How to Save Money in New York City, well that’s the big question, isn’t it? New York City is one of the most expensive cities in the world. But of course, that’s no secret. Despite the cost to visit it’s somewhere all of us finding out selves wanting to explore. I’d been dying to see New York City for so long. It might have something to do with an all-mighty Chuck and Blair obsession but still, I lusted to see the big city where everyone goes to follow their dreams with my own eyes. I love any books or movies set in the big apple and I honestly couldn’t wait to see it in the flesh.
In 2017, I made my dream of visiting New York come true along with my mums. I whisked her away for her 50th birthday and we had a blast.
As a budget traveller, my biggest concern was how much spending we would need and how expensive New York City would really be. I researched until I was blue in the face because I was determined to experience the very best of the city whilst on a teeny tiny budget.
As it turns out that you can totally visit New York on a budget and see it all. Upon returning home from the big city I was so smug that I hadn’t had to use my credit card once. It truly felt like one of those moments when you feel like you can indeed have your cake and eat it!
So, that’s what gave me the idea to write this post and share with you how to save money in New York City. It’s taken a while but here it is!
How to Save Money in New York City: Budget Travellers Guide!
This post is going to be the only budget travellers guide to the big apple you need! Expect to learn plenty of hacks on how you can save big during your trip to New York. I will note that this post is tailored more towards people who haven’t visited New York City before. That’s because when I put these money-saving tips into practice I had never been before. If you’re a seasoned traveller to the city then I’m sure you can probably send me a lot more tips on how to save money in New York my way! Hopefully when I visit again, which I pray isn’t too far into the future, I’ll even more tips about saving money in New York to share with you!
How to Save Money in New York City: Before you go!
Saving money on a trip to New York City starts well before your feet land at JFK. It’s all about finding the cheapest time of year to go!
Let’s be real for a second. If you want to visit New York during a holiday season then your bank account is going to take more of a bashing then if you visit at an alternative time.
Many of us dream of ice skating in Central Park and looking up in awe at that glowing Christmas tree in Central Park. But like anywhere in the world holiday seasons will be the more expensive end of.
My advice: To save money on your trip to New York then don’t visit at, Christmas, Easter or Halloween.
Honestly, we had the option of being able to take the trip in July or September and July was so much cheaper. The first week in July was also a lot cheaper than any other time of the month. To me, I thought it was crazy because of Independence Day! Turns out the holiday really didn’t skyrocket the prices!
Now I have no idea if this was just a simple coincidence or if we simply got lucky. But if you fancy a summertime fling with the big city then I highly recommend looking into visiting in July!
Either way, make sure you’re flexible with dates when taking a trip. Research ahead and make sure you visit during the cheapest time you can find! I know this point is fairly obvious. But you have no idea the number of people who I’ve heard complaining about New York prices when they decided to visit in December!
How to Save Money on Accommodation in New York
Accommodation, isn’t this often the biggest expense when travelling? and sometimes the most frustrating. As travellers we often find ourselves paying big sum cash for a place to stay. Yet we then spend no time in the room, other than to sleep. It’s because of this that since my trip to New York I’ve become a lot more frugal when it comes to booking accommodation. I seriously don’t need a luxury apartment that I’m only going to spend a tiny fraction of time in.
New York City, in particular, is expensive for hotels no matter how to budget you go.
My biggest advice is to book via booking.com and here’s why. With booking.com you can reserve a hotel and often cancel up to 48 hours before for no extra charge. This is brilliant because you can find a reasonable deal, book it and then keep looking for something even better! I booked and cancelled 2 hotels in New York before sticking with our final choice and ended up saving over 300 GBP!
The accommodation we ended up staying in was in central Manhattan opposed to being further away from the city for a cheaper price! For more information on where we stayed in New York City then take a look at this post!
My Tip: When saving money in New York City book accommodation with a free cancellation option. Keep hunting for the best deal. I used to book a hotel then never look again but when there’s no charge for cancellation then you don’t have to worry. I always book accommodation with booking.com because that’s always where I find the best deals.
How to Save Money in New York City on the Best Sights!
So hopefully you’ve been able to haggle a little and found some relatively cheap accommodation. But if you feel like you’ve splurged just getting there don’t worry. There are plenty of ways to save money on a trip to NYC once you are actually there!
There are so many attractions you can visit in New York for free. I’ve got a few savvy tricks up my sleeve to make sure you can enjoy this city without break the bank or compromising on any of the New York attractions.
Take advantage of the freebies!
The biggest piece of advice I can give is to enjoy the free magic that New York has to offer. You might not release but actually the majority of New Yorks biggest and most beautiful attractions are completely free. The following tourist sights can be seen totally for free, I’ll go into more detail on each attraction underneath.
Statue of Liberty
Grand Central Terminal
Panoramic Views of New York City from above at sunset
If it is your first time in New York then I’m pretty sure that you have most if not all of these spots on your bucket list. Even if you saw just these iconic landmarks and flew straight home the trip across the pond would be worth it.
How to See The Statue of Liberty for Free
The Statue of Liberty, it wouldn’t be a trip to New York without paying her a visit. I honestly couldn’t wait to see this icon in real life rather than through my television screen! What got me even more excited was the fact I could do so for free! To see the lady herself for free all you need to do is take a subway to Whitehall station. From there catch the commuter ferry to Staten Island.
This ferry is completely free and runs from Staten Island to New York every 30 minutes. The boat sails directly past the Statue of Liberty offering amazing views. Sure the boat doesn’t go directly to Liberty Island nor can you disembark and go up to the statue but do you really need to?
For most us a glance from a distance and great photograph is satisfactory so save some money in New York by seeing the statue for free!
Tip: The best time to hop on board Staten Island ferry. Is after 10 am and before 4 pm to avoid the commuters on their way to and from the office. On the way to Staten Island, you’ll need to be situated on the right-hand side of the boat and the left-hand side for the return journey to get a good view!
This has quickly become one of the most popular ways to see the statue of liberty so some crowds are inevitable!
Wander Around Times Square Don’t Shop
Times Square. Most have a love-hate relationship with this tourist heavy arcade that boasts some of the brightest lights in the city. I admit I also have a kind of love-hate feeling with it. Standing in Times Square for the first time made me feel so alive. The rush I felt as people pushed past me and shoving me out of their path was a little bizarre but so fulfilling. I felt concerned that people were so god damn rude but it also felt like a pinch-me moment. It also made me feel claustrophobic, frustrated at how busy it was and quite frankly like the smallest human in the world.
In Times Square you’re a nobody to those around you because all that matters is where you’re going.
Times Square is a shopping hub. I admit I’m not a big shopper so it didn’t take any of my cash as a casualty. Honestly, skip the shops and just take it all in. Take some photographs for free and save the shopping for when you’re back home. The H&M is the same as the one you’ll find in your local town just bigger.
For now, just watch, smell and feel what it’s like be in the very hub of New York City.
Walk the Brooklyn Bridge and The High Line
Another iconic landmark in New York the famous Brooklyn Bridge. There are a few options you can either walk, cycle or drive across the bridge my advice would be to walk. A taxi will cost you a small fortune so I wouldn’t even entertain the idea. Hop on the subway to Brooklyn and then walk back across the bridge to Manhattan. You get to enjoy that perfect skyline as you walk back towards the city. Cycling over the bridge would be epic but you’re going to have to hire the bikes costing money! Save some extra dollars by walking the bridge.
Another walk that’s completely free in New York is the high line. A park built upon the old railroads walks you through the Meatpacking District, Greenwich and Chelsea before weaving in and out back to Manhattan.
Free walks are a great way to save money in New York City.
Grand Central Terminal
This spot is my most favourite in New York. I’m not caught speechless on many occasions but when I walked into this station, it was one of them. Of course, Grand Central Station is completely free to visit and if you’ve got good will power then you’ll walk around not spending a thing. But I warn you there’s a whole concourse dedicated to some of the best food in New York as well as a produce market!
Panoramic Views of New York City at Sunset!
The best way to see New York is from above. That view across the city is sensational and most head to the Empire State Building or Rockefeller Centre to get it. Both have observation decks but both require payment of up to $40 per ticket! To me, that’s pricey just to go to the top and wander around with 100 other tourists!
