Updated December 2018.
Visiting New York City on a budget? This can sound a bit far-fetched for some travelers, but with careful planning, you can have an amazing trip to NYC without going broke.
While New York City is known to be one of the world’s most expensive cities, there are plenty of ways to have a fun trip without breaking the bank. One of my favorite ways to save money on accommodations is to book through Airbnb. I have used Airbnb throughout North America and have always had a good experience. It’s great for groups, friends, or couples since prices are often cheaper than hotels.
Avoid these 10 costly mistakes when visiting NYC and have the best trip ever!
Related Post: 10 Ways To Visit NYC On A Budget
1. Not using the New York Pass
Even though New York offers “pay-what-you-wish” to some museums, it’ll cost you money to visit the city’s most popular attractions (Top of the Rock, Empire State Building, 9/11 Memorial Museum, and so on).
Paying for individual tickets at each attraction can get very expensive. The best way to avoid paying full price at New York’s paid attractions is to use the New York Pass. It takes the stress out of sightseeing while maximizing your time in NYC.
Wondering if pass is right for your New York trip?
Key Benefits of the New York Pass:
- SAVE TIME + MONEY
Good option for first-time visitors who want to stretch and manage their budget in a very expensive city.
- FAST-TRACK ENTRY
The New York Pass lets you to skip the long line-ups so you can spend more time sightseeing and less time waiting in New York’s busy crowds.
- STRESS-FREE SIGHTSEEING
If you’re looking to hit all the major attractions in New York, then using the New York Pass is a no-brainer.
How the New York Pass Works:
The New York Pass is a prepaid sightseeing card that can be used to get FREE entry to the city’s top tourist attractions, including Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour, Empire State Building, and the Top of the Rock Observatory.
Standard Entry Price
FREE with the New York Pass
Standard Entry Price
FREE with the New York Pass
Standard Entry Price
FREE with the New York Pass
Plus, you can use the New York Pass to get free entry to over 90 other attractions, museums, and tours in the city. Once you’ve bought the New York Pass, you can visit as many attractions as you want. The more sights you visit, the more money you save!
PRO TIP: Buy the pass online and save an extra $110 off the retail price. You can instantly download the New York Pass ticket to your smartphone. The attraction pass is good for one year, so you can buy it now and validate it anytime in the next 12 months. To buy the New York Pass, click here to go to the official website.
If you only have a few days in New York City and want to get a lot done, the pass can be a great deal. Plus, when you purchase the pass online, you’ll get a free detailed guidebook to help plan your trip! The pass has a 30-day money back guarantee.
2. Not using NYC’s public transit
Taking taxis to get around the city is expensive. Plus, it wastes a lot of your precious sightseeing time.
Riding the subway is a quicker and cheaper way to get to all your must-see attractions. I know the subway map looks like a giant spider web, but it’s surprisingly easy to navigate.
I recommend getting an unlimited ride metro card if you’re staying in town for several days. My boyfriend and I bought a 7-day unlimited ride metro card when we were visiting for 6 nights. We had SO much freedom with the metro card because it was a stress-free way to get around town.
New York is a BIG city, so even if you’re staying in a central location, you’ll save a lot of time sightseeing by using the metro. To find affordable and central accommodations, I recommend booking through Airbnb.
CLICK HERE to get a coupon to use towards your next stay with Airbnb!
3. Not making time to visit Brooklyn
During my first trip to NYC, I only stayed in Manhattan. I had no idea that there were so many other great places to visit in the boroughs. Now whenever I’m in New York City, I always make time to visit Brooklyn.
Some of my favorite things to do in Brooklyn include walking across the Brooklyn Bridge (the view of the NYC skyline is incredible), eating pizza at Roberta’s, enjoying the best hot chocolate at Jacques Torres Chocolate, and exploring the NY Transit Museum.
My favorite NYC travel guide books:
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4. Paying full admission price at NYC museums
Save money with the New York Pass
If you don’t want to pay full admission price at NYC’s most popular attractions, using the New York Pass is a no-brainer.
