I'm in the middle of planning our city visit this weekend and that planning involves what we can do without spending much money. We are usually in the Hell's Kitchen and Chelsea area when we're in town and while New York can be expensive, your stay doesn't have to be. This post is going to be FULL of links to older posts because I tend to write about our stays a lot.
We sleep on my parents couch so we don't pay for hotels but there are a bazillion options of where to stay that's affordable. You don't even have to stay Manhattan. Also Air BnB is pretty popular. Many parts of Queens, Brooklyn and Jersey City are just quick subway/ferry ride away from Midtown Manhattan.
Let's talk about ART! If you love art, there is a lot of it you can take in for free. You don't have to stand on long lines and pay a ridiculous fee. Art Galleries are FREE! It only cost money if you're a big spender and looking to buy some art.
The Chelsea neighborhood is full of galleries. Our go to spot is located at 529 West 20th Street between 10th & 11th Avenue. It is not only the home to the Jonathan Levine Gallery (one of my favorites) but a bunch more galleries all located in this big industrial building. Almost every floor from top to bottom has one or two galleries to check out. We usually take the elevator to the top floor and work our way down. It's also located near Chelsea Piers & Chelsea Market.
We hardly take the subway (which is $2.75 a ride now, F that!). We walk along the Westside Highway which is almost entirely a riverfront park on the Hudson. We walk south to Chelsea or the West Village, it's a nice alternative to very popular Highline which is just one avenue east. The Highline is nice if you go early in the morning. Most museums either have a free day or free admission after certain hours. I found a nice guide that lists a bunch.
What about food?
There are SOOOOO many restaurants in the city, don't bother with the big chains you can go to back home. We have our usual restaurants we dine at in Hell's Kitchen like Gotham Market West, Jing (Asian Fusion), Tulcingo del Valle (Mexican), Island Burgers & Shakes, Georgio's Country Grill, Hell's Chicken(Korean), Bambolio on Bleecker Street in the West Village, and more. Usually when we dine out, dinner is under $35, it helps when you don't drink alcohol I guess.
ONE SLICE of cake from Amy's Bread is big enough for two people. That is a $2.50 dessert per person! They have three locations in Hell's Kitchen, West Village, and Chelsea Market. I always pay them a visit.
What's more New York than grabbing a slice of Pizza? I grew up on slices from a bunch of different pizza places, some really good and some really missing the mark. If you are really strapped for cash, 2 Bros Pizza have $1 slices! And you know what? They're not bad!
You know what else is awesome? STREET FOOD! I'm not talking about the fancy schmancy food trucks. I mean the silver, no-name food stands. There is a guy on the corner of 9th Avenue and 43rd Street with a fruit stand and it is the cheapest produce you'll find anywhere and they're fresh fruit too!
When I was working in the city, I skipped Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts in the morning and I got my coffee from a guy on the corner of 55th & 3rd Avenue. A large coffee for $1.25 and it is the best coffee I ever purchased. I still miss that coffee.
You'll find these little coffee carts every few blocks most weekday mornings. They would also have donuts, rolls, and bagels you could grab. If they were "fancy", maybe even make an egg sandwich. You don't need to spend a ton on breakfast when you can get a coffee and bowtie for $3.00.
In the warmer weather, you may happen upon a random Street Festival with the smell of sausage and peppers and fried dough in the air. Don't fight it, give in to the street food greasiness!
There is sooooooo much more I can talk about like Governors Island, Lower East Side, and so much more. You can always shoot me a question in the comment on where to do, where to eat, what to do and I'll be happy to share some alternative recommendations! :)