The Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, bagels, and Times Square. NYC is filled with sights and sounds unlike anywhere else in the world. You can pick up a $25 piece of cheese, or eat a $1 slice. Everyone has their own list of the best things to do in NYC, but this one is actually affordable. You can find elderly men playing chess in Central Park, and children running on the Coney Island boardwalk. New York City is filled with history and triumph, but above all, it is a city that makes dreams come true. This is the only list of the best things to do in NYC for under $50.
The Best Bagel: Ess-a-Bagel
There’s nothing more New York than a bagel. While every NYer has a different best bagel in New York. For us, there’s no better bagel than a fresh Ess-a-Bagel. Stop by Ess-a-Bagel and grab a filling breakfast (or lunch) or in need of a hangover meal. We recommend a fresh everything bagel with one of its many cream cheese. Also, An Ess-a-Bagel should only be eaten at one of its locations and when it’s fresh out of the oven.
The Best Cookie: Levain Bakey
Levain Bakery has won many awards for its cookies. While this may be based on the best things to do in NYC, we’d rank Levain high on a world list as well. With a thick, gooey, and crunchy consistency, they are quite possibly the best cookies in the world. There are four different kinds of cookies available, but the chocolate chip walnut is the most popular and famous of them all. Luckily for you, Levain has expanded and now has several locations around Manhattan.
Best NYC Indoor Market: Chelsea Market
Chelsea Market is literally an Urban Food Court where you can find a variety of different types of food to eat right now or to take home to eat later. Whether you want cupcakes, a sandwich, oysters, lobster, or Thai, you can find it. Be sure to try Very Fresh Noodles. This stand, located in Chelsea Market, offers hand-pulled noodles. You can watch them pull and slap the dough before you dive into a variety of flavors.
Best Place To Picnic: Astoria Park
Everyone might know Central Park, but that also means there is no beating the crowds. Astoria Park lives within the neighborhood of Astoria and provides an incredible place to picnic. With a big grassy area, a public pool that opens in the summer, and a pure view of the Manhattan skyline, this park cannot be beaten. You might even find free movies in the park, soft-serve ice cream, and the perfect place to take refuge from the city.
Best Museum: Museum of Modern Art
There are many museums in NYC, but paying for all of them can get expensive. If you want to keep your money reserved for other activities, head to the Museum of Modern Art on a Friday between 4 to 8 PM. It is completely free!
Cost: Free on Friday between 4-8 PM
Best NYC Slice: The Original Patsy’s Pizza
Of all the best things to do in NYC, the best is to eat pizza. There is nothing better than a slice at Patsy’s. Although there are a number of locations bearing Patsy’s name, you must go to the original location that has been there since 1933. Grab a whole pie or just a slice from the counter. The pizza is classic NY style with bright red sauce and a ton of mozzarella cheese. Bring cash!
Best Cocktail: The Little Shop
NYC is often comparable to Las Vegas when it comes to cocktails, but when you’re getting an experience along with it, it becomes worth the exorbitant price. Head down to the Lower East Side of Manhattan (referred to as LES by New Yorkers) and find “The Little Shop”.
When walking in you might think that you stumbled into an upscale bodega. Ask to be seated, and the “clerk” will move aside the chips and other snack foods, which leads to a classy speakeasy.
Here, you can find NYCs best cocktail, the “Piña”. Although a Piña Colada is commonly known as a beachside drink, this version is a bit different. Blended, strained, and then topped with both a torched pineapple piece, as well as burning rosemary, this is nothing like any other Colada you have had before. The atmosphere only adds to the vibe.
Cost: $18 (+ $3 tip= $21)
Best Way to See The Skyline
New York is famous for a lot, but you leave NYC without seeing the skyline lit up at night, you haven’t truly experienced NYC. If you want to experience the best thing to do in NYC, Head to Battery Park and get in line for the Staten Island Ferry. It goes in the direction of Staten Island and leaves every 30 minutes. It is a huge ferry and will take you past the Statue of Liberty, giving you views of Manhattan along the way. (Try to stay on the right side of the boat). Best of all… It’s free!
Best Outdoor Activity
Home to NYC’s newest public park, Little Island is located at Pier 55 and is quite literally an artificial island park in the Hudson River. Located at the intersection of West Street and 13th Street in the Meatpacking District and Chelsea, throughout the seasons there will be different free shows, live music, and plenty of food trucks to enjoy.
Address: Pier 55 at Hudson River Park
Eat Your Way Through Chinatown
In the 1870s, Chinese immigrants began to arrive in New York. This is when Chinatown was established. Now there are over half a million Chinese immigrants and American-born Chinese citizens, with many still living in Chinatown. With the sights, smells, and sounds only found in this area, Chinatown is a special place.
Flushing can be considered the Chinatown of Queens, but as a tourist, it may be a bit further than you want to travel. If you would rather avoid the 30-minute ride from Manhattan, Chinatown is the next best option to grab some tasty Chinese eats.
- Joe’s steam rice roll: Get the rice roll but also try the Chinese crepe.
- Best bubble tea: Tiger Sugar (try the brown sugar/black sugar drinks with cheese foam).
Walk the Highline
Although there are many parks in NYC, the High Line is one like no other. Created in the 1920s, the Highline was originally an elevated rail line to help avoid accidents with pedestrians and freight trains. Trucking became popular in the 1980s, and the Highline was no longer needed. It sat unused, being engulfed in plants until the early 2000s. At this time, the Highline was turned into a pedestrian park lined with greenery, food stalls, and even places to lounge in the sun. It lines a mile and a half, and goes through many popular New York neighborhoods, from the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street.
New York or Nowhere
Whether you are moving to the Big Apple or visiting for the first time, there is plenty to eat, drink, and see. Most people consider NYC to be expensive, but you know better. This city can offer so much and all for under $50! Whether you go window shopping on 5th Avenue, grab hand-pulled noodles, or simply sit in the center of Times Square and people watch, find out why locals say “New York, or Nowhere”.