Travel Guide: How to Tour New York City on a Dime

Written by T.E. Wing

Don’t let your wallet stand between you and an exciting trip to see New York City. These budget-friendly NYC travel tips will let you experience all the Big Apple has to offer …

Never been to New York City? Don’t let budget concerns keep you from experiencing the Big Apple and all the stellar sights and sounds it has to offer. With a little planning, you can head to New York and check out the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Broadway and more — without breaking the bank. Here’s how.

What do you want to see most?

If you’re about to tour New York on a dime, you probably won’t be able to afford each one of these attractions. Instead, set aside a certain amount you’re willing to spend on the big stuff. Once you know what you have to work with, select two or three of these major attractions and enjoy every second of them. Choose wisely, and remember–they’ll still be there when you come back.

Some top New York attractions include the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, dozens of Broadway shows, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There are also stunning historical and architectural site tours of the Met Cloisters, St Patrick’s Cathedral, and the New York Public Library. Other fun activities include the American Museum of Natural History, a horse and carriage ride in Central Park, or a food tour.

New York City for free

While a lot of the stuff worth seeing in New York costs money — sometimes, big money — there is plenty of spectacular stuff you can check out for free, too.  Central Park and Grand Central Terminal, for example, are both free to tour if you schedule a free volunteer tour of New York with the Big Apple Greeters.

You just have to do it a month in advance.

Not the scheduling sort? That’s cool, too. Visit the Brooklyn Bridge. Take the Staten Island Ferry. Walk Wall Street. Stroll Times Square. Wander down the narrow streets of China Town or Little Italy. None of that will cost you a dime.

Tips for Saving Money

Some attractions can be gotten for cheap or free, if you know how to look. Get discounted Yankees tickets online at Turn Up Tickets.

Other options? Take advantage of the free museum days NYC institutions like the Guggenheim or the Modern Museum of Art offer weekly.

See an underground or off-beat show and get in for cheap — or free.

Got your heart set on Broadway? No problem. Get hired as an usher for a day at Broadway show and get in free.

After the show, head to one of the offbeat, NYC local favorites as listed in New York Magazine’s  list of cheap eats.

The bottom line

If you’re thinking about visiting New York, don’t wait until you’ve got a boatload of cash to go see it. Instead of falling into tourist traps and spending hundreds, save by choosing self guided tours, lesser known shows, and cheap eats. There’s more than enough to fill your trip, just by enjoying the sights, window-shopping, and exploring all that New York has to offer.

You’ll never be sorry you spent an exciting weekend or even longer in the City That Never Sleeps. budget-friendly trip at first, New York is a great city to visit on a dime, if you know how to do it right.

Cover image of Times Square by Francisco Diez, New Jersey, USA (], via Wikimedia Commons