During our 4 days in New York, we decided to do this a little differently. In the Rockefeller on floor 65 is Bar Sixty Five. Bar Sixty Five has a gorgeous outside area with sensational views of the city below. Instead of watching the city from above with all the other tourists why not do it in style?
We decided to book a table for free and head to see the view from here. We bought only one cocktail each and sipped whilst watching the whole of New York below us. It was a surreal moment. My mum and I all dressed up enjoying a cocktail on a rooftop bar in New York – had we won the lottery?! Nope, we just thought outside the box.
For less money than what the observation decks charge we got a gorgeous setting, with the famous view and a cocktail in hand. The bar wasn’t by any means pushy to get rid of us or anything. There was no time limit on our table and I recommend seeing the view this way to everyone I speak to! I think we were there for over 3 hours!
Enjoy New Yorks Parks
Both Central Park and Bryant Parks are gorgeous assets to this city. The fact that so much greenery can be found in such a concrete playground is amazing. You can spend days wandering around Central Park and I recommend you use at least one full day to do so. Central Park is full of wonders to explore. From Strawberry Fields to Alice in Wonderland there’s something special for everyone. Bryant Park maybe a little smaller but it’s a wonderful little space to lose yourself in. Why not visit the New York Public Library whilst your there, it’s also free!
Tip: Go to the supermarket the day before and pick up some groceries. Take a picnic so you don’t have to buy food from the stalls in the parks. I mean what’s more dreamy than having a picnic in Central Park?!
What many travellers don’t know is the 9/11 memorial is completely free. It’s the museum which you have to pay. I do totally recommend it by the way but the memorial itself is free for you to go and pay your respects.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list of free things to do in New York City but it’s definitely a start. Like wandering Bloomingdales, 5th avenue and the upper east side costs you nothing. Use your imagination and you could probably see the whole of New York for free!
How to Save Money on Broadway Tickets in New York City!
This is by far my favourite tip on how to save money on your trip to NYC because what’s a trip to the big city without going to catch a show on Broadway! There are a few ways which you can get cheap tickets for broadway but most involve not choosing what show you want to watch. If you don’t care then you can simply queue up at the TKTS booth in Times Square. Every day they discount so many tickets for those evening shows. It’s usually the shows that aren’t sold out but it’s a great way to a show for a cheaper price!
Try Out AttractionTix
There was no way I was seeing anything on Broadway other than The Lion King. That said, at $200 a ticket on Ticketmaster, I had no idea if it was going to be possible. That’s when I came across AttractionTix. I admit I was a little dubious at first to whether or not this website was legitimate. They were offering Lion King tickets for half the price of Ticketmaster for a while I thought there must be a catch.
But I read positive review after positive review so decided to go for it. I booked two tickets for the Lion King on Broadway and then realised you can’t pick where you want to sit. They give you the option on what tier to sit on but not the seats themselves. Basically you have to keep it all crossed that you can your travel buddy will be sat together!
They then send you tickets which you have to change on the day of the performance at the Lion King ticket office in New York. I was a bag of nerves standing in line praying we were sat together and got a good seat! Luckily for us, my mum and I were sat together and we also had a perfect view and aisle seat! The aisle seat is perfect for the Lion King because the cast walks through the crowd at the start of the performance!
It was a fantastic experience and I’d definitely use AttractionTix again and again!
How to Save Money on Transport in New York City
The best way to save money on Transport in New York City is quite simple to walk. New York is huge but you can get around pretty easily with your two feet if you invest in some comfy walking shoes. We saved heaps of money by walking to the majority of attractions whilst in the city. When the time came that we did need to use the transport around the city here are some of the tips which helped us save:
Never take a taxi unless you really have to! Don’t forget in the USA tipping is essential and that means the taxi driver too!
Use the subway instead but before you go work out how many trips you think you’re likely to take before deciding what kind of ticket to buy.
If you’re going to be in the city for a week then buy the $33 7 day metro pass. You get unlimited trips and It’ll work out cheaper than buying single trips of you take more than expected.
Make sure you research the cheapest options when it comes to getting transport to and from the airport. The subway is the cheapest option by far but can be a little tricky with luggage. We got a shuttle bus from JFK to Grand Central. It only cost $15 which I was more than happy to pay.
A taxi ride from JFK to New York City will be around $55. That’s not including a tip or any time added on because of traffic and there’s always traffic! If you’re looking to save money in New York City then like I said before taxies aren’t the way to go!
How to Save Money on Food in New York City
New York City is serious foodie paradise! Honestly, the amount of street food around is mouth watering just thinking about it. You can grab a corn dog, pizza slice or burrito on every corner. The key to saving money on food in New York is to eat from the street vendors and go where the locals go!
Avoid tourist traps like Magnolia Bakery or the Cheesecake Factory. Anywhere you eat in Times Square is also going to be pricey so do a little research before you go. During our trip to New York City, we lived off cheap pizza slices and bagels! It might sound boring but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. New York does bagels like nowhere else in the world and how you can complain at $1 pizza slices?
Don’t get me wrong we totally splurged on frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity 3 and had a fancy meal out before watching The Lion King on Broadway but kept budget in-between.
Some of our favourite cheap eats were:
2 Bro’s Pizza Shop – St. Marks Place Manhattan
Zuckers Bagels – Grand Central
Joes Steam Rice Roll – Asian Style in the Ukrainian Village
If you do want to treat yourself for a night like we did then I highly recommend Serendipity 3. The frozen hot chocolate is amazing and the food to die for. Endless celebrities have eaten there and you can see why. Its quirky interior has you feeling like you’ve well and truly followed Alice down the rabbit hole! It is a little pricey but totally worth it! You can’t book ahead but simply turn up and they’ll give you a time to return for your table. Don’t go far because they will give it away if you’re not back in good time!
So, Can You Save Money on a Trip to NYC?
So to answer the questions in hand. Can you save money on your trip to New York? Well, I think the short answer is yes. If you follow some of these tips then you’re bound to save some money in New York. But it does pay to keep an open mind. New York is one of the most expensive places in the world so you’ll probably pay more for some things you wouldn’t in other cities around the world. To conclude I think the best tips I can give you to save money in New York City are:
Book flights in advance
Book accommodation with booking.com and keep your options open
Eat cheap street food
Think about how much you really want to pay for things like observation decks? Is there a cheaper way of doing things? Like the Bar Sixty Five option I mentioned!
Take advantage of the many free things to do in New York
Walk where you can or buy a metro card
Use a website like Attraction Trix for Broadway Tickets
Avoid Tourist Traps
I hope that you enjoyed this post on how to save money in New York City! I really hope it’s given you some tips and some encouragement that you can go on a budget trip to the big apple. If you enjoyed it then I would be so thankful if you could share this post with your friends! I wouldn’t be able to carry on writing this blog without you so thanks for reading!
Visiting New York City for the first time is so freaking exciting. Planning a trip to a big city can also be a bit overwhelming. New York is literally packed with amazing things to do that without a doubt it takes more than one visit to see all there is. In fact, I don’t know if it’s even possible to see everything on offer in New York City, ever! The information out there about New York is also so conflicting even when you do just have a 4 day New York itinerary to plan!
The Big Apple is a place that people either love or hate. So, if you ask me I could move to New York tomorrow. Ask someone else and they’ll tell you that two days is enough and the whole city is overrated. The first time I went to New York we spent four days in the city and it was a perfect amount of time. I hope that this 4 day New York itinerary will help you out whilst planning your trip. I’ve covered everything you’ll need to know from transport, hotels, attractions, broadway to food and how much spending money you might need!
Why is a 4 Day New York Itinerary Ideal for First-Timers?
Firstly, New York is expensive. No matter how many corners you aim to cut and how well you stick to your budget there is no getting away from the fact that New York is one of the most expensive cities in the world. Don’t get me wrong it is possible to visit New York City on a budget which I’ll talk about throughout this 4-day itinerary. In my opinion, you can see a lot of this enchanting city in four days and it’s not going to break the bank. But of course, if you decided to spend two weeks in the city it’s probably going to cost a fortune. It all depends on your budget. But if like me you’re not a millionaire just an average working-middle class person then 4 days is perfect.
