It seems there is little that hasn’t already been written about New York City. It is one of the more mythical places in the modern world and is a magnet for people from around the country and around the world. Love it or hate it, it’s one of those places that everyone should visit at least once in their life. Quite simply, there’s no other place like it.
Having said all of that, there’s another point that needs to be made up front. There’s really no cheap way to do New York. It’s an expensive place. Unless you already live in the northeast, you’re looking at airfares or long drives. Once on the ground, you’re in one of the priciest cities in America. Several bucks for a beer, admission to this and that, hotels whose idea of a discount is still more than anywhere else in the country and you find yourself quickly blowing through your child’s college fund. Okay, maybe it’s not quite that bad, but the point is valid. If you’re visiting New York, you need to get your mind right that it’s going to cost you.
Still, there are ways to cut corners on costs that will ease the burden on your pocket book. For one thing, you don’t need to visit every site in the tourist brochures. Catch the highlights and, even then, some of them can be enjoyed sufficiently from the street, without having to plop down an entry fee. Instead of paying for a visit to the Statue of Liberty, why not see it from the Staten Island Ferry? A ride across New York Harbor and back on this historic ferry system is absolutely free and takes you right by Lady Liberty. No, it’s not exactly the same as taking the tour, but for the price, it’s close enough.
A lot of New York’s allure is its cosmopolitan atmosphere and the atmosphere can be soaked up without spending a dime. Walking around the different neighborhoods and taking in the sites will give you a good feel for the city and you can kill a lot of time this way without relatively little expense, but a lot of enjoyment. Don’t be afraid of the subway, either. It’s relatively inexpensive and, particularly in Manhattan, there’s little concern for safety. Like any big city, though, don’t stray into bad neighborhoods and always be careful at night. Common sense should apply on vacation, just as it does in your daily life at home.
Many people are frozen by fear at the mere notion of driving in New York. Let them tremble, but their fear is overblown. Sure, it can be congested, but if you've ever driven in Los Angeles or suffered through an Atlanta rush hour, there’s no reason you can’t tackle New York City traffic. The parking is a bigger challenge than the driving, in all actuality, and even that can be overcome with a little savvy. If you want to stay in comfort and save some bucks, consider the car option. You can sleep across the river in New Jersey and drive into the city from there. Try parking in the residential areas of the Village and hoof it to a subway station from there. The car also gives you easy access to the other boroughs and parking isn't quite the nightmare in those areas, either.
If you absolutely must stay in Manhattan, or driving isn’t an option for other reasons, be prepared to pay out the nose for accommodations. Better yet, be prepared to get creative and do a little searching for less painful hotel options. There actually are some comparatively reasonably priced options on Manhattan or even in Brooklyn if you want to try something different, but be prepared for the fact that you may be settling for something different than your norm. European style digs, or modest bed and breakfast type arrangements may be necessary to keep the costs down, but just consider it part of the adventure and you’ll be fine. Urban living is part of what you come to NYC to experience, so this is just part of it. Mainstream and luxury hotels may require a second mortgage, so it’s a sacrifice worth making.
Skip the high dollar eateries and eat like the locals. There are a plethora of food trucks in the city and an endless number of dives and diners to choose from. There are only 5 traditional coal fired oven pizzerias left in New York. Find one and enjoy. You can’t go wrong with John’s of Bleeker Street. Treat yourself to a genuine New York bagel for breakfast. There are no shortage of bagel shops and delis to suit this purpose, most of which won’t break the bank. Essa-A Bagel has two locations and is as fine of an example of this New York staple as any place.
So, don’t wait until you receive that inheritance to plan your trip to New York. Just spend a little time researching your options and go for it. Yes, you may need to splurge a little, but plenty of people drop as much money, or more, on their annual beach resort vacation. Forget what you've heard. There is, in fact, a cheaper way to do New York. You just need to figure out which way works best for you and then take the plunge.