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1,000 Places to See in the U.S.A. & Canada Before You Die
How to Vacation in New York City Without Breaking Your Budget
New York City is known as being one of the most expensive cities to visit. While that can be true, it doesn't have to be. With a little research, one can visit New York City, get a hotel in Manhattan, take in a Broadway show and more without having to slum it.
Getting there: For most people, flying into New York will be the most economical means of transportation. There are several airports in the New York City area, which makes it easier to find a good deal. Both JFK and LaGuardia (LGA) are in NYC, specifically in Queens. Newark (EWR) airport in Newark New Jersey is also nearby. Additionally, the Long Island-Islip, NY airport (ISP) is not too far out for those wanting to travel via Southwest. For people that live near an airport serviced by Jet Blue, chances are that it will have the cheapest airfare to New York, specifically into JFK. In my experience, flying into JFK or LGA are usually the cheapest options as NYC public transportation is easily available from either airport. The next cheapest option is Long Island (ISP), where it is $5 to get a ride from the airport to the train station where the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Ronkonkoma stop is located. During off-peak hours the fare into Penn Station is around $9 and takes a little over an hour. As a last resort, there is flying into Newark (EWR) where you can take the New Jersey transit into Penn Station, which is about $20 one-way.
Once in Manhattan, the absolute cheapest means of transportation is walking. If taking the subway or bus, the fare is $2.00. Cabs tend to be on the expensive side and should be avoided if possible.
A car is not needed in New York City. If you drive into the city, it will cost around $6 just to drive in, and the garages average around $20 per day to park you car in them.
Lodging: There are a lot of options when searching for a hotel in New York City. I travel there myself several times a year and have almost always found the best deals on Quickbook.com. Quickbook frequently has rooms available at such gems as the Bryant Park Hotel at substantial savings. The Four Points Sheraton-Chelsea frequently has rates around $159 per night, as does the Holiday Inn Express - Fifth Avenue. If, for some reason, you flew into Newark and want to stay in that area, the Holiday Inn Newark is not only extremely clean and nice, but averages around $89 per night. However, they do charge $15 per day to park a vehicle there.
If you plan on staying in the city for a while, there are always a lot of apartment sublets available for periods at short as a few days. Good places to find these are on Craigslist and on Sublet.com.
Entertainment: Broadway and off-Broadway shows are definitely something that should not be missed. The average starting price for these shows is around $60 per ticket, which can be rather expensive for families. What might not be known is that there are always discounts for a number of shows at any given time. Typically, shows that regularly sell out do not offer discounts. There is a list of current discounts available to shows both on and off Broadway at BroadwayBox.com. Additionally, Broadway Box offers a newsletter that give weekly updates on new discounts. If you're looking for last-minute tickets, a great place to look for discounts is GoldstarEvents.com. If you are planning on paying full price for tickets, look on the Telecharge website before making a purchase on Broadway.com as the prices on Broadway.com tend to be about $10 higher than Telecharge. If you are student or have a student ID, then there are even great discounts to be had! Most shows offer student discounts (half-price tickets) or have a student rush, where orchestra seats are offered up for about $20. There are some shows that offer a rush for everyone, where anyone that puts their name in gets a chance at two tickets for around $20. Want tickets to a sold-out show? All shows have a standby line where they sell unused tickets a few minutes before showtime. These are usually orchestra seats with a price tag over $100 per ticket, depending on the show prices.
Planning on visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art? It's a little known fact that the Met admission price is a "suggested" price. This means, if you want to pay a nickel to get in, then they take that nickel and you get in. Only want to pay $5? They'll let you in for $5.
Food: Whenever I talk to someone that has visited New York City for the first time, the most frequent complaint that I hear is that the food is expensive. If you only eat in the tourist areas, then yes, the food will seem expensive. The hotdog vendors in Times Square currently charge $2 for a hotdog. Walk up to 50th and 5th and you can get the same hotdog for only $1. Want to stick to chain restaurants? The Olive Garden in Times Square adds a 20% tip to every bill, regardless of the number of people in your party. The Olive Garden in Chelsea does not. The cheapest restaurant in Times Square is Dallas BBQ, and their prices are amazingly cheap. However, a visit to the location in the Village near NYU will have lower prices and a super cheap lunch special that is not on the menu at the Times Square location.
For a cheap breakfast, hop in the Whole Foods in Chelsea where you can get a bowl of hot oatmeal for cheap. Want a cheap lunch or dinner? Pop into one of the many local luncheonettes in the city. The cheapest and most filling thing on the menu is eggs with French fries, which also comes with your choice of toast. If you go into one of these in Times Square however, it will not be cheap.
It should also be noted that most non-chain restaurants in New York do not offer free refills. In fact, if you order a soda you'll get a 12 oz. can brought to you in the majority of places.
Following these tips, you should be able to have a fun and inexpensive trip to Manhattan.