When Gossip Girl started back in 2007, I instantly fell in love with New York City. Having dreamed of visiting the city every year since, when the opportunity arose to go for work I of course jumped at the chance. One thing I never thought I would do is visit somewhere like NYC on a budget. But having only been back from Thailand and Australia for 6 weeks, it was that or nothing!
Although I was there for nearly a week, I only really had a three or four days to explore the city, it was a work trip after all! So I thought I’d put together a short guide for you on all the things you can see and do over a long weekend in NYC on budget.
Like London, there’s a lot of sightseeing to be done in New York. Luckily, most of it can be done for free! Yes, that even includes seeing the Statue of Liberty! On our first day the weather was pretty gorgeous so we hunted down the High Line. Having only been open for 8 years, the High Line is still quite unknown to tourists but it’s a great way to see the cities neighborhoods for free and it’s really pretty.
The following morning we woke up to snow. Yes, you read that right, snow! Considering the previous two days had been about 17 degrees, everyone was just as confused as each other. Good thing I packed four coats! I’ve always wanted to go to New York at Christmas for shopping and the chance to see the snow so you can imagine how happy I was it had snowed whilst we were there.
When you wake up in New York and there’s snow on the ground there’s only one place you head to first. Central Park! Walking through central park in the snow was like something from a movie. It was so beautiful, magical and breath taking we spent hours just wondering around.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
As we came to the edge of the park we walked up Fifth Avenue a little to go and visit the Met. Now any Gossip Girl fan knows how important the steps of the Met are so it felt so surreal to be standing on them! On the plane over I watched a documentary called the First Monday in May which is all about the famous Met Gala and their costume exhibition, so it made the whole experience even more fascinating.
It’s quite expensive to go inside the The Metropolitan Museum of Art and it’s so big you could spend hours in there, so we gave it a miss. But even if you don’t plan on going inside it’s worth going into the lobby just to see how beautiful it is in there. Oh, and their gift shop is pretty awesome!
Every evening we found ourselves in Times Square. So touristy of us I know, but it has to be done. To be completely honest with you, it’s very spectacular and extremely overwhelming but totally tacky at the same time! It’s just like Piccadilly and Leicester Square in London.
Because it was so cold and windy, we ran to the top of the red stairs, had a photo taken and ran back down again before heading into the M&M and Hershey’s stores.
Statue of Liberty
On our last day we got up early and headed to the bottom of Manhattan to see the Statue of Liberty. On the way we stopped off at Grand Central Station. The station is just as amazing as it looks in the movies however what they don’t show you is the abundance of homeless people walking around in there begging, so don’t hang around there too long!
We got the Metro down the X quay where we got on the Staten Island Ferry. Here’s a great New York budget tip for you: if you want to see the statue of liberty and are not fussed about going to the actual island or inside it, hop on the Staten Island Ferry for free. It goes straight past it!
Leaving every half an hour all day, every day, you don’t have to worry about times or anything. It was so incredibly cold on the ferry however it was expected considering we’d spent the last 3 days ubering everywhere because it was too cold to walk just two blocks!
After we’d frozen our noses off on the ferry, we walked up through the business district to Ground Zero. The 9/11 memorial is probably one of the most eeriest, emotional but yet fascinating places I’ve ever been to. It’s hard to put it into words as there’s such a horrible vibe there but it’s one of those places you can’t go to New York without seeing and paying your respects.
There are two museums at the site of the memorial which we didn’t go into due to time restraints but I’ve heard lots of good things about it. Just take a pack of tissues or two with you if you do decide to go.
If there’s anywhere in the world that is famous for its shopping its New York. Fifth Avenue is the main shopping street in the city and is lined with hundreds of the best shops in the world.
Bergdorf and Goodman was my favourite shop of them all, even though I couldn’t afford anything in there! If you’re a huge fashion lover, it’s worth just going in there to look around, I was walking around in complete awe.
Tiffany is one of the biggest jewellery shops I’ve ever been to in my life. Everything in there is so sparkly and gorgeous it gives you serious engagement ring goals!
To get to Bloomingdales you have to walk across a few avenues but you’ll know exactly when you’re there because the outside of it is so Art Deco and amazing.
Another of my favourite shops which we actually stumbled across after leaving Bloomingdales was Dylan’s Candy Store. As someone who prefers sweets over chocolate this place was heaven. Who need’s M&M world when you have Dylans?!
No trip to New York is complete without visiting the world biggest department store Macy’s. To be honest, it was pretty disappointing. It’s like an oversized fancy Debenhams! Some of the escalators in the store were the original wooden ones which are more daunting to ride than exciting, and don’t even bother trying to take the elevator unless you want to waste half hour of your life waiting for them! But that aside, you still have to say you’ve been there and done it.
Flat Iron District
For the first part of our trip we were down in the Flatiron District as that’s where my office is. This part of New York is so beautiful and a lot less busy than the touristy area of Times Square. Oh and the food is great there!
Num Pang and Tacombi were my two foodie highlights for the Flat Iron District. Num Pang is a fast food sandwich and salad joint, but it’s so incredibly yummy and great if you’re looking to be healthy. Tacombi on the other hand is one of the best Mexican restaurants I’ve been to. With it’s amazing cocktails, yummy summer corn and super cool vibes it’s so easy to spend hours in there ordering all sorts of tacos and guacamole!
As we moved over towards Times Square for the weekend we found ourselves eating in the Hell’s Kitchen District. Very similar to London’s Soho area, it’s literally just off Times Square and where all the best restaurants are.
You can find food from all over the world in Hell’s Kitchen but Andy was on a mission to go all out American on this trip so most days we ended up in burger joints! We actually went for breakfast in a traditional American Diner one morning where we had the biggest American breakfast, pancakes and crappy refilled coffee. Hardly fine dining but it was so funny to experience!
One of the evenings we went to a place called 5 Napkin Burger which we were actually recommended by Sophie. The burgers in this place are amazing! I had one with truffle and cheese on it, two of my favourite foods, so I was a pretty happy girl.
On our last night we stumbled across a little place called Island Burger & Shakes. Although its known for its build your own burgers, we ended up having the most amazing fajitas. Oh my gosh, if you love fajitas you need to go to this place it’s so good.
A long weekend in NYC on a budget?
Yes, it is completely do-able! Everything listed in this post was done over four days and if you don’t start buying things in the shops, it also doesn’t cost a lot. There are still so many places in New York we’re yet to see, but in such little time, I think we completely smashed the sightseeing out of the park.