New York, New York so good they named it twice, but how can you go on half the budget? Well… Read on and I’ll part some tips I learnt on my trip this year to make sure you get a taste of the Big Apple without having to blow your budget!
A brief run down of New York
Like most absolutely huge cities, New York has plenty of different areas all with their own individual atmospheres and specialities. You have Midtown, Soho, Chelsea, Tribeca, Brooklyn… I could go on but instead I’ll post a map instead. This map from Kate La Vie is also very helpful in showing the different areas, and was a lifesaver on my trip this year.
The entire city is absolutely huge, and whereas I think you can walk from central park all the way down to the Brooklyn Bridge at the bottom in around 2-3 hours, you can also get the (much quicker) subway. Their subway system is great and also pretty easy to get your head around, and if you’re staying in Brooklyn (like I did) it can get you into Central Manhattan very swiftly.
How To Get There
There are tons of airlines willing to jet you to NYC, and recently flight prices have gone down massively. I flew with Norwegian Airlines and would definitely recommend – they had great service and you can pick whether or not you want food which is to save some pennies if you’re flying overnight and just fancy sleeping the whole way through. Air Lingus is meant to be fab as even though you have to stop in Dublin it means you sort all your immigration bits and bobs out there, completely missing the immigration queue at the other end when you touch down – which can sometimes take a few hours to get through in peak times.
As always take a look at Sky Scanner as months which aren’t in peak time are looking very cheap, and in January the majority of airlines have new year sales, and they’re the best kind of sales….
Where To Stay
I’m lucky enough to have visited the Big Apple twice, and on my first I stayed just above Central Park in a swanky hotel, and this year on my trip I chose to stay in an Airbnb in Brooklyn which was a bit further out. Even though the subway system is very quick and cheap (in comparison to London at least!) it meant getting into the city wasn’t a chore, but I think if I went again I’d choose to stay in the main city. Sometimes when you’re jetlagged and you want to go to sleep, it’s nice to be able to go back to your bed quickly!
With that in mind I’ve linked some value Airbnb and hotels below, both in Brooklyn and in Manhattan.
Brooklyn Apartment with Rooftop Terrace – £61 a night (this is the apartment I stayed in this year!)
Central Airbnb Apartment – £76 a night
Cheap Brooklyn Apartment – £75 a night
Bargain Lower Manhattan AIrbnb – £77 a night
Royal Park Hotel & Hostel – May be 2* but good reviews, and £100 for a central hotel!
Yotel – (have heard good things about this place and usually good deals on Groupon!)
How To Get Around
I kind of covered this earlier up in this post, but you can get around pretty easily using the subway system – we paid $30 for a week travelcard and it’s unlimited for 7 days which worked perfectly for our 6 day trip.
Of course you can get in the famous New York yellow taxi – they’re really easy to hail down at the airport and the majority take cash and card now which is great if the rate gets a bit higher than you hoped – oh and don’t forget to tip!
But obviously, the main travel choice for New Yorkers is to walk everywhere, and is the best option for exploring and great for finding hidden places you might not have seen otherwise. Also a great way to burn off the massive meals you’re bound to eat – when in Rome and all that…
Where To Go
Now this list could be endless but I’m going to limit it down to my favourite recommendations which you might not usually find. Obviously Times Square and the usual tourist hotspots are a must, but check out the below for some hidden treats!
Central Park – You’d think a park wouldn’t take a whole day to explore but Central Park is really, really big. It’s particularly great though, for stopping off in the evening just before the sun sets with a coffee and donut in hand, just because. There are huge rocks everywhere which make for perfect spots to lie down and enjoy the scenery and whatever sugary snacks you’ve brought along.
Soho – Walking around Soho on a lazy afternoon was a lovely way to explore a part of the city I hadn’t seen before. Just like wandering around London sometimes it meant I stumbled across areas, restauraunts and little shops that I didn’t even know would be there. It’s also great for looking for bars, and make sure to take advantage of the Happy Hour deals on offer as drinks can get a bit pricey.
