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Your First Visit to NYC

A thrifty guide to seeing the sites while saving the bucks

New York City is a magical place. The largest city in the United States and – arguably – the most important city in the world, New York City stretches over two islands and the shores of two major rivers. It extends north into Connecticut and south into New Jersey. It is the heart of American business and it is filled with attractions, both tourist and cultural, to satisfy the most jaded traveler.

For the first-time visitor, however, New York can be an intimidating experience. The city is so vast, there are so many places to visit and the costs can be astronomical for food, lodging and transportation. Preparation will help you make your visit a success, but – sometimes – limiting your plans and expectations can make your first visit enjoyable and whet your appetite for a return trip.

Things to see on a budget

Serendipitously, many of the sites that you should see on your first trip to New York are also among the least expensive. Two notable examples of that are the Statue of Liberty and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. With both attractions, there is enough going on to spend an entire day exploring them.


A cruise to Liberty Island, followed by Ellis Island, will introduce visitors to the single most iconic symbol of America and to the long-lasting legacy of immigration. For adults, the cruise to the Statue of Liberty costs $18.00 and for children, it’s half that much. You can spend as much time wandering the islands as you like and visiting the museums at both of them. Going into the body or head of the Statue of Liberty costs more, but is well worth it.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art – more commonly known as the Met – has a suggested entrance donation of $25.00. However, the Met has a multi-billion-dollar investment portfolio and the entrance fees represent a minute amount of its operating budget. You can pay what you feel is fair for entrance to the Met, but don’t buy your tickets online.

Since the Met sits on the edge of Central Park, we would be remiss to skip over this inexpensive tourist option for New York. Central Park is filled with artwork and attractions that cost nothing to visit or view. Although there are attractions within the park that do have entrance fees, most of the tourist attractions are free.

Saving money on touring

Hotels and food can be a major expense when visiting New York and budgeting ahead of time will help you keep these costs within reason. Getting around the city also gives you an opportunity to save money while maintaining your sanity, but it means leaving your personal vehicle parked at your hotel.


Traffic within the city can be nightmarish and the parking situation can be confusing to city-dwellers, not to mention to visitors from other cities or towns. Double parking is common, yet still illegal. It is simpler to leave the car behind and catch the subway or bus into the city. Once there, discounted New York bus tour tickets can keep you on schedule and make it easy to visit the major attractions. Tour buses run regular routes between the major attractions and parts of the city, giving you plenty of time to visit the attractions you want to see without wasting time driving or finding places to park.

Putting the city in perspective

The Big Apple is too big to take in with one visit. Your first trip to New York should be to visit the attractions that you must see while coming to a better understanding of the city. Subsequent trips can be made to see other attractions and to delve deep into the heart of New York.

Michelle Cantu is a digital influencer who built a thriving community dedicated to supporting parents and inspiring moms to stretch their dollar. Michelle homeschools her 4 kids and lives right outside of San Antonio, Texas.

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