As one of the world’s most popular travel destinations, New York City attracts over 65 million visitors each year. This should come as no surprise considering the thriving city is home to some of the best shopping, dining, museums, and theatrical performances found anywhere around the globe. Commonly referred to as The City That Never Sleeps, New York City is teeming with exciting things to do and see. However, with explosive popularity often comes a lofty price tag to match.
Before you can answer the question, is $1000 enough for 5 days in New York, you must ask yourself what you plan on doing during that time. If you plan on staying at a 5-star hotel and dining at upscale restaurants in Manhattan, then a budget of $1000 is definitely not going to cut it. However, if you plan on staying at a mid-tier hotel and taking advantage of the many free things to do in New York, then a budget of $1000 is much more doable.
Because the average price of accommodation is $137 USD a night, making up a little over half of your $1000 budget, it’s important to take advantage of the many affordable options for dining and attractions in New York City. From delicious street food in Chinatown to reasonably priced cafes in Manhattan, the city is flush with cheap eats. If you opt for a hotel with a kitchenette area, you could even stock up on pre-made sandwiches and snacks to further reduce the cost of dining in New York.
Now that you know that you can find affordable accommodations and cheap dining options in New York, it brings us to the real question: What is there to do in NYC for cheap? Believe it or not, the options are plentiful.
Our team at Trip Support has rounded up our top picks for cheap or free attractions in New York City that allow for a budget-friendly vacation. From _ to _, there are plenty of fun and family-friendly ways to spend 5 days in New York City without blowing through your budget in a New York minute.
Here are the top 8 cheap or free attractions in New York City:
Officially named the Riegelmann Boardwalk, this Coney Island staple is a 2.7-mile long boardwalk overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. If you’re visiting New York in the summertime, this popular destination is perfect for people watching, enjoying cheap eats, and riding the thrilling roller coasters of Luna Park. The boardwalk is also located just a few minutes’ walk from the New York City Aquarium.
For the cheapest and most scenic route to the world-famous Statue of Liberty, head over to the Whitehall Terminal and hop on the Staten Island Ferry. Service is free for all riders and it offers stunning views of the New York City skyline during the 25-minute ride through New York Harbor. The Ferry runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with service roughly every 20 minutes.
While New York is known for its astonishing Broadway productions, tickets to those shows can get incredibly pricey. If you don’t feel like shelling out the dough, check the schedule for performances held by The Juilliard School instead. This famous performing arts school hosts dance, theatre, and music performances throughout the year, many of which are either free to attend or very reasonably priced.
For just $12 USD, you can purchase a Citi Bike day pass and travel as far as your legs will take you in the span of 24 hours. This is a fun and cheap way to see all the spectacular sights around New York City, while getting a great workout in at the same time. Citi Bike docks are stationed all around the city, so you can grab a bike no matter where you are and begin your self-guided tour.
In the midst of all the big city chaos, a relaxing picnic in the park is the perfect way to unwind with the family. As one of the largest urban parks in the world, Central Park is a must-see destination in New York City with tons of lush green space for picnics. Stop at a nearby bodega for some snacks and drinks, then head over to Central Park to enjoy a picnic complete with skyline views—free of charge.
Known for being the best street in New York City for window shopping, a stroll down Fifth Avenue is an absolute must. With shops like Bergdorf Goodman, Armani, Valentino, and Dolce & Gabbana, Fifth Avenue is widely regarded as one of the most expensive streets in the world. While you may find yourself wishing that you could afford those $5,000 boots in the window, it’s pretty fun to window shop and play pretend.
It may be a tourist trap, but that doesn’t mean it’s not one worth visiting. A stop at Times Square is an absolute must for any first-timer visiting New York City. For a truly magical experience, it’s key to visit at night when all the lights are aglow. There’s a reason why tourists from around the world flock to this iconic New York hotspot.
World-renowned for its breathtaking Neo-Gothic architecture, St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the largest Catholic church in New York and is worth a visit regardless of your religious affiliation. Visitors can walk through the church and snap photos free of charge or purchase a Tour Pass for an audio tour that guides you through the history of this incredible church.