New York has a reputation for being one of the most expensive cities to spend time in. And it absolutely can be. But on my last visit, I set a challenge to survive New York for a day at minimal cost. And actually, it was a really fun day! Here is a snapshot of how the day went and my tips on what to wear and take with you.
To kick start the day, coffee and a bagel are required (because, New York). Head to your nearest deli (and there plenty of these in NYC to choose from). With a variety of options, breakfast is doable for between $5-10 depending on your appetite and if you drink coffee. While you are at this deli, buy a large bottle of water and grab something you can take with you for lunch (and a piece of fruit or healthy snack to keep you going). Snacks, water and a sandwich should set you back $12-15.
After you are all set from the deli, it’s time to get going! The best way to really take in New York’s amazing variety of sights, sounds and smells is on foot, so get walking. Where are you walking? Towards Central Park! Depending on where you are staying, this could take quite a while. For me, it was about 20 or so blocks. I walked at a very leisurely pace, stopping whenever I felt like it to check out anything that took my fancy.
Despite it’s expensive reputation, there are plenty of free things in NYC to admire that don’t cost a cent. A couple of my favourite suggested detours (again, depending on the direction you are coming from) would be Grand Central Station (to re-enact the opening scene of Gossip Girl, of course), and the LOVE sculpture on the corner of 6th ave & 55th st.
Once you make it to Central Park, you can head to one of the NYC Citi Bikes stations and get set up for a full day bike hire for just $12. The catch is you can use the bikes for 30 minutes at a time. (Another option if you don’t like the idea of walking all the way to Central Park is hiring a Citi Bike closer to your accommodation and riding to the park instead of walking).This works really well for checking out Central Park because it is such a large area that walking around the whole thing would really take a long time. So if you have a bit of a plan of the parts of the park you want to check out, you just ride your Citi Bike to the nearest bike station, and then park it and have a walk around. When you are ready to check out the next spot, you head back to the bike station and grab another bike.
There are so many stunning spots to set yourself up for an impromptu picnic lunch, and by now you will have well and truly earned it! And if you have really planned ahead, having a bottle of wine and some plastic cups would add the extra touch!
Now the day is yours to explore Central Park on your bike at a leisurely pace, taking your time wherever you like. There is no schedule here and you have nowhere to be apart from exactly where you are, enjoying this magnificent piece of nature in the middle of this magnificent city. There are often free events on in the park which you may enjoy also. For movie & TV buffs, there are free walking tours available to show you the sights from famous movies and TV shows such as the Central Park Movie and TV Tour which can be done as a self guided tour.
Once you have had your fill of Central Park, either ride or walk on down to Times Square. Whilst plenty of money can be spent here, it is one of the best places in the world for people watching, which is totally free! For dinner, you can find a slice of pizza or something similar for about $5 to enjoy as you take in all the bright lights.
What to wear: Something that you are comfortable walking and bike riding in. Weather dependent, but on warmer days this may be comfortable shorts and a tank top, and in cooler weather perhaps jeans, a shirt, and a jacket if needed. In the middle of winter you will need to layer up and definitely take a scarf and gloves! Flat shoes only for this day trip – no heels will survive ladies!
What you will need: Water, a hat, sunscreen, and your wallet.
Over all, this day can be done for about $40-50. A major benefit is all of the activity, which is great for working off some of those calories you may have picked up on holiday food on the rest of the trip 😉 but more importantly is such a pleasant way to take in the sights of this beautiful city.