat street food and visit museums and sites when the admission is free.
Free Things to Do in NYC
The Central Park is a must-see tourist destination in NYC and it is open for the wide public for free. You can independently walk the trails of the famous park, which was the location of many famous films including Hair, When Harry met Sally and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, or you can join the free guided tours organized by the Central Park Conservancy.
Located on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 50th street, the Rockefeller Center is a business complex and one of the symbols of NYC. The complex consists of nineteen buildings, some were built in the 1920s in the art-deco styles and some are modern buildings built in the 1960s–1970s, canal gardens and the famous sculptures of Prometheus and Atlas.
Grand Central Station
The Grand Central is the largest train terminal in the world and one of the most impressive structures in NYC. Located on 42 Street and Park Avenue, the Grand Central was restored in the 1990s and is now a popular tourist attraction, including many restaurants, bars and shops.
Not far from the Grand Central Station lays the busiest square in NYC – the Times Square. To see the Times Square lighted by the famous billboard neon signs, it is recommended to visit the place after dark.
The Staten Island Ferry
A free ferry service, leaving every half an hour from the Whitehall Ferry terminal from Manhattan to Staten Island and back, allowing you take a close peek at the number one NYC icon – the Statue of Liberty as well as the famous Manhattan skyline.
Free Admission to Museums & Sites
Some of NYC museums, gardens and zoos offer free or discount admissions on several occasions or all the time:
MoMa – the Museum of Modern Art on Midtown Manhattan offers free admission every Friday afternoon (16–20).
Whitney Museum of American Art – allows you to “pay what you will” on Fridays.
Bronx Zoo – the largest zoo in NYC with over 6,000 animals has a suggested donation day on Wednesdays.
The Bronx Museum of the Arts – the contemporary, multi-cultural museum in the Bronx offers free admission all year long.
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden – offers free admission on Tuesdays and Saturdays not including entrance to special exhibitions and the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden.
Cheap Eats & Drinks
There are plenty of good and affordable restaurants in NYC where you can eat well on a budget. Generally, the best, cheapest restaurants are available at the ethnic neighborhoods: Chinese food in China Town, Indian on Lexington Avenue (the area known as Curry Hill), and Korean on Jackson Heights.
Another cheap alternative is the street food vendors, where you can have coffee and pastries for breakfast, a hotdog or a falafel sandwich for lunch for just a few dollars.
Driving the subway is the easiest and cheapest way to get around in NYC on a budget. It is recommended to purchase a MetroCard pass for Subway and bus rides.
If you are looking for budget car rental contact us at our Manhattan or Queens locations.