Regardless of your budget, you can enjoy the true New York experience over a weekend. Take the time to plan your trip so you can decide where you want to save some cash, and where you want to splurge a bit. Since options abound, you can choose the essentials that best meet your needs and expectations.
A weekend jaunt to New York will cost you if you don't have a friend with a couch. Hotel rooms in the city cost an average of $250 per night, with the more desirable ones costing upwards of $400. Rooms not actually in New York City can run a bit lower; keep in mind that neighboring New Jersey is a good option. Jersey City and the Hoboken, New Jersey area are just a short train ride into Manhattan -- and you can find a room for less than $200 a night.
If you're visiting New York to enjoy the high-end cuisine, expect to spend about $200 per person for dinner, alcohol included. However, there are lots of less expensive options. If you can think it, you can probably find it when it comes to food in New York City. Every neighborhood offers a variety of restaurants in a variety of price ranges. There are also plenty of fast food and chain restaurants that keep their prices competitive with the rest of the country. If you're in the mood to eat cheap and soak up the local flavor, some neighborhoods have street vendors selling food on every corner. You can also find delis, sandwich shops and cafes tucked away on most streets. With all the options available, even if you set your food budget at $20 a day, you could stay within budget and still have a good NYC eating experience. Also, weather permitting, you'll find farmers markets and fresh fruit stands throughout the city for healthy choices.
Shopping and Entertainment
New York has shopping and entertainment available for every price point. If you're planning to take in a show or two over the weekend, you can purchase prime opera, ballet or theater tickets for around $100 each. But there are also discounted shows and performances if you plan ahead, or special deals on shows if you purchase your tickets the same day at a TKTS ticket booth; one is located right in midtown. Once you have your tickets for the night, you can spend the day visiting high-end shops if you've got money to spare, or you can opt for sample sales, vintage shops and flea markets as cheaper ways to find your personal style. Also, check out the Macy's and Bloomingdale's visitors desks to get a discount when you show your out-of-state ID.
New York is a travel-friendly city, with a thriving taxi industry and public buses and subways that run 24 hours a day. A typical taxi ride from JFK airport to midtown Manhattan will cost $45 plus tolls. Public transit costs $2.25 per trip. For transport that lets you experience the feel of the city, walking around local neighborhoods is a great no-cost option. You can also rent bicycles by the day or by the hour. Prices typically start at $10 to $15 dollars an hour, but you can get a deal if you rent a bike for the entire day.
Culture and Tourist Attractions
New York City has something for everyone when it comes to museums and cultural exhibits. Admissions vary, but there are always discounts and specials available. The Metropolitan Museum of Art "suggests" an admission donation, but doesn't require that you pay anything. You can spend a whole afternoon enjoying the exhibits for whatever amount you can afford. However, if you're looking to do the real "touristy" thing, an elevator ride to the main deck of the Empire State Building will cost you $23, while a one-hour water taxi ride to the Statue of Liberty costs about $25. Pick up a copy of a local newspaper to get listings of what's going on during your weekend in New York City.
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