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How to Save On A New York City Vacation

Updated on June 23, 2013

A Budget Vacation in New York City

It might be surprising, but it's still possible to experience an enjoyable N.Y. vacation for your family even on very strict budget. To begin with, it's smart to book and pay for your lodging in advance so you don't have to worry about your room when you get to the city. Book hotel rooms complete with a fridge and microwave oven since these appliances can help to limit your expenditures. You can also save some money by preparing water bottles filled at your hotel instead of buying water on the streets of New York. Also, prepare some snacks from home for the children as that is another effective way to save money. A way to save when dining out is to have lunch at nicer restaurants that provide lunch menus, then eat dinner at fast food or less expensive restaurants.

If you're planning on sightseeing, I definitely recommend purchasing The New York Pass. At $75 - $165 for various adult passes and $55 - $125 for various children passes, the New York Pass might seem a bit expensive, but getting a three or seven day pass will provide you free access to many of the most popular New York attractions. You could easily end up spending only a 1/3 or less on these attractions, vs. what you would spend without a pass. The New York Pass also provides free admission to various zoos and museums as well as discounts at several restaurants and gift shops.

The CityPass is another discount pass option. It has discounts on six of the most popular N.Y. sights. With savings up to 45%, it's a good choice for those hitting the highlights of NYC.

Everyone knows that New York is an excellent city for shopping. On the other hand, it might not be the place to shop if you are on a budget. It might best to avoid shopping all together if it is too much of a temptation for you. New York City is full of interesting and wonderful shops but if you are on a very tight budget, you might do better by simply window shopping. This is of course if you can hold back the temptations of buying.

On the bright side, there are various children's activities available free of charge all around the city. Be sure to search the internet when you are planning your trip since it is quite possible to find various activities that the whole family can enjoy either free or inexpensively. Several museums in New York have free admission on specific days or times of the week.

Other inexpensive tourist areas in New York City are its historically significant national parks and monuments. These national parks, including the Statue of Liberty, offer free admission to everyone. You and your family are sure to have an excellent time in these parks as well as gaining a sense of national history while you enjoy yourselves. Central Park is another location that you and your loved ones can enjoy for free. You can have a nice and comfortable picnic with your family while enjoying the sights and sounds of Central Park.

Even on a limited budget, it is still possible to have quality vacation in New York City. Just make sure to plan ahead and do some research on the sights and events that your budget will allow you to do. Also, remember to plan one or two events to spoil yourself and your family even though you are being budget conscious throughout the trip. Even though you may have a limited budget you should not forget that you are on a vacation.


Budget Dining In New York City

Dining on a budget in New York City is not as impossible as many people assume it to be. New York City is a huge melting pot of people from various nations which can also be seen in its various international dining options. Many ethnic meal choices are quite inexpensive. If you are on a budget vacation to New York City, the following are a few inexpensive eateries for you to consider.

One of my favorite spots is the Rainbow Falafel. It's regarded as one of the best and most inexpensive falafel shops in New York City.

There are various dishes on the menu but you can order a tasty falafel for about $5. For those of you that are not familiar with the falafel, it is basically a Middle Eastern dish made from fried balls of vegetables and spices and put together with yogurt sauce, lettuce, hummus and chick peas in a large pita bread. Don't plan on eating there on the weekend though, they're only open Monday through Friday.

The next place I recommend is Gray's Papaya which offers good hotdogs at a reasonable price. Even though the hotdogs may not be the best in New York City, no other establishment can compare with their price. In fact, the price is what keeps customers returning back for more. It's hard to find another hotdog shop in the city that can offer two hotdogs plus a drink for a mere $4.75. Gray's Papaya is basically a simple hotdog shop for customers who like to eat on the go. Another thing, they are open 24/7, year round!

Next on the list is City Sub sandwich shop which serves some of the best and least expensive sandwiches in the city. For just 7 bucks you can buy a tasty sandwich made with amazingly crusty bread and great meats. You might even make 2 meals out of one sandwich, and City Sub's menu has over 30 sandwiches at excellent prices. Customers can expect to wait in long lines of several minutes to have their sandwiches prepared but it is worth the wait for an inexpensive delicious sandwich.

