A Fabulous Solo Trip to New York on a Budget
As always, my tips are designed to help you save money. So that the Big Apple doesn’t take a big bite out of your wallet, here’s my take on the best of budget New York City for solo travelers.
New York is a good idea any time of year, but during the winter months this incredible city can get pretty cold. With a little determination and a lot of warm layers, winter in NYC can be an amazing time to visit. Here are ten amazing things to do in NYC this winter to help you escape the cold – or make the most of it!
Check Out the Views
Whatever time of year it is, New York has one of the most iconic skylines in the world. And soaking up the views from one of the city’s towering skyscrapers should be top of every visitor’s list. The question is, do you choose the Empire State Building or the Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Center – or both? Both options have incredible views, but there’s a bit more space on top of the Rockefeller Center and you can see the Empire State Building from it which might make for a better photo.
Uncover a Hidden Gem at an Indoor Market
Shopping in New York is the perfect way to escape the winter cold, and NYC is full of amazing markets which offer all kinds of unique shopping experiences. Head to Chelsea Market for a great range of cafés and quirky shops. Or go in search of a bargain at the Brooklyn Flea, which moves inside to Industry City during the cold months.
Walk the High Line
At all times of year, Chelsea’s High Line park makes for a beautiful walk. A 1.45-mile-long elevated linear park, the High Line was built along an old railway line and has some lovely views of the city.
Hit the Museums
Make sure you have adequate travel cover
The United States healthcare is one of the most expensive in the world. It doesn’t matter where you are from, you will need travel insurance over 90 cover for any unforseen medical issues.
New York is well known for its museums and art galleries – of which there are dozens. Must-sees include the American Museum of Natural History, the Guggenheim, and the MoMA (Museum of Modern At). There are also lots of unusual museums in New York to discover, like the miniature Mmuseumm, which is housed in a disused freight elevator.
Discover a Winter Festival
Discover a Winter Festival
There’s always something happening in New York – and a bit of bad weather isn’t about to put a stop to that. From winter carnivals and holiday festivals, to art shows and concerts, there are endless winter events to keep you busy. Check out the Time Out listings to see what’s on when you visit.
Eat Your Way Around NYC Restaurant Week
Eat Your Way Around NYC Restaurant Week
Speaking of New York events, winter sees the city host the incredible NYC Restaurant Week (22nd January – 9th February 2018). Restaurants across the city offer special, fixed-price menus starting from $25 and celebrating the very best food in New York.
Although NYC is pretty flat, there are still a few great sledding spots to be found when the snow days hit. Most popular is Pilgrim Hill in Central Park, or there’s Inwood Hill Park in Uptown and Prospect Park’s Long Meadow over in Brooklyn.
See the Rockettes
Founded in 1925, the Rockettes have been performing at New York’s Radio City Music Hall since 1932. This precision dance company always put on a good show, but the annual Christmas Spectacular is truly iconic and a must-do during an NYC winter visit.
Escape the Cold at New York Botanical Garden
The greenhouses at the New York Botanical Garden offer the perfect respite from the cold, with lush tropical climates and an abundance of beautiful nature to discover. Plus there are events on all winter long, including the incredible annual Orchid Show (3rd March – 22nd April 2018).
Getting Around New York City on the Cheap
Balancing safety with your budget is important when you travel solo. The New York transit system works well and is generally very safe. Yellow cabs are expensive but safe. Uber and Lyft are a somewhat less expensive option to cabs and have their safety system built in through the rating process. I don’t recommend ever getting into an unmarked cab though I have often been offered one in New York.
From the airport to the city. This article gives you information on traveling from all NYC airports via public transit. In some cases the GO Airlink Shuttle is a better deal in terms of time and money.
NEW – Uber from the airport. I normally take the train from Newark Airport to Penn Station and then hop on NY Transit to my destination. But my plane was delayed on this occasion and I had meetings at the New York Times Travel Show so I first checked on the cost of a taxi (US$55 + tolls) and then called an Uber which cost US$51 all in. It took me to midtown where I was staying at the St. Giles Tuscany Hotel. They have an entire section of their site called Go Solo Go St. Giles. They sponsored my accommodation in the city.
Get a MetroCard. The bus and subway system in New York City is a really efficient way to get around. You can buy a single ride at station kiosks for $3. However, you’ll likely want to check out the Metrocard options for your stay.
Take the people’s ferry. The Staten Island Ferry is free and offers such a great view of the city. It runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with more frequent service during rush hour on weekdays. You can get free WiFi on the ferry and in the ferry terminals. Here’s a post that gives you great information on a Staten Island tour.
Take a bus tour. A Hop On, Hop Off tour is great if you’re short on time or want to get an overview of the city before you dig into its specifics. If I only have a couple of days in a city I generally take one.
Walk and soak up the city. Budget New York City definitely includes walking which is great because there are so many wonderful areas to explore. As you walk, listen for New York as well. It’s unique. Read Fuhgeddaboudit: The Sounds of Travel.
Top Things to do in New York City Traveling Alone
Take a free tour:
Big Apple Greeters. Whatever your interests, with luck, you’ll get a volunteer tour guide who shares them and will show you their beloved New York.
New York By Foot. Free tours but it’s important to tip – I think $5 is the minimum.
Explore the Village. Take one of 28 self-guided tours offered by the Village Alliance. I sure wish they had these as an app, but perhaps that is coming.
Tour Grand Central Station. Every Friday at 12:30 pm, the Grand Central Partnership conducts a 90-minute guided walking tour led by an urban historian.
New York City Pass. There are various options (with and without bus tour) and they often run specials so have a look and see if the New York City Pass will save you money on what you want to do in New York.
Museums. Watch for free times for visiting the many museums in the city. The Museum of Modern Art offers free admission from 4:00-8:00 pm on Fridays. Museum at the Fashion Institute is always free. For a complete list of New York museums and when they’re free go to FreeMuseumDays.
Go to Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. Located on the upper west side, Saint John the Divine is a massive cathedral and a major attraction in the city. It’s free, though donations are appreciated. And, bonus, down the block is the diner featured in the Seinfeld series.
Go shopping and get a deal. Here’s a guide to shopping deals in New York City. You can also check out Time Out’s sample sale page. It’s updated all the time so sometimes the list is long and at other times it’s shorter.