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How to do NYC on budget and for the first time including where to stay and how to navigate the subway system. What to do and how to not break the bank. Have you ever been to New York City? The first time I went was when I was in the third grade and it was busy, noisy and it kind of smelled bad. The subway was terrifying and crowded and to this day I do not like to be places that I can’t find a way out of. But there’s so much to experience in New York City and it doesn’t have to break the bank.

First-Timers Guide To New York City

Use Public Transport if you dare!

The biggest favor you could do for yourself is to be familiar with the subway system before you get there and certainly before you actually set out to get somewhere. Sure, you can ask the locals, but once you spend an hour figuring out where the hell you are because they told you to get off on the wrong stop or catch the wrong train, you’ll begin to see the merit to my suggestion. If you’re even mildly tech-savvy, download the app for your phone to help you maneuver the New York City subway.

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My mom recently went to the Big Apple and she sent me these tips:

  1. Don’t believe the locals know what they are talking about. At three different times the locals gave us wrong instructions, one time causing us over an hour delay because we got off at the wrong station.
  2. Know that weekends and holidays, the schedules change, sometimes a lot and other times not much. But if you are wanting to get to a certain place, by the specific time, plan extra time.
  3. Know the destination of the train that you want to use. You will likely get off somewhere in between now and there, but it helps a ton if know where this trains ultimate destination is.
  4. Stand so you can see the very front of the train when it first comes into the station. Now is your time to be a pushy New Yorker! It will show the ultimate destination of your train…it this the right line? Is this train going the right direction based on where you are, where the train will ultimately go, and where you want to be?
  5. There is more than one level of subway in New York. In fact, there is more than two levels. And for sure there are at least three levels. Just because you know you want to be on the green train, and the sign that you are standing under is green, does not mean the train stopping in front of you is the correct train.

First-Timers Guide To New York City

When you get underground it’s easy to lose all sense of direction. Pay close attention to the signs. If they say go this way DON’T JUST DO IT until you are SURE that is your train. Use Google Maps! There’s a public transportation setting and you can enter your nearest subway stop and your final destination and it will get you there.

Don’t Stay in New York City

If you’ve figured out how to brave the subway system, there’s really no need to stay in New York City and it’s really expensive to do so. You can stay just outside the city and you will not have to spend as much money AND, you brave thing you, you can hop onto the subway and get wherever you need to go! A good option is Jersey City. If you’re hell-bent on staying in the city, use Airbnb. You’ll usually be able to find something a little more affordable.

New York City – What to do

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a great place to start. You can see everything from Ancient Egyptian artifacts to modern art. It’s $25.00 to get in, not a bad price, and you’ll be in a whole new world for a few hours. A few new worlds, actually.

Related: Exploring New York City – Everything Here Is Huge!

If museums are your thing, consider the New York City PASS for $126.00, and you will get admission to the Empire State Building, American Museum of Natural History, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Statue of Liberty, Guggenheim Museum, 9/11 Memorial and Museum and more. Additionally, the Museum of Modern Art boasts a period of free admission on Fridays from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and free admission into their sculpture garden every morning from 9:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.

American Museum of Natural History, New York

American Museum of Natural History, New York

If you are looking for an outdoor adventure, check out Central Park and have a nice walk around with a cup of coffee and a pastry. The Central Park Conservancy offers free tours of the park. You can also visit the Brooklyn Botanic Garden for free before noon on Fridays. Bryant Park hosts free yoga on Tuesday mornings or Thursday afternoons, so if you need to stretch out after all the walking head on over!

First-Timers Guide To New York City

Central Park

Sometimes the best way to learn about a new city is to just start walking and you will almost always discover something to do!

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How to do NYC on budget and for the first time including where to stay and how to navigate the subway system. Have you ever visited New York City?

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