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How to Save Money in New York City: Budget Travellers Guide

How to Save Money in New York City: Budget Travellers Guide

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. 

The one holiday that might be an exception is the 4th of July. This is when we visited New York for 4 days. I wrote a whole post on why you should visit New York in July here but the main reason I booked those dates was because of the cheaper flights and accommodation! 

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! 

mum and I at serendipity 3
Having the occasional ‘splurge’ for a meal out!

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.


    
        Booking.com

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 
  • Times Square 
  • Brooklyn Bridge 
  • Grand Central Terminal 
  • Panoramic Views of New York City from above at sunset 
  • Central Park
  • 5th Avenue 
  • Bryant Park 
  • Bloomingdales 
  • 9/11 Memorial 
  • The Highline 

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.

staten island ferry new york
The Staten Island Ferry

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! 

New York City, New York City, Top 10, Things to do
Grand Central, New York City

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! 

me in central park new york
Me strolling around Central Park a few years ago!

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?!  

9/11 Memorial 

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!

9/11 museum new york
The 9/11 Memorial

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! 

eggs benedict at scottys dinner new york city
Breakfast is enough to keep you going all day at Scottys!

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 
  • Scotty’s Diner –  Breakfast – Lexington Ave Manhattan
  • S’mac and Cheese – Manhattan 
  • The Grey Dog –  West Village
  • Best Bagel and Coffee – Midtown
  • IHOP – Pancakes in Manhattan 

Check out this post by Time Out for a much longer list of some budget eats in New York City! 

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!

The Frozen Hot Chocolate at Serendipity 3
The Frozen Hot Chocolate at Serendipity 3!

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!

Other New York City Resources:

If you know any other tips on saving money in New York then let me know in the comments below! 

Happy Travels,

Alicia

A Perfect 4 Day New York Itinerary

A Perfect 4 Day New York Itinerary

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. 

It all depends on personal preference. I wrote a post all about visiting New York in July which you can take a look at here if you want. 

Things to Know About New York City Before You Go 

  • 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:

Taxi 

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. 

Take a look at this page on the airport website for more information about taxis 

Shuttle Bus 

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. 

Subway 

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 
  • Bryant Park
  • New York Public Library 
  • The Rockefeller Centre
  • Times Square 
  • 5th Avenue 
  • Central Park 
  • The High-Line 
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • The Statue of Liberty 
  • 9/11 Museum 
  • St. Patricks Cathedral 
  • Broadway

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! 

eggs benedict at scottys dinner new york city
Breakfast is enough to keep you going all day at Scotty’s!

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! 

Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central

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. 

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. 

Find out more about events in Bryant Park when you visit here! 

Day One in New York City – Afternoon 

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 

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.

Bar 65 in New York City one of the best things to do on a 4 day new york itinerary
The views from Bar 65 …

Day Two of the 4 Day Itinerary to New York – Rockefeller Centre, 5th Avenue and Central Park 

Rockefeller Centre 

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! 

radio city music hall new york
Radio City Music Hall New York!

5th Avenue 

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) 
  • Strawberry Fields
  • Alice in Wonderland Statue 
  • Bow Bridge 
  • Row on the Lake 
  • Enjoy a Picnic on the Great Lawn 
  • Cherry Hill
  • Turtle Lake 
  • 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.  

9/11 museum new york
The 9/11 Memorial

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. 

Book your tickets here! 

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. 

Madison gardens
The gardens in New York are so gorgeous!

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.

Take a look at the official website for more information about the high-line.

Day Four – 4 Day New York City Itinerary 

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.

Find out more information on their website here! 

The Best Places for Cheap (ish) Eats 

$ Cheap

$$ Medium

$$$ A little more dollar

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! 

For more Free Things to Do in New York City take a look at my post here! 

Sharing is Caring

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! 

Wishing you happy and healthy travels, 

Alicia

Why You Should Visit New York in July

Why You Should Visit New York in July

 

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!

Looking for Accommodation in New York? Take a look at my post on Where to Stay in New York during your first visit here!

Staten Island Ferry Ride in July on a hot summers day!

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:

Time Out New York 

NYC.com

NYC Go The Official Guide to New York 

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!

Strolling around Central Park in Summer is Pure Happiness!

Take a look at the 10 things I recommend doing in New York on your first visit here!