The New York Pass includes free admission to 90+ attractions, including a Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour. Avoid the hassle of waiting in long ticket lines and feel like you’re on an all-inclusive sightseeing holiday! You can click here to learn more.
Take advantage of free museum days
You can visit many of New York City’s museums on free days, which makes this a great option to save money. The only down side is free museum days are always busy — especially on rainy days. This is why I recommend arriving before the museum opens to avoid waiting in a long line.
I also recommend searching for deals on Viator. This website offers up to 40% off Broadway shows, tours, NYC attractions, and more!
5. Spending all your time in Midtown and Times Square
Midtown is great, but there’s so much more to New York City. It would be a shame if you spent all your time in Midtown.
Some of my favorite neighborhoods to explore are the Village, Upper East Side, Union Square, and Lower East Side. For more tips, you can read my NYC neighborhood guide here.
6. Eating at familiar restaurants
Don’t tell me you came all the way to New York City to eat at the Olive Garden or [insert chain restaurant]. You’re in one of the best cities in the country which offers a selection of diverse restaurants and ethnic eats – so take advantage of it.
Whether you’re craving an authentic slice of New York-style pizza or a gourmet meal prepared by some of the top chefs in the world, you’ll find everything your taste buds desire here.
7. Going to the Empire State Building without using the New York Pass
The view from the top of the Empire State Building is incredible, but the lines are nuts and it costs a small fortune to skip them.
The best way to visit the observation deck at the Empire State Building is to use the New York Pass. With the pass, you can visit for FREE, skip the main ticket line, and present your card at the second-floor access point. This is a smart way to save time and money.
8. Supporting horse carriage rides in Central Park
Riding a horse-drawn carriage sounds like a fairy tale. But the reality is, carriage horses often live and work in inhumane conditions.
Horse-drawn carriages shouldn’t share the same roadways as honking cars and cyclists as it puts both the animal and the public at risk. These horses work long hours (rain or shine) and even when the weather is unbearably hot or freezing cold.
Paying for a horse-drawn carriage ride continues to support the industry. So while it might sound like a nice way to experience Central Park, you’ll want to pass on this idea.
9. Spending too much money on food in NYC
NYC is an expensive city and the price point at its restaurants are higher than other large cities, such as Toronto. However, with some careful planning, there are plenty of great ways to save money when eating out in New York City.
- Get the lunch special
Many popular NYC restaurants offer affordable lunch specials. This can be a great way to enjoy a tasty meal for cheap.
- Get deals on Groupon
Want to eat a top-tier restaurant for half the price? Check for daily deals on Groupon. I’ve saved so much money over the years by finding restaurant vouchers through Groupon.
- Use coupons in the Entertainment Book
The best deals in the Entertainment Book are the 2 for 1 coupons at restaurants. The book essentially pays for itself when using one or two coupons found inside. You can also save money on entertainment, shopping, travel, and more with the Entertainment Book.
- Eat and drink during Happy Hour
If you don’t mind eating a little early (or late at night), I highly recommend taking advantage of New York City’s happy hour specials. Enjoy discounted menu prices on a selection of both food and drinks.
- Dollar pizza slices
OK, we can’t be healthy all the time. Grabbing a slice of New York pizza is one of my favorite meals when I’m on-the-go sightseeing in the city.
- Find cheap eats in The Village, Lower East Side, and Chinatown
Think everything in NYC is expensive? Think again. There are plenty of delicious restaurants with affordable eats in these neighborhoods. My favorite spot to grab a bite is at By CHLOE. The salads and burgers are amazing there!
- Hit the streets
From ethnic food trucks to familiar hot dog carts, there’s lots of street food options to choose from in New York.
10. Driving around in NYC
There’s no need to rent a car when visiting New York City. Parking is expensive and traffic is a nightmare.
Even if you’re driving to NYC, I recommend leaving your car at your accommodations for the duration of your trip. The New York bus and subway system is easy to navigate and one of the quickest ways to get around town.10 tourist mistakes to avoid making in New York City Click To Tweet
Over to you — what are your tips for visiting New York City?
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