Skip To Content

    How To Experience The Best Of NYC On $50 A Day

    See the best of the city without spending a fortune.

    Hannah Wong/BuzzFeed

    Ah, the Big Apple. It's one of the most exciting cities in the world...and also one of the most expensive. But it's totally possible to experience the absolute best of NYC without spending a fortune.


    Here's a guide to the perfect three-day weekend in New York where you'll spend about $50 each day. But first, a few tips for saving:

    -Check out Airbnb. There are so many amazing apartments you can stay in all over the city like this chic Williamsburg loft and this East Village hideaway. Manhattan will be the priciest place to stay so for the best deals, check the other boroughs (Namely Queens and Brooklyn).

    -Take the subway! The NYC subway system is easy to navigate and it will get you pretty much anywhere. You can buy a seven-day subway pass for $32.

    -Take advantage of happy hours. Is there anything better than discounted booze and snacks? Restaurants and bars all around the five boroughs have happy hour deals, especially if you're in NYC on a weekday.

    Start the day off right (the New York way).

    @raychcaych via Instagram / Via

    If you go to New York and don't eat a bagel, did you even go? Ess-a-Bagel, a midtown east institution, makes some of New York's most mouthwatering bagels: Fat and doughy on the inside with a crisp exterior. While you can get as fancy as you'd like with nova, whitefish, and cold cuts, you can't go wrong with a classic everything bagel with cream cheese ($3.35).

    Spend the morning exploring Central Park.

    Getty Images

    Not only is Central Park one of NYC's greatest attractions, it also happens to be completely free. You could spend days exploring all the different sites within, from Sheep Meadow and Belvedere Castle, to Bethesda Terrace and The Pond. Bring a book, a blanket, and a frisbee and spend an hour or two relaxing on the Great Lawn.

    Re-fuel with a burger and fries from Shake Shack.

    @la_romanee_ via Instagram / Via

    You must be hungry after all that walking. Head east to exit Central Park and make your way to Shake Shack. Yes, this fast-casual burger chain has expanded across the country, but Shake Shack is as quintessential to New York City as In-N-Out is to Los Angeles. A ShackBurger and fries will set you back about $8.

    Catch the latest exhibit at the MET.

    Via, @rkbrown via Instagram / Via

    Tickets for the Metropolitan Museum of Art are pay-as-you-wish, so give what you can afford. You'll see renowned work by Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh, and Jackson Pollock, just to name a few. Before you leave, head up to the rooftop bar. While the drinks are pricy, admission is free, and you don't want to miss the jaw-dropping views over Central Park.

    Take advantage of happy hour in the East Village.

    @schmollypops via Instagram / Via

    How do New Yorkers afford to pay rent and also drink? They take advantage of happy hour, and so should you. Head downtown and find a fun spot for an early evening drink deal. At Hill & Dale, you can snag a glass of wine for $6 from 5-8 pm, at Goodnight Sonny a beer will set you back just $3 from 4-7 pm, and at Botanica Bar you can sling back $4 well cocktails from 6-8 pm.

    Fill your stomach (and sweat a bit) at a Szechuan feast.

    @scrumphsus via Instagram / Via, @bon_nappetit via Instagram / Via

    There are two things you should know about the East Village favorite, Han Dynasty. First of all, this isn't a meal for the faint of heart. True to Szechuan cuisine, this stuff is spicy. Secondly, it's incredibly cheap. Go with a group, split a bunch of things like dan dan noodles, dumplings in chili oil, and dry pepper chicken. You'll spend about $12 per person and leave delightfully stuffed.

    Laugh your ass off at a comedy show.

    @kerrythenugget via Instagram / Via

    The Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in the East Village is one of the best places around to catch a comedy show. Founded by a group of comedians including Amy Poehler, UCB holds shows every night of the week featuring some hilarious rising stars. An improv, stand-up, or sketch comedy show will usually cost you anywhere from $7-$12, although you can also find some freebies from time to time.

    Hit up the corner deli for a BEC.

    @feedsnorlax / Via

    Look, it's nothing fancy, but to experience NYC like a local, you have to try a classic bodega bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich. After all, there are few things more satisfying than crispy bacon, fluffy scrambled eggs, and melted American cheese on a soft roll. Where to find this perfect specimen? M & O Market & Deli in SoHo and Sunny & Annie's Deli on the Lower East Side make some of the best BECs around, but any local bodega will do the trick.

    Window shop around SoHo and Nolita.