Transport in New York City in July

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!

Happy and Healthy Travels, 

Alicia 

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One Day San Francisco Itinerary for First Timers!

One Day San Francisco Itinerary for First Timers!

This one day San Francisco Itinerary is perfect for first-timers visiting the city for a short amount of time. California will always have a special place in my heart. After all, it was what I like to call my first real travel destination. After completing a three-year nursing degree I needed to get out of the UK and explore something other than the anatomy textbooks that had dominated my world as a nursing student. I craved to see what was out there. The notion of stepping onto a plane and in a matter of hours I’d be in another part of the world amazed me and still does to this very day.

During my first visit to San Francisco, I was simply nothing but an excitable twenty-one-year-old. I was just beyond thrilled to be out on my own adventures. That said, it’s no surprise that the majority of the west coast of the USA left me speechless. But like anything some places made left their mark more than others and San Francisco was up there.

I’m not sure if it’s the urban chic vibe or the seaside air that made me fall in the love with San Francisco but I did. I first visited San Francisco during a Trek America Tour in 2015. Even though this city is vast it is possible to see a lot of San Francisco in a short amount of time. This one day in San Francisco Itinerary is perfect for those just passing through the city. Hopefully, though, you’re lucky enough to be stopping for more than one day.

Read More About My Other Favourite Place During this Tour Here!

Morning – See the Golden Gate Bridge

Let’s just get straight into it shall we and start with the main attraction? The Golden Gate Bridge.

There’s just something about travellers and bridges. They seem to get everybody all het up and excited, me included! The impressive Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is no exception. This amazing suspension bridge was built way back in 1933 and functioning by 1937. This epic structure stretches to 1.7 miles long connecting San Francisco Bay to the Pacific ocean. With burnt orange architecture, The Golden Gate bridge is pretty beautiful and I’m sure one of the most Instagrammed bridges in the world!

Best Ways to See the Golden Gate Bridge

There’s plenty of options when it comes to seeing the bridge up close and personal depending on what you like doing. For me it wasn’t ever going to be a choice, I was always going to walk the bridge. Walking is the best way to explore any place in the world. But don’t worry if you don’t fancy the walk or can’t for health reasons then you can drive over the bridge and take in the views from your very own passenger seat! You can also cycle the bridge too (definitely going to do this myself when I visit next)! You can check out where and how to hire a bike here!

Weather in San Francisco

If you’ve researched the weather in San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge, in particular, you’ll have seen a lot of fog! Unfortunately, the fog is a little like rain in the UK. Constant and annoying with very little you can do about it. Because of where San Francisco is located on the coastline, much like the whole of California, it suffers from fog, especially in the summer months. So just be prepared for some fog! But try not let it haze your views too much (pun not intended)! On day one we arrived at the bridge to thick fog clouds and on day two we were enjoying a cruise under the bridge with the clearest of blue skies!

the foggy golden gate bridge in san francisco
Our first foggy sighting of the Golden Gate Bridge!

Top Tip: Arrive at the bridge early in the morning for sunrise and you’ll have a beautiful experience and so much longer to spend exploring!

Lunch – Grab a bite to Eat at Fisherman’s Wharf

fishermans wharf san francisco
Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco

Fisherman’s Wharf is a little bit like the hub of the city and foodie heaven! Filled with food to die for, entertainment, drinks and shops all tied together with a warm community feel. Fisherman’s Wharf is the place to be to grab a bite to eat whether its breakfast, lunch or dinner you’ll find plenty of options! The main attraction on the wharf is seafood but there’s plenty of other genres of cuisine to get stuck into too! But if your open to trying new foods and your into fish then you’ve got to try the famous clam chowder served in a hot crusty bread roll. Or bun, bap or cob whatever you call it where you are! It is seriously good!

Watch the Sea-Lions on Pier 39

San Francisco, Things to do, explore San Francisco, Pier 39, Sea Lion
Sea Lions at Pier 39, San Francisco

After you’ve enjoyed your chowder and other culinary delights on the Wharf head down to pier 39! You might be wondering what the hype is with pier 39 especially if you don’t know much about San Francisco. Well, I can tell you-you’re in for a treat especially if you’re an animal lover! Pier 39 is home to hundreds of sea lions, sometimes up to 900 at a time! The sea lions started arriving at the pier after an earthquake in 1989 and have come back for the winters ever since! It was such an experience watching them up close and personal from just metres away. I think it was possibly one of my favourite things about the unique city of San Francisco.

