Take a bite of the Big Apple simply and cheaply. Contrary to popular belief, it’s quite possible. Take the initiative and make this trip your own. I explored Manhattan. My advice: Think like a resident.
- Buy a weekly Metro card—I made the mistake of paying as I went. You’ll use the Metro card for the majority of your travels around the city, and it’ll save money. Taxis are reluctant to pick up all fares, and are becoming more and more expensive.
Try the Top of the Rock—Save yourself $20+ and check out the Top of the Rock(efeller Center)! It has an open-air observation deck with three different levels, unlike the caged-indoor Empire State Building. Also, buying a combo ticket can get you reduced admission to Behind-the-Scenes tours at NBC and skating on the famous ice-rink. BONUS: The Empire State Building is in your pictures!
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
- Plan Ahead, but Expect Delays—Go online and get the general location, not just the address of your destinations, a “close-by” restaurant could actually be 20 blocks away! Transportation is unreliable at best, the subway can be (will be) delayed or cancelled, and taxis hit traffic. Plan out your route and write down the exact directions or carry an internet-enabled device.
- Try Something New!—Guidebooks are great, but it’s fun to try something off the radar. That expensive restaurant may taste yummy, but is it worth the wait? Little places can be delicious and inexpensive. I was able to have dinner for two under $35 with tip on more than one occasion.
- Don’t Believe the Movies—Hot dog stands aren’t always the best, cheap or safe food in the city. You won’t find knock-off designers on every corner, not even in Chinatown. Be realistic, and don’t try to pull a Carrie Bradshaw. Wear comfortable shoes. But, if you really want to, get a cupcake at Magnolia’s. It’s a little pricey, but they are scrumptious!!
- Don’t Look Like a Tourist—Looking around and staring at street signs screams tourist and makes you a more attractive target for muggers. If you’re lost, go inside a business and ask where you are and how to get somewhere. Also, expect a lot of J-Walking. It’s very common and taxis to attempt to drive through the crosswalks. WATCH OUT! But, be confident when crossing streets. One of the most flattering compliments I received was, “You must have lived here for quite awhile!”
- Buy Tickets in Advance/Get Up Early—The early bird gets the worm and waits in less lines. Buy online or before your trip if you want to sleep in.
- Look for Discounts/Free Entrance—Ask about senior or student discounts, and read signs carefully. The Met is a free museum, and donations are optional. For a wonderful day, head to the Met and save some money. Or, explore Central Park! It’s classic NYC, and has the feel of a retreat and upbeat gathering place all in one.
- Do What YOU Want—If you want to see the engagement ring floor at Tiffany’s do it! (I suggest it!) NYC is its own world. Enjoy it!
- Find Yourself—My first trip to NYC was the Spring Break of my Senior Year, and it was my first time alone in a big city. I shook off my shyness and grabbed confidence by the handfuls to grow up and out of my awkward shell. No matter where you’re travelling, you can find a bit of yourself.
One last reminder: There aren’t many public restrooms, so empty out early and often!
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