New York is a city for all seasons and a very budget friendly city.
Here are my top tips for having a good time in New York on a budget, covering all seasons without busting the bank.
New York on a budget in the Winter
New York dazzles in all seasons: there is no best time to visit.
Around Christmas, Fifth Avenue sparkles with window displays, the tree at Rockefeller Centre sparkles and my favorite thing to do is to watch the colorful skaters on the ice rink.
There are Christmas markets at multiple locations in the city, notably the ones at Bryant Park and Union Square.
I love drinking hot chocolate in a bowl with a huge marshmallow at the City Bakery to defrost frozen noses and toes.
Museum hopping is an ideal way to keep warm while being intellectually stimulated.
TOP SEASONAL BUDGET TIP
Remember to visit during pay as you wish hours: each of the museums has this option with the Metropolitan Museum having suggested entry AT ALL TIMES.
Treating yourself to a showing of the Nutcracker Ballet at the Lincoln Centre is also an unforgettable New York tradition.
New York on a budget: Spring
Spring is the time that New Yorkers become one with the few expanses of nature that the city holds.
The New York Botanical Garden- the jewel of the Bronx is aflame with a riot of spring flowers. Daffodils, magnolia and cherry blossom make this trip a fragant memory.
TOP SEASONAL BUDGET TIP:
Admission to the Botanical Garden grounds is free on Saturday mornings and Wednesdays.
Spring in New York is a runner’s paradise: people are out and about in Central Park, along the East River and Hudson Riverside promenades. The water bodies in Central Park gently thaw and red little robins and sparrows are heard twirping again.
It’s an ideal time to explore different parts of the city when temperatures are not extreme.
Summer in New York on a budget
Sun deprived New Yorkers go crazy on an average sun-drenched day: it’s not unusual to see beach towels and bikini bods in nooks and corners of Central Park.
A wonderful day out is to pack a picnic hamper, a travel pillow, blanket and a good book, to seek the shade of a tall green tree and watch the world go buy.
TOP SEASONAL BUDGET TIP
There are a number of excellent free summer concerts at Summerstage, Central Park.
Summer is incomplete without a trip to one of the beaches along the Long Island Coastline.
A daytrip to Jones Beach or Long Beach is possible with the aid of the Long Island Railroad.
An overnight trip to Montauk or the Hamptons on the Hampton Jitney is also an ideal way to sample the Atlantic sea air and a cup of clam chowder.
Autumn in New York on a budget
Fall is the most beautiful season in New York and the New England Region.
New York is the ideal base to travel north for a couple of days of leaf-peeping to either New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
The Hudson River Valley, Bear Mountain State Park in New York are rampant with flaming fall colors.
Visit different Fall Festivals on Manhattan street corners, beat the summer crowds and walk the Brooklyn Bridge or see the Statue of Liberty on the free Staten Island Ferry.
TOP SEASONAL BUDGET TIP
The Metropolitan Opera also starts it’s season during this time. If you book early cheaper tickets can be obtained otherwise standing room only tickets are available at discount prices the day of the performance.
Whilst it’s possible to scrimp and save on many experiences on New York and still have a great time there are some things that are not worthwhile missing as they are once in a lifetime experiences.
MY TOP NEW YORK TIP
In my opinion the most wonderful thing to do in New York is to climb to the top of a very tall building (The Empire State or the Top of the Rock) just before sunset and watch the sun go down over the Hudson River and watch very slowly Manhattan light up with a thousand glittering lights.
The serpentine sight of a gold trail of city lights along Fifth Avenue is a dizzying, breathtaking spectacle.
WHERE TO STAY- TOP TIP
If you are visiting New York with friends or family, the best idea to rent an apartment.
Given how expensive it is to stay in Manhattan, your best option is to stay in Queens in the Woodside area which I found to be very safe with convenient access to local public transport.
I stayed in a really nice 3 bedroom apartment in New York , courtesy of Housetrip.com
The apartment was clean, comfortable with lots of natural light.
The neighbourhood itself is very handy and multicultural- you have a cool Irish pub right on the doorstep with excellent live music nights and an excellent Korean takeaway just 5 minutes down the road beside the subway.
There is also a bunch of grocery shops just 2 minutes walk away if you are looking to cook in the apartment ( kitchen is huge and excellent as you can see from the picture)
The other cool feature about the apartment is that the subway (7 Train) is a 5 minute walk and just 3 blocks from the apartment.
7 train has a regular service and drops you off in Manhattan in just 15 minutes.
Fresh linens and towels are provided by Nouredinne, the owner who was really helpful and answered all our questions.
The apartment can host upto 8 people , so based on the rental rate of $169 a night, works out to be just over $20, per person, per night which is great value for New York.
It was perfect for me and my family which included a little baby of 2 years old. Peaceful at night. Perfect.
Disclaimer: Hope you found this article useful which was made possible by the kind support of Housetrip.com If you are interested in discovering more options for apartments in New York, I recommend popping over to their site.
I’m dying to go to one of those Summer concerts in Central Park.
Same here! One day… 🙂
Another totally free option for a lovely stroll is the Hi-line park.
The High Line is a 1-mile (1.6 km) New York City linear park built on a 1.45-mile (2.33 km) section of the elevated former New York Central Railroad spur called the West Side Line, which runs along the lower west side of Manhattan; it has been redesigned and planted as an aerial greenway. The High Line currently runs from Gansevoort Street, three blocks below West 14th Street, in the Meatpacking District, to 30th Street, through the neighborhood of Chelsea to the West Side Yard.
The park is about 3 Story’s off the ground. The park’s attractions include naturalized plantings that are inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew on the disused tracks and new, often unexpected views of the city and the Hudson River. Pebble-dash concrete walkways unify the trail, which swells and constricts, swinging from side to side, and divides into concrete tines that meld the hardscape with the planting embedded in railroad gravel mulch. Stretches of track and ties recall the High Line’s former use. Portions of track are adaptively re-used for rolling lounges positioned for river views. Most of the planting, which includes 210 species, is of rugged meadow plants, including clump-forming grasses, liatris and coneflowers, with scattered stands of sumac and smokebush, but not limited to American natives. At the Gansevoort end, a grove of mixed species of birch already provides some dappled shade by late afternoon. Ipê timber for the built-in benches has come from a managed forest certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, to ensure sustainable use and the conservation of biological diversity, water resources and fragile ecosystems.
Thanks for the great tip. Next time I am in NY, I’d love to walk the High Line. Sounds fascinating…
Looking forward to a great 3 days in June in NYC. Thanks for the great tips.
My pleasure! Feel free to tweet Arpita at @bagfullofbooks if you need any tips. Plus she recently posted an article about 10 things to enjoy in NYC on a budget https://budgettraveller.org/new-york-for-free-ten-things-to-do/