I have only ever heard people LOVING NYC and as Tyler and I aren’t the bigest fans of busy cities we were surprised how much we actually enjoyed it! It is absolutely huge, there is soooo much to do, whatever you’re into I’m certain there will be something here for you!
We had 5 days to explore and thought it was the perfect amount of time (if not even a little longer), so here my recommendations for the top 10 must sees in NYC and some money saving tips to enjoy the city without blowing your budget
1 – See the crazy Times Square
I have to be honest and say Times Square is kind of overrated but I do still think it’s a must see. You walk around the square, maybe look at a few shops, take some photos and then you’re over it haha. But you can’t visit NY without seeing it, after all it does attract 50 million tourists a year and on busy days 460,000 people! From scrambling people to the electronic flashing billboards it is like nothing I have ever seen!
ALLOW – An hour or so, we got sick of it after that but it may interest you more than it did us.
2 – Walk over Brooklyn Bridge for sunset
WOW, absolutely amazing views from here, sunset is the best time although busy, definitely worth it. We started in Main Street park and took some photos down Water Street, Williamsburg (for the gossip girl fans) with a view of Manhattan bridge and the Empire State building. Then we walked from there to the bridge and caught an incredible sunset with views of the high-rise buildings and city lights.
ALLOW – Afternoon/night so a good few hours if you want to stroll at a leisurely pace.
PRICE – FREE!
You may remember it featured in movies such as Madagascar, Gossip Girl, Friends with Benefits, I Am Legand, Men in Black, Step Up, Superman, Unbreakable and heaps more! There are lots of shops in the terminal including an Apple store with many places to eat and its just a short stroll from Times Square.Similar to Times Square, if you go at peak hour it’s cool to see the hundreds of scrambling commuters, but you go, take a few photos and leave.
ALLOW – An hour would be plenty of time.
PRICE – FREE to enter and walk around!
You 100% cannot miss this period! A lot of people are confused in choosing between Rockefeller or Empire state building but every single person I have spoken to that have done both, always say Rockefeller is the winner. You get to see central park (which you don’t from Empire state), the Empire State building itself, views of the entire city with bright city lights and if you’re lucky a beautiful sunset like we did! One of the best views in NYC in my opinion! Make sure to book tickets online to reserve a time slot, otherwise you will most likely miss out if try and buy tickets when you are there.
ALLOW – A good couple of hours! We spent about 3 hours up at the observation deck to watch the sun go down, it was freezing but so so so worth it!
PRICE – Tickets are $32 each (not cheap) but you will NOT regret it, soon as you step out of the elevator you will understand.
5 – Ride the Staten Island Ferry, for statue of liberty views
Another typical tourist point, but you have to see it right? We caught the FREE Staten Island ferry there and back, which provide fairly close views of the lady for absolutely zip! There are tours to the Island itself but we didn’t really think it was worth paying for, so we decided on this option.
ALLOW – Just over an hour, as the ferry doesn’t take too long to go there and back.
PRICE – The ferry is free but if you are after tours or go actually go on the island they rage from about $25 and up.
The perfect place for a picnic! I had no idea how big Central park actually was! I could have easily spent a whole day here just walking through the park, setting up a nice picnic and checking all sorts of entertainment displayed in there. There are things like the iceskating rink, bicycle tours, paddle boating, horse and carriage tours, Central Park zoo, riding a pony at the Friedsam Memorial Carousel, playing baseball or tennis, watching a play in Delacorte Theater, joining in on a yoga class, and free concerts in the summer months. There is a huge ‘WholeFoods’ store right near the southwestern entrance of the park, which I went crazy at and bought heaps of goodies! It isn’t the cheapest store but they have AMAZING food and was so nice to splurge on the budget for a treat.
ALLOW – At least half a day if not more!
7 – Visit the 9/11 Memorial
Something you cannot miss. An absolutely amazing memorial dedicated to the lives lost in the 9/11 terrorist attacks back in 2001. The memorial show cases remains like fire trucks from the after math of the incident, videos from survivors, calls from people who were in the building just before it took place, hand written letters which would in hope make it to loved ones, detailed information about the terrorist organisation who were involved and heaps heaps more information.
