New York On A Budget Guide!

This may seem like a paradox considering New York is one of the most expensive cities in America but it is possible to visit keeping the purse strings tight! Just a note, with this guide I’m going for more of a champagne lifestyle lemonade budget.

Flights:

Dublin: Aer Lingus, Delta and United all operate direct flight options.

Shannon: Aer Lingus and Delta operate direct flight options.

Sadly there are no direct flight options from Cork or Belfast and you would have to connect via a hub. The downside of this is that if you aren’t flying from Dublin or Shannon you don’t get pre clearance, meaning you’ll have to do customs when you arrive in America which can be a lengthy process.

Sales are common from the airlines listed excluding Christmas, Easter and school holidays. I got flights with Aer Lingus for only €208 return to Newark Airport for January.

There are 2 main international airports in the New York area, JFK in Queens and Newark, which is actually in New Jersey but can be quicker to get into Manhattan from there. If you are looking for the best/cheapest way to go from these airports to Manhattan, I’d recommend the below links.

Going from JFK to Manhattan

Going from Newark to Manhattan

Accommodation:

Hotels, hostels and Airbnb are the most popular options in New York. Seeing as hotel room sizes are on the small side in New York I’d definitely recommend checking out Airbnb for apartments if there is a few of you travelling. Self catering options are good for the wallet as well!

The cheapest time for accommodation in New York is from January to March. Around this time you will see great value hotels around tourist hotspots like Times Square. Outside of these months, I’ve found around Hells Kitchen and Wall Street to be the best value as these areas are still quite close to the main tourist attractions in Manhattan. I’ve heard great things about the POD hotels which are a budget option in many places across New York.

Of course you could also stay in the Boroughs and commute into Manhattan. It can be very cost effective and a great way to see another part of New York.

Getting around:

Subway:

In my opinion the subway is the best form of transport in New York. It had a rough reputation in the 80’s but anytime I’ve used it I found it to be clean and you’re never waiting more than a few mins. A Metrocard is the leap card equivalent in New York and each trip costs $2.75. If you are there a number of days you can get an unlimited 7 day pass for $33, which represents great value for money if you plan on using it a number of times.

Uber/Lyft/Yellow Taxi:

Ride sharing apps like Uber and Lyft are a great option if there are a number of you to split the costs. There are also options like Uber Pool where you share the transport along with other users that are going in a similar direction to you. I’m not sure how popular this is now with Covid!

In previous years yellow taxis were to avoided, but recently I’ve heard from friends and family that live in New York they can be even cheaper than ride sharing apps so long as there isn’t much traffic and the rates for Uber and Lyft are more expensive due to surge pricing.

Bicycle:

With many cycle lanes, cycling in New York isn’t as daunting as you’d think. The Citibike app is a very easy to use with many bike pickup/dropoff locations around the city. You can get a day pass for $15. Bicycle is an ideal way to see popular landmarks such as Central Park and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Attractions:

These are in no particular order, some of these you would have heard of and others might be completely new to you.

New York City Pass:

I asked people on Instagram and Facebook that I was writing this guide and if they had any suggestions to send them on. The most popular one was the New York City Pass. Essentially you can get a pass that covers a number of popular NYC attractions. I found that Groupon New York do great offers for 2 – 3 attraction pass with a number of attractions to choose from. For example a ticket for the Empire State Building and Top of the Rock costs around $43 each but a 3 attraction pass on Groupon is $83, meaning you’re saving $3 and you get another attraction for free!

Flynyon (helicopter ride around Manhattan):

this is the epitome of champagne lifestyle, lemonade budget! Flynyon do fantastic sales for helicopter rides around New York. In particular when there is a holidays such as Labour Day in the US, they have discount codes up to 70% off! I did a door’s off helicopter ride on my most recent trip to New York and it was incredible! The staff at Flynyon were brilliant.

Groupon:

One sent in from Instagram and a great shout. As I said above under the New York City Pass, Groupon is great way of saving a few quid. Look up deals on Groupon with New York selected as the city (link below).

Groupon New York

Staten Island Ferry (for views of the Skyline and the Statue of Liberty):

The Staten Island Ferry has fantastic views of the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan skyline and its free! If going from Manhattan, sit on the right hand side of the ferry and the left hand side if you’re travelling from the Staten Island side and you get great views without spending a penny! Then It takes 25 mins each way and there is now a shopping outlet on the Staten Island side. Please ignore the charlatans trying to sell you a ticket for the ferry, its been free since the mid 90’s.

