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Top 10 Budget-Friendly Attractions in New York City

Here's what you need to know...
  • New York city is home to some of the most diverse metropolitan attractions that don’t break the bank
  • If you enjoy music, visit Staten Island to hear some of the most talented and undiscovered musicians play
  • Watch classic films at beautiful Falls Park for free or pay just $1 for an alcohol wristband
  • See iconic relics from all over the world and historical art pieces on free museum days
  • Burn calories and go on a free walking tour or go by Staten Island or Ikea Ferry for free ferry tours

In 1776, New York declared its independence from Great Britain and became one of the original 13 states. Just nine years later, after forcing British troops out, New York City was named the first capital of the United States.

Throughout the next two centuries, more than 12 million immigrants passed through the world famous immigration facility called Ellis Island, which is located right next to the Statue of Liberty.

Because so many immigrants who were escaping wars and religious persecution were welcomed into New York City, New Yorkers are some of the proudest and loyal residents in the U.S.

Even New Yorkers who relocate across the country still display their love for the Big Apple and all of the cultures in it. The City and its surrounding boroughs are unlike any place in the world.

If this has you wanting to visit New York City, enter your ZIP code above first and compare at least three to four policies today!

What is there to do in New York?

There’s no shortage of things to keep you entertained and your appetite satiated in New York City. If walking down the street to see street performers isn’t enough, you can choose from one of the hundreds of different sites or locations that can easily be described as life-altering.

While the pizza is undeniably great, there’s a lot more to New York City than a slice of pie.

If you’re asking what there is to do in New York City, the short answer is what isn’t there to do?

Visit Little Italy on Arthur Ave., see cultural relics at one of NY’s world-famous museums, brave the die-hard Knicks fans at Madison Square Garden, and hear music from the future’s most influential musicians that haven’t even been discovered yet in Staten Island.

There are endless things to do that won’t even cost you money!

Safety Travel Tips

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It’s important to adopt safe habits wherever you travel. There’s some type of perception that New York City is a dangerous place to be or live. Surprisingly enough, this perception is based on movie and media depictions and not necessarily fact.

Believe it or not, even though the city has a growing population of 8.5 million people, which is more than twice the population of Los Angeles, it’s still ranked in the top 10 safest large cities.

It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling to one of the nation’s safest region or one of the nation’s most dangerous areas, you still have to put safety on your list of priorities wherever you’re going. Out-of-towners and even new residents in the city could easily be overwhelmed by the large crowds of people flooding the sidewalks at all times of the day.

If you want to have your best experience, here are safety tips specific to New York City:

— Keep Your Cool

Some of the most skilled swindlers in New York will target people who look like they’re from out of town. If you’re walking the streets looking overwhelmed or overly disoriented, you’ll become an easy target.

It’s not unusual for scammers to try and offer you a ferry tour of the city just to find that the ride is actually free. Keep your cool, and you won’t be preyed upon.

— Divert Panhandlers

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It’s also not unusual to come into contact with a panhandler. Not all of them have signs asking for help or jars full of change.

Some of them have sob stories about being lost or stuck in the city without a way home. It’s best just to say no and keep walking regardless of how persistent they are.

— Don’t Fall For Pickpocket Acts

With so many street performers and professionals on their way to the office, it’s easy to fall victim to pickpockets. Not all performers are magicians and musicians; some are pickpockets who are working in teams to take your wallet or your money.

If you’re aware of the tactics, you can stay safe.

When walking in Manhattan, Harlem, or Brooklyn, don’t stop and look when someone acts out a scene to cause a commotion. A commotion is the sign of a pickpocket who is trying to distract you so their buddy can rummage through your pockets.

Keep going or call an officer for help if you think it’s a dangerous situation.

— Don’t Flaunt

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Don’t wear expensive jewelry, watches, or purses. If you keep the minimalist approach if you’re walking as a tourist in New York City, there’s no reason to worry about being robbed.

Always organize your cash and cards in your wallet, so you never have to rummage through it in public.

— Always Have Insurance

Not many people who are new to New York City choose to drive themselves around town. With all of the congestion on the streets and all of the pedestrian crowds, it can be incredibly intimidating to a new city driver.

If you do drive, you must have mandatory liability insurance.

In addition to carrying Bodily Injury and Property Damage coverage, also consider adding physical damage coverage. When you have the damage coverage, you’ll have the protection that helps pay to repair your car if you do have a crash while navigating busy city streets.

— If You’re Unsure, Take a Cab

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It’s best that you start exploring all of the attractions in a cab when you’re unsure about your destination. The taxi driver can tell you if the area is known to be safe and you won’t have to worry about the subway etiquette.

Although during the daytime, when there are big crowds, a subway is a good option.

Top 10 Budget-Friendly Attractions in New York City

New York City doesn’t have to be synonymous with the word expensive when you’re looking for attractions to keep you entertained. Sure, the city has some of the most expensive rents in the world, but there’s still a huge variety of things to do that are budget-friendly.

Here are the top 10 options:

#1 — Museums

Cost: Ranges from free to $25
Must-See: The Whitney Museum of American Art Exhibits

While most museums in New York City advertise an admission fee of $25, that amount is just what’s recommended.

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art that’s nestled in Central Park, you can pay what you want for access to view Greek, Roman, European, American, and Egyptian art displays.

The same goes for the Whitney Museum of American Art if you’re visiting on Friday from 7 pm to 10 pm.

There are dozens and dozens of different museums with various modern and contemporary exhibits.

If you’re not sure where you’d like to visit, you should check out the list of the museum free days, because it changes every day of the week. Try to plan the day and time you’re going, and you can quickly narrow your list.