New York is famous for being called the city that never sleeps right? And it’s totally true. New York literally never shuts down. You can go shopping and sightseeing at 4 am if you really want too. That’s not for me because I’m a complete hag if I don’t get my sleep but it does you can stay out late safely amongst all the other tourists. What I’m saying with this is that you’re not restricted to daylight hours and you can so much into a day in New York.
Even though attractions and landmarks are spread out all over New York some of them actually don’t take up that much time. For example, you may decide to visit the top of the Empire State Building. Well, you probably won’t spend hours up there. You’ll most likely get to the top take in the surreal views, pinch yourself a few times, take some amazingly Instagrammable photographs and come back down after an hour or so. A lot of the main sights to see can fit into a 4 day New York itinerary easily.
When is the Best Time of Year to Visit New York for 4 Days?
The best time of year to visit New York I dare you to gather people who have visited at different times of the year and let the battle of the seasons and holidays begin! Americans love any kind of holiday and the states do holidays well. Everything to us Brits is a little over the top and I for one love it. Halloween, Christmas and Thanks Giving are huge in America but they also love summer too! I personally can’t really comment on visiting New York at any other time than summer because it’s the only time I’ve visited. What I can say is that July is a pretty special time to visit New York and possibly one of the cheapest.
Again, it depends completely on your budget to when will be the best time of year to visit the big apple for you. Christmas will be expensive and summer will be cheaper. Thanksgiving may be quieter for tourism because a lot of locals will be with their families and some attractions and shops possibly shut. As well as the cost there’s also the crazy New York weather. New York gets definitive seasons each year. If you hate the cold then winter probably isn’t the best time fo year to visit. It can get as cold at – 15 degrees celsius in winter with heavy snowfall. Summer in New York is hot but not humid so it is manageable.
Tipping is essential (tipping guide at the end of this post)
New York is so much bigger than you think
It’s set out in a grid
Knowing your compass will beneficial when walking
Google Maps or any other directional app will be essential
You will end up needing to get on the subway at some point
You will need a full day if you want to explore all of Central Park
Pizza slices will be your cheapest food option
You will get lost A LOT
Where to Stay in New York City
So I actually wrote a whole other post about accommodation in New York which you can find here, so I won’t go into too much detail here. But the location is so important. I would try and stay as central as possible on your budget. We stayed near Grand Central Station and the location was perfect. It meant we were already in amongst the action without having to ride the subway first. Yes, staying further away will save you money but you’ll also pay for the subway so swings and roundabouts!
Flying into New York
The best airport to fly into New York is JFK. It’s the most central with the best links in and out of the city. The airport isn’t located far from Manhattan and I’ll go into the best and most affordable ways to get into the city below. Flight times to New York from the UK are quite reasonable at around 7.5 hours. I don’t even think that’s considered at long haul anymore and after flying from the UK to Australia and New Zealand I think I agree. That said it will depend on where in the world you’re flying to New York from. I think we paid around 400 GBP each for return flights from Manchester in the UK to JFK for four full days and five nights in New York.
Bare in mind whilst reading this post that we flew from the UK so a 4 day New York itinerary was perfect for us we didn’t experience much jet-lag on the way there. If you are travelling from further away you might need longer to account for travel time and jet-lag.
Getting into New York from JFK Airport
There are various transport options when you land into the airport to get into Manhattan. Again, it will depend on your budget. The options include taxi, private car, shuttle bus or the subway. The cheapest option my far would be the catch the subway but I prefer to convince over being stuck on the Subway with a suitcase trying to find my accommodation. We actually took a shuttle-bus into Manhattan which was priced really well and I highly recommend it! I’ll go into each option for getting into Manhattan from JFK below:
There is a New York taxi service that operates from JFK to the surrounding areas in New York. The flat rate for these taxies. Is $52 to the first passenger’s destination. That means that you can car-share with others but that price is only to the first drop-off. The price will then increase further stops. This price doesn’t include tips or surcharges which occur during certain times of the day.
The airport shuttle buses are probably the best option for value for money at just $17 it’s a bargain without the stress of the subway as soon as you land. We booked online beforehand with Go Link but you can just obtain a ticket on arrival. The shuttle bus took just over one hour to Grand Central Station.
Of course, there is the option to catch the subway but it will take just as long as requires a few train changes along the way. Catch the AirTrain to the Jamaica Station and transfer to the LIRR train towards Penn Station for one-stop then transfer to the subway line 7. You want the purple line towards Manhattan to 42nd Street for Grand Central (just an example) of course it will depend on where you are staying in Manhattan.
Attractions Covered in This 4 Day Itinerary
Grand Central Terminal
New York Public Library
The Rockefeller Centre
The Statue of Liberty
St. Patricks Cathedral
New York 4 Day Itinerary for First-Timers – Day One
Without any further ado, let’s get straight into this 4 day New York itinerary.
Day One – A Morning Exploring Grand Central and Around
The first day in New York is definitely the most exciting. I was jumping up and down like a child on Christmas Day (I’m still like that on Christmas Day) ready to see all those famous sights which are where we’ll start. To be honest this 4-day itinerary is quite sight-seeing heavy after all who doesn’t want to see the likes of the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building on their first visit to New York? I’ve included a map of all the sights below which I’ll do for each day as it might make planning your trip to New York easier!
I find that the easiest way to travel to big cities is by location. For example, see things that are near each other at the same time. It saves time and often money so you’re not going backwards and forwards to a certain place especially if it involves catching the subway.
Breakfast at Scotty’s Diner
This authentic New York diner certainly cooks up the best pancakes in town. We were recommended this place by a friend and I’m so glad we were! Don’t judge the outside when you find the place, it’s old-style New York but once you step inside you’ll realise you’re surrounded with the locals. It was that good we actually dined here for breakfast twice during our five mornings in New York. It’s also pretty affordable we paid around $12-20 for a huge stack of pancakes and one day I had the eggs benny. The portions are HUGE but they are everywhere in New York so prepared to eat mountains during your trip!
Explore Grand Central Station
After breakfast, it’s onto Grand Central Station which is actually called Grand Central Station. The transport hub of New York and probably one of the poshest and cleanest train stations I’ve ever seen. But Grand Station is certainly more than just a station. You’ll find shops lining the station and a whole dining concourse which you have to visit at some point. It has every cuisine you’ve ever wanted to try in there! As you walk onto the main concourse you’ll be speechless I know I was. I felt like I’d stepped directly into a movie!
Enjoy all the beauty of the station by wandering around and taking some photographs. It’s obviously free to enter but you can take an audio tour if you wish. Find out some more information about the Grand Central Terminal audio tours here.
Bryant Park via New York Public Library
After leaving Grand Central take the exit onto 42nd street east and turn right to walk up to Bryant Park via the New York Public Library. You can also catch the subway which takes four minutes but the walk is only about 10 so might as well get those steps in! In fact, I fully wish I had my Fitbit in New York because we walked miles and miles every day.
You’ll see the grand architecture of the New York Public library as you walk up the street it’s relatively hard to miss! Admission into the library is free and they also conduct walking tours as well. Make sure you visit their official website before planning your trip. We just enjoyed the outside of the building but I imagine it’s beautiful inside too. I definitely want to go inside on my next visit to New York which I hope isn’t too far away!
As you leave the Library to keep walking on 42nd street until you reach the beautiful Bryant Park.
This is the first park we enjoyed in New York. We ventured out of the hotel after dropping off our bags and the sun had just started to set. Both mum and I (we went on a girls trip!) were so overwhelmed at the fact we were actually in New York we just looked around in awe at the place. The skyscrapers tower overhead and you can see the Empire State Building in the distance. It’s so impressive. Bryant Park is quite small but it’s so gorgeous. There’s a decking area at one end where you can sit and enjoy a beer or a cocktail at The Porch. Alcoholic drinks in New York cost anything from $15 upwards, especially in Manhattan.
Don’t Forget the Legal Drinking Age in the USA is 21!
