Planning a Trip to New York City? Here are our top 10 things to do in NYC on a budget! From trying an original cronut to doing some window shopping at Chelsea Market, there’s something for everyone on this list. This is a great NYC travel guide if you only have a few days in the city. Do you have any suggestions for things to do in NYC? Here are a few other travel guides you might like: 15 Things To Do on a Disney Cruise, 10 Reasons to Stay at Beaches Negril in Jamaica and Best Activities for Kids in Sedona.
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TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN NYC ON A BUDGET
My husband and I have this ongoing battle about which is the best big city. With my family being from New York, I always choose it, but since he had never been I thought a great Christmas present for him (and for me too) would be a kid-free trip to the city that never sleeps. Knowing that this would be his first time in the city and that we didn’t have a whole lot of time, we worked on trying to cram as much as possible into just a few short days.
Planning a trip to New York City? Let me suggest a couple of tips. First, grab a subway map so you can map out when and where you can take it since it’s the least expensive mode of transportation in the city. Second, before you go, get the City Pass from Costco (it’s $89 online) and so worth the money. There is a whole list of activities you can use the pass for, just make sure to check online before you go to see if you need to call ahead as each one differs. Keep on reading for our top 10 list of things do to in NYC.
SEE BROOKLYN ON A BICYCLE
The Brooklyn bike tour was my favorite part of our time in New York. Even though temperatures were in the low 40’s when we started the tour, the sun was shining bright, and we happened to be the only two on the tour at that time so we had our own personal guide, Kevin, who took us all around Brooklyn for two hours. We got to see the Dumbo area, China Town, Little Italy and so much more! There were two parts specifically that were my fave: any of the beautiful brownstones (think Carrie Bradshaw’s iconic apartment in Sex and The City) and the Brooklyn Bridge which is just breathtaking and serves as a great backdrop for pictures. This tour was included as one of the stops with the City Pass I talked about earlier.
SAMPLE THE COOKIES AT LEVAIN BAKERY IN NYC
If your into delicious cookies, this is THE place for you. In addition to cookies they also make bread other confections, but they are known throughout the city for their ENORMOUS 6 oz chocolate chip walnut cookie. As a bonus, they help feed the hungry with any leftovers they have each day. They have two locations located in the city and with visitors from around the world lines often reach out the door.
BE PART OF THE SNL AUDIENCE AT NBC STUDIOS
Live from New York, its Saturday Night! For those of you who love SNL like I do, this is your chance to be a part of the audience of the iconic show. Be prepared though, depending on the guest and musical artist, people wait outside starting the night before. Although we didn’t get there in time to get tickets to SNL, we still strolled through the bottom floor of the studio and the NBC store. They start handing out tickets around 7 am the day of, so get there early to secure yours. On weekdays you can also wait for Jimmy Fallon audience tickets.
BROWSE THE BOOKS AT THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY
Speaking of Sex and The City, who remembers in the movie when Carrie chooses the perfect location for her wedding to Big? This library is so beautiful to explore, it made me want to get married there too. It’s got so many historic rooms to take in, in addition to a great book store on the bottom floor. Bonus, when you buy a book at the book store they will stamp it with the historic New York Public Library stamp.
CATCH A TRAIN FROM GRAND CENTRAL STATION
We stayed right by this iconic train station, so whenever we took the subway this is where we took off from. But it’s more than just a subway station, it’s the scene from many movies, has an amazing selection of food and we even witnessed a wedding when while we were there. On our last night we were so tired from walking all day we ate dinner here and it was amazing. Add this to your list of things to do in NYC!
SAMPLE A CRONUT AT DOMINIQUE ANSEL’S BAKERY SOHO
Being a baker and having owned a business where I taught people to bake cookies, I have long followed the work of Dominique Ansel and his awesome dessert creations. He is the inventor of the Cronut and the Cookie Shot, so I wasn’t going to take a trip to New York without getting my hands on one of these (even though we had already eaten our way through half the city). Ansel has two bakeries in New York and we stopped by the SoHo location. I of course got a Cronut, but also had one of the creations from his cookbook, the frozen s’more along with some hot cocoa which is topped with a blooming marshmallow (yes this is as amazing as it sounds). Lines often stretch around the block in the mornings and on weekends especially at the beginning of the month when they announce the cornet flavor so make sure to bring your patience if you get there during one of their busy times.
MAKE A WISH AT THE WASHINGTON SQUARE PARK WATER FOUNTAIN
After all that food at Dominique Ansel’s you’ll want to take a stroll around the park. This park is best known for it’s arch and water fountain, both of which make for great picture spots, as well as it’s proximity to New York University. We found this to be a great park to just walk around and take in all the beauty of everything around it.
SWING BY THE YANKEE STADIUM FOR A BEHIND THE SCENES TOUR
This was another tour that we used our City Passes for. We did visit during the off season, so we didn’t have the opportunity to attend a Yankees game, but this is a great behind the scenes tour of the stadium. Since we took the subway, we arrived a little early and got to explore the site of the old Yankee Stadium, right across the street, which is now a park. We are both huge baseball fans so we spent some time walking along the old field and taking in all of the history. Once on the tour we were taken through the stadium, got to sit in the Judge’s Chambers (a special section of seats behind right field), went through the founders field and got to see a special area where there was the most amazing collection of Yankees memorabilia.
WINDOW SHOP AT CHELSEA MARKET
I literally had no idea an amazing place like Chelsea Market existed until I saw it for myself! Think tons of different food trucks, plus a farmers market plus shopping all in one spot and that is Chelsea Market. There was so many different kinds of food there that I had a tough time choosing just one place to eat. My husband chose to eat at the Lobster Place Seafood Market, which didn’t disappoint in their amazing lobster bisque. I started off with the sweet flavored tahini from Seed and Mill and finished with half my husband’s soup and tacos from Tacumi Taco, a Japanese inspired Mexican food restaurant. After all that food we had to walk it off by heading upstairs to The Highline, which is a park built on a freight line. We walked through the path which led us throughout the Meatpacking District and Chelsea, which is home to beautiful street art and views of the Hudson River.
TAKE A STROLL IN CENTRAL PARK
One of my favorite places in the city is Central Park, I just had to add it to our list of things to do in NYC. We walked through the park at least three times and still didn’t see all of it. There are so many different areas with beautiful trees and bridges. The best way to get to see most of the park is to take the horse drawn carriage tour. It’s not only romantic, but it will also let you see more of the park then you can cover on foot in a short period of time. It’s a splurge, but worth it if you are short on time!