Afternoon – Visit Alcatraz Island

San Francisco view from Alcatraz island
The views from Alcatraz Island

One of the things that had me falling in love with San Francisco is its chic urban feel. But what’s also great about this versatile city is that its also riddled with history! If you’re into history then you must catch the ferry across to Alcatraz Island. Even if you’re not a history buff Alcatraz is well worth a visit.

Alcatraz was once home to some of Americas most deadly criminals and still stands as It did then which is pretty cool to see. There are a couple of options to exploring the island you can simply just walk around, take a guided tour or an audio tour, the choice is yours! I didn’t know very much stepping onto the ground where the most dangerous people once walked about Alcatraz so opted for the audio tour! You need around three hours on the island but is definitely worth it and the views of San Francisco City from the island are spectacular! You can check out tickets here!

Visit Lombard Street

If history isn’t for you then you should definitely go and check out the more chic and quirky things to do in the city including, going on a hunt for the steepest and windiest road ever! It’s pretty special! Lombard Street is one of San Francisco’s most photographed places and you can see why! Now everywhere you go in San Francisco is steep but this street is one of a kind! It’s so steep that some of the houses look like they are on tilt! But it’s definitely worth checking out whilst you’re in town! If you’re really good with your time you could head here straight from Alcatraz Island to see both!

As your day draws into a close your probably heading back on the road gutted you didn’t see more of this great city! Or you’re here for the night?! GREAT! Because there is plenty of things to get up to in San Francisco on a night time too! Unfortunately, I ain’t much of a clubber so I haven’t got a list of the best bars or clubs for you! But I do have some better alternatives!

Catamaran Cruise at Sunset

sunset in san francisco
Sunset from the water, San Francisco

Remember those lyrics ‘As Sunday sun falls down on San Francisco Bay..’? I hope I’m not the only one who occasionally listens to Beautiful South or you’re going to think I’ve gone insane! Anyway, what better way to finish off the day than with a sunset cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge? I can’t really think of one, provided you get a clear evening!

Unlike the night we arrived our second night in this city was crystal clear which made for a spectacular sunset! The only downside to a catamaran cruise is that they can be expensive we paid about $50-100 USD for ours but it was totally worth it! Included we got drinks and a buffet for dinner and brilliant views of the city and the iconic bridge! It’s the perfect way to round off your day in this stunning place! If San Francisco hasn’t captured your heart yet it’s sunsets might just do the trick!

Book a Catamaran Cruise Here!

Catch a Baseball Game

Baseball game we watched during our one day san francisco itinerary
San Francisco Giants vs LA Dodgers!

Now I’ve got another option if a sunset cruise isn’t your jam. If you’re a sports lover then you’ll love this option! Its time to get down with the locals and enjoy an American evening of sport at the home of the San Francisco Giants! Go watch a baseball match at the AT&T Stadium. Now coming from the UK baseball isn’t a sport that I was familiar with and I was amazed when we went to watch the Giants Vs LA Dodgers.

As someone not particularly into sports other than yoga and climbing, I was a little apprehensive to whether I would enjoy it! That said the atmosphere was so amazing that it didn’t matter that I didn’t have a clue what was going on in the actual game! Grab your travel friends, a beer and an obligatory hot or corn dog and watch the crowd go wild as the score changes! You can check out the San Francisco Giants website here for upcoming games and events!

Extra Time? Yoga on the Beach

I don’t know what kind of trip you’re taking whilst in San Francisco. Maybe it’s a week-long holiday in the bay? Or perhaps it’s a five-hour slot you’ve crammed into a big American road trip? Whatever the case even though most of us see travel as a luxury it can be hard work! Travel can easily take a toll on our bodies and our mind’s too! Let’s face it driving 8 hours every other day is no one’s idea of fun right? It’s important when travelling to take care of yourself, body and mind! If you’ve got some spare time in San Francisco then hit up your inner Yogi! It may take up a little bit of time in this one day San Francisco itinerary but I think it’d be worth it! Take one of the outdoor yoga classes that take place along the beach front! You can even take some classes for free! Take a look at here at the timetable.