When the night falls the decking is lit up with fairy lights and is super cute if you time to visit on an evening. There’s also a games area where you can play board games and a carousel for children too. For a more upmarket restaurant dine at the Bryant Park Grill. But on every corner, you’ll find juice bars and small cafes as well. In the summer there is often exercise and yoga classes held on the lawn at Bryant Park as well as theatre and music throughout the year.
After exploring Grand Central Terminal and Bryant Park for the morning it’s time to spend the afternoon in Times Square just a 4 minutes walk from Bryant Park.
Times Square is an experience in itself. I’ve never seen a square so busy with so many people all the time! We walked through Times Square a couple of times because it’s so central and no matter if it’s 1 pm or 4 am it will always be busy! I think Times Square is spectacular. It’s the place to shop until you drop that’s for sure. If you enjoy H&M and Sephora then you’re in for a treat. Take some photographs and marvel in all Times Square has to offer. They’ll be street food on sale, people dressed up, there is something happening everywhere you turn.
Eating in Times Square – We ate at The Counter where you can customise your own burgers and they were so so good! It wasn’t the cheapest meal in the world and cost us around $25 each but it was worth it. This was one of the only meals we ate that wasn’t street food so it was a real treat!
Sunset at Bar 65 instead of Top of the Rock or the Empire State!
Unlike so many who visit we decided not to visit the top of the Empire State Building or the Top of the Rock. Why? Well, we decided to enjoy a cocktail at the same time as getting those panoramic views of New York City! Bar 65 is in the Rainbow Room on the 65th floor of the Rockefeller Centre and has the highest outdoor terrace where you can eat and drink in the city!
Instead of paying the $40 to go up the Empire State or Rockefeller Centre just book a table at Bar 65 for free and enjoy the views from inside and outside whilst having a drink and maybe something to eat! You have to pay extra to sit outside but you walk outside and enjoy the views for nothing and there’s no time limit on how long you can spend up there. It’s a great way to visit a bar in New York that you otherwise probably wouldn’t and I found it to be of much better value than paying for a ticket up the other buildings with 100 other tourists.
Though Bar 65 is an upmarket New York restaurant we didn’t feel out of place and everyone was really nice. We popped our nice dresses on and enjoyed an evening of luxury. We even splashed out and shared a cheese board (cheapest item on the menu) and it was divine. Even if we did get a slice of pizza on the way home!
After a day of walking and exploring, head back to the hotel and get an early night. We were never out that late.
Day Two of the 4 Day Itinerary to New York – Rockefeller Centre, 5th Avenue and Central Park
Even though we didn’t go to the top of the Rockefeller Centre of our 4 day New York itinerary we did explore the building. It’s pretty impressive and there’s so much to do like visiting NBC studios if you’re into television or just explore around the building. We wandered inside and outside. Although we visited in June I was still keen to see where the ice rink goes along with the big Christmas tree!! The square where they put the ice rink is actually quite small and in the summer months, it’s transformed into a bar where they do delicious food and cocktails!
Okay, we definitely did more looking than shopping on 5th Avenue but we enjoyed seeing all those designers shops like Tiffanys that you see in the movies! We even went for a tour inside Tiffanys because why not right? There are over five floors and everything from the moment you step inside sparkles!
Whilst journeying down 5th Avenue visit St Patricks cathedral. The architecture of this building is truly inspirations both inside and out. You can visit the cathedral every day for free. It’s a crucial part of New York history and very impressive indeed. As you approach the cathedral you’ll see the start of Central Park in the distance!
Afternoon – Central Park
I’ve purposefully not put too much else on this day because you almost need a full day to explore Central Park. It’s seriously huge! We got lost several times inside the park so I highly recommend buying one of the central park maps that are sold throughout the park. There are so many things to enjoy in Central Park but some of the highlights are:
Visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET)
Alice in Wonderland Statue
Row on the Lake
Enjoy a Picnic on the Great Lawn
Visit the Loab Boathouse
Central Park Zoo
Honestly, the list could go on and on. I found the best way to enjoy Central Park is to wonder with some sense of direction. I loved how the city towers over the park everywhere you look, it’s really incredible. Of course, the most incredible view of Central Park itself is from above from Bar 65 or any other viewpoint! If you don’t fancy walking around Central Park you can also cycle or ride in a horse-drawn cart!
Day Three – 4 Day New York Itinerary
On day three of this 4 day New York itinerary visit the 9/11 museum, walk Brooklyn Bridge and the High Line as well as exploring some of the suburbs in Lower Manhattan.
Visit the 9/11 Museum
The devastating events of 11th of November 2001 took a piece of everyone’s heart all over the world. The devastation lasts to this day and so many lives and families will never be the same again. Though that dreaded morning was nothing but a tragedy the 9/11 museum is worth a visit. I do think you should visit in the morning so you can fill the afternoon with something more joyous. Especially if you’re visiting the museum as its extremely heart-wrenching.
The foundations of the Twin Towers create a memorial site for everyone affected during this terrible time. The memorial is free to visit but there’s also a museum that you get tickets for too which is what we did. The museum goes into every detail about that moment and the weeks and months that followed. A definitive moment that will live in New York’s history forever and an experience that will show you just how precious life is. I really recommend visiting the museum. Tickets cost $26 for an adult.
After visiting the museum catch the subway to Brooklyn ready to walk the Brooklyn Bridge back towards Manhattan. I would’ve loved to explore Brooklyn for longer but we just didn’t have time.
Walk the Brooklyn Bridge
Distance: 1.6km Difficulty: Easy Time: 1 hour Advisories: wear comfortable shoes and take water
The subway takes you across the water to Brooklyn where you can walk back to Manhattan from there. I really recommend walking from Brooklyn towards Manhattan so that you can admire the Manhattan skyline in the distance. It really won’t have the same ‘wow’ appeal going in the other direction. The bridge is extremely impressive. It took a long 14 years to build the bridge you can walk on today. Construction started back in 1869 and finished in 83! The great thing about this bridge, other than the views, is the fact that cars and pedestrians are separated. Pedestrians walk up top and cars go underneath making it safer to walk especially for those with children!
The walk across the bridge is fairly easily at just 1.6 km in distance taking under an hour depending on how fast you walk. Make sure you have a comfortable pair of shore – A must for New York in general! And a bottle of water especially in the summer months. When you’re on the bridge there is no shelter or water sold so be prepared!
4 Day New York Itinerary – Day Three Afternoon
Once you finish walking the Brooklyn Bridge hop on the subway at Brooklyn Bridge City Hall Station and take the red line 2 to Greenwich Village.
Explore Greenwich Village
Stroll around Greenwich Village where you can find the building of the Friends apartment. No, the building didn’t tower over Central Park at all! After exploring Greenwich Village walk back through Washington Square Gardens. I recommend actually walking from Washing Square Gardens, through to Union Square and onto Madison Gardens for a burger at Shake Shack!
Shake Shack is somewhat of an upmarket McDonalds but so delicious. Kind of reminded me of an In-N-Out burger too! Madison Gardens is gorgeous too and strung together by fairy lights on and evening.
Walk the High-Line
The High-Line is an old New York railway which has recently been converted into an elevated park. It’s pretty unique and gives views from all different angles of the city as you follow it around. The High-Line runs for 2.33 kilometres so if you plan on walking it all be sure to save plenty of time. As you walk the high-line you can get on and off in different suburbs of the city. There’s also Chelsea Market which is great to have a nosey around.
Day Four, The Statue of Liberty, Battery Park, Serendipity and Broadway!
The final day of this 4 day New York Itinerary is going to be just as spectacular as the last three! I’ve been saving some of the best things to do in New York until last, like seeing a Broadway show because it’s always nice to go out with a bang on the last night of vacation!
The Statue of Liberty
Like so many other things on this 4 day New York itinerary seeing the Statue of Liberty can be completely free! There are tours where you can get off on the island and even go into the statue but for us just seeing her was enough and you can do so for free on the Staten Island Ferry!
If you’re coming from uptown then take the subway to Whitehall and follow the signs for the Staten Island Ferry Terminal (there are loads). The Staten Island Ferry is completely free and is the ferry that a lot of New Yorkers use to commute to and from the city. I recommend getting the ferry around 10 or 11 am so that you’re after the rush hour folk in the morning!
