New York City
ShermansTravel experts rely on years of collective travel experience to bring you the best money-saving tips for your vacation. We take a discerning look at all the attraction passes, public transportation options, and other local bargains to make sure you get the most bang for your buck while traveling.
New York City Money-Saving Tips
Buy an Unlimited Ride CardSkip expensive cab rides in favor of public transport – subways are not only usually quicker than above-ground transport, but they add to the authenticity of your NYC experience, where you'll brush shoulders with the locals. If you have the time to kill, public buses can be a more scenic, if not particularly time-efficient alternative. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA's) Unlimited Ride MetroCard allows travelers access to the subways and buses for one week for $29 – an amount easily spent in just a couple of cab rides, and for travelers on the move, quick-to-add-up savings over the individual ride fares, which go for $2.50 a pop.
Visit During Restaurant WeekHeld for two weeks in January or February (and again in either June or July) this event features great prix-fixe rates on lunch and dinner at hundreds of restaurants around the city – trust us, it means big savings.
Snag Broadway DiscountsGet up to half-off on- and off-Broadway show tickets by spending 30 to 60 minutes queuing at the TKTS booth in Times Square (booth opens at 3pm). Warning: it’s not a sure bet and popular shows sell out fast.
Don't DriveTraffic in the city is tough, parking even tougher, and it’s expensive. Walking, subways, and taxis will easily get you most anywhere you want to go. Note: Tipping cab drivers 10 to 15 percent of your fare is a standard courtesy, but if you suspect you’re getting “the run around,” just get out.
Ethnic FlavorOuter boroughs like Queens and Brooklyn, though a subway ride away, can be well worth the trip for authentic, ethnic cuisine – try Brighton Beach (in Brooklyn) for Russian, the Bronx’s Little Italy (at 187th St. and Arthur Ave.) for Italian, and Astoria (in Queens) for Greek.
Street VendorsDon’t overlook the tasty offers of street vendors – some attract an almost cult-like following among the lunch crowd. “Vendy Awards” honor the best carts – look for the plaques in the winners’ windows.
Pay What You WishWhile many NYC museums charge hefty entrance fees (the MoMA, for one, charges $20 a pop!) an increasing number, like the Met, Museum of Natural History, and MoMa included, offer “pay-what-you-wish” admission days/hours, and significantly reduced pricing for students and kids.
Seek out Free Attractions and ActivitiesSome of the most iconic New York City experiences come with absolutely no price tag attached. A few of our favorite freebie experiences include traversing the Brooklyn Bridge on foot, strolling Central Park or the much buzzed about High Line, or hopping across the harbor and stealing some views of the Statue of Liberty from aboard the free Staten Island Ferry.
Visit NYC & Company for Deals and FreebiesNYC & Company, the official tourism bureau for the city, hosts a website section dedicated to special offers (www.nycgo.com/offers), which features a robust selection of hotel, restaurant, nightlife, shopping, and attraction deals that are updated regularly. Search filters allow site visitors to select customized deals results based on borough and deal category preferences. Even better, scroll through their top picks for the free offerings of the week at www.nycgo.com/free.
Look to the Outer Boroughs for LodgingManhattan hotels are notoriously overpriced – consider instead a stay at one of the new, trendy properties that have debuted just across the East River in Brooklyn and Queens for substantial savings and an off-the-path, locals vibe.
Pick up a Multi-Attraction PassConsider picking up a multi-attraction pass for considerable savings. New York CityPass ($79; $59 for children ages 6 to 17), New York Explorer Pass (from $69.99; from $47.99 for kids ages 3 to 12), and the Downtown Culture Pass ($25; $15 for children ages 13 to 17 or $5 for kids ages 6 to 12) are among the top contenders for overall value.
Eat on the CheapNYC is teeming with bargain bites – from authentic bagels to savory slices of pizza to cheap dim sum in Chinatown. Look to NYC street vendors for sometimes surprisingly tasty fare (check out StreetVendor.org/vendy for some of the best-rated stands) with a price that's equally appetizing. Or, seek out authentic ethnic eateries in the outer boroughs, with prices more in tune to the local clientele – try Astoria (in Queens) for Greek, Bronx’s Little Italy (at 187th St. and Arthur Ave.) for Italian, and Brighton Beach (in Brooklyn) for Russian.
Go Above and BeyondExtend your experience with a trip to the Bronx Zoo (Wednesdays during the fall/winter are suggested donation) or Coney Island’s historic boardwalk, both about an hour’s subway ride from Midtown.
Museums FreebiesSome museums are free to the public on certain days (MoMa and Guggenheim on Friday evenings; New Museum on Thursday nights), or all the time (Museum of the American Indian).
Shakespeare in the ParkCatch a Shakespearean play in Central Park during the summer months (free but you’ll need to get in line early to score tickets; www.publictheater.org), when the city’s parks and public spaces abound with impromptu concerts and street fairs.
Take a Stroll on BroadwayMeander up Broadway to bustling Times Square (free tours are offered Fridays at noon; www.timessquarenyc.org), and enjoy unparalleled window-shopping and a peek into St. Patrick’s, one of the world’s largest cathedrals, on nearby Fifth Avenue.
Hand-Picked New York City Deals
Our Experts save you money with travel deals and advice
If you and your clan are heavy packers, be sure to check out United’s Premium Baggage program.
Jim Sherman Founder and Chairman
Sign up for the Top 25 Newsletter
to get exclusive weekly deals