New York is known for being utterly expensive, especially in touristy parts. But this is not always the case!
I am not incredibly familiar with the best cheap and underrated things to do in New York since I’ve only spent 2 short city breaks/weekends here. So what I am going to recommend in this post are completely random things right off the bat which worked for me on a tight budget (living on student finance at the time!).
Also, you’ll be surprised what bargains you do find slap bang in the middle of Manhattan, so it’s always best to not judge shops based on appearances. So here goes!…
1. Eat Your Body Weight In 99c New York Style Pizza (Of Course!)
Okay, this option may be mentioned many times and you may see these stores everywhere in Manhattan. But these are an absolute godsend when you’re lost, jet-lagged and getting sensory overload from the city lights, hustle and bustle of New York. Plus, you won’t get pizza quite like this in the UK and this fresh-out-the-oven pizza tastes a lot better during cold seasons.
Not only is this comforting treat 99c per slice, you can buy an entire pizza (or “Pizza Pie”) for around $8 in various stores – Which is ideal for those on a budget.
2. You Must Also Try McDonalds in Times Square, New York
Okay, when I visited New York I went before McDonalds was renovated like in the photo above. I wanted to mention this as there was something slightly magical about having a McDonalds breakfast and watching the world go by with a really good view. Also, trying McDonalds in other countries is always a must!
Surprisingly, McDonalds in Times Square is very quiet in the mornings, so take advantage of that while you can! Also, what makes McDonalds better in the USA is the many different items you can get including the 50 nugget box for $8, strawberry pies and more. However, keep in mind that this was a few years back. But there will always be something budget friendly and new to try in cheap and cheerful McDonalds!
3. Hit Bubba Gump & Get Sharing
Bubba Gump is also another great spot in Times Square with a killer view. You’ll see the naked cowboy strutting his stuff and the creepy people in suits pestering people for photos… But it’s watching the world go by and all of those quirks that make New York worth visiting.
The menu can be pricey at Bubba Gump but if you know how to choose something effectively it will work in your favour! The shrimpers heaven and the shrimpers net catch are great value for sharing and are enough to feed two people at a fraction of the cost.
Top tip: This is not on the menu but i’d recommend ordering a root beer float! It is to die for!
Oh, and don’t order tea and expect a good cuppa. Tea in here means cup of boiling water accompanied by a tea bag on the side – So if you’re British make sure not to lose your shit over stuff like this like my mummy dearest did!
4. Go Straight to Micheal Kors, Timberland, Levi’s & Victoria’s Secret in Manhattan (Yes, That’s Right!)
These pointers probably sound batshit crazy to you right now. But I honestly found the BEST bargains slap bang in the middle of the touristy parts.
Firstly, these three stores have a ton of discounts in the sales sections – And I’m not talking about small bargains. The big apple also does it big when it comes to bargains!
So the moral of the story is to bite the bullet and look carefully while shopping in New York. However, there are some touristy stores which are extortionate and unfortunately Macy’s is one of them!
On the upside, the best stores for bargains are Timberland & Levi’s stores in Manhattan (The Timberland Store near the Empire State and the Levi’s located in Times Square). You can find Levi jeans and Timberland cardis for as little as $10 if you look carefully.
5. Take a Short Coach Ride to The Mills Outlet, New Jersey
Yes, this is not technically in New York but it is a gold mine for discounts! I mentioned this since it’s SO easy to get there from New York – All you need to do is buy a coach ticket at the Port Authority station.
The journey is pretty straight forward but I’d recommend not travelling during rush hour – The pollution and traffic is AWFUL coming in and out of New York during these times.
At The Mills you can get a ton of perfume and clothing discounts. Plus, the Victoria’s Secret outlet store is definitely worth visiting!
Bottom Line: New York Has Big Pricetags, But They Also Have Big Discounts
The key is to look incredibly carefully, even in places that appear expensive. And if all else fails, hit the outlets! I promise you, you won’t regret it.