Manhattan on a Budget seems unlikely, especially if you trying to fit everything into just one day. However, it is possible with preplanning and an idea of exactly what you want to do whilst visiting NYC.
I recently had a day off trip to the city. We saw a lot in just 11 hours and it didn’t cost me a fortune either, aside from the very unnecessary shopping that I couldn’t resist. But in terms of sightseeing and exploring, I spent just $20 at most.
In my 11-short hours in the City That Never Sleeps, I saw:
- Times Square
- The New York Library
- Bryant Park
- Grand Central Station
- Central Park
- Downtown Manhattan including One World Trade Center
- Staten Island
- Statue of Liberty
- The New York Skyline
- Brooklyn Bridge
An impressive list, eh? You too can see all these places, let me tell you all about how I managed to see a huge chunk of NYC on a cloudy-muggy day in June.
Manhattan on a Budget – $20 to spend:
From Times Square to Central Park
Our coach dropped us off in Bryant Park, which is a very short walk from the New York Library, Grand Central Station and the Chrysler Building. New York, as you might already know, is built on a grid system; this means that everything is pretty close together and easy to locate.
Top tip: if you locate yourself within a certain area at a time and avoid darting all over the place, that is the most efficient way to see a lot of sights on a budget and time limit. Plan where you want to be and all that there is to see within that area in advance.
We had lunch at a cafe called Le Pain Quotidien. It was fairly pricey but the food was delicious. They had a variety of meat, vegetarian and vegan options as well as an excellent array of desserts and pastries; although, I now regret having not had a sweet treat whilst there.
Following our quick pit stop to eat, we wondered into Time Square; which can I just say, it so overwhelming in every way possible. It was busy, bright and I felt the need to keep a constant grip on my bag; but nonetheless, it is worth visiting for the Broadway and Advertisement overload aspect alone. If you are into shopping then Times Square has all the shops you can think of including H&M, Disney, Old Navy, Sephora and Forever 21.
Another aspect to NYC is that it is easy to just keep walking until you find somewhere new. If you continue the walk up 7th Ave, approximately 12-blocks North, you will find yourself on the bottom-side of Central Park. We had plans to visit Central Park Zoo, but we arrived at 3pm and deemed it too late to reason paying admission for; so that is still on my bucket list for next time.
Central Park is its own bustling world. It feels set apart from the city with all its greenery. Everyone was lazy-ing by the lake and socializing on the park benches. It’s a break away from the loudness and chaos of yellow-cabs, sirens, and smog. Manhattan on a budget need not be a day of full adventure or continuous activities; if you like park’s, then Central Park is a great stop for a couple hours. Grab an ice-cream, a hot dog or pretzel, and chill!
Central Park down to the Staten Island Ferry
Rowanne and I hoped on a subway to the Staten Island Ferry port, it took about 20 minutes and the return trip was $6. The Staten Island Ferry is a free public transport line that connects Staten Island and Manhattan. It’s a passenger ferry only and takes half-an-hour. The boat runs 24 hours a day and frequently throughout the hour. Whilst this is a popular comment route for New Yorkers, from the tourism perspective is it a free way to view the city’s impressive skyline as well as the Statue of Liberty without having to pay for specific tours at extortionate prices.
What can you see on the Staten Island Ferry?
It is was from the ferry that I was able to view: the skyline, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, One World Trade Center and Brooklyn as a borough. I recommend that on the outward journey towards Staten Island you head towards the back of the ferry and on the return journey you locate yourself on the left-hand side. This allows for the best photo opportunities and sightseeing.
From the Ferry port, we headed on the Subway back to Times Square for the evening whereby the places was still very much bouncing. So there you have it, my 11-hour guide to Manhattan on a Budget. We saw a lot of the city for a day-trip and I cannot wait to spend more time there at the end of the summer.
What’s your favourite place to visit in NYC? Let me know in the comments or by contacting me here!
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