Other Things to Do in San Francisco for a One Day San Francisco Itinerary

  • Visit Golden Gate Park
  • Ride the Cable Car
  • Explore Chinatown
  • Shop at Westfield
  • Hop on Hop off Alcatraz bus
  • Cycle Bay Bridge

No matter which one day San Francisco itinerary you decide to follow it will be a blast. San Francisco is definitely one of my favourite cities in the world and I can’t wait to return one day. Hopefully, you’ve got more than just one day to enjoy this beautiful city! If you enjoyed this post then please share it with your friends!

Wishing you Happy and Healthy Travels,

Alicia

Best of the USA: California Road Trip Itinerary – 14 days

Best of the USA: California Road Trip Itinerary – 14 days

California Road Trip Itinerary 14 days

The West Coast of America will always hold a special place in my heart. After years of living vicariously through others, I decided enough was enough. At twenty one I took the matter into my own hands and decided to go on an adventure of my own. At twenty-one and by myself there was only one place I was going to go. America. I don’t know why but I’ve always put America on a pedestal of being the capital of adventures, a ‘pinch me kind of place’. It didn’t take long for the flights to be booked and trip organised, I was going on a road trip of the West Coast of America! It was ultimately the start of my passion for travel, which has consistently grown bigger and bigger with every year that’s followed. In this post, I want to talk about where I spent the majority of my time, California. My road trip lasted three weeks in total but 14 days was in the sun-drenched state of California. In this post, I’m sharing an epic California Road Trip Itinerary 14 days!

California has mountains to offer as a state and could appeal to anyone and everyone. It’s home to the big cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco plus so many other gems. Relax in the beach paradises of San Diego, Santa Barbra and Santa Monica. Then pull on your hiking boots and pitch up the tent in one of the world’s best national parks, Yosemite. I only have one outstanding wish when it comes to California and that’s to do it all over again.

California Road Trip Itinerary 14 Days

Starting Destination: Los Angeles
Finishing Destination: Los Anegles
Distance: 1200 Miles/1931 Km
Time: 14 Days
Road Trip Type: Loop

California Road Trip Destinations:

  • LA
  • Death Valley
  • Yosemite
  • San Francisco
  • San Jose
  • Monterey Bay
  • Big Sur
  • Santa Monica
  • Santa Barbra

Day One Los Angeles

Los Angeles. The number one spot on a lot of peoples California Road Trip Itinerary including mine. As an avid watcher of Laguna Beach and The Hill when I was a young teen I could not wait to visit this famous city. My belief about LA is simple. I think you should go and experience it but I don’t think many go back. As cool as it was to walk the walk of fame, stand where so many stars have stood and of course see that famous sign up in the hills, I’m in no rush to return to LA. That said if I was to do this road trip all over again I would probably go back and see if my mind could be changed. After all, I was only twenty-one and I definitely appreciate more now than I did then.

My opinions aside Los Angeles should be on every California road trip itinerary especially if you’ve got 14 days. The international airport is the most sensible to fly into for the road trip so it makes sense to see it whilst being so close!

Things to See and Do in Los Angeles

Hollywood Walk of Fame

It just has to be done. The Hollywood Walk of Fame is an iconic space known all over the world. For the rich and famous it’s an honour to have your name placed on this side-walk because let’s be honest that’s exactly what it is. The Hollywood Walk of Fame was established in 1958 and the first permanent star was awarded to actress Joanna Woodward. The walk of fame is now 1.3 miles long and goes past the famous Chinese Dragon Theatre too. It does feel pretty cool to stand where some of the worlds best actresses, actors and performers have stood! The walk of fame is, of course, free and a great way to spend the morning whilst exploring more of Hollywood Boulevard.

Hollywood walk of fame

Of course!

See the Hollywood Sign

Okay, when I do eventually get back to California and if we visit LA then the one thing I want to get closer to is the Hollywood sign! You can hike close to the sign via Griffith park or the Wonder View Trail. Because I did this road trip as part of a Trek America tour we were on limited time and had to see the sign from quite far away. We viewed the sign from the Hollywood Highland mall and although it was cool it was WAY too far away!

Did you know that the sign originally read ‘Hollywoodland’ about some houses being built beneath! Of course, it wasn’t long before it got linked to the ‘Hollywood’ film industry!