On the way to Staten Island, you want to sit on the right side of the boat and on the left on the way back to get brilliant views of the Statue of Liberty. Honestly, the boat goes so close and you get great views. Using the Staten Island Ferry is a great way to save a little bit of money and still get to see The Statue of Liberty.
After returning to Manhattan Battery Park sits on the waterfront and is lovely to stroll around before heading back uptown for an amazing lunch at Serendipity – you can’t go to New York for four days and not visit Serendipity!
Lunch at Serendipity 3
Serendipity 3 has been a unique dining experience since the 1950s. The likes of Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly found some of their inspiration in this very venue. It’s famous for its frozen hot chocolate and boutique store. After trying the frozen hot chocolate I can say it’s 100% worth the visit. We had the chocolates and an amazing lunch here. We got nachos and potato skins which were both wonderful!
Plan in advance when you’re going to go to Serendipity 3 because they don’t take bookings. You basically turn up and your name goes to the bottom of the list and they give you an estimated time for when your table will be ready. Just arrive back at Serendipity within plenty of time so you don’t miss the table. It’s not a great system but I guess when you have that many customers it doesn’t matter that much to them, unfortunately. This was easily one of my favourite places to eat in New York City.
4 Day New York Itinerary – An Evening on Broadway
It wouldn’t be a trip to New York without catching a Broadway show! I know that they are expensive but they are honestly worth it! We saw the Lion King because there was no way I was going to see anything else and it was phenomenal. If you don’t mind what you see then you can get cheaper tickets from the TKTS booth in Times Square. Each day they sell broadway tickets for half price but you won’t know which shows they are selling until the day.
These are just a few of the places we ate in New York and all were delicious!
Getting Around New York – Transport/Walking Advice
So what’s the best way to get around New York? Honestly, it’s easy to walk around a lot of New York. But sometimes you will need to get the subway. Taxies are of course all over the place but the traffic in New York is wild and with only a 4-day itinerary you don’t want to be sat in traffic! We only got one taxi during our time in the big apple and we probably shouldn’t have because it would’ve taken us just as long to walk after the traffic!
Catching the Subway in New York
The subway can feel like a complete sudoku puzzle if you’re not used to the system. Which by the way, I am not. The subway was pretty overwhelming during my first trip to New York but once you start to understand it, it’s not that hard! But if you do want to learn a little more about catching the subway in New York then this basic guide is all you need!
How Much Spending Do You Need in New York City?
Finally, before wrapping up this 4 day New York itinerary let’s talk budget. How much spending money do you actually need for New York City! Well, not as much as you may think. If you paid close attention to this guide then you’ll have realised that there are so many Free Things to Do in New York City! I mean look at Central Park and the Statue of Liberty you can see both completely for free! So in terms of spending money we probably budgeted around $100 per day I mean it is New York and we had money left over which was wonderful and spent in Sephora! My biggest advice is to prepare and be sensible, New York can be expensive but you can also cut costs everywhere like having a pizza slice for dinner!
I hope you enjoyed this 4 day New York itinerary and I hope that New York is everything that you ever dreamed of. I know it was for me and I can’t wait to return. If you did enjoy it I would appreciate it so much if you could share it with your friends!
New York, the city, other than Disneyland which yes technically isn’t a city, where wildest dreams come true. You’ve pined over the bright lights of New York for years, through the television, photographs plastered over the interest, interviews with your favourite celebs. Everyone seems to have a connection with the big apple. And now here you are, stood in Times Square dodging tourists left right and centre. Wandering through Central Park, looking around in awe of everyone and everything you see before your eyes. Or is that just me? I wrote this little passage on my iPhone notes over two years ago when my feet first set foot in New York. Visiting for the first time was magical. We had decided to visit New York in July 2017 and I had no idea how I would feel, my expectations were set so high.
So many travellers will big up the idea of New York in their minds only to be disappointed when they arrive. I personally find this so hard to believe. After 4 full days in New York, I know we only scratched the surface of things to do. I don’t think a single wave of disappointment hit me during my time in the city. I fell hook line and sinker within minutes. My ideal time of year to visit New York would be in winter and of course for the holidays. Visiting NYC at Christmas just seems like something out of this world entirely, an experience that I will tick off my bucket list one day.
Because of budget and work commitments, it just wasn’t possible to visit NYC at Christmas in 2017 so instead, we visited New York in July and what a perfect time of year it turned out to be. In this blog, I’m sharing why I think you should visit New York in July.
July in New York City – Why Would You Visit in Peak Season?
July in New York is classed as one of the peak seasons for tourism. It makes sense, the weather is beautiful and kids are on school holidays thus making it a perfect time for a family trip to NYC. I don’t personally have kids so I usually avoid any school holidays like the plague, school holidays usually means the prices for travel skyrocket! But when I started researching into visiting New York in July I was pleasantly surprised. The prices for hotels and flights appeared somewhat 100-300 GBP cheaper than in June or September. After a lot of researching, I discovered a recurring pattern as to a why visit a to New York in July was appearing to be cheaper, it had something to do with the dates that I was looking at booking.
As I punched dates here there and everywhere into Sky Scanner and booking.com I noted that the first week in July was cheaper than any other week. Shocked was an understatement because I thought this would be the most expensive week due to Independence Day. The Fourth of July holds monumental celebrations across the United States of America. As a public holiday and one of the most popular holiday dates in the calendar, I couldn’t believe that the first week of July was coming out cheapest. I’m still not entirely sure but we ended up booking the flights and accommodation all in for just 1700 GBP for 2 people.
On our arrival to New York City, I quizzed the hotel concierge who said that prices do tend to drop around the 4th of July because a lot of people flee the city. New York wants tourists and people to be celebrating in the city on the 4th of July but so many locals head home to their families or just flee to the countryside. This may not be a particular ‘rule’ when it comes to securing a budget trip to New York City but looking at the first week is definitely worth looking at when deciding to visit New York in July.
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Spending the 4th of July in New York City
The highlight of deciding to visit New York in July was experiencing Independence Day. For those who don’t know, the 4th of July celebrates the United States of America regaining its Independence back from the United Kingdom. The holiday is celebrated widely across the country with festivals, firework displays, family gatherings etc happening on the 4th.
What does that mean if you’re a tourist on the 4th of July?
Visiting New York City on the 4th of July was nothing but awesome for us tourists. We actually arrived on the 3rd and I couldn’t believe how quiet the streets were. I’d imagined people literally bumping into each other on the sidewalk, pushing and shoving on board the subway and locals on a mission to get to the office fully equipped with a brown paper bag for lunch. Not to mention all of the tourists just stopping dead in the middle of the road or pavement to take a photograph. But as we arrived and began wandering around the streets of New York on the 3rd of July it was so quiet! It almost felt like we shouldn’t be there type of quiet.
For us it was perfect, we spent our first day in New York exploring Grand Central Station, relaxing and drinking cocktails in Bryant Park and taking it all in at Times Square. Of course, we were surrounded by other tourists and locals but there was no one in any sort of rush. If you visit New York in July take advantage of the run-up to Independence Day because like I mentioned above a lot of New Yorkers flee the city!
Enjoying the Staten Island Ferry Ride in July on a hot summers day!
How to Spend the 4th of July in New York City
New York City is full of activities in New York to celebrate the 4th of July from festivals, concerts, events at the popular bars and restaurants and of course Macy’s Firework display. For us budget travellers we were only ever going to watch the fireworks and what an experience it was! I urge anyone who is considering visiting NewYork in July to be there for the 4th, it’s just sensational. Make sure to book well in advance if events, shows or festivals are more your things because they will get booked up fast. To keep up to date with what’s going on the 4th of July take a look at these websites:
How to See Macy’s Fireworks in New York City on the 4th of July
The 4th of July firework display in New York is nothing short of spectacular. The department store Macy’s have hosted and put together this display for so many years. In fact this year, in 2019, Macy’s celebrates its 43rd year. The firework show is free for all to attend and is located along the river. The fireworks are set off from boats from Brooklyn Bridge and all the way down on the lower East River. This event is well planned out by Macy’s and secured by the New York Police Department but some planning on your behalf will be required. Macy’s will release the viewing points for the extravaganza a couple of weeks prior to the 4th. From there you can see what time you need to be at the entrance point.