    Getty Images

    You may not be able to afford the clothes and accessories in the windows that line Mercer, Greene, and Wooster St. (I mean, who can?), but window-shopping is half the fun. Pop into the designer boutiques, instagrammable cafés, do a little people watching, and take in the hustle and bustle of this ever-so-trendy downtown neighborhood. Then, head east to NoLita for more fashionable crowds and picturesque streets.

    Go on a dumpling crawl through Chinatown

    Via, @chefadriandonie via Instagram / Via Instagram: @chefadriandonie

    When it comes to cheap eats, dumplings are king. And lucky for you, the streets of Chinatown are full of amazing places to fill up on these plump and doughy purses of pure deliciousness. At Shu Jiao Fu Zhou, you'll get six excellent steamed pork dumplings for pocket change, at Nom Wah Tea Parlor you can go to dim sum heaven, or there's always 456 Shanghai for juicy xiao long baos.

    Walk from Manhattan to Brooklyn via the Brooklyn Bridge.

    Getty Images

    Disclaimer: When you walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, it will not look like the photo above. It will be a chaotic mishmash of people — both tourists and locals — walking slowly, snapping photos, and taking in the views. That all might sound nightmarish, but in fact, it's pretty magical, and everyone should get to experience it at some point.

    Relax and take in the views from Brooklyn Bridge Park.

    Getty Images

    Along the Brooklyn side of the East River, Brooklyn Bridge Park is the perfect spot to relax, picnic, exercise, and above all, take in the stunning views of the Manhattan skyline. Depending on when you go, you can check out a cool new art installation, watch a game of pick-up soccer, or even catch an outdoor movie.

    Chow down on some of the city's most delicious pizza.

    Via, @hb_eats / Via

    You haven't really experienced Brooklyn until you've sat down in the garden at Roberta's Pizza and bit into the slightly charred, chewy crust of a Bee Sting. Share a few pies (they're about $15 each), drink some beers, and relish the fact that you might be eating the very best pizza New York City has to offer.

    Carbo-load for the day ahead.

    @susannahchen via Instagram / Via, via Instagram / Via

    Daily Provisions is an all-day café that's about the same size as a studio apartment (read: tiny), but as the line snaking out the door will tell you, it serves some excellent pastries and breakfast sandwiches. For under $8 you can grab a breakfast sandwich, a cruller, or a mushroom gougère to start the day off right.

    People watch in Washington Square Park.

    Getty Images

    Probably the weirdest of all of New York's parks (and I mean that in a totally endearing way), Washington Square Park sits in Greenwich Village, right by NYU. Not only is it a beautiful place to walk around, but it's the perfect place to sit on a park bench and people watch. You'll see just about everything, from pigeon-whisperers and street performers to plein air pianists and stilt walkers.

    Explore the cute corners of the West Village.

    Getty Images

    Stylish, quaint, and oh-so-charming, the West Village looks like a neighborhood that was plucked out of Paris and placed in downtown Manhattan. You can spend hours exploring the streets, and you'll pass everything from wine bars with vine-draped patios and boutique pet stores to coffee shops serving fancy avocado toast and 19th townhouses with floor-to-ceiling windows.

    Fill your belly on a budget with Israeli bites.

    @taimfalafel via Instagram / Via

    For some of the best falafel in the city, head to Taïm. The menu is entirely vegetarian, but even the staunchest of carnivores won't be able to resist a cauliflower and sabich pita, topped with hummus, tahini, and tabouli. And for around $8, it's one of the best bargains around.

    Get lost in the Whitney Museum.

    Whitney Museum of American Art / Via

    Once located on the Upper East Side, the new Whitney Museum now sits in the Meatpacking District, a long way from Museum Mile. It houses contemporary American Art and features artists like Alexander Calder, Joseph Stella, and Edward Hooper. Come for the art and stay for the epic city and Hudson River views.

    Take in the city views from the High Line.

    Getty Images

    Just steps from The Whitney, the High Line begins. This 1.5-mile trail — an old railway-turned-public park — offers colorful street art, killer city views, and a reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the west side.

    End the day with a taco (or two or three).

    @mikeeatsnyc via Instagram / Via

    Chelsea Market is part indoor food hall, part shopping mall, and part office space. Inside, you'll find everything from artisan gelato shops to oyster bars, but pay particular attention to Los Tacos No. 1. This little stand dishes up some serious Mexican street food. The best part: You can fill up on adobada and carne asada tacos for about $12.

    Columbia Pictures

    Do you have a favorite NYC spot that wasn't mentioned? Tell us about it in the comments below.