Drive to the Coast to See Venice Beach Via Beverly Hills

Spend the afternoon in Los Angeles on the legendary Venice Beach! If you’ve not heard of Venice Beach then perhaps you’ll have heard of Muscle Beach. Muscle Beach is located on Venice Beach and very fun to visit. It was quiet when were there but when it’s busy be prepared to be surrounded by bodybuilders and a lot of hot bods! As well as Muscle Beach the streets that line Venice Beach are packed to the brim with shops, cafes, bars and indy sellers.

The beach itself is gorgeous and the sunset on Venice Beach is mesmerising. Take a picnic, have a swim in the ocean, catch an LA sun glow and enjoy. Stroll up and down the beach taking it all in. I loved this part of LA. Be aware of pickpocketers on Venice Beach too especially on the side-walks. There are also street sellers offering you anything and everything so just be mindful of where your bag/purse is as a lot of robberies are reported in this area.

If you don’t drive through Beverly Hills then did you even go to LA? Although you can hardly see anything because of the tall hedges and steel gates it’s worth going for a nosey. If there’s time then hit up the shops at Rodeo Drive and feel like a complete star!

Other Things to Do in Los Angeles

  • Visit Disneyland
  • Explore amazing views from Griffith Park
  • Watch a show at Hollywood Bowl
  • Take a free walking tour
  • Watch a baseball game at the LA Dodgers stadium

These are just a few more ideas/things to experiance in LA during this California 14 Day Road Trip!

Los Angeles to Death Valley – Day Two

Death Valley National Park

Tittering on the edge of the state of California is the incredible Death Valley. Death Valley is awesome paired in with Las Vegas which we did but I’ll be creating another post on the whole road trip as we went quite far our of California! But without visiting the crazy Nevada desert Death Valley is a must-see place on any California road trip.

death valley

The crazy landscape that is Death Valley

Death Valley is a land of the extraordinary. Where heat and humidity reach a whopping new level and the meaning of ‘mind-blowing’ is taken to another level. I recommend spending a whole day exploring Death Valley even though you could spend a lot longer in this vast land. The most popular area to visit and where we too went was to Badwater Basin. Death Valley is most famous for its salt formations and Badwater Basin brings you right into the heart of it.

As the lowest point you get to in the western hemisphere it’s a very cool place to visit. Out on the salt flats very little can survive meaning you’ll find virtually no animal or plant life at Badwater Basin.

Badwater Basin in Death Valley

Pretty cool right?

To find out more about how to vast Salt Flats were formed at Death Valley take a look here! Because if I explain it I’m 100% bound to get it wrong.

Death Valley to Yosemite – Days 3-5

Yosemite could arguably be in the top 5 best national parks in the world. Who said that? Well, me. It’s one of the best national parks I’ve ever visited. The incredible giant sequoias, mountainous landscape and gushing waterfalls are enough to make you fall in love with America. Three days is a great amount of time to spend in Yosemite during a California road trip. Even though I could spend a week, if not more, in Yosemite three days is a great length of time to explore. My top picks whilst experiencing Yosemite National Park are below.

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia (Redwoods)

Hike amongst giant sequoias in Mariposa Grove. Home to over 500 mature redwoods this area of Yosemite is incredible. My favourite hike was the Guardians Loop Trail and I highly recommend it. Wind in and out the towering sequoia in awe at how fantastic nature really is. This loop, in particular, is 6.5 miles or 10.5 km so some walking/hiking experience is advantageous. This is where the incredibly famous Wawona Tunnel Tree was found until a storm brought it down in 2012. Now stands The California Tunnel Tree. A great area of Yosemite to be at one with nature.

Waterfalls in Yosemite

There are some awesome waterfalls in Yosemite and I need to go back to see them all! Yosemite falls is super popular but one of the harder walks if you want to reach the top. But if you can’t manage a big hike then you can see the fall from Columbia Rock which is only a 2 mile round trip. The hike to the top of the falls however is an 11.6 km round trip reaching an elevation of 823 metres.

For more information of both of these hikes take a look here

You could spend a whole day finding the different waterfalls in Yosmite there are so many! For a complete guide to the waterfalls in Yosemite check out this amazing guide by World of Waterfalls.