When we watched the 4th of July fireworks in New York we had to arrive at the entry point at 1 pm. The fireworks don’t start until 9:00 pm so you’re in for a long wait. In July the weather in New York is awesome and very hot so make sure you take plenty of water. The website says you can only take one small bag and one bottle of water per person. I’m not sure if this has changed over the last few years but despite limiting our food and water we were surrounded by locals with huge bags filled full of goodies. You’ll find the website with all the T&C’s online but it may be worth calling to check exactly what type of bag/how much food and drink you’re allowed through the entrance point. Safe to say we were starving and thirsty by the time the fireworks lit up the river.
Despite our hungry and thirsty selves, the fireworks were one million per cent worth it. I think the only display that I’ve seen top it was in Epcot Disneyland. Americans just know how to put on a great show! Overall the event is set up really well. I felt extremely safe after going through an airport scanner on the street! Be prepared for a long walk home though as millions of people make their way back through Manhattan!
Weather in New York in July
The question on most people’s lips is, what is the weather like in New York in July? Well, when you visit New York in July I’ll tell you thing, you have to like the sunshine! Yes, the sun will be blazing in NYC in July and it’s wonderful. Imagine strolling around Central Park sun belting on your cheeks or better yet, whilst you picnic in Bryant Park! The sunny weather makes New York so special, you can see everything and unlike Christmas, no chance of your flight being cancelled because of snow!
I’ll admit I was nervous about walking around New York in the heat but it didn’t really bother us. We kept hydrated and bought some epic handheld fans off amazon which were great for using during walks and down on the subway platform! The only time New York I felt stifling hot was down on the subway platform other than that it wasn’t too humid at all. The average temperature for New York in July is 20-19 degrees Celsius.
Things to do When you Visit New York in July
New York I imagine is fantastic all year round and all of the main attractions will be open and ready for you to immerse yourself in. But here some of the Things you can do when you visit the big apple in July:
4th of July Fireworks
4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest – Coney Island
Or at least have a Hot Dog on National Hot Dog Day 23rd of July!
Bryant Park Film Festival
Picnic in Central Park
Walk the Brooklyn Bridge
Have a cocktail on the roof at Bar 65 and look down on Manhattan
Cycle the Brooklyn Bridge
Visit the Statue of Liberty
Shakespeare in the Park – Central Park
Lincoln Center Festival
See a Broadway show – we saw The Lion King!
Just to name a few! New York has so many events in July it’s hard to name them all but whatever you do, even if it’s just the touristy stuff, you’ll have an amazing time.
Strolling around Central Park in Summer is Pure Happiness!
Getting around New York City will differ depending on the time of year. In winter you may not want to walk thousands of steps each day because of the nail-biting temperature but in July the weather is perfect for walking around. Take a pair of comfy shoes and comfy clothes too – we spent our days in dresses, shorts and t-shirts. We honestly walked around most days but we did catch the subway if it was too hot, which was only occasionally.
We didn’t get it that often do there wasn’t a need for us to buy a subway pass but you can find more about those at this website to find out what the best deal for you is! If you really don’t want to walk in the heat the subway will be the fastest and cheapest way to get around.
New York will is no doubt going to blow your mind whatever time of year you visit so just make sure you go! Have you been to New York? If you have I would love to know your favourite month to travel to NYC and why! Let me know in the comments below! If you enjoyed this post and know anyone who is looking to go to New York soon then please share this post with them!
8 Free Things to Do in New York City – I don’t know about you but one of my favourite parts about exploring a new place is finding all the exciting things you can get up to for free! There isn’t any traveller I know who doesn’t love a good bargain after all why pay a higher price for something that you could get for cheaper?! When me and mum took a girly weekend break to New York City we’d be doing some hard saving. Whenever you chat to someone about New York the price always seems to come up in conversation & not in a positive way! Yes, New York City is renowned for being expensive! People save for years to just visit the city for a weekend.
I arrived in the big apple ready to spend a fortune on eating out, attractions and subway. Luckily I was more than pleasantly surprised when I had some dollars left over at the end of our trip! Once you do some research and dig a little deeper you’ll actually find that there is so much to do and see in the big apple for as little as, well nothing! In fact I can guarantee that you can probably find more than 8 free things to do in New York City.
Now I know what you’re thinking! I must mean some trashy museum or attraction that nobody has heard of, because let’s face it we don’t get anything decent for free in this world? Wrong! New York is a whole other level! I’m taking famous sights costing absolutely nothing! Ready? Here are 8 of the best free things to do in New York City & if you happen to know any extra things to do for free then please let me know in the comments at the end of the post!
8 Free Things to Do in New York City!
1. The Statue of Liberty
The amazing Statue of Liberty
Dare I say the most famous landmark in New York City? She’s definitely one of them that’s for sure! And you can visit her up close for free via the Staten Island Ferry. The ferry passes the Statue of Liberty on both its inbound and outbound journeys! The ferry goes really close to the lady herself so you’ll get a great snapshot of her without a doubt! You want to get the Staten Island Ferry from Whitehall Ferry Terminal in Manhattan, you can the subway there. The ferry is completely free and is what the commuters of New York City use to get to and from their jobs in the city.Keep in mind that most people in the city will be working 9-5 so the ferry will be jam packed in at morning and evening rush hours! The best time to hop on the ferry is in the middle of the day in the week, the weekends will of course be packed out with tourists so just make sure you get to the front of the line!
Top Tip: Sit on the right side of the ferry on the departing journey from Manhattan and the left side on the return!
2. Central Park
The amazing central park
This is probably obvious because it’s a public park so yes it’s free but none the less it is still one of New York’s most amazing places to visit! The notion of all this greenery in a city filled with sky scrapers amazes me to this day. That’s what I love about New York, you can surrounded by rushing people and angry taxi drivers one minute and then laid out on the grass catching the summer sun in another. Central Park really is the heart of the city and one day I will be sat in this park writing a book of my own (my biggest dream!). You can pay for things inside the park like the zoo but you really don’t need to! Just walking around Central Park is breath taking make sure you visit the Alice in Wonderland Statue, Strawberry Fields and Turtle Lake, all costing nothing! I would recommend buy a $2 map though because even with the map we still managed to get very lost!
Top Tip: You want to save at least one full day to get the most out of Central Park. The length of Central Park is 4KM so you can imagine how long it takes to explore all the nooks and crannies within the park too! Also, if you wander down the left hand side of the park towards the main entrance then you can see some of the zoo animals without having to pay to get in!
3. Bryant Park
Bryant Park, New York City
Bryant Park is again another one of New York’s most famous public parks and one that took me by surprise. I’d heard of this little park but didn’t expect to think much of it compared to the great Central Park. Again, New York surprised me here (it kept doing this!). As you approach Bryant Park you are greeted with quaint fairy tale like gardens. Though it’s a lot smaller than Central Park it’s just as beautiful and if I had to choose between the two I think this one would be my favourite of the two.
Of course to explore the park is 100% free but the park is filled with cafes and bars. You’ll also find an array of board games, inflatables, exercise classes, the reading room and even a small carousel if you’ve got little ones on your trip. The perfect day in Bryant Park would be in summer, take a picnic and some bubbly and people watch the day away! If you are heading to New York for the holidays then you’ll find Bryant transformed into a winter emporium complete with an ice skating rink!
If you read my Top 10 Things to Do in New York City then you’ll know that I was star struck when I stepped into Grand Central Terminal. Grand Central is an absolute show stopper! I think it’s probably the only place in New York where I actually felt like an actual movie star! You walk in and feel like you’ve been whisked into one of your favourite movie scenes! It’s amazing! From the architecture of the building to the upmarket shopping areas. There’s even a farmers market inside the terminal! Grand Central is not to be missed and of course it’s free and probably one of the best places to enjoy on this list of 8 free things to do in New York City!
