Author: Miki Mo
Visiting NYC on a Budget (Free & Cheap Things to Do) $40 a Day Challenge

Visiting NYC on a Budget (Free & Cheap Things to Do) $40 a Day Challenge

We’re now in New York City, but we only have 40 bucks in our pockets. How are we going to survive in the Big Apple at this budget and still experience the best of it? Believe it or not, we can! Read on to see and discover how.

First up, we’re starting in the midtown High Line or High Line Park, a 1.45 mile-long linear park located 30-feet above the street in the elevated section of the former NY Central Railroad called the West Side Line.

And then we’re going down the Board Street and on to the Chelsea Market where to find media and broadcasting companies, including the EMI Music, Food Network and and the Sky Park, a great place for experiencing the arts and culture of the city where performances and exhibition can be found all-year round. And so as we reach our destination, let’s formally start with the $40 survival guide for travelers in New York City.

(Subway Ride $2.50)

  • Economy Candy ($10)

108 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002, United States
(212) 254-1531

After a feast for the eyes, it’s time for some snack, and in this case we should drop by the Economy Candy to find new and old favorites, and even nostalgic candies all at basin-bottom prices.


Dubbed as the best and craziest candy store in NYC, the Economy Candy opened in the wake of the Great Depression (1937). This place is packed with both vintage and modern candies, including mega lollipops, gummies, wax lips and peanut chews. They also sell modern favorites, including M&M’s, which is also sold in a five-pound bag and Hershey’s. For every candy you desire, the candy shop got you covered.

(Subway Ride $2.50)

  • Federal Reserve Bank of New York (Free)

33 Liberty St, New York, NY 10045, United States

(212) 720-6130

Witness over 10,000 gold reserves in this place, but do note that cameras are not allowed inside. It is available for the public every Mondays and Tuesdays from 1:00 and 2:00 pm, while school tours are allowed from Mondays thru Fridays from 10:00 am to 11:00 am. Tour capacity is up to 25 people, but only printed tickets are allowed.

Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Visitors are advised to arrive 30 minutes earlier for security clearance checks.

(Subway Ride $2.50)

  • Downtown Boathouse (Free)

Pier 40 and Pier 96, Hudson River Greenway, New York, NY 10019, United States

It’s now time to see Manhattan from the waterways, as we go to the boathouse where you can enjoy a free kayaking including lessons and equipment in the Hudson River. Be advised, however, it is a FIRST COME FIRST SERVED tour.

Downtown Boathouse

Downtown Boathouse

Before kayaking you’re going to sign a waiver and put on a life jacket, and then kayak out for 20 minutes, or maybe longer if others are not waiting.

Some classes are held on Wednesdays and offered by the NYCDB, including topics on sundry kayaking lessons, mastering paddling and safety measures during you capsize.

(The Downtown Boathouse is at three different locations on the Hudson, namely West 72nd Street, Pier 40 and Pier 96)

  • Manhattan Food Trucks ($10)

After kayaking, you might be hungry by now, and to find the best food deals at the lowest prices, locate a food truck near you, although this shouldn’t be hard as there are trucks in every corner.

Some popular food trucks include the Eddie’s Pizza Truck where we could find a pizzeria with a good reputation of feeding the Manhattan masses in the Financial District with their delectable 10- to 16-inch thin crust pies. It also allows its customers to vote on a daily special, which is featured every week.

Manhattan Food Trucks

Manhattan Food Trucks

Another is the Morris Truck that sells fancy grilled cheese and well-made sandwiches, with some of the ingredients are from local farmers, such as the likes of Hudson Valley Duck Farm and Saxelby Cheesemongers, as the food truck aims to only sourcing from the best local farms. Choose from their wide range of offers, including the classic grilled cheese and a cup of tomato bisque.

Nevertheless, you just have to find the right food truck, according to your taste and type of food served at low, low prices.

Don’t worry, though, these street foods are top-rated and included in the 10 best of the country, so they are definitely worth the try.

  • Straten Ferry Boat Ride (Free)

A main transport for the Straten islanders to and from Manhattan and a 5-mile 25-minute ride, experience the city on the water and witness the Statue of Liberty, a world-renown structure of the modern times. This ferry ride also provides you deck views of some of the world’s best skyline of Manhattan, which is included in the “Top Ten You Need to See before You Die.”

Straten Ferry Boat Ride

Straten Ferry Boat Ride

A passenger ferry service operated by the NYC Department of Transportation, the Straten Ferry Ride runs between the boroughs of Manhattan and Straten Island. It offers free rides, but you have to disembark at each terminal building, and then reenter through the terminal for a round trip for Coast Guard regulations about vessel capacity and placeholding optical turnstiles located at both terminals.

(Subway Ride $2.50)

  • Jane’s Carousel ($2)

Dock Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201, United States

(718) 222-2502

This beautifully-restored carousel encased in a glass pavilion is one of the most sought-after destinations for families in the Brooklyn Bridge Park. According to reviews, this is a great destination for witnessing sunset in New York City. For only two dollars, you can experience a great ride in this historical, vintage carousel in the city.

Jane’s Carousel

Jane’s Carousel

(Subway Ride $2.50)

  • Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theater ($5)

307 W 26th St, New York, NY 10001, United States
(212) 366-9176

Now it’s time for some comedy, whether you are into standup or sketch comedy, the Upright Citizen’s Brigade has something in store for you. Here, you can snag your tickets free to watching new up and coming comedy talents, while you should be prepared spending between $5 and $10 if you were looking to see veteran comedians perform and make you laugh your heart out. Drinking is allowed in the UCBT.

Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theater

Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theater

This day tour with the above itinerary only totaled to $39.50 on which we managed going to several family attractions in between. Definitely, we can have the best time in the busy city without spending much. And if the weather’s good, you can walk and see the beautiful views of the skylines of the Big Apple, but make sure to put comfortable shoes on.

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1 comment
  • 8 years ago, 9:49

    Great tips! I love reading travel blogs. As a first timer in New York last year, I was able to come up with my itinerary by following the tips and suggestions from several travel blogs. They were very useful specially for travelers who are on a budget. I visited some museums, Rockefeller Center and the High Line. I also watched free concert at Central Park after checking out the NYC Parks website. By the way, I found a website listing free events in New York which is great because I didn’t have much of a budget. I think might be useful to people also visiting New York who are looking for free things to do.

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