Maximize Your Fun Without Stretching Your Wallet: Budget Travel Tips in NYC

When planning a trip to New York City, it may seem impossible to incorporate budget travel tips into your itinerary. Since the city is infamously known as one of the most expensive cities on the planet, you might think you need to throw budget concerns to the side in order to properly enjoy it. Nothing could be further from the truth! With a little preparation, and by following these budget travel tips, you’ll be able to maximize your fun without breaking the bank.

Prix Fixe Dinners

You may have seen this phrase before but didn’t know what it meant. Prix fixe essentially means that you will get a specific tasting menu or progression of dishes all at a set price. Many high-end restaurants offer this as a way for more diverse groups of diners to experience their food. If you love food but can’t afford the high prices of fine dining establishments, a prix fixe menu allows you to have a world-class experience at a fraction of the price. Check out the Lower East Side’s Contra or Chef Eric Ripert’s lauded Le Bernardin prix fixe menus to experience five-star cuisine without paying five-star prices. Many restaurants also offer prix fixe menus during Restaurant Week, so keep an eye open for these as well.


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For a city covered in asphalt, steel and concrete, New York City has a tremendous amount of green space. The best part about experiencing the parks of New York? They are completely free! Hit up a local deli, pack a picnic lunch and sprawl out the grass for a perfectly casual afternoon. Central Park, the largest in the city, is so large that you could potentially spend an entire day meandering from place to place. One highlight is the Conservatory Garden, where you’ll find formal French, Italian and English gardens all manicured to perfection. It’s a little slice of Europe in the middle of NYC … and it’s all free!

Central Park Bike riders

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The many museums of New York City were meant to be enjoyed by all, which means that their admission prices are quite reasonable. When you enter many museums, you’ll see a “suggested donation” box with a currency amount. You do not need to pay this full amount; just pay what you can afford and then ask for a ticket. Typically a $5-$10 donation is more than sufficient to cover your visit.

If you visit the Museum of Modern Art on Fridays after 4 p.m., admission is free. That’s an incredible value when you consider the amount of groundbreaking modern art, photography and sculptures contained within its famous walls. The American Museum of Natural History has gems, dinosaur fossils and enough exhibits to make you wish you had your own “Night at the Museum”!

Entrance Museum of Natural History

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Utilize Public Transportation

Using taxis or ride share services to get around a city as large as New York will add up quickly. Your best bet is to utilize the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) and purchase individual bus or subway fares along your route. If you plan on traveling for more than a few days, buying an unlimited access pass may be your best value. This will require a bit of planning on your part, but the MTA has a great web resource that can help you figure out what routes and subway stops you’ll need to take from one point to the next. Now you’ll get to experience the city like a real New Yorker!

Fret not, fearless traveler. You can still experience all the wonderful things that NYC has to offer, even if you’re on a budget.

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