More than ever, you can travel to any city your wanderlust takes you. The best sites and scenes happen to be in some of the world’s most eclectic cities. New York City is one of those metropolises!
If you’re full of energy and have a few hundred dollars left from switching to laser vision correction, you can certainly go on a spontaneous adventure in NYC for under $300. The city is filled with cultural gems, and you can easily experience a variety of affordable activities in just 24 hours.
Breakfast – Bagels and Lox
In New York City, whether you’re a tourist or a local, the tradition requires you to head down to the neighbourhood food stand or bakery for a toasty bagel. If the idea of travelling all the way to NYC for a bagel sounds uneventful to you, remember that these hand-rolled delights are unique in their taste. Their doughy texture and infinite flavours will surely please you and fill your tummy for the morning ahead.
To make your bagel breakfast perfect, don’t forget to add cream cheese. Each bakery will have its own unique take on this creamy spread. Smoked salmon is also a tasty must! For a taste of home, head to Barney Greengrass on Amsterdam Avenue, which serves fresh smoked salmon from Nova Scotia.
A little bit of history: Kossar’s Bialys on Grand Street claims to be the oldest bialy – the Polish version of the bagel - bakery in the United States. Eastern European families have been perfecting the art of freshly made bagels for more than a century.
Mid-morning – The High Line
You’re going to need a little exercise to digest the delicious breakfast you just had. Lucky for you, walking is one of the best ways to get around the city. NYC is famous for its big parks – Central Park is an institution on its own – but the Big Apple is also home to a new and unique green space.
Traversing parts of Greenwich Village, Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen, the High Line is an elevated park that gives you an eclectic view of the city. Because it’s built over an abandoned train line, you’ll have the chance to walk 10 metres above the busy streets of NYC. The park is also a mecca for events. Enjoy a variety of activities such as stargazing, public tours, meditation and more, all for free or a small fee.
Lunch – Central Park Food Carts
NYC has its share of trendy eateries, but skip the traditional places and opt for some low-cost, high-taste street food in and around Central Park.
Street food carts have sustained millions of Manhattanites for decades. You won’t break the bank on these little eats, so why not grab the classic hot dog and pretzel combo offered at the majority of food stands, or check out some of the famous carts that have popped up around Central Park in the last few years.
If you have a sweet tooth, head to Wafels & Dinges by the entrance of the Central Park Zoo for out-of-this-world waffles. There’s also Schnitzel & Things, the only mobile food truck serving authentic Austrian food in the city. Follow them on Twitter to see their operating hours.
Food truck expert tip: Download NYC Food Truck, the city’s free official food truck monitoring app on your phone – you’ll never go hungry!
Mid-afternoon – Museums
After walking across half the city and scarfing down your lunch, you need a place to sit for a while. Why not kill two birds with one stone and head to one of the city’s many museums for some enlightenment?
For the history buffs, there’s the American Museum of Natural History, which has a collection of more than 32 million historical artefacts, and the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, which is the only museum dedicated solely to historic and contemporary design. The Metropolitan Museum of Art – or the Met as locals call it – hosts one of the single greatest concentrations of art in the Western hemisphere, and the Museum of Modern Art, or MoMa, offers a slightly more off-kilter take on contemporary life.
Whether you like quirky art or historical pieces, NYC has so many museums that everyone will find an exhibition to their liking.
Did you know? Although many large museums have fixed pricing, others like the Brooklyn Museum offer suggested ticket prices, so you can pay whatever you can afford or whatever contribution you think is right to get in.
Dinner – Anything on the Lower East Side
In a 13-block radius, you can take your pick between light Japanese appetizers at Asazu, upscale Parisian bistro fare at celebrity hotspot Dirty French or Manhattan’s take on comfort food at Freemans. Plenty of delis and quaint dessert bars also dot the Lower East Side, so if you’re still not full after dinner, don’t be afraid to pop into any of the neighbourhood’s little corner bars for a nightcap.
Nighttime – The Bowery Ballroom
It doesn’t quite make sense to travel all the way to The City That Never Sleeps without finding out if it’s actually true. Head to the Bowery Ballroom, which is one of the city’s most historic yet still highly popular venues. Built just before the start of the Great Depression of 1929, the venue transformed itself at the same pace as the city as owners used it for a variety of purposes over the decades.
In 1998, the Bowery Ballroom was converted into a music hall while still retaining most of its original architectural and design elements from the Roaring ’20s. It’s a great spot to see up-and-coming bands, and the brass railings, mahogany VIP rooms and vaulted ceilings will surely make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
After you’ve had your fill of late-night dancing and music, you need a place to rest your head. NYC hotels can be notoriously expensive, but not if you go the nontraditional route with some digital assistance from AirBnB. Locals put their apartments up for nightly or weekly renters, and you can snag a room right off Central Park for as low as $50 per night if you’re lucky.
There’s a reason NYC is among some of the best cities in the world, but that doesn’t mean you have to work on Wall Street just to afford a visit.
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