Now obviously you could spend a fortune in Times Square If you wanted. It is the hub of entertainment and shopping in New York City! But if you’re like us then you’re probably not there for the shopping and if you are, make sure you hit up H&M for a cheaper shopping trip! There’s also heaps of dinners in Times Squares but because of their location of course the price for a meal is ramped up! If you enjoy eating at quieter spots and just want to see Times Square to take it all in then you don’t have to spend a penny! Enjoy watching the bright lights of Broadway dance through the night and that’s really all you need!
Top Tip: If you’re looking for discounted Broadway tickets then the TKTS booth in Times Square is the place to line up! Note that most of the big shows never get discounted like the Lion King! Although we did get these tickets cheaper than on Ticketmaster on a website called Attraction Tix.
6. The Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge, New York City
I think by now you probably think I’m biased because I love everything about New York! But The Brooklyn Bridge is yet again not something that can be missed on your visit to New York. The bridge is free to walk or cycle over and gives you glistening views on Manhattan on the water. You can drive over the bridge but it doesn’t have the same affect! The architecture over the bridge is stunning and a real masterpiece. We took the subway over to Brooklyn, explored the area and then walked back over the bridge to the city which was a lovely way of doing it! It is just as gorgeous to walk towards Brooklyn I’m sure but if you do walk towards Brooklyn you simply must do the walk back to Manhattan so you can see the skyline as you approach the city.
Top Tip: Wear good blooming shoes – I worse my converse and boy did my feet hurt after the walk!
7. 9/11 Memorial
9/11 Memorial, New York City
I think the date 11/09/2001 will be a date that stays with a lot of people for a very long time if not forever. The day that struck New York with disaster, loss and heartbreak. The day thousands of husbands, wives, sons and daughters went out to work and meetings and didn’t return. As their loved ones waved them off that morning for many they had no idea that would be the last time they saw their faces. To pay tribute the thousands who lost their lives stands the 9/11 memorial. The memorial is sat in the exact place that the twin towers were struck in the foundations. It is free to visit and pay your respects to those involved but the museum does charge entry. The entry that’s charged for the museum pays for its upkeep and that of the memorial.
Top Tip: Go early in the day so that you can take your time looking around the museum if you choose to go.
8. The High Line
One of the newest walks from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Formerly a freight line running through Manhattan The High Line is an elevated public park that has put the abandoned railway back on the map. The construction of the park first started in 2006 after the line was abandoned in 1980. The park first opened to the public in 2009 and its still under construction with the final sections hoping to be open this year. The walk through The High Line is beautiful with views of New York all the way through! Weave in and out of residential streets, shopping malls and markets. The entrance to the High Line is located in the Meat Packing District where you can treat yourself to a gorgeous lunch before you enjoy the walk. If you like sugar and cocktails then check out ‘The Sugar Factory’ which is where me and mum spent a few hours before walking off all that glucose!
Free Things to Do in New York City
So there you have it! This is definitely not an exhaustive list of free things to do in New York City but a simple list of the 8 best things we found! From Parks, walks to landmarks you really can see the best of New York for free! I would love to hear from you if you know of any other epic free things to do in New York City leave them in a comment below and I will add some of your suggestions onto the end of this post! If you enjoyed this post then you will enjoy some of my other posts on New York that you can find here!
I haven’t been able to top a city that I love more than the big apple yet in this world yet, I honestly feel like New York is a place I could visit time and time again. Are you a NYC lover or hater? There is definitely a large mixture of both in this world but I have no idea how you couldn’t enjoy a place that I am so fond us. But then again if we were all the same life would be so very boring. I have no idea when I’ll be returning to the big city but I hope it’s not too far in the distant future!
New York City is magical. New York is hyped up by travellers all over the world and it’s one of the ‘hypes’ I completely believe in. I’m a true New York lover. If given the chance I would move there tomorrow, but maybe that would ruin the magic? Perhaps I’ll just stick to visiting more often. Prior to arriving in New York City for the first time, the mission was on to find somewhere to stay. I actually visited New York with mum for her 50th birthday present. That meant I was paying for the flights and hotel. As a newly qualified nurse, my mission was to find somewhere central.
The thoughts that filled my mind were would I be able to find this in the famous city that is New York? I didn’t have much knowledge of how central you need to be in New York, I had no idea. I was up for the challenge and after this post, you’ll find out whether or not if it was a success.
Researching Where to Stay in New York for the First Time
As soon as we decide on a new destination for our next adventures we head straight to google. One the flights are booked and the departure date looming I’m researching all over the web. I want to know the best things to do in my upcoming trip spot and the best places to stay. As a newbie to New York, I needed to understand where would be best for us to stay. In central Manhattan? Brooklyn? Near the airport? The only way to find out these crucial answers was to hit up travel sites like Trip Advisor, Booking.com and Expedia. I don’t know about you but sometimes I find these sites a little vague when it comes to giving out important information about a location. That’s when I personally turn to blogs ( a bit like you are doing now!).
Travel bloggers get it. They know that the reader wants real honest information about their subject. Basically, I needed someone to tell me where to stay in New York for the first time and why. Prior to my research, I’d only heard about how expensive it is to stay in central New York. I’d also heard that if you’ve only got a few days then you want to be central! One blogger says to stay in Times Square, another Brooklyn. Whilst another says stay further out of the city and travel in on the subway for cheaper rooms!
The whole thing is utterly mind-boggling! Sometimes researching a place can be hard work which is why I’m writing this post! I want to share my experience of staying in New York as the first-timer. In turn, I hope it will help you make an informed decision about where to stay in New York for the first time. I hope to answer the why’s of choosing a location to stay in New York so that you can have the most incredible trip to the big apple!
Should you stay in or out of Manhattan?
The biggest question that I wanted answering on my venture to find budget accommodation in New York City was do I need to stay in or out of Manhattan? After visiting New York for four nights and five nights I believe that to get the most out of your stay, you should stay in Manhattan. New York is one big city. During the first visit, it can be daunting. There are so many sights to see, places to explore and so much to eat! I can’t think of anything worse than starting the day miles away from the accommodation. That said, it’s only my opinion.
The one great thing about New York is that transport is amazing. So, if you are staying out of the city, then you will be able to get around on the subway quickly. We choose to stay in Manhattan so that we didn’t have to pay for the subway excessively. It helps with the budget if you use your own two feet – they cost nothing! So when deciding where to stay in New York for the first time I’d say look to be as central as you can.
Can you Find Budget Accommodation in Central New York?
I know what you’re thinking. How can you possibly stay in central New York if you’re on a budget? Well, it is possible but it all depends on what you class as ‘budget’. You’ll be lucky to find a hotel stay in central New York for under 100 GBP a night. This is considered cheap in New York. So when we found a hotel stay around the corner from Grand Central Station I was ecstatic. I’ll go into more details on our accommodation shortly but we basically managed to find a 4-star hotel near Grand Central for 112 GBP a night. When I had first budgeted for New York I had expected to spend nearer to 700 GBP on a hotel so I couldn’t have been happier. This may not be considered ‘budget’ for some readers but for us it was great. So how did I manage to find it?
Should you Book in Advance when booking accommodation for New York?
Straight up, I don’t like leaving things last minute. I like to have my trip booked in advance so I know exactly what I’m doing and where I’m staying. Call me a control freak but the thought of not finding a decent hotel at a decent price gives me the creepers! I booked our accommodation in New York for almost 7 months prior to our arrival. I honestly believed, at first, that this was key to snagging this budget accommodation in an amazing location! Don’t forget that websites like Booking.com and Expedia usually have a 24-hour cancellation policy. So you can usually cancel for free if you find something cheaper – which is EXACTLY what I did for this trip!
As our departure date drew nearer I remember receiving an email from Expedia giving some deals on accommodation for New York. I usually just skim and ignore these emails. But now, I am SO glad I didn’t. There in black and white was Expedia offering our hotel for those dates for 30 GBP cheaper A NIGHT! So, in the end, I ended up cancelling one booking and making another just three weeks before we arrived! I stopped looking after that! So when you’re doing some research on where to stay in New York for the first time make sure you keep your options open. Pick a good cancellation policy so you can switch if you find a better deal!