#2 — Walking Tours

Cost: Free (tip encouraged)
Must-See: The street-art tour in Williamsburg

There’s nothing wrong with traveling by foot in New York. If you want to learn more about the city and you’d like to immerse yourself in different environments, a free walking tour with Free Tours By Foot is perfect for you.

You can visit Little Italy, Williamsburg, Chinatown, and other world-famous streets in the Big Apple.

Every walking tour is different. If you want to go at night and you’re obsessed with the paranormal, go on a ghost walk. If you love the creative and bold pieces produced by street artists, visit the street-art capital of the city known as Williamsburg.

You can even ask to see some places where celebrities like De Niro and Brando grew up and acted up.

#3 — Ferry Tours

Cost: Ranges from free to $6
Must-See: Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty by water

If you’d prefer to take the more scenic route without having to navigate through busy sidewalks, you should consider taking the water when you’re touring the City.

You can take the free Staten Island ferry to see the iconic Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island where a majority of immigrants traveled to.

If you’d prefer to see Wall Street from the water, you can board the Ikea ferry for free on the weekends or for $5 on weekdays. There is also an East River ferry that shows you views of Manhattan and Brooklyn from the water for $4 on weekdays and just $6 on weekends.

Do one or make time to board them all.

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#4 — Sample Sales for Shoppers

Cost: Free to attend, cost of goods will vary
Must-See: Dolce & Gabbana sample sale in Feb, Mar, and June

If you’re a die-hard shopper, you feel accomplished when you find items at a discount. One of the biggest shopping secrets in the city is the sample sale.

A sample sale is a sale help in a conference room or warehouse where manufacturers sell off quality goods from prior seasons.

If you want to attend one, you need to know when they’re being held. An updated sample sale calendar will help you plan accordingly.

#5 — Music, Movies, and Live Performances

Cost: Free to $3
Must-See: Cutting edge, oddball performances at Toxic Pop

There’s a lot of talented New Yorkers just trying to get discovered. That’s why you can go to almost any block and find somewhere where there are planned or impromptu live performances.

From musicians at BB Kings in Times Square to offbeat performances at Toxic Pop, there’s a ton of options to choose from that are either free or very cheap.

#6 — 9/11 Memorial

Cost: Free on Tuesdays or $24
Must-See: Two waterfalls that are located where the Twin Towers stood before the attack

More than 3,000 people died in the terrorist attacks of September 11. 9/11 is a date that the nation will mourn the lives of thousands of New Yorkers.

To honor those who were lost that day, architect Peter Walker designed a memorial with the names of each victim etched into the stone. It’s powerful to see the waterfalls and fountains now located where the Twin Towers once stood.

#7 — Take a Walk in the Park

Cost: Free
Must-See: High Line Park in the sky

It doesn’t cost you anything to take a stroll in the park. The thing about New York is that there are so many different parks to choose from.

One of the more popular destinations is High Line park, which is an elevated park surrounded by wild flowers that are far more peaceful than the city it’s huddling above. Central Park is also a great option if you want to feel removed from the hustle and bustle of the city.

#8 — Enjoy the Skyline Views

Cost: Ranges
Must-See: See Central Park and the Manhattan skyline from the Met’s Roof Garden

You know that you can see some of the best skyline views atop the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building, but admission to these historic monuments is expensive and you have to book your trip in advance.

While it would be nice to experience what it’s like to go atop the symbol of liberty, there are cheaper alternatives.

One would be to visit the Martini Bar located on the Met’s Roof Garden after you’re done looking at art downstairs. There’s also a good spot in Battery Park City where you can enjoy unobstructed skyline views while sitting on the Hudson River.

If you want to go on a picnic, Governor’s Island is a great place for a day out on the water and even a small concert.

#9 — Outdoor Exercise Alternatives

Cost: $9.95 to $30
Must-See: See Hell’s Kitchen via Citi Bike

Walking will help you work a sweat, but there’s only so far that you can walk. If you want to burn calories but also stay entertained, skip the gym.

There are plenty of options that you can choose from renting a Citi Bike for the day for $9.95 to going for a swim in the free outdoor Asser Levy Pool on hot summer days.

#10 — Cheap Eats

Cost: Ranges
Must-See: The amazingly huge list of options at world-famous food trucks in Manhattan

Life revolves around delicious eats in the Big Apple. While you can find some of the most refined restaurants here, you can also find cheap eats that don’t skimp on flavor.

Where to eat depends on what you have a craving for. From Halal chicken and rice bowls and Vietnamese apps at the Saigon Shack to fried chicken sammies from Cheeky Sandwiches, the sky is the limit when it comes to cheap eats.

If you don’t want to go to a sit-down restaurant but you still want a tasty and cheap treat, there are plenty of street carts and food trucks that you can stop by.

If you’re the extra-frugal type,  Amy’s Bread offers some of the best pastries, the Doughnut Plant is the place for doughnuts, and pick about any deli in NYC to get sandwiches and/or bagels. Any of these locations will have options that are $6 or less.

Money-Saving Tips for Social Outings

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You don’t have to stay huddled in your hotel or your apartment just to save money when everything you do has to fit into a budget. There are ways to enjoy yourself and still find a way to go out and have fun.

If you’re looking for ways to stay social and still be frugal, here are some tips:

  • Look for deals on Groupon and coupons to cut costs
  • Attend free or low-cost festivals instead of concerts
  • Go to a BYOB restaurant
  • Search free event postings online to plan your weekend
  • Walk more to save money on fares
  • Have a potluck

Not everything in New York is high-priced. You can still find ways to enjoy the city even if you’re on a limited budget.

Make sure that you plan accordingly, and before driving in any area of the city, make sure that you have low-cost auto insurance. The quickest way to find low-cost coverage is to price shop online.

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