Roosevelt Island Cable Car:

I did this in January and was surprised to find out that the cost of the tram is covered by your Metrocard, so $2.75 if you don’t have a 7 day subway pass. Roosevelt Island is a small island between Manhattan and Queens. From there you’ll have a great view of the city and there’s an Irish bar on the island called ‘Granny Annies’ that serves good food.

The High Line:

The High Line is an impressive way to see the city from an unusual perspective. Once an elevated railroad, the High Line is now a park filled with greenery and public art.

Chelsea Market:

Hopping off the High Line you can visit Chelsea Market. Chelsea Market is a food hall and shopping mall located in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral:

Built in 1879 with twin spires & storied history opposite the Rockefeller Center.

Vessel:

A stunning structure visitor attraction built as part of the Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project in Manhattan. It’s close to the Edge, which is often included in the New York City Pass.

Public Parks:

Starting with the most famous one, Central Park. There is a Citibike station nearby so download the app and hop on a bike if you don’t fancy doing it on foot. Little Island is a 2.4 acre public park in Hudson River Park on the West side of Manhattan. It’s located in the Hudson River off of the West Side Highway with entrances at West 13th and 14th Streets. Bryant Park is just steps from Grand Central Station and the New York Public Library.

Brooklyn Bridge:

Speaking of Brooklyn, the iconic Brooklyn Bridge connects Manhattan and Brooklyn. You can either do it on foot or on a bike. If in Brooklyn I’d recommend visiting Dumbo (here you can see the most photographed picture in New York City) it’s of the Manhattan bridge. From here you can take a ferry up to Williamsburg with great views of the city or across to Wall Street for only $2.75. There is a bar on the boat also and it’s a great way of seeing the city at night too. If you’re going from Brooklyn to Manhattan then you can visit Chinatown and Little Italy.

Tickets for Broadway:

Luckyseat.com – Luckyseat is a great way of getting discounted tickets. You enter a digital draw for the chance to buy event tickets at special prices. If you win then you have a few hours to pay for the tickets. I entered a few draws for shows and managed to get tickets to see Lucky Girl for less than $50 a seat.

TKTS – The classic way to find deeply discounted tickets is to wait in line, on the day of the show, at TDF’s TKTS Booth under the red steps in Duffy Square (47th Street and Broadway).

TodayTix app – lets you find discounted tickets on your mobile phone up to month in advance, discount deals are listed alongside tickets being sold at regular prices.

Broadway.com – much better value than Ticketmaster as they charge extortionate fees.

Gametime – This not only does sporting events but also Broadway shows. Note this only works while you are in America or if you’re using a VPN.

Tickets for Sporting Events and Gigs:

Gametime – any sporting event, gigs and Broadway show.

AXS – for gigs.

Sporting Teams:

American Football

Both the New York Giants and New York Jets play in the Metlife Stadium in New Jersey. You can get a train from Penn Station directly there or else get the Path train to Hoboken and Uber from there. Arrive to a game early to meet with fans and enjoy the tailgate (bring cans!).

Baseball

You can purchase baseball tickets for as little as $10. New York Yankees play at the Yankee Stadium in The Bronx. The train runs directly there. New York Mets play in Queens beside Flushing Meadows where the US Open tennis tournament is held every September.

Basketball

Brooklyn Nets play in the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn. There is an Irish bar across the road called McMahon’s. New York Knicks play in Madison Square Garden in Midtown Manhattan. Plenty of bars and pizza spots around.

Ice Hockey

New York Rangers play in Madison Square Garden. Fantastic experience but tickets can be expensive.

Soccer

New York Red Bulls play in Harrison, New Jersey. There’s a Path underground train that goes directly from Manhattan so it’s an easy commute. Tickets are very reasonably priced.

Museum (pay what you can):

Please note these may have changed due to Covid.

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is free on Fridays between 17.30 and 21.00.

Museum of the City of New York – pay what you can

National September 11th Museum – This museum is free on Tuesdays from 17.00 to closing time (varies by season).

The Guggenheim is free on Saturdays from 17.00 – 20.00.

The New York Historical Society is free on Fridays from 18.00 – 21.00.

National Museum of the American Indian – pay what you can.

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum – Free one Friday each month 17.00 – 21.00.

Zoo:

The Bronx Zoo and the Staten Island Zoo is free on Wednesdays.

