Prices may be rising in the city, but you can still have a great visit in the Big Apple without breaking the bank. New York is full of inexpensive entertainment—pay-what-you-want museums, theater for under $10, books that cost less than a cup of coffee, and acres of beautiful public parks for you to explore. So whether you’re coming with a tight wallet or have strategically planned your splurges, there’s plenty for you to do.
Visit The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian down by Battery Park to explore centuries worth of items. The free museum has rotating and permanent exhibitions showcasing hundreds of pieces from native North, Central and South American civilizations. Check the programming calendar on the website for scheduled events.
Learn about the art of beer brewing on a thirty minute tour of Brooklyn Brewery. Tours are free on weekends, but you’ll probably want to buy a pint or two in the Tasting Room after.
Buy discounted Broadway and Off Broadway tickets last minute at one of the three TKTS booth locations around the city. Discounts range from 20-50% off and available tickets and shows are listed online on the Theater Development Fund’s website.
Since 1911, The New York Public Library’s midtown location has stunned visitors with its architectural beauty. Take a free, one hour tour of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building any day of the week at 11 am and 2 pm on Mondays through Saturdays and at 2:00 pm on Sundays, or attend a free event at one of the NYPL’s 92 locations.
Open 365 days a year, the Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City gives artists space to showcase their large-scale and multi-media projects in a curated outdoor setting. The grounds are also home to over 90 types of flora including the Urban Forest Lab Project, a sustainable forest garden. Admission is free.
Take a free 25 minute joy ride across the New York Harbor on the Staten Island Ferry. The scenery along the way and characters aboard the ship are reason enough to set sail. The Ferry runs every 30 minutes except during morning and evening rush hours when it runs every 15.
Every Sunday, the Greenflea Market takes over the playground and cafeteria of P.S. 334 on the Upper West Side with vendors selling both vintage, antique and handcrafted pieces. For a truly cheap outing, browse the many tables of unique wares and fresh food.
Do Broadway differently with Broadway Sessions, the weekly variety show. Thursday at 11 pm, Broadway’s own Ben Cameron hosts cast members from current musicals at the Laurie Beechman Theatre. Even with the $5 cover and $15 food and drink minimum, the evening is still less expensive than most theater tickets. Doors open at 10 pm.
A go-to for cheap and tasty Chinese food, Vanessa’s has been serving up fresh and homemade dumplings since they first opened in Chinatown over 10 years ago. The restaurant—now with a Williamsburg and Union Square location—also sells soups, sesame pancakes, steamed buns, bubble tea and bags of frozen dumplings to take home for later.