New York City is a cultural hub, full of museums, delicious food, unparalleled shopping, and an energetic nightlife. With limited funds, you may feel as though you can’t enjoy all that the city has to offer. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. There are hundreds of things to do in New York without even touching your wallet and an equal amount of things to do under a strict budget.
Seeing a movie in theatres in New York can cost upwards of $20 per ticket. However, you can see movies at the Hudson River Park for absolutely free during the summer time. The outdoor venue is much more scenic, you’re free to cuddle up on a picnic blanket, and there’s complimentary popcorn. You can also purchase other goodies like refreshments, or bring your own for consumption. The movie lineup typically consists of recent blockbuster hits catered towards a variety of audiences. At a separate peer, screenings are available with children’s movies.
One of the most famous art museums is also free, technically speaking. In truth, the Metropolitan Museum of Art operates on a donation-only entry fee, but when your wallet is looking slim, a dollar will do just fine. This iconic museum houses a permanent collection of more than two million works, covering everything from classic antiquity to modern art. And since the Met is a quarter of a mile long, it will certainly take you several hours to peruse through the entire building.
During the summer, Williamsburg Waterfront, which is located at East River Park between North Eighth and North Ninth Streets, puts on a series of excellent outdoor concerts for indie music fans. Occasionally, these shows are free. For example, Coheed and Cambria will have a free show in June, while They Might Be Giants has a free show in late July. The shows used to be held alongside free pool parties at McCarren Park, but renovations to the pool will be taking place this summer, after which the epic pool parties will return.
Dozens of television shows are filmed in New York in front of a live audience including Saturday Night Live, The Colbert Report, and The View. Help create the “laugh track” by being a part of one of these audiences. Depending on the season and availability, attending the shows can be completely free, although it may require a little bit of advanced notice. Some shows even pan in on the crowd every once in a while, so you can instruct your friends to watch out for you when it airs on regular television.
Union Square Green Market is a farmer’s market located in Union Square Park with some 140 regional farmers, fishermen, and bakers contributing to the spread. It began in 1976 and attracts around 60,000 people a day, young and old. For free you can watch all kinds of cooking demonstrations and sample the delicious, fresh faire. The chefs may even share some of their secrets with you concerning their mouth-watering recipes using organic produce.
After its conception in 1998, Brooklyn Brewery began making some renowned craft beer for the masses, exporting more beer than any other craft brewery in the country. With a Lager, IPA, Pilsner, Brown Ale, and Pennent Ale always on tap, there is enough variety for all beer drinkers from the inexperienced to the cicerone. The tours on Saturday and Sunday are free without reservations at specified times, and beer tokens are cheap for tastings. Chips and other snacks are available, but you could also bring in outside food to munch on while you drink.
If you’re more of a fashionista and desperately want to take advantage of New York’s fashion scene under a budget, fret not. New York City offers what it calls “Sample Sales,” which are fantastically discounted designer wear sales. The key is knowing when and where these sales take place, and they are not always publicly announced. Blogs such as The Daily Candy are great places to look out for such sales and spring at the opportunity for some realistically-priced Manolo Blahniks.
Locals may scoff at you for being a tourist, but if you’ve never been to New York, visiting Times Square is a must and comes at no expense. At night time, the blinding lights and skyscraper-sized ads are unlike anything else in the world. Walk around and window-shop, weaving in and out of cheap, touristy gift shops just to say you experienced it. Even if you don’t buy yourself an “I Love N.Y.” shirt, you’ll be entertained and will leave with a memorable experience.