New York is not the most expensive city in the world and for many tourists it’s getting cheaper every day as the dollar collapses. But for the economical traveller, New York still isn’t considered to be cheap.
New York is one of the best cities on earth for the choice of cheap activities there are to choose from. Save up your air miles and you might even be able to get there for free, then it’s only eating and sleeping which you’ll have to worry about.
The Staten Island Ferry
Not many ferries offer such amazing city views. As you leave the ferry port, a panoramic view opens onto the city’s long avenues and the East River, also taking in the Brooklyn and Manhattan New York Bridges, before passing the Statue of Liberty with views of Ellis Island. The 25 minute ride takes you to Staten Island, and the cost of a return ticket is $0.
850 acres of the world’s best city park stretched for 50 city blocks and include lakes, gardens, woodland walks, museums, restaurants, city views, running and cycle tracks, roller blading, boating, live music, concerts amongst others. Many tourists spend their time in Central Park and forget the city, since they prefer swapping traffic for bird song and the busy streets for sunbathing on the Great Lawn.
The Central Park Conservancy offers free tours about the history, ecology and design of the park. The Central Park Visitors Centre is located in the Old Dairy, in the SE corner of the park.
Get a Bus
But a one-day, or weekly Metrocard so as to enjoy unlimited travelling on New York’s buses and subways. You can view the whole island on its extensive bus and subway network for the price of two lattes at Starbucks! See all the famous sights and tourist spots from the window of the bus and take along your guidebook so as to give yourself a guided tour.
One day pass is $7.50
Take a Walk
It’s a shame to take the subway when there is so much to be seen above ground. Some of the best areas to walk around are the Financial District, Times Square, the Flatiron Building and Little Italy or Chinatown.
With a Bid Apple Greeter a local will show you the sights and sounds of the city on 2-4 hours tour. Tours are free, but all you have to bring is a good pair of shoes.
Soak up Some Culture
New York City has the best museums in the world: from MOMA and The Met in the centre of the city to the Cloisters, set in the relative wilderness of Fort Tyron Park in Upper Manhattan New York, there is a museum for every interest. Entry costs vary around $10, but many museums designate a particular day or evening when entry is free or by a voluntary donation.
American Museum of the Moving Image: Free on Fridays from 4 pm to 8 pm
Bronx Museum of the Arts: Free on Wednesdays
Jewish Museum: Pay-what-you-wish on Thursdays from 5 pm to 9 pm
Museum of Arts & Design: Pay what you wish on Thursdays from 6 pm to 8 pm
Museum of Modern Art: Target Free Fridays from 4:30 pm
New York Hall of Science: Free on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 2 pm to 5 pm
Guggenheim Museum: Pay-what-you-wish on Fridays from 6 pm to 8 pm
Lesser-known museums, namely the National Museum of the American Indian and the Hispanic Society of America are free daily.
See a (TV) Show
While many bargains are held on Broadway, none are free. On the other hand, if you want to see some of America’s famous shows being filmed, free tickets are available. You may even see yourself on TV. Good Morning America, The Late Show with David Letterman Saturday Night Live, and The Early Show all offer free tickets to audience members.
Sets and the City
The Sopranos, Law and Order, and Sex and the City, all have been filmed here. Barely a corner of the city has escaped the lens. If you walk down almost any street or avenue, you will probably see the setting for a movie. Chances are you may see another blockbuster being made.
Downtown Manhattan encircles some of the oldest and most historically interesting sights in NYC, namely Wall Street, the Stock Exchange, Battery Park and Ground Zero, which can be seen on a 90-minute walking tour with the Downtown Alliance.
If you are not too keen on walking, hop on the free downtown connection shuttle.
Times Square, 42nd Street
Times Square is the most famous road junction and is also very brightly lit. It is one of the few places in the world to have a mandatory advertising law. While the cost of electricity here is huge, the experience itself is not as costly. It is impossible to avoid.
Around a dozen US Navy’s finest ships are docked on the Hudson and around Staten Island for just a few days in June. If you are willing to stand in line for hours you can see working ships, displays and exhibitions for free. If you’re only interested in seeing the sailors, head your way down to any bar in the city.
Get the Combo
$65 will buy you a one day pass to around 40 New York attractions, which include the the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Guggenheim Museum, Madam Tussaud’s, the UN tour, Madison Square Garden, Ellis Island and many more. Offering discounts on selected restaurants and retailers, the pass lets you skip all the waiting likes at selected attractions.
The world’s most famous park hosts a number of performances on the park’s lawns during the summer. While many have pricey ticket prices, many are free, from the latest pop groups to the Metropolitan Opera. Grab a blanket and prepare a picnic and enjoy an evening’s free entertainment in a unique setting.
When there are no performances being held, head to the Bethesda Fountain to see the collection of buskers, including Central Park’s very own violinist in a loin cloth.
Shakespeare in the Park
Some of America’s greatest actors, together with relative newcomers, bring Shakespeare’s works to life in the Delacourt Theatre for 6 weeks in each summer. Tickets are free and can be collected at the theatre from 1-3pm on the day of the performance.
A Night on the Town
New York’s bar and club scene is almost as famous as the city itself. With many to choose from, the entertainment in New York is never ending and suits every taste and budget. Many bars arrange free entertainment and many stars have been born in the dark recesses of a New York bar or club. Even though there is usually a drink minimum, it is not as if it is something you would not be spending money on.