For those people who prefer Southern style home cooking, the Soul Spot is worth checking out. Located in Brooklyn, the Soul Spot serves Southern Soul food favorites like fried chicken, fried fish and vegetables. On that note, the Soul Spot is not a place for the health conscious or calorie watchers. The prices on the menu are quite reasonable with the lunch menu a bit less than the dinner choices.

The next place is for those with a sweet tooth, Sweet & Sara. This is a great shop for great inexpensive desert and vegan dishes. One of their most popular treats is the marshmallows which are available for $6.99 for a dozen. You can expect to see customers waiting in line for this soft, melty, and divine marshmallow goodness. Other delicious treats include the peanut butter smores and the chocolate marshmallows.

Even though New York City has a reputation for being a pricey destination to visit or go on vacation, if you look carefully enough you can find inexpensive places for food and entertainment. Most anyone can enjoy the experience of New York without spending too much money.


Visiting the Zoos of New York

Animal lovers or families planning a vacation in New York City will want to visit several of the city's zoos. Buying a New York City pass is smart if you wish to visit zoos in the city since you will receive free admission to most of them. Some of the special attractions in these zoos may require you to pay a bit extra, but since you have received free admission, it may be worth it.

First on our list is the Bronx Zoo which is the biggest urban zoo located in the United States. This zoo is open every day of the year. Visitors to the Bronx Zoo are treated to a large collection of animals and various award winning exhibits. Nearby the Bronx Zoo are the New York Botanical Garden, Wave Hill, Van Cortlandt House Museum and the Brooklyn Museum of Art which can be accessed for free with a New York City pass. These locations provide various free activities for children and families especially during summer break.

Bronx Zoo Discount: Save 20% on Bronx Zoo Tickets, when you buy them online at

Next on the list is the Central Park Zoo which lets visitors observe animals in their basic natural environment. People visiting the Central Park Zoo can expect to see various attractions including an indoor rain forest, a large pool for polar bears and even a subzero penguin facility. This zoo also conducts breeding programs for various endangered animals. If you visit this zoo, make sure to enjoy lunch at the Leaping Frog Café. This unique café offers a healthy reasonably priced menu that caters every member of the family. At 6.5 acres, this zoo is one of the biggest in the United States so it may be wise to use a pair of comfortable walking shoes or even rent one of the bikes available at Central Park.

Central Park Zoo Coupon: Save 10% on Central Park Zoo tickets, buy them HERE

Prospect Park Zoo is the next zoo on our list of New York Zoos. This zoo is somewhat unique because it allows children to interact with the animals. Children will have a more memorable experience at this zoo since most zoos limit interaction with animals. Prospect Park Zoo has approximately 400 animals from more than 80 species. This zoo is quite close to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Children's Museum which can be accessed free of charge with The New York City Pass.

Finally, the Queens Zoo is also a unique attraction for visitors. The concept of this zoo is basically a prairie home for its animals where they can roam freely. The Queens Zoo allows their animals to live in their original natural environments on its 12 acre land. For families visiting this zoo, be sure to stop by the barnyard area so that your children can take part in feeding the friendly animals.

The American Museum of the Moving Image and the New York Hall of Science are located quite close to the zoo and can also be accessed for free by New York City Pass holders.

Families and animal lovers will find New York City zoos a pleasant experience. Within the city limits you can experience wildlife from various parts of the world for a relatively affordable price. Families planning to visit New York City on a budget can visit these zoos for a great experience without breaking the bank.


Coney Island On A Budget

One must-see spot for newcomers to New York is the boardwalks of Coney Island. You won't want to miss this attraction. Plan to take several days enjoying Coney Island since there are numerous enjoyable attractions for the whole family. Before taking your New York vacation, it is important to plan ahead since Coney Island is only open seasonally.

