New York City isn't known for its bargains, but that doesn't mean that there aren't deals to be had. You don't have to spend a ton of money to have a great time in the Big Apple. Here are five activities (all under $50!) that will bring you outdoors and into the city for less.
1. Explore Governor’s Island
A ferry ride ($2.75 one way) is all it takes to get to this mini oasis away from the bustle of Manhattan. Here, you can bike, zip down a giant slide, or kick back in hammocks and enjoy skyline views. There’s a lineup of events this spring and summer to dive into, including the Holi Hai festival of colors in May 2020.
2. Stargaze at the High Line
Who said you can’t see stars in the city? Head to this public park set on one of the West side’s historic freight rail lines, which runs from Gansevoort to 34th Street between 10th and 12th Avenues, and you can gaze at the cosmos through high-powered telescopes for free, every Tuesday at dusk from April 2 through October 29. (Enter at the 14th street entrance.) More information can be found here.
3. Stroll Through Contemporary Art at the Whitney
The Whitney Museum of American Art, which is located right by the High Line in the Meatpacking District, is home to more than 25,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, films, videos, and other artifacts. The museum's permanent collection features works from the late 19th century to present day. Here, you'll find work from some 3,500 artists and counting. Be on the lookout for fascinating rotating exhibitions, as well. Admission is $25 per adult, $18 per senior citizen, and kids under 18 are free. Plan your visit on a Thursday between 1:30-6 p.m. and you can pay what you wish (advance tickets required).
4. See the Blooms at New York Botanical Garden
See the cherry blossoms, daffodils, and azaleas at these gardens in the Bronx. All spring long, you can expect family-friendly events (view the calendar here). Additionally, from May 9 through November 1, the New York Botanical Garden will host the "Kusama: Cosmic Nature" exhibit, which highlights the work of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. Cosmic Nature will also feature interactive and immersive works, sculptures, and gardens inspired by the artist (think colorful flowers, an infinity mirror room, and pumpkin sculptures). Admission is $23 for adults ($30 on weekends and holidays), $20 for seniors and students ($25 on weekends and holidays), and $10 ($15 on weekends and holidays) for children ages two through 12.
5. Eat Your Way Around Town
The best way to get a taste of New York’s melting pot of flavors? Food festivals! And, luckily for you, there are tons of them.
- Smorgasburg: This open-air food market features dozens of local vendors, all of whom serve creative concoctions like ramen burgers and dragon-fruit ice cream bowls. It’s free to enter and is open Saturdays at East River State Park in Williamsburg, Sundays in Prospect Park, and Thursdays and Fridays at Westfield World Trade Center.
- Taste of Tribeca: Bring your appetite to Tribeca's food festival on May 16, where more than 65 of the neighborhood’s best restaurants will be serving their best dishes. If you buy a ticket in advance, you'll pay $45 (as opposed to $55). The ticket gets you a tasting card to any six vendors. Bonus: The event raises money for local public schools, so you can feel good about stuffing your face.
- Coffee and Tea Festival: There’s no quicker way to get to know New York than by drinking the stuff that powers New Yorkers day in and day out. Get your caffeine fix on March 21 at the Brooklyn Expo Center.