New York City can be a very pricey adventure if you’re not careful. For those who simply want the best of everything, that’s certainly available in the Big Apple, but savvy travelers know it never hurts to pinch a penny or two. Here are a few tips to make your budget go a little further while you’re visiting the fabulous, the epic, the incredible New York City.
If you’ve never been, you really should venture out to the big six: Times Square, Central Park, the Empire State Building, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Individually, they can cost a ton, but bundle them together in a package called the New York CityPASS, and you’ll save a bundle, plus you’ll skip ticket lines. Good for nine days, you can order online and choose email vouchers or snail-mail tickets.Time is money, right? If saving minutes is important to you, consider switching out the Empire State Building for the Rockefeller Center Observation Deck. From its 70th floor perch, you can snap a pic of the Empire State Building in all its splendor. Views are particularly stunning at night, up until midnight when the deck closes.
You’ll definitely want to see a Broadway play while you’re in New York, too, but it’s important to note that prices can run well into three figures. If your plans are flexible, you can hit the TKTS booths in Times Square and the Manhattan Theatre Club, to save up to 50 percent on same-day tickets. If you don’t mind standing-room-only space, that’s a truly cheap entry to the show – often, but not always, standing room only tickets allow standees to fill no-show seats. Membership in something called the Theatre Development Fund is another option. It takes your small fee and sends you alerts for Broadway production bargains, as well as vouchers for some 400 experimental and off-off-Broadway theatre, music and dance productions. You never know what might become the next big thing!
A very popular landmark is the 9/11 Memorial. As construction continues, so do the long lines of those wanting to pay respects. You can reserve a viewing time online, or show up in person to claim any available same-day passes. Passes are free, but there is a $2 online processing fee for the 30-minute time slot. Hotels can take up a huge chunk of your travel budget, but there are good bargains here as well. For solo travelers, the incredibly hip digs at The Pod in Manhattan offer a great, no-frills stay at extremely low prices. For families, the Park South Hotel, within walking distance to the Empire State Building, offers large, clean, safe rooms in a pretty boutique hotel that boasts a fitness center, continental breakfast, Wi-Fi, free copies of The New York Times and USA Today newspapers, and fine dining at the Black Duck. If you’re a cozy couple that wants a little splurge but flinch at the top-dollar elite hotels, consider the Crosby Street Hotel or the Standard, High Line, both with exquisite rooms and amenities, in safe, close-in neighborhoods.
In a city blessed with the best, just filling your belly can set you back more than a month’s rent. Choose a quintessential New York steak house like Smith & Wollensky but move to the Grille instead of the main dining room, and you’ll get a wonderful meal for a steal. Nice for adults on a budget, the menu also offers kid-friendly mac and cheese, burgers and delicious desserts. If you’ve been doing well the whole trip and your palate is demanding, check out Nougatine at the Trump Plaza for lunch. Pick a midday nosh over an evening repast and you’ll be treated to a celebrated chef’s menu at a reduced price. Another great restaurant for both its fare and menu prices is The Dutch, with everything from a moderately priced Porterhouse, to a simple order of fried chicken, perfectly prepared and artfully presented.
Everyone knows that shopping is the most popular pastime in the city, but the price tags can definitely put a damper on the fun. Check out Century 21 — five floors of deeply discounted designer duds, mall-brand overstock and an amazing selection of branded accessories, allows upscale designer purchases even on an entry-level salary.
One last tip: time your trip wisely. Christmas and New Year’s are both expensive and crowded, with prices the highest of the year. Select an off week or a less-popular holiday for your visit, and you’ll save on room rates, air fares and time spent in lines.
Don’t let the headlines fool you. New York can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. With all the money you’ll save from tips like these, you can buy that I (heart) NY T-shirt you’ve always wanted AND have some spare change left over for next time.