Most of Coney Island's attractions close soon after or even instantly after Labor Day. On the other hand, the boardwalk and the beach are open and available to the public for the entire year. Several places stay open even after the summer since they operate for the entire year including the New York Aquarium and Nathan's Hot Dogs. Also another interesting destination is the Coney Island Museum which is open from 12.00 PM - 5.00 PM on weekends throughout the year. Two main amusement parks are open during the summer time at Coney Island which is Deno's Wonder Wheel Park and Astroland. Families will definitely enjoy the fireworks display every Friday at 9.30 PM which is sponsored by Deno's Wonder Wheel Park. The theme parks are just one of the attractions available on Coney Island but for families they are the main vacation attraction.

Astroland Amusement Park in Coney Island is considered to be the biggest amusement park in New York. One of Astroland's most famous rides is the Cyclone which is a very popular roller coaster, especially for enthusiasts. The Cyclone is one of the few wooden roller coasters that still remains in the United States. Astroland is packed with other fun and amazing rides including the Astro Tower, Power Surge, Dante's Inferno, Top Spin, The Swings, Astroland Carousel, The Break Dancer, and the Astroflume. For younger children this amusement park also provides a huge selection of kiddie rides that they will definitely enjoy. If you are planning a vacation to Coney Island with your family, make sure you stop by Astroland Amusement Park for the fun atmosphere and tasty food.

Deno's Wonder Wheel Park is famous for their Wonder Wheel ride. People can have an excellent time riding the red, white and blue cars. The Spook-A-Rama is another entertaining, yet scary ride available for visitors. But for those craving an adrenalin rush, the Super Shot and the Thunderbolt are just the ticket. A vacation on Coney Island won't be complete without riding a few bumper cars which is available in this theme park. Other than that, there are several kiddie rides available for the younger children.

Another fun and educational spot in Coney Island is the New York Aquarium. For families with younger children, visiting the New York Aquarium is an excellent way to learn about marine life and have fun at the same time. Children are amazed by the various exotic marine animals that can be viewed in the aquarium. The aquarium houses more than 8,000 marine creatures with special attractions year round.

Also, the Coney Island Museum is worth a visit. This museum showcases various relics from old rides and antique memorabilia from the earlier days of the boardwalk. The price of admission is low and this is a great place to reminisce the old days of New York. Other than that, the museum is an excellent place to temporarily get out of the sun and has some of the cleanest restrooms on the boardwalk.

I highly recommend visiting Coney Island along with its numerous attractions during your vacation to New York City. No Vacation to New York is complete without a stroll along Coney Island's famous boardwalk. Plus you can find something enjoyable for every member of the family.

How To Save With The New York Pass

Anyone planning a vacation to New York City would be well advised to purchase The New York pass. This pass gives you free admission to many attractions available in New York. Plus, you'll gain big discounts to numerous other attractions and a guide book with information about the sights and sounds of New York City is another added perk.

Using the New York Pass, you are allowed free admission to various sites such as the Empire State Building, Ellis Island and the Statues of Liberty. Other perks of this pass include free round trip ferry rides and top priority in the ticket lines. Even though you might need to pay a bit extra for specific exhibits, the pass lets you to enter the Guggenheim Museum free of charge. Other places with free admission in include the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum and even the New York Skyride.

The New York Pass is also available for multiple days which can lead to more savings. It's apparent that a lot of money can be saved on admissions alone if you plan on visiting several attractions daily.

Purchasing the New York pass also gives you access to free tours which include the Lincoln Center Tour, the Rockefeller Center Tour, the Radio City Music Hall Stage Door Tour, The NBC Studio Tour and even the United Nations Tour. Other than the various freebies provided by the New York Pass, numerous discounts are available on souvenirs, dining and tours like the New York Helicopter Sightseeing Tour.

Don't pass up the free admission to various zoos and museums which can be enjoyed by every family member. If you and your family are planning to visit New York City for three days or more and plan to do plenty of sightseeing and go on tours, this is a great way to save. You will also receive an information booklet on the various attractions of the city and the benefits of purchasing this pass. To sum up, The New York Pass is an excellent investment if you plan to schedule several activities during your vacation in New York.


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