ALLOW – Allow at least half a day here, we spent 2.5 hours but had to rush because we went close to closing time.
PRICE – Tickets are $20 per person but worth every cent.
Although we didn’t get to see a Broadway show (due to being on a tight budget and limited time to fit everything in) we did get to see a comedy show at the Comedy Cellar recommend by a friend, which was an awesome night. Chris Rock the famous actor/comedian actually showed up and did some stand up, to see someone like this your best bet is to go to a show late at night and mid week, apparently Adam Sandler pops in there a bit too! I’ve also heard you can get cheap Broadway tickets if you go last minute to the ticket booths, half an hour before the show starts, you may get lucky! This is something I wish we could of done and it will definitely be on the list for next time!
ALLOW – The comedy show went for about 3 hours and I’m guessing a Broadway show would be similar.
PRICE – It cost $21 each and you have to purchase 2 items on the menu whether that be food or drinks. This place gets really busy so I’d recommend booking before you get there!
9 – Walk the high line
The high line is a 1.45-mile-long (2.33 km) garden walk/park build on a disused railway line in the middle of Manhattan, we didn’t get time for this but it would be beautiful in summer and spring. It would be another awesome break from the busy city just like Central Park, another great spot for a picnic in the sun!
ALLOW – I’m guessing about half a day?
PRICE – As far as I know i’ts FREE!
10 – Watch a sporting game
NY is home of the Yankee’s & Mets (baseball), Rangers & Devils (icehockey), Giants & Jets (football), Knicks & the Brooklyn Nets (basketball) and I’m sure a lot more too! American sporting teams are huge, the atmosphere is always so much fun and watching the game of course too. I WISH we had time to see a game (we are hoping to see a game in LA instead). Ticket prices can be reasonable if you aren’t fussy where you sit, have a look online and I’m sure you’ll find ticket prices.
ALLOW – A good few hours, see websites and tickets for more accurate information.
PRICE – We looked up tickets to see how much a basketball game would be and I think we found seats up the back for just over $30 each. If you want to sit at the front or at prime positions expect to pay well over $100 each!
Some other things still worth seeing include the flatiron building, China Town, Chelsea markets, Soho neighbourhood, Battery park, Roosevelt island tram, Wall Street, Gantry park in long island city, Coney Island, MET museum, MOMA and heaps more!
MONEY SAVING TIPS:
DON’T: Catch taxis or pay for those red touristy hop on hop off buses! They are both a rip off! If you really don’t want to use the subway then maybe Uber might be better option?
DO: Use public transport! The NYC subway is very easy to use, safe and cheap.
DON’T: Buy individual subway tickets! If you are staying in NYC for more than 4 days and plan going to a lot of places, a ticket is $2.75 regardless if you’re going 1 or 20 stops.
DO: Buy an unlimited 7-day subway card! They do cost $32 each BUT are very worth it. On average Tyler and I caught about 5 subways a day (most days more) and we stayed for 5 days, so that would have equaled to around $70 each if we bought individual tickets every time.
DON’T: Always eat at restaurants! By the time you add tax and service, your bill will definitely not be what you originally thought. Say goodbye to your money if you are eating out breakfast, lunch and dinner (especially with the terrible Australian exchange rates at the moment!) but it is good to eat out occasionally but not every day.
DO: Look for food carts on the street and take away eateries. This will save you having to pay for table service tipping.
DON’T: Stay right in the big fog. These hotels are so so so expensive and the price drops pretty dramatically if you stay a little but out. Plus the subway is frequent, easy and affordable.
DO: Stay a little bit out of the city (Manhattan) to save loads of money. It’s all about location but sometimes being right in the middle of times square isn’t always the best thing anyway.
* EDIT * : I nearly forgot to mention to download an app called ‘Embark NYC” if you plan on using the subway. It helped us tremendously! It’s a free app you can use without having internet (yay for travellers) that helps you find what lines to get to arrive at your destination.
The city of New York is pretty well known for the hustle and bustle, broadway theatres, electronic billboards excellent subway which make it the city that never sleeps! There are so many things to see and do in this amazing city, so I figure saving a bit of money where you can will allow you to still see the expensive but “can’t miss” tourist attractions while still being in your budget. I hope some of this information helped with your next trip to visiting NYC!
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