Guides New York New York on a Budget: Tips & Tricks for Sightseeing & Dining

New York on a Budget: Tips & Tricks for Sightseeing & Dining

City Guide August 8, 2023


Welcome to the city that never sleeps, where dreams are made, and opportunities abound – New York City! You’ve heard the rumors, and they’re kinda right. New York can be expensive. But if there’s a will, there’s a way, and we’ll show you.

In this comprehensive guide filled with New York Tips & Tricks, we'll reveal the best-kept secrets for experiencing the city's magic without breaking the bank. From the best free spots for Sightseeing to the best dining experiences on a budget, we've got you covered with budget-friendly recommendations for every traveler.

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Sightseeing on a Budget

Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty

Let's kick off your thrifty adventure with a list of the city's finest free tourist attractions. First on the agenda is the world-famous Statue of Liberty, an iconic symbol of freedom. While getting up close might cost a pretty penny, you can still enjoy magnificent views aboard the Staten Island ferry – a free, scenic ride offering glimpses of Lady Liberty and the breathtaking Manhattan skyline.

The ferry operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, departing approximately every 30 minutes during peak hours. The schedule may vary slightly on weekends and holidays, but you can expect regular and reliable daily service. And while the Staten Island Ferry does not have a pre-recorded tour guide explaining the sights, you find the experience just as gratifying as you can explore the landmarks at your own pace.


Brooklyn Bridge

Another gem in the heart of NYC is the Brooklyn Bridge. The grandeur of this architectural marvel is yours to behold without spending a dime. That’s right. You can catch the sights and take all the pictures for free here. Take a stroll across the bridge and snap Instagram-worthy photos of the city's splendor – a must for all-time visitors to the city.

If you want to get the most out of your experience and turn it into an educational one, you can walk along and notice the charming little plaques with historical information about the bridge. They’ll give you a glimpse into its rich past and the incredible engineering that went into its construction.


Gallery Hopping

For art enthusiasts, Gallery Hopping is an enriching and pocket-friendly way to appreciate the city's vibrant art scene. Wander through the Chelsea and Lower East Side neighborhoods, where galleries often open their doors to visitors free of charge.

What's great about Gallery Hopping is that you can curate the experience to your interests. If you're into modern art, you'll have plenty to explore in Chelsea's contemporary galleries. Alternatively, the Lower East Side offers a mix of emerging artists and more experimental exhibits that could ignite your curiosity. If you don’t know where to head next, ask someone at the gallery. Many galleries have maps, and the curators know about the galleries nearby.


High Line

This site is for nature lovers. Welcome to the enchanting High Line, a lush urban park built on an old railway track. Meander through greenery and captivating urban art, a tranquil oasis amidst the city's hustle and bustle. Here you’ll see New York City from a whole new perspective. You'll be treated to glimpses of the iconic skyline and unique and unexpected angles of the city that you won't find anywhere else.



Dining on a Budget:

Now that you've explored some of the city's free gems let's talk about how to savor the best dining experiences on a budget. You'll be delighted that the city offers many delectable options that won't break the bank. Here are some overall recommendations!


Hot Dogs

The Hot Dog stands around the city serve a purpose. It’s a classic, and they’re not going anywhere. If you’re hungry and looking for a quick fix— a Hot Dog stan will appear to make your budget dreams come to fruition. Don’t see any around you? Just click your heels together thrice while screaming, “There’s no place like NYC.”


Bottomless Brunch

Picture this: for just around $35, you enjoy unlimited drinks paired with decent food. It's the stuff of dreams and the must-do event on Saturdays and Sundays! New York is synonymous with brunch, and brunch is a great way to fill up for a day full of activity.


Oysters during Happy Hour

Plenty of oyster happy hours await throughout the week, making them a viral activity, especially during the summer when scoring outdoor seating becomes a sport. The happy hours there start around 4 pm until 6 or 7 pm, with oysters priced at a mere $2 each. To ensure a spot, it's wise to arrive early. Restaurants quickly reach capacity, especially in the summer.



Craving some street food? Look no further than the city's mouthwatering food trucks! One of the best places to dine on a budget in NYC is Birria-Landia. Their succulent birria tacos and quesadillas are a fiesta of flavors for your taste buds, and the best part – they won't leave your wallet feeling lighter! Birria-Landia started with one food truck, and due to its growing popularity, you can find it in many spots around the city.

Address: 77-99 Roosevelt Ave, Queens, NY (Original location)


Forma Pasta

Pasta aficionados, rejoice! At Forma Pasta Factory, you can indulge in handmade pasta dishes that are both affordable and divine. The charm of this cozy eatery is surpassed only by the heavenly taste of its pasta creations.

Address: 14 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11222


Joes Pizza

If you're seeking an authentic New York experience, you can enjoy a classic New York slice of Pizza at Joe's. As one of the city's beloved pizza joints, Joe's Pizza serves up a slice of heaven without the hefty price tag. Eating on a budget doesn’t mean compromising or missing out on the classic spots in NYC.

Address: 7 Carmine St, New York, NY


Sweet Pickle Books

Not technically a dinner spot, but certainly a place for a budget snack. This is a bookshop however, if you trade in a book or a vinyl, you can score free pickles. You’ll probably not re-read your airport book, so trade it in for a yummy low-glycemic snack!

47 Orchard Street, New York, NY



Explore the NYC Neighborhoods

While Times Square and the Empire State Building are must-visit landmarks, venture beyond the typical tourist traps to experience the city's unique neighborhoods.

The East Village is a haven for artistic souls and budget-conscious travelers alike. Here, you'll find quirky shops, vintage boutiques, and a vibrant atmosphere that will make you feel like a local.

Washington Square Park is a lively public space perfect for a relaxing afternoon. Join the locals for a picnic or watch street performers showcase their talents without spending a cent. If you want to explore more neighborhoods and don’t know where to begin, read this article to learn more.


Public Transportation

If you look up how to visit NYC on a budget, public transportation and using it is usually first on the list, and for good reason. Getting around the city efficiently is essential, and that's where public transportation comes to the rescue. The subway and buses are budget-friendly and the quickest way to navigate the city's hustle and bustle. Invest in a MetroCard to access unlimited rides during your stay if you plan to use the metro a lot.



Final Tips

  1. Consider using city passes like the New York CityPASS or the Explorer Pass to access multiple attractions at discounted rates.
  2. Repeat after us, “Happy hour is my BFF.” Checking out the happy hour deals around the city is the best way to sample and try as many restaurants as possible without breaking the bank.
  3. Websites like NYC Parks and Eventbrite can help you find free concerts and events around the city!
  4. When shopping for souvenirs, head to local markets like the Union Square Greenmarket or the Grand Bazaar NYC, where you can find unique and reasonably priced items.
  5. Consider booking accommodations in less touristy neighborhoods like Queens or Brooklyn, where hotel rates are often more budget-friendly!

Now, equipped with these insider tips, it's time to embark on your thrifty adventure in the heart of the city! Visiting New York City on a budget doesn't mean sacrificing the magic of the experience. Embrace the charm, savor the flavors, and create unforgettable memories without having to remortgage the house.

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