Touring Manhattan on a Budget

by Julia on October 17, 2017

3 ways to keep the costs down

There are several facts that travelers wanting to visit New York City should know.

  • There is more to do and see per square mile in Manhattan than in any other part of the country and, arguably, the world.

  • Getting around the city can be expensive (if you take taxis), aggravating (if you use public transit or drive your personal vehicle) or exhausting (if you walk) but there are so many tourist attractions crammed on the island that you must choose one of these methods of travel.

  • Doing anything in the city is expensive. No matter if it is eating, drinking or just seeing the sights, the prices in New York City are higher than any other tourist city in the country.

For budget-minded travelers a trip to Manhattan can be a nightmare, yet, with a little preparation and some common sense, there are ways to get a lot for your hard-earned money without driving yourself mad.

1. Plan ahead

Most people use the internet to plan vacations and trips but when visiting Manhattan, it is essential. Tour packages, hotel rooms and dining can be had for much less when bought online. There are only a few places (like the Metropolitan Museum of Art) where you can get a better deal by paying at the door.

By planning your trip online, you can compare deals and tour packages to get the most out of your budget. Researching restaurants can reveal specials and deals that will help you afford to eat and drink while not burning a hole in your pocket.

2. Think creatively

Manhattan is known for tall buildings and the glorious views they offer. However, getting up to those views can be pricey. It costs $32 per person to go to the observatory on top of the World Trade Center. It costs the same amount to get to the door of the café one floor below.  The Empire State building charges a comparable fee.

Yet, those two buildings are not the only ones in Manhattan. Although eating lunch at the Capital Grille in the Chrysler building may not have the same cachet, the costs are more reasonable and the view is nearly as good. Don’t limit yourself to certain options and keep an open mind. The cost savings can be considerable.

3. Take a tour

The absolute best way to get around in Manhattan is on a hop-on hop-off tour bus. It combines the freedom to see what you want, when you want, with the convenience of a one-time fee and scheduled routes. Many tour companies allow you to purchase your sightseeing pass ahead of time and combine it with other tourist attractions.

For many people, visiting New York City would not be complete without a trip to Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty. Many of the tour companies can save you money on combination tickets.


Putting it all together

Manhattan is a wonderful place to visit, at any time of the year, but for the frugal-minded, autumn is the best season. The city is cooling off but doesn’t have the rain associated with spring. The sheer mass of people visiting during the summer months, when kids are out of school and family vacations are happening, are absent from the parks and museums. The winter chill has not set in yet.

These factors make a trip to New York City in the fall both pleasurable and less expensive than other times. Exhibits, attractions and tour stops are accessible and convenient while the cooler temperatures make staying outside pleasant. Sightseeing buses run year-round and make it simple and convenient to visit everywhere you want to go.

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