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Sightseeing on a Budget in New York City

New York City may be known for its skyscrapers and sky-high living prices, but there are bargains to be had for travelers on a budget. A little planning goes a long way toward saving money in New York, so you can experience world-class culture and iconic urban sights at down-to-earth prices.

Hi, I'm Madigan!

Madigan Talmage-Bowers is a writer based in Denver, Colorado. She has also lived in Italy, San Francisco, and New York City, where she studied media theory at the New School. She loves introducing her kids to ancient history, local art, hiking trails, and new foods on adventures around the globe.

Indulge in the Street Food Scene

Yes, New York City boasts Michelin-starred restaurants and celebrity chefs, but some of the best bites are found right on the street—at wallet-friendly prices. Lunch like a local at food trucks and street vendors that have perfected the art of fast food. If you're feeling overwhelmed by options, focus on the flavors of a single neighborhood such as Greenwich Village, Chinatown, or SoHo on a food-themed walking tour.

Check Out the Museums

You don't have to spring for a Broadway ticket to get cultured in New York. Collections at the Guggenheim, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and American Museum of Natural History offer hours of viewing pleasure with minimal expense. Check out our guide to the city's free museum days for more options.

Get Around on a Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

The New York City subway system is great for zipping around underground, but if you want to take in the street-level scene, a hop-on hop-off bus tour combines the flexibility of public transit with local trivia. Get on and off at essential stops such as the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, and the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, all while avoiding the expense of private taxi rides.

Play in Central Park

New York's sprawling Central Park is free for all to enjoy, and you could easily spend much of your vacation exploring its meadows, lakes, and statue-filled gardens. Check it out on foot or join a low-cost bike tour to avoid getting lost and ensure you see both the highlights and hidden corners.

Take a Harbor Cruise

If a helicopter flight is nowhere near your budget, you can still enjoy spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline on an affordable harbor cruise. Operators run a range of itineraries that showcase the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, and other landmarks up and down the East and Hudson rivers.

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