Our Budget Accommodation in New York City
On our first trip to New York, we were right in the middle of the city. The Club Quarters Hotel Grand Central is located just minutes from Grand Central Terminal. The Grand Central Terminal is the gateway to the whole of New York so this location was perfect the subway lines were literally on our doorstep! Within ten minutes you can reach Bryant Park, The New York public library and Times Square all with your own two feet! From then onwards you’re at Radio City, St Patricks Cathedral and the entrance to Central Park within another 15 minutes! Why pay for a subway pass when it’s all within walking distance of your hotel?! I would recommend staying anywhere near Grand Central, Bryant Park or anywhere between East 42nd and 48th street on Lexington Avenue.
Club Quarters Hotel Grand Central
This post isn’t a review of the hotel but I just wanted to give it a mention because it deserves it. In the end, I paid a mere 330 GBP to stay at this hotel for four nights. I’m not usually lucky but I felt it during this stay and not just because of the price. The check-in desk is 24 hours and all the staff were incredibly friendly. You do need to give a credit card deposit on arrival which is like a lot of places in big cities. Our double room was located on the 11th floor. The room was light with plenty of space. It came equipped with a comfy bed, television, two mirrors, ironing board, iron and en suite bathroom with a hairdryer, everything you need is there! I can’t give enough praise to the hotel when It comes to cleanliness. The rooms were cleaned daily and clean sheets and towels prompted.
I Love Extras!
What I liked most about this hotel were the extras! The hotel comes complete with a rooftop terrace where you can grab some snacks and hot drinks complimentary! Snacks included fresh fruit, crips, nuts, chocolate, sweets, in a morning I’d grab up us some fruit for the day out which helped us stay in the budget even more! Meaning we could spend more money on the good stuff – pizza slice anyone? The hotel also provided water dispenser on every floor which also had plastic bottled available. Obviously, it’s better to use your own recycle-able bottle rather than the plastic but handy if you lose or forget yours (this trip was in 2017 so they may not even do that anymore)!
The noise was limited in this hotel Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t silent but it was no way near as loud as it would be in Times Square. This location was perfect because we were central enough to get around but out of the major tourist areas where the noise is high. The big apple is the city that never sleeps and they weren’t exaggerating when they said that! Times Square is still at its busiest at 4 am! If you’re staying in a hotel even remotely overlooking Times Square you aren’t going to get any sleep! The Manhattan nights are already noisy enough with the laughter and chatter or passers-by and the endless sirens going in every direction! Don’t make it worse for yourself by trying to sleep in the noisiest part of the city!
Time of Year
Before wrapping it up just keep the time of year in mind. If you travel to New York in the holiday seasons then the accommodation is going to be more expensive. We actually stayed in New York during the 4th of July holiday period. I was surprised that hotels were cheaper and the streets quieter, I guess a lot of New Yorkers leave the city and head back to their families for the holiday. Or to the Hamptons maybe?!
Essentials for Any New York Trip!
By getting the location of your hotel right you'll enjoy your trip to New York so much more! My advice? Research, spend the time on Trip Advisor looking at exactly what and where you can stay for your money! And keep looking even when you have somewhere booked! Sites like Booking.com and Expedia often offer free cancellation until 48-24 hours before your departure date so if you find a better deal don't be afraid to cancel to make sure you get the most for your hard-earned cash! I hope that this guide gives you some helpful advice when it comes to deciding where to stay in New York for the first time! If you liked this post then you might enjoy some of my other New York Posts too:
New York City is extraordinary. With a population of approximately 8 million people in a land area of just 789km squared you’ve got to wonder what all the fuss is about! The big apple has so many different attractions it can be overwhelming when deciding which ones to go see! I had five days to explore all New York had to offer and whilst I visited all the main attractions we certainly didn’t have time to do everything – In one visit that’s damn right impossible! That said I’ve put together my Top 10 Things to do in New York City!
Top Tip: Have four full days AT LEAST to make the most out of your trip to the most vibrant city in the world!
1. Times Square
Times Square: Top 10 Things to Do in New York City
They weren’t lying when they said that New York is the city that never sleeps! Times Square is one of the only places I’ve been in the world that is still bustling with bodies and animation at 1 am!
It’s the entertainment hub of NYC filled with restaurants, shops, street food and of course the gateway to Broadway! The bright lights of Times Square attract more than 50 million tourists annually! Definitely worth a visit to grab some amazing New York street food and smuggle some gifts for your loved ones back home – (who are insanely jealous that you’re in New York and there back in Blighty) If you’re prepared to queue then hit up the TKTS box for discounted theatre tickets daily!
Tip: any time of the day you go WILL be busy so be prepared for some pushing, shoving indefinitely strangers in your selfies!
2. Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central: Top 10 Things to Do in New York City
‘Spotted in Grand Central Station’
So how long did you think you’d have to wait until the gossip girl quotes start coming in? Yes, I spent quite a lot of this trip pretending I was Serena and Blair but Grand Central Terminal was the one landmark that took me by surprise! After all, it’s just a train station right? Wrong! Grand Central Terminal is an experience! I felt like I’d been swept up into a million movie scenes the moment I walked onto that shiny concourse. From the buildings fascinating architecture, American flags, endless rows of shops and a locally sourced food market, it’s a far cry from a train station.
It’s the Dorchester of train stations. With its astronomical mural on the ceiling, Grand chandeliers and an Oyster Bar that first opened its doors in 1913! Grand Central Terminal is not to be missed. Our hotel was on 42nd Street, Lexington Avenue which meant we walked through the terminal twice every day and it took my breath away every. single. time.
With the mix of luxury shops and a whole floor dedicated to the dining concourse its hard to know whether to shop or eat! Being the foodie I am I opted to eat! It was a hard choice with 22 eatery’s to chose from! Do we go sweet or savoury or both! We opted for a chicken gyros from Eata Pita which were to die for & Finished with a muffin from Magnolia Bakery (the best cake makers in the state of New York – I think!) But there’s much more to choose from including coffees, pizza, ice cream and bagels! Grab something to go whilst taking the exit via the Grand Central Food Market. And better yet if your exploring New York on a budget the terminal is free!
3. Top of The Rock!
There is only one word to describe the view from the top of the Rockefeller Centre: spectacular. You can see the whole of the city beneath you at 360 degrees! It’s incredible and not even great writing could justify how special it is! I guess you’ll just have to go and experience it for yourself! A lot of tourists head straight for the Top of the Rock Observation Deck which granted is on the top floor but costs $40 each so it ain’t cheap.
On my visit to New York thanks to my blog savvy mum who had done her research, we did things a little differently! We booked a swanky table at Bar 65 just three floors down from the observation deck. With a cocktail in one hand, we headed outside to enjoy the view for as long as we wanted! There was no obligation to buy food and certainly no rush to kick us out – we were there for hours! Go just before sunset and see the view in all its glory in the daylight, sunset and at night time when the skyscrapers are glowing. This is a brilliant option if you’re looking to get a little bit more for your money!
Tip: The bar is swanky so make sure you’ve got a cocktail dress in your luggage for the occasion! You never who you might bump into!
4. Central Park
Beautiful views over Central Park: Top 10 Things to Do in New York City
The thing that I love the most about this city is its ability to surprise! In a city full of skyscrapers located on fifth avenue is over 800 acres of greenery! Madness right? It’s the biggest park in the city of New York and is incredible! Better yet it’s absolutely free! Of course, true to 21st-century fashion there’s a ton of activities in the park which could rob you blind if you let them! But the best way to explore Central Park is on foot taking in the scenery!
Once inside the park, there’s a mountain of fun to throw yourself into! Anything from the Central Park Zoo, a rowing boat on one of the many lakes, visiting Alice in Wonderland herself or pay tribute to John Lennon at Strawberry Fields! Something to note – the park is huge and you will need all day if you plan to see the whole thing! Luckily if you’re strapped for time you can hop on and off the subway or hire a cycle!
Tip: Buy a map from one of the guides inside Central Park! They will only set you back a couple of dollars and you will get lost if you don’t get one! Especially if you’re on a time limit! Also, they are a great souvenir!