Bargains galore in the Big Apple!

Golden Apple enjoyment at Granny Smith prices!

It is easy to find free and cheap things to do, eat, see and enjoy all over town.

New York City is one of the most expensive cities in the world. Just ask anyone on the subway what they pay in rent, and you'll be talking for hours. But, New Yorkers know,  you never pay retail in this town! Here's a collection of free guides, websites, discounts and tourist attractions for the penny-pinchers, coupon clippers, tightwads, poor students, starving artists, cheapskates, working actors and freelancers!!! 


These freebie rags are available from street-corner newspaper boxes. Also, most neighborhoods have their own freebie weeklies, too, such as The Villager and the Downtown Express.


The subway and bus system is safe, cheap and runs 24-7-365. The best transportation bargain around. Buy a MetroCard and go! 


This is one of the best things about NYC. They have a long-standing tradition of making world-class art and culture availble to all, regardless of income or ability to pay. If you love museums, then New York is the place to go for the most abundant variety of museum deals. There are a couple of sites you can start with: freeMuseumday,  Museum Free Days, and Trevii's Free & Discounted Attractions.


Some are seasonal, so check your calendar.

  • New York By Foot -- Offers a huge variety of "name your own price" tours around the city. 
  • Big Apple Greeters - See New York through the eyes of a New Yorker! FREE but place a request 3-4 weeks in advance.  A volunteer New Yorker will show you a favorite neighborhood, answer your questions and demonstrate how easy it is to use public transportation.
  • Wall Street - Every Thursday and Saturday except Thanksgiving, and no tours on Christmas when it falls on either of those days.
  • Lower East Side Free walking tour (April to December) and Cell Phone Tour
  • 34th Street and the ghosts of the original Penn Station
  • Central Park
  • Times Square - scroll down the page
  • Grand Central Terminal - Inside the station, or the station and neighborhood - Usually lasts over 2 hours, rather than the advertised "90 minutes". Feel free to jump ship whenever.
  • Bronx Tours
  • Federal Reserve Bank


Before you make your purchases, show your out-of-state ID or passport at the visitor's desk at Macy's and Bloomingdale's for a visitor's discount on certain items!

SAMPLE SALES are also a great way to find deals:


Most of these festivals are seasonal, during the spring and summer, so check their websites for schedules:

  • BB Kings -- Sept 19th 7pm -1AM Free tickets to the Cosmic Blues event at BB Kings Times Square. Register via Facebook.
  • Celebrate Brooklyn ($3.00 suggested donation, except for charity fundraisers. Check prices.)
  • River To River Festival
  • Central Park Summerstage (some events are free, some are charity fundraisers. Check prices.)
  • Shakespeare in the Park (requires lining for up for first-come-first-serve tickets)
  • Bryant Park
  • Hudson River Park programs - RiverFlicks, Blues BBQ, Moondances and more! Activities for kids and adults.
  • World Financial Center programs - dance, music, films, flower shows, and art exhibits year-round.
  • Indie art and otherwise fringe events - subscribe to Nonsense NYC or Toxic Pop to get email listings of oddball, cutting edge, underground and off-beat performances and events. Most are free or very cheap.


  • Get a Big Apple Greeter - this all-volunteer organization offers FREE customized tours! Sign up way in advance! 
  • Staten Island Ferry - FREE
  • Walk the Brooklyn Bridge - FREE
  • Visit Grand Central Terminal - FREE
  • People-watch in a park - FREE
  • Visit New York Public Library Main Branch - see Astor Hall & the reading room - FREE
  • Volunteer to usher at an Off-Broadway show - FREE. Ask at each theatre.
  • Roosevelt Island Tram - $2.00
  • Parades - there's nearly one every month!
  • Walking - the best way to see the streets of NYC - FREE (minus cost of new shoes and Dr. Scholl's insoles!)
  • Kayaking - FREE! On the Hudson. Walk up and jump in the river. Seriously.
  • High Five Ticket program - $5.00 theatre, dance and performance tix for teens ages 13 - 18 (plus one adult guest)
  • Food from street carts! - From falafel, to fruit smoothies, to exotic coffee, to bratwurst, to samosas and dosas, to arepas.
  • Gallery openings - Check listings on the web, in Time Out magazine and the Village Voice for free cheese and wine!


 It is very easy to find cheap eats throughout NYC. Most international cuisine, such as Vietnamese, Chinese, Middle Eastern, Indian, and Latino offer amazing tasty bargains. And there is always The Recession Speical - 2 hot dogs and a drink - at Gray's Papaya. Sample the metling pot that is NYC.