Explore the Various Look Out Points in Yosemite

Yosemite is full of unique vantage points. One moment a waterfall stands before you, then a mountainous backdrop then a huge redwood. Honestly, the sensational views in Yosemite just keep on coming. There are so many to explore and a lot can be accessed via car. Half Dome and Tunnel View are a couple of these most popular.

Check out this post for a comprehensive list of amazing lookout points in Yosemite! 

My biggest piece of advice when visiting Yosemite during your 14 Day California Road Trip is to spend as many days there as you can. Especially, if you call yourself an adventure seeker Yosemite will be your haven.

Yosemite to San Francisco – Days 6-9

Ever since being little I’ve wanted to explore the streets of San Francisco. I think it probably began after a slight obsession with the film Princess Diaries! After years of lusting about riding the tram, walking up and down the many hills and of course seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, when I got there it certainly didn’t disappoint. San Francisco stole my heart away. It still stands as one of my all-time favourite cities in the world, probably more so than Sydney Australia!

The urban hip feel that San Francisco has on offer along with its vast amount of history makes it a fascinating place to visit. There is so much to do see and San Francisco but a couple of days is easy enough time to see the main attractions. In fact, you can see a lot of San Francisco in just one day!

Things to Do in San Francisco During a California Road Trip

With three days in San Francisco here are the main things to do and see. A mix of culture, food, history and epic views are what makes this place special. Not to mention amazing sealife and a sunset to impress.

See The Golden Gate Bridge

I think this one may be a given but nonetheless, it has to be the first thing you do in San Francisco. It’ll probably be one of the most memorable sights from this California road trip! I know it’s certainly stuck in my head for all these years. The possibilities are endless when it comes to seeing the bridge. Drive, walk, run or cycle the choices are yours but I highly recommend walking. You get to see life from a different perspective when you walk and the details in the bridge are so worth it.

California in 14 Days! California is one insane state. From incredible national parks to the bright lights of LA there is so much to do! But it is possible to fit everything into 14 Days! In this post I'm sharing a brilliant 14 day California itinerary that you just don't to miss. It includes all the hotspots that amazing state has on offer. | California 14 day road trip | #usa #america #bestofusa #bestofamerica #californiaroadtrip #yosemite #deathvalley #LA #sanfrancisco

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Visit Alcatraz

Alcatraz Island/Prison is another San Francisco must do! Learn the vast history that comes hand in hand with San Francisco. I enjoyed Alcatraz a lot more than I thought. I recommend booking a ticket in advance and going on the audio tour too. The audio tour gives you all the gory details that you wouldn’t know (unless you’re a history buff) and it is really interesting! The views back to San Francisco are second to none as well.

Find out more about tickets/the tours at Alcatraz here

Eat/Explore on Fishermans Wharf

Fishermans Wharf is the perfect place to try the San Francisco world famous clam chowder! Served in a bread bun it is so delicous! Whilst you’re on the waterfront make sure you head down to Pier 39 to see a colony of sealions too!

Watch the Sunset/Sunset Cruise

The sunset over the Golden Gate Bridge is fantastic! I was lucky enough to go on a catermaran sunset cruise which was nothing short of amazing. If you’ve got a little cash to spare then I highly recommend it! If not just head back to the bridge to watch the sunsetting over the ocean!

Other Things to Do in San Francisco

  • Explore Lombard Street
  • Watch a baseball game at the home of the San Francisco Giants
  • Ride on the cable car
  • Shop in Union Sqaure
  • Enjoy the sights with the hop-on hop-off bus
  • Hike Lands End

San Francisco to San Jose – Day 10

I feel like San Jose should be included in a 14 day California road trip but I must admit we only drove by. San Jose is a popular city in California. It’s known as the hub of technology and has an abundance of museums, art exhibitions and sports activities to indulge in! I won’t talk to much about it because I can’t but The Crazy Tourist has an awesome list of things to do in San Jose!

Monterey Bay and Big Sur – Day 11

After a couple of days in the cities on San Jose and San Francisco, it’s time to leave the urban lifestyle behind and get to the California Coast. Arguably one of the best coastal highway drives in the world. Take in the mesmerising views as you weave in and out of the ocean.

When you hit Monterey Bay stop the car and go for a gorgeous stroll around the stroll. If you read Of Mice and Men at school then you’ll have heard of John Steinbeck. He grew up in Monterey Bay and you can buy his books in the local stores. Monterey Bay is a gorgeous coastal town with a big fishing culture and scenic views all around.

