Despite the reputation this city has for being an expensive place to visit, it is quite possible to enjoy a cheap New York City night out and still see (and eat!) some great stuff.
As a native and a local, I’ve done these nights out myself and can attest that they are both fun and, more importantly, affordable for those on a budget.
I’ve put together a list of places to eat, things to see and entertainment you shouldn’t miss while in town. With a little bit of planning you can really take advantage of some of what NYC has to offer, or you can wing it and see what the night will bring! I’ve got a few ideas for all types:
Less than $10USD each
Improv Comedy and Pizza:
- Start your evening around 6pm on the West Side of Manhattan around 12 avenue and 24th street and watch the sunset from the pier on the Hudson River. It’s free and it is beautiful.
- Head over to a pizzaria joint and pick up a steaming, fresh slice of $1 pizza. New York style pizza is yummy and can be really cheap! They’ve got deals where you can get 2 slices and a drink for $2.50: score! I’ve gone to “99 Cent Best and Fresh Pizza” quite a few times. It’s always good.
- Walk over to the UCB (Upright Citizens Brigade) or The Magnet Theater and get yourself some sweet tickets for their house improv team lineup. On Wednesdays (at the Magnet) their house teams play and you can score a ticket for $7 bucks. UCB has quite a few options for improv but shows can sell out, so get to the theater early! These improv theaters feature long-form improv comedy, a New York City specialty and one that you shouldn’t miss. It’s comedy, it’s cheap and it’ll be fun.
Gallery hopping in Chelsea:
- Start at the bottom of the High Line park (at Gansvoort St. in the Meatpacking district) and walk uptown. The High Line is free and beautiful.
- Hop off at Chelsea (around 20th street) and start Gallery hopping. There are a ton of Art Galleries to choose from and they are free to see! They can range from the strange to the beautiful. Have an open mind! You can go here to see where these galleries are and what they are featuring.
- Hungry? End your evening at Grey’s Papaya on 40th street and 8th Ave where you can get some New York style hot dogs for cheap. (The best way to get them is with sauerkraut and mustard with a papaya drink!).
Between $10-25USD each
Jazz and Culture:
- Happy hours in New York are legendary and, if you fancy a drink, a great place to start your night. Head over to The Belfry on 14th street between 2nd and 3rd Ave for a New York classic: the pickle back shot, which on Thursdays will cost all of $5 for a shot!
- Right next door to the Belfry is Vanessa’s Dumpling a dumpling house full of delicious- you guessed it- dumplings. For the cost of about $5-7 USD each you can really stuff yourself with some delicious steamed or fried dumplings. (They have vegetarian options, too!).
- Go check out some Jazz at the Jazz Gallery where you can pick up a ticket to see some live Jazz for $15USD each.
Honky Tonk in Williamsburg:
- Williamsburg is bustling neighborhood with tons to do and see. Get there before sunset to look at the street art and oggle the hipsters and tendy folk going about their business.
- Get yourself some tacos at any of the taco trucks parked along Bedford Ave (about $6USD for 2 tacos).
- Head over to Skinny Dennis to see the Honky Tonk playing there and enjoy the live music with a cold tall-boy of Coors for $5USD. They have tons of specials on drinks, if you’re feeling frisky. Oh, they’ve also got warm peanuts at the bar!! Free!
Between $25-50USD each
Hell’s Kitchen and Theatre:
- If you’re feeling fancy and want to sit down at an establishment for some food (but don’t want to break the bank) consider heading to Hell’s Kitchen where you can feast your eyes on some sweet dinner specials that’ll cost between $10-15USD each. You can have a range of food here from Thai to Mexican.
- You can pick up a rush ticket for an Off-Broadway show which are great ways to see some amazing talent on the stage without paying Broadway prices. 59E59 Theatre offers a ton of options for tickets that’ll cost between $15-25USD each.
- After the show, round your night off with a yummy frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity 3. They’ve got some seriously delicious desserts, but that frozen hot chocolate (about $8USD) is within budget and worth getting a table for!
Between $50-75USD each
Listen: if you’re willing to spend this much for a night out you’re doing pretty well in New York. It’s more than I would go out with!
- Make a reservation for The Mermaid Inn on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for their happy hour (5-7pm) where you can enjoy oysters, cocktails and fried calamari for VERY reasonable prices. (Expect to pay about $1USD per oyster and around $8 for a cocktail, about $30USD for dinner and drinks).
- Amble over to the Lincoln Center and pick up your tickets for The Ballet. You can get very reasonably prices tickets online if you book early. You can get tickets for about $30-40USD each if you’re careful!