The High line –I didn’t even know about this until just before our trip, but I’m so glad I gave it a go. It’s a long strip of old railway that goes along the east side of Manhattan, with several stops to get off. It’s just a lovely route to walk down and discover little places to eat, drink or watch street performances. It stops off near Central Manhattan where you can walk inwards to reach Times Square etc. This is perfect for a sunny day, preferably early in the morning to beat the rush so you can take your time and stop for a coffee!
Brooklyn & Walking Across the Bridge
Definitely take a trip over the bridge and walk along the coast on the Brooklyn side, as it gives you some great views of the Manhattan skyline. If you are going to walk over the bridge, try and do it on a weekday as we found out the hard way that Saturday is bit of a squeeze with all the locals and tourists all trying to get accross. I’m not sure if I hadn’t stayed in Brooklyn if this would’ve been so high up on my list, but I’m so glad I did it as it have a different of NYC.
What To Do
Statue of Liberty Tour & Boat Ride – Sorry, not sorry for sounding like the biggest nerd but our trip to the Statue of Liberty was genuinely the highlight of my trip. It was such a lovely, sunny day and a the trip involved getting a boat over to the island, climbing up inside the statue – which is so much tinier than expected and involves a lot more stairs than I thought. You can spend as much time on the island as possible before stopping off at Ellis Island to visit the msueum and then heading back to Manhattan. It was just such a fun day and really good value – just make sure to book in advance as we managed to get the last slot availble for our trip and I’m so, so glad we did! I also managed to buy a fabulous hat whilst I was there, so it was a win win.
9/11 Memorial & Museum – It feels odd to recommend this, and I don’t intend on being insensitive in recommending it, I just think this is a must for your trip if you’re interested in the events of 9/11. The museum is very tastefully done and I found it really interesting – and as I was only 8 at the time so I felt like it taught me a lot about what actually happened on the day that I didn’t know before. The memorials that now stand where the towers once stood are also something to see, as they are so big it does take you back a bit. Definitely a must see.
Rent a boat in Central Park – I stumbled across this by accident on my trip this year, and I really didn’t realise how cheap it was, as it’s only $15 for half an hour, and an extra $3 every fifteen minutes extra (if you’re not exhausted because it turns out rowing is a bit of hard work)
Visit the cupcake ATM! – I’d say the cupcake was pretty good but it’s just worth it for the expeirence of getting a cupcake out of an ATM. What a time to be alive.
Night time at Empire State Building – I’ve been to the top of the Empire State during the day before, but can definitely confirm it’s an incredible sight when you do it at night. If you’d still like to see the surrounding New York landscape in the daytime then head up to the Top of the Rock, as it gives you a great view of Central Park and also the Empire State from far away – so you get to see a bit of everything.
Where To Eat
Bubby’s – This lovely place really reminded me of Bill’s back in the UK as it has a lovely, chilled and laid back vibe whilst also producing some of the best brunch I’ve ever tasted. This is also the place we discovered that biscuits are actually scones, and they were incredible. 10/10 would eat them all again. In fact I really want some now…
John’s Wife Freida – We ended up going to both spots of this restauraunt on our trip in May as it ended up being our favourite breakfast spot. The pic above is of the duck bacon, cheese and egg fried sandwich and it was incredible. Each time we visited we were greated by really friendly staff, and the interiors of both restauraunts are lovely and as the place is alwas full it definitely felt like the right choice for food.
Dough – If you’ve ever fancied eating a donut the size of your head (and who hasn’t?) then look no further than Dough. It took me two sittings to eat the donut in the picture above and I have no regrets, it was incredible.
The Egg Shop – This place is a beautiful little spot in Soho with an incredible brunch menu which believe it or not, isn’t just limited to eggs.
I’ve just realised that 3/4 four of those food recommendations are based on brunch, but if that isn’t your favourite meal of they day then I don’t know what to say. If you’d like to see more recommendations on food and drink in NYC then check out my full Where To Eat blog post.
So, overall that’s my budget guide to New York City! I hope you enjoyed it and took away some helpful budget recommednations, if you’ve booked a trip to NYC or have any questions just pop them down in the comments!!
In the meantime, enjoy this picture of a skateboarding dog – who needs a broadway show when you can watch that instead?