The Big Apple is famous for its expensive tourist attractions, but there are still plenty of ways to see the city without breaking the bank. It’s full of things to do for all budgets, whether you’re looking for free activities or splurging to take a bite out of NYC culture. If you’re a budget-minded traveler looking to experience the famous cities filmed in many major movies and TV shows, follow these recommendations to leave your wallet happy and your soul fed!
Choose the right time
NYC is crowded year-round, but there are some times of the year that you’ll want to avoid if possible. Avoid April and early June when school lets out for summer break. Also, try to steer clear of holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Choose from January to early April and from September to November for visiting the city. You will not only avoid mad crowds but also find budget-friendly places to stay in Brooklyn and other boroughs (except for Manhattan).
Go on a free walking tour
The best way to explore the city and get a real feel for its diversity and culture is to do it on foot. There are tons of free walking tours available that will show you the best of what NYC has to offer, and they’re led by locals who can give you great tips on where to eat, drink, and explore.
Get tour suggestions from non-profit groups like Free Tours by Foot. Some businesses like the Big Onion Walking Tours and ViaHero provide both public and personally customized tours for a small fee.
Take advantage of cool deals at museums
Museums often offer discounted prices and free admission for students, seniors, and children. Many of them even offer free nights once a week or month where they open their doors to the public without charging an entrance fee. Don’t forget to note down the pay-as-you-wish days as well.
With a little research, it becomes quite easy to stay on budget when watching NYC’s famous museums.
Learn history and culture at the New York Public Library
The world-famous public library organizes free exhibitions almost every month. Explore the latest exhibits plus explore literary treasures that span centuries and genres, including many rare books like an original Gutenberg Bible!
This is one of those attractions you can’t miss since it’s such a cultural icon in New York City (and if you’re a bookworm, it’s heaven).
Visit the Central Park
The most famous park in the city is a great place to spend an afternoon or morning. It’s huge—over six times the size of Vatican City—and offers plenty of activities for all types. From playgrounds to ponds and gardens to statues—you could easily spend hours here without spending a cent!
While you’re in the area, stop by Strawberry Fields where John Lennon’s “Imagine” was written and play a game of chess with your travel buddies at The Chess & Checkers House.
Get panoramic city views from the High Line
This elevated railway turned park is a must-see in NYC. It offers great views of the city and runs from Chelsea to the Meatpacking District. Admission is free, but donations are welcome!
Visit these neighborhoods
NYC has so many different sections that it can be tough to know where to start. If you’re looking for a great introduction to the city, hit up some neighborhoods for unique experiences.
Go to SoHo for shopping and art galleries, Greenwich Village for bohemian vibes and history, Little Italy for some of the best Italian food in town, Chinatown for its vibrant culture and delicious street food, and Times Square for its bright lights and exciting nightlife.