How To Do New York City On A Budget (With The Odd Splurge)

21 February 2019
Read Time: 3.7 mins

There’s obviously no such thing as the average cost of a trip to New York but everyone loves to save a bit of dosh where they can when travelling. We’ve come up with some handy tips for how to do New York City on a budget. Included below are two options for different activities showing you how you can save and how you can splurge throughout the city, because treat yo self.



Budget- There’s no better (or more authentic) coffee than the one you will find at one of the many coffee/breakfast carts parked on sidewalks all over the city and for US$1.50 you can hardly argue about the price. Plus you might get it in one of the iconic blue and white cups with the ‘It’s our pleasure to serve you’ slogan.


Splurge - However most Aussies aren’t accustomed to the filter coffee served from these street carts so for a more decadent pumpkin spice latte or soy caramel macchiato you can head to Starbucks where you will pay about US$4.50. For something more similar to the flat whites of home, head to Aussie cafes like Toby’s Estate, Two Hands or Bluestone Lane.



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Where to eat

Budget -  $1 slice aka $1 for a slice of pizza as big as your head from 2 Bros Pizza which you can find all over Manhattan.


Splurge - Where to begin? For somewhere trendy and where you might spot a celeb, there’s Jack’s Wife Freda, perfect for brunch. For traditional American fare, stop by The Smith for lunch, and for the fashionista’s there’s Vogue Editor-In-Chief Anna Wintour’s favourite restaurant, Balthazar, for some top-notch French cuisine.



Where to drink

Budget - The old school dive bar known as 7B Horseshoe Bar is a cosy institution for the Alphabet City locals. The small bar has a jukebox with mostly punk music and has featured in a number of movies and tv shows yet is somehow still a lesser known gem of the area. Stop in here for a chat with the bartender and a couple of cheap beers before dinner.


Splurge - Head to Dead Rabbit for the ‘World’s Best Bar’. No joke this bar has won the title of World’s Best Bar two years in a row so you know you’re in for a treat (and a bit of a splurge because you obviously have to try a few tipples), just like Greer did on the 48 Hour Destination Show.



Budget - Depending on how long you will be in the city you can get a 10 pass MetroCard, a two week unlimited or a monthly unlimited pass. Catching the subway can be a little confusing at first but after a day of hopping around the city (and sometimes missing your stop - all part of the adventure) you’ll soon get the hang of things.


Splurge - Just throw out your hand or impress the locals with a whistle like they do in the movies (this generally only happens in the movies though just so you know) and hail one of the iconic yellow cabs which are actually way more affordable than the cabs in Australia.



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Budget- While New York and ‘budget’ accommodation don’t typically go hand in hand there are several options to choose from where you can go ultra budget with hostel accommodation or have a Flight Centre consultant whip up a few options like the soon to be opened and ultra trendy Freehand New York which follows on from its sister hotels in LA, Chicago and Miami.


Splurge- There are SO MANY luxurious accommodations to choose from in New York whether you’re after a newer boutique establishment or one of the grand classics you’re simply spoilt for choice. There’s The Nomad Hotel, The Beekman, The Standard or the iconic Plaza Hotel plus so many more.



Budget - Nordstrom Rack and Century 21 are great for heavily discounted designer items or head over the Williamsburg Bridge to scour the local consignment and thrift stores of Williamsburg for some vintage finds.


Splurge - Why head on over to Fifth Avenue of course, between the bottom of Central Park at 59th St and the Rockefeller Center at 49th St is where you’ll find many of the luxury stores like Tiffany & Co. and Louis Vuitton. Another great area for shopping is in Soho on Broadway Avenue and the surrounding streets where you’ll find everything from H&M to Supreme and Alexander Wang.



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Budget - Walk along the High Line from Chelsea to the Meatpacking District, a beautiful walk and a great place to take photos. Also head to the TKTS Booth in Times Square at the start of the day for same-day discount tickets on Broadway and ‘Off Broadway’ musicals, plays and dance productions that are up to 50 percent off the regular price.


Splurge - Book well in advance for any Broadway productions you would definitely like to attend while in town, popular shows right now include Book of Mormon and Hamilton plus there are of course the timeless favourites like Wicked, Chicago and The Lion King.



Budget- One of the best museums in New York (the USA even) is the Metropolitan Museum of Art and while it may look like the museum has a $25 entry fee, the price is actually only ‘suggested’ meaning you can pay as much or as little as you want. Gets the tourists every time. Many of the city’s other iconic museums also have discounted and free entry on certain days of the month so be sure to check before you go when these are.


Splurge- The American Museum of Natural History is one of the few (probably only) museums to host a special adults-only sleepover INSIDE THE MUSEUM. The museum hosts the evening dinner and sleepover once every few months and tickets sell out quickly so be sure to keep an eye on the museum’s website for when you plan on heading to New York next!



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Ready to press 'Book' on your New York City holiday...we've got the deals for you


Sam Aldenton

Experience Sam's experience

Sam Aldenton is a Flight Centre writer, producer and social media specialist. When she's not off discovering the world’s best pizza (an obsession picked up from her 4-years in New York), she is based in Brisbane, Australia. Follow her adventures on Instagram at @samaaldenton.