Big Sur

Credit: Austin Prock

It’s a lot to do in one day but it felt it easy to accomplish. Big Sur is one of the quietest and most scenic places I remember from this trip especially down at McWay Falls. After a short 0.6 mile walk from the car, McWay Falls is a great way to finish off the day. You can only see the falls from above as the beach below is completely private – which leaves some people a little aggy about this spot but I think the beauty will be preserved for a lot longer. We viewed the falls from the vantage point just off from Highway 1 but you can get to other views points in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. That said I do know there have been some track closures in 2019 so check before you go!

San Luis – Day 12

After a three hour drive down from Big Sur stop-over in San Luis and explore the gorgeous town. Known for its beautiful landscape and great farmers markets San Luis is a great day just to breathe. But before you hit San Luis make sure you stop off at the Elephant Seal Beach Vista Point. 

I remember our tour guide bringing us to this beach and from the distance I could see a beach full of boulders. Oh, how wrong was I. No on the beach in front of me lay not boulders but Elephant Seals! These seals were almost made extinct because of hunters hunting them for their very oily rubber! But the Elephant Seal made a comeback and you’ll find a whole colony on this beach! Both male and female seals come to this beach throughout the year and thousands are spotted every year! It was truly magical!

For more information on the seals that migrate to this spot click here.

Santa Monica and Santa Barbra – Day 13

Think bikini babes, golden tans, jet skis and drinks on the pier. Santa Barbra the posh end compared to Venice beach if you will. It’s lined with restaurants and bars that lead to the Santa Monica pier, which for me is the highlight.

Grab a coffee or beer and walk down the promenade there are restaurants, cafes and bars if you like. But for me the simplicity of the sea at the end of the pier is all you need. We only had  quick whistle stop tour to Santa Barbra at the latter end of our road trip but the snippet I saw was beautiful. Take a great book and dangle your legs off the side of the pier and enjoy

Santa Monica is also a gorgeous coastal town but with a little more to do. It’s great to just take walks along the beach or hit up Pacific Park if you enjoy rides/the fun fair. These two spots are an epic way to finish up a great 14 Day California Road Trip!

Things to Do in Santa Monica

  • Pacific Park
  • Bike Tour of the City
  • Looking for a thrill? 26 Mile Bike Path Ride (you might need longer in the area though)!
  • Enjoy Santa Monica Pier
  • Visit the City Hall

Final Day of the California Road Trip Itinerary – 14 Days!

So I guess as we reach Day 14 the great big California Road Trip comes to an end! Of Course, if you do have more time then there are some extra places I’ve put below because visiting San Diego was also awesome but it’s a further one hour south of Los Angeles. I would’ve also loved the Joshua Tree National Park to have been in the itinerary too! Another great reason to revisit California right?

Stretch your California Road Trip 14 Days to 15 and see San Diego!

I didn’t really know what to expect visiting San Diego as I thought it would be very residential. When I arrived one of my favourite things happened, I unexpectedly fell in love with the place! If you want my opinion San Diego is one of the most beautiful places in California. It has it all from gorgeous beaches that stretch for miles, museums galore and food to die for.

We spent most of our one day in San Diego lapping up the rays on the beach and walking along the front. This included dreaming about living in one of the million dollar pads that overlook the sea! San Diego definitely has a dreamy feel to it and is so ‘California’! San Diego is what I expect from California.

California Road Trip Itinerary 14 Days – Please Share!

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I hope you enjoyed this California road trip itinerary – 14 days to help you plan and book your road trip! 14 Days is great length of time to visit all the best places California has to offer but if you can stretch it a little further then why not! If you did enjoy this post please share it with your friends!

Wishing you an awesome road trip and as always

Happy and Healthy Travels,

Alicia

8 Free Things to do in New York City

8 Free Things to do in New York City

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

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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

8 free things to do in new york

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

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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!

Top Tip: Check out this website for details of free exercise classes on the lawn!

4. Grand Central Terminal

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Broadway, New York City

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!

Top Tip: Find the list of shops and eatery’s on the concourse here!

5. Times Square

Times Square. New York City. Things to Do, Top 10

Times Square. 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, Things to do, top 10

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

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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

8 free things to do in new york

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!

Free things to do in New York City