Brooklyn Bridge

This post was originally published on Medium

New York is an expensive city, the most expensive in the United States and ninth in the world, according to a recent report. It’s not the easiest place to be living on a budget, and when friends come to visit and you want to show them the sights, it can seem daunting to make sure they have a great time without spending a lot of money.

Daunting, but not impossible.

In fact, last week I hosted my close friend and long-time travel buddy Michelle (all photos in this post are courtesy of her mad skills!) for six days jam-packed with and we spent a grand total of $6 each on attractions the whole trip. That too, $5 of that was because of a #YOLO splurge to ride the Seaglass Carousel (still a bargain!) that ended up being Michelle’s trip highlight. How’d we do it? Here’s the breakdown.

Coney Art Walls © 2017 Michelle Bates

  1. Free museums. We made the most of free museum hours on Friday and hit up not only the MoMA (free from 4–6) but the Whitney (pay-as-you wish from 7–9:30) as well. Since I had to work on Monday, Michelle took cover from the rain at the Museum of Natural History (always pay-as-you-wish).
  2. Parks! Central Park, Prospect Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park — I made it a point to show Michelle around my holy trilogy of New York green-spaces. We definitely made the most of the unseasonably non-humid August weather, climbing rocks, admiring Descension, and even battling the wind and hysteria as we struggled to steer a rowboat on the lake in Prospect Park (free on Saturdays from 12–4 until Aug 26).
  3. Coney Island. New York’s original amusement destination is a classic for a reason. For the cost of a subway ride (take the F and get some great views of Washington cemetery!) you can spend the day strolling the boardwalk, relaxing on the sand, and people-watching. Definitely make sure to stop and see the Coney Art Walls (free!) which are constantly changing and really reflect the vibrant, edgy history of Coney Island.
  4. Skyline views for $0. Walking the Brooklyn Bridge or hopping on the free Staten Island Ferry for a quick round-trip jaunt are my top two recommendations for visitors looking to get great views of the Manhattan skyline and the statue of liberty. We did both, but you can definitely chose between them depending if your prefer to relax and enjoy a boat ride or if you would rather get your steps in crossing the bridge.
  5. Food that doubles as an experience. So while Michelle and I may have only spent $6 on attractions during the trip, we did spend a lot more on food and drinks. I’m a proud foodie and have a personal #nodullmeals philosophy but during Michelle’s trip we really went the extra mile (including a trip to Flushing!) to get extra bang for our buck and make sure every meal was a unique NYC experience. Michelle has a full run down of all the places we ate and drank on her blog, but some highlights were DeKalb Market HallTipsy ScoopGreenpoint Beer and AleMister DipsPisillo Panini, and the New World Mall Food Court.

Left to right: Soup dumplings from New World Mall Food Court, Milano Panini from Pisillo Panini, and Mango Margarita Raspberry Limoncello Sorbet from Tipsy Scoop © 2017 Michelle Bates