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  • Visiting New York City Does Not Have to Cost a Small Fortune
David Greer New York City

NYC for Under $10: Easier than You'd Think! 🗽💵

In my view, New York City is the world's ultimate city, and I can tell you I'm not alone. That said, New York has a reputation for being an expensive place to visit, to the extent that you might choose not to do so. I'm here to tell you that that reputation is wrong. Sure, if you follow a very limited tourist track, the city can be pricey. But everything on that track, there's 100 more things to do, eat, see, and experience that offer great value — many of them are even free.

So if you're at all interested in learning about how to visit New York City in style and on a budget, read on!

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Food, Food, Food

When you're in New York, you're gonna wanna eat. My favorite things to eat in the city for under $10 are:

  • $1 Slice: This is the classic New York thing, don't forget to add copious amounts of free parmesan, oregano, and hot peppers. Some of the main go-tos closed their doors during the pandemic, but as of October 2022, there are still a handfull operating in Manhattan.

  • Papaya Dog: These hot dogs may have tripled in price in the past, say, five years, but it's still about $3 for a solid dog with all the toppings.

  • Chicken, lamb, or falafel over rice: Ranging from $5 to $8 depending on location, this is a staple in the New York diet, and might just last you two meals.

  • The best bagel you could dream of with schmear: Not all bagels are created equal, but the NY standard is so high that you can pretty much get a decent one on every corner — it really should never exceed $5 for a bagel and cream cheese.

  • Dumplings are always a good go to — local chain Vanessa's Dumpling House will give you eight of them for about $5.

  • Samosas: Across the street from Katz's Deli, Punjabi Deli still does $2 samosas and has lots of other great eats for under $10.

  • Chips and guacomole from NY-based Dos Toros is always a good go to: this costs about $4. For a more substantial meal they do burritos for slightly less than $10, too!

  • This list could go on and on, these are just a few favorites that are great go-tos. No matter which part of New York (or New Jersey) you stay in, there are lots of great food options that won't break the bank.

There Might Not Be Such a Thing as a Free Lunch, But...

Now that we got the food part out of the way, if you still have time after eating, there are a lot of places you can go for free (or near free if you pay for the subway). My favorites are:

  • Fort Tryon Park is a bit of a hidden gem. Located at the top of Manhattan, you get tons of sweeping views to the Bronx and New Jersey, and it's a great place to be one with nature without leaving Manhattan.

  • Central Park needs no explaining — quintessential New York at its best and always free.

  • Roosevelt Island has lots to see and is very walkable — it also has a free shuttle bus between the southern FDR Memorial and the lighthouse in the north.

  • Prospect Park is big and surrounded by Brooklyn culture, there's always something interesting happening there.

  • The High Line is great for a long walk, with awesome street views along the way.

  • Grand Central Terminal is one of the most visited sites in New York, and you can go check it out for free. Right now they even have a great exhibition about the history of New York City located at the southern street entrance.

  • The Staten Island Ferry costs exactly $0, will get you to Staten Island and back, and has the best view of the Statue of Liberty you'll get without throwing down some dough.

  • The New York public library is a free and has a lot of architecture and cultural/literary heritage worth checking out.

Have Pay-As-You-Wish Museums on Your Radar

Many of New York's finest museums offer pay-as-you-wish hours. New York State residents and New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut-based students even can pay what they wish at the Met and the Met Cloisters all the time.

These are the main pay-as-you-wish times that I can recommend, there are more pay-as-you-wish museums than listed here and also plenty of free museums:

  • The Guggenheim from 6 to 8 pm on Saturdays

  • The First Firday of every month New York residents get free access to the MoMA from 4 to 8 pm.

  • The Jewish Museum is free during opening hours on Saturdays

  • The Morgan Library & Museum has free entry on Fridays between 5 and 7 pm

  • The Whitney does pay-as-you-wish from 7 to 10 pm on Fridays

To sum it up, the idea that a great experience in New York City has to cost you tons of money is plain wrong. There are hundreds of things you can do in New York City on a budget. My hope is that the ones I've outlined above for under $10 will help you out on your next trip!

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