Some guides to the city's best cheap eats:

From New York Magazine:

Best Cheap Eats 2008

Best Cheap Eats 2007

Best Cheap Eats 2006

Best Cheap Eats 2005

From TimeOutNY:

The NYC Cheap Eats Food Pyramid


  • NewYorkled (music, culture, street fairs - an excellent website with a lot of depth, so click around a bit.)
  • Free in the City NYC (free entertainment and cultural events - concerts, movies, theater, museums, dance, talks, etc. - searchable by date, location and type of event).
  • Cheap Guide (New York Magazine's on-line budget guide)
  • DrinkDeal (happy hours and drink specials all over town.)
  • Nifty NYC (daily guide to the best free and cheap NYC events)
  • Automobile Club - If you are a member of AAA or CAA, flash your card at shops, museums and attractions! It works!
  • NYC Cheap Travel (Regularly updated with entertainment, dining, transportation, and hotel deals for NYC visitors)
  • NYC Insider Guide (free events searchable calendar, discounts and coupons, free walking tours, half price tickets)
  • Map of NJ Hotels Near Transit to NYC - Staying in NJ can save hundreds of dollars. This maps simplifies finding hotels in NJ that are clos to transit options to NYC. 
  • 3 Best NYC Daytrip Ideas from 3 Best of Everything is a constantly updated guide of 3 best NYC daytrip ideas (includes stuff from Groupon, Livingsocial, and more)


New York is filled with bargains, deals, and steals, especially in the attraction department, on top of having tons of Free Museum Days there are also a number of attraction passes to choose from which could save you bucks on attractions in New York City. Be sure to read the sites carefully and determine which sights you're most likely to be seeing to choose the one that's right for you.

Keep in mind that the museums included may have "free" days. For example, the City Pass has the Museum of Modern Art ( Admission is free for all visitors during Target Free Friday Nights, sponsored by Target, every Friday evening, 4:00–8:00 p.m. Tickets for Target Free Friday Nights are not available in advance) and for the American Museum of Natural History there is a recommended $14 donation. These are things to keep in mind when reviewing the attractions included with each card. Also, check out services that automatically calculates the best attraction pass for you.

New York Explorer Pass A credit-card sized pass loaded with New York attractions including Land & Water Tours, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, NBC Studio Tours, and more. Choose 3, 5, 7, or 10 attractions from over 55 choices. Skip the line at the most popular attractions. Good for 30 days. You have the flexibility to choose your attractions after the purchase. 

 Choose 3 attractions for $79.99 Adult, $57.99 Child


Choose 5 attractions for $116.99 Adult, $80.99 Child


Choose 7 attractions for $140.24 Adult, $97.74 Child


Choose 10 attractions for $178.49 Adult, $118.99 Child 

  • Best for: Travelers who want flexibility. Easy to sample the attractions in the city without feeling overwhelmed. Good if you want to keep your itinerary open in the event of weather changes or sudden changes in your itinerary. New residents (because you have 30 days to use it), Tour goers (includes several water & land tours including a hop on hop off water taxi, TV & Movies Tour, & Harbor Tours)  

City Pass  Tear out coupons for 6 New York Attractions comprising Empire State Building Observatory, Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises, American Museum of Natural History & Rose Center, Guggenheim Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Good for 9 Days.

One Book with 6 Coupons $106 for adults, $79 for youths (12 – 17)*. 

* Prices for children vary and, consequently, CityPass tickets are not available for under 12s.  The following prices apply at the featured attractions:

 ·          Empire State Building Observatory : Adults $46, Youth 6-17 $46, Child 6-12 $40 w/audio, Under 5 free

 ·         Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises: Adult $33, Youth $22, Ages 3-12 $23, Under 2 free

 ·         American Museum of Natural History & Rose Center: Adult $25, Youth $19,  Ages 6-12 $14.50, Ages 1 and under Free

 ·         Guggenheim Museum: Adult $22, Youth $18, Ages 11 and under Free

 ·         The Museum of Modern Art:  Adult $25, Under 16 free with an adult

 ·         The Metropolitan Museum of Art:  Under 13 Free

Best for: Travelers who want to see at least 4 of the named attractions. Great for someone in town for one week although do remember that admission to MOMA is free on Fridays from 4 to 8pm and The Met and AMNH both operate a suggested* price policy.  

*Visitors can pay any amount with which they are comfortable (from 1¢ up)

New York Pass   A credit card sized pass with over 40 admissions to attractions including Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Museum of Modern Art, American Museum of Natural History, The Guggenheim, Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, Brooklyn Museum of Art, NBC Studio Tour, Circleline Sightseeing, Radio City Music Hall Stage Door Tour, The United Nations Tour, Madison Square Garden All Access Tour, etc. Good for 1, 2, 3, 7 days. Cost & Validity varies depending on # of days.

  • Best for: Travelers who want to see & do it all, active travelers who don't mind getting value as much as they'd rather not have to pull out their wallet again and again. Great for the traveler who wants to go, go, go. 
  • New York Pass cost table below:
  • Adults
  • 1 day
    2 day
    3 day
    7 day
  •   Children
  • 1 day  $60.00
    2 day $95.00
    3 day $120.00
    7 day $145.00