Food and Drink:

To give you an idea of how many food outlets there are in the 5 boroughs, pre Covid you could eat at a different spot once a day for 23 years and never go to the same place twice. Insane! A good tip would be to have breakfast included in your hotel as American breakfasts are so filling it would likely fill you to dinner time!

Dollar pizza – there are a huge number of pizza places offering one dollar pizza slices across Manhattan. Not only is it dirt cheap but it tastes amazing! Just type dollar pizza into Google Maps and you’ll get a host of choices. Bro’s Pizza is one of the most popular dollar pizza spots. Many pizza places will also offer two pizza slices and a bottle of water for just $3.

TacosLos Tacos No.1 is considered to have the best tacos in NYC. They have two locations, one in Chelsea Market and another near Times Square. They do have little seating so its a grab and go kinda place.

Shake Shake – what started as a hot dog stand at Madison Square Garden is now one of the most popular fast food restaurants in NYC. They do a burger and chips for around $10 – $12 and its amazing!

Big Gay Ice Cream –  has really good ice cream so I’d highly recommend if the weather is good https://www.biggayicecream.com/

Cheap bars:

Jimmy’s Corner – around the corner from Times Square and does $3 beers.

Rudy’s Bar & Grill – in Hell’s Kitchen also does drinks around $3.

Local 138 – on the Lower East Side, Every day from 4 pm to 9 pm, you can purchase $3 beer and $3 wines.

169 Bar – (Lower Manhattan) http://169barnyc.com/ Has a very good happy hour which includes $3 beer and a shot. It’s about a 10 min walk from Chinatown/Little Italy.

McSorleys – in East Village where 2 beers are $5 (cash only), they only sell light or dark beer, nothing else. If you ask for one drink, you get two! One of the oldest bars in NYC and many movies have been filmed here.

Jeremy’s Ale House – This is a fun dive bar on Front Street that is close to the East River in Lower Manhattan. Front Street has nice coffee shops and bars on it too. Pier 17 is only a 5 mins walk from here and it’s a really nice area to walk around.t’s a 12 min walk from Stone Street/ The Dead Rabbit. You can get a pint from $3.50 up in Jeremy’s and it’s always a fun spot to visit.

ClockWork bar – also near the East Village sells draft beer for as low as $3  https://www.clockworknyc.com/menu

Botania bar – is good for cheap beer and cocktails. They have a dj and karaoke at the weekend too. https://botanicabarnyc.com/drinks-botanica

Peter Dillons is an Irish bar that does a good happy hour. It also shows sport https://www.peterdillons.com/.

Barcelona Bar – if in Central Park I’d recommend popping over to Barcelona dive bar. They sell bottles of beer from $4 and run alot of drink specials. They have a pool table and also have props/costumes from different movies and tv shows. If you buy a shot they will hand you to the prop and play the theme song from it in the bar which is good fun.

Jack Dempsey’s is just off Madison Square Garden and is a few mins walk to Empire State Building. They run a very good happy hour from 4-8pm Mon to Friday. They also show alot of sporting events.

Happy Hour/Bottomless Brunch – Look out for bars and restaurants that run happy hours as lots of places have great offers. Currently NYC permits take away drinks aswell so you can enjoy your cocktail while walking around. Also lots of places will run 90 minute unlimited Mimosa offers so keep an eye when booking.

Rooftop bars – Rooftop 230 gives great views of the Empire State Building, no cover charge (except on Saturdays) and prices are reasonable especially considering the location.

Over in Brooklyn, The Williamsburg Hotel offers fantastic views and no cover charge!

Guinness and GAA – If you are wondering where to get a good pint of Guinness in NYC from experience I’d recommend Sean’s Bar Midtown – this is just off the Rockefeller Center. 11 Street Bar – Has an Irish trad night on a Sunday. The Long Hall. McHales (Just off Broadway).

To watch Irish Sport/Irish matches in NYC (GAA/Rugby/Soccer) The Long Hall, The Westbury and The Craic (Brooklyn).

Summary:

This is by no means an exhaustive list, there is tonnes of things to see/do on a budget in New York. If you have anything to add to this list, let me know on Facebook and Instagram. To everybody who contributed to the guide, including my brother who lives in Brooklyn, (he’s also the reason why the pubs list is so long) I just want to say a massive thanks!

Please note the information above is correct at time of writing. If something is incorrect, please let me know.

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