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Traveling NYC on a budget

The Big Apple isn’t known for being a “budget friendly” travel destination, however, that doesn’t mean you still can’t experience NYC on a dime. Check out our top hotel, restaurant and activity recommendations if you’re tight on cash but are craving an adventure!

Happy tourist in NYC

New York City may be known for housing some of the best restaurants, plays and hotels in the country, but it’s also a haven for amazing dive bars (which are frequented by stars like Anthony Bourdain), cheap and delicious dining spots, and some free and fabulous museums. So grab that piggy bank and get ready for a vacation of a lifetime — all on just a few hundred dollars!

Top rated budget hotels

Stay right downtown in Manhattan at the ultra-hip, historic and luxurious four-star New York Palace hotel. This hotel combines the historic Villard Mansion with a brand new 55-story tower. For just $220 (a steal by NYC standards, especially in that location), you get high-speed Wi-Fi, plush robes, 24-hour dry cleaning service and even pet-friendly rooms for Fido. This hotel is so gorgeous; you may have seen it on shows like 30 Rock, White Collar and Just My Luck!

New York Palace hotel

New York Palace hotel
Photo credit: Chung Chu

For less than $170 a night, you can stay in the posh Upper West Side at the Hotel Belleclaire. This 230-room boutique property is located two blocks from Central Park, a block from Broadway and just 10 minutes from LaGuardia Airport. A stay includes complimentary Wi-Fi, a media lounge equipped with Mac computers, refreshments upon arrival and a 24-hour fitness center.

Budget sights and attractions

If you’ve never been to NYC and want to see some of the city’s top attractions like Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) or Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET), purchase a City PASS for just $106. You’ll get admission to six of the city’s top sights and avoid the long lines that often come with them. If you’re dying to see a Broadway show, save up to 50 percent off on ticket fare by getting your tickets at an authorized TKTS Discount Booth. There’s a booth right in Times Square, so take a second away from staring at the billboards to score your tickets.

TKTS booth

TKTS Booth
Photo credit: Huseyin via Flickr

If the weather’s nice, take advantage of one of New York’s most amazing free attractions — Central Park! Grab a picnic basket, a bottle of wine and a blanket, and soak up some prime-time people watching in this iconic park right downtown. For some of the best views of the city, head to the Brooklyn Bridge and Brooklyn Heights, which will give you a stunning view of the NYC skyline. You can also get a free tour of the New York Federal Bank‘s gold vault if you make reservations in advance.

Best eats for cheap

One of the best parts of NYC traveling is the abundance of amazing food — most costing next to nothing. For just $12, you can get a pie from New York’s famed pizzeria, Grimaldi’s. There are three main locations in the city, and additional locations in Hoboken and Long Island. In the same Italian family, a stop at The Meatball Shop (which has four NYC locations) is a must for great budget eats. For $7, you can get a hefty meatball sub topped with cheese, pesto or marinara.


Photo credit: holycalamity via Flickr

For something a little gourmet, stop by Michelin three-star restaurant Jean-Georges at lunchtime. You can get a gourmet, two-course menu for less than $30. Make reservations well ahead of time since they book up fast. For something a little less fancy, stop by Cocoron. This small, cozy noodle bar makes all of their soba noodles from scratch and has some of the city’s best soups. We recommend topping your noodles with kimchi or curry. Soup starts at $13.

For some tiny fare at tiny prices, stop by Buvette. This French bistro of sorts has small, but rich plates like homemade hazelnut pesto smeared on a warm baguette and a cheesy open faced croque monsieur. The coq au vin is a must though. You’ll feel like you’re in Paris for less than $20.

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