It’s where dreams are made of, according to Alicia Keys and Jay-Z. Here are three ways for you to see the city, regardless of your budget. 

Budget

New York was recently named as one of the 10 priciest cities in which to live. And if you’re visiting on a budget, there are some hard and fast rules to make sure you’re getting your bang for your buck. Accommodation is expensive in Manhattan, but the city has plenty of other hip and bustling boroughs. Head over the bridge to Brooklyn where you’ll find cute cafes and slick boutiques. The Pod Hotel group has stripped the hotel experience down – no minibars, no huge sofas – and with rooms for two from $89 per night, it’s a no-fuss accommodation option.
Visit thepodhotel.com to check rates for your stay dates. 

New York’s museums are world-class and while places like the Met and MoMA can be expensive, they do offer free days for visitors. For example, visit the 9/11 Memorial Museum between 5pm and 8pm on a Tuesday and get free entry. The American Museum of Natural History and the SculptureCenter offer pay-as-you-wish entry. Visit nyc-arts.org to plan your museum days.  

For history buffs, there are plenty of free historical landmarks, monuments and memorials. Visit Alexander Hamilton’s grave at Trinity Church or the Civil War arch near Prospect Park. 

Speaking of free, live-filmed shows like The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah offer free seats or deals on tickets. 

Dining out can be expensive but with New York’s rich multicultural community, street vendors give you a taste of the city. Harlem is the place for fabulous cheap eats. Try the US$9.50 crab pockets at FieldTrip, the US$7 large plate of chana masala, saag paneer or dahl at Punjabi Grocery & Deli in East Village, or the US$6.50 fried chicken sandwich at Cheeky Sandwiches on the Lower East Side. 

The 9/11 memorial.

Couples

While New York might be one of the busiest cities in the world, there are plenty of quiet nooks and private tours for couples looking for a romantic getaway. 

Hidden in alleyways, above pizza shops or in subways, speakeasies are on the rise and a fantastic date night. The boudoir décor and the cocktail menu at newly opened La Noxe in Chelsea creates an intimate atmosphere. It’s just off the 1 train in the 28th street subway station. Other places to check out include Attaboy and The Back Room in the Lower East Side, Peachy’s in Chinatown and The Hidden Pearl in Greenpoint. 

If you’re visiting in spring, take a stroll through the woodlands, terraces and ornamental grasses of the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens – tip: the cherry blossoms bloom between April and May. Then, pop into the Yellow Magnolia Café for brunch with mimosas and Bloody Marys.

The city is also home to great restaurants for couples – whether it’s an intimate ambiance you’re looking for or indulgent wine and cuisine. Plan far in advance for a meal at L’Artusi where the popular West Village spot has an impeccable selection of wines, and order at least one pasta dish. Or head to The Polo Bar, decked out in handsome tan leather banquettes and equestrian-inspired art. They serve American favourites and the best-selling Polo Burger, which is big enough to share. 

There are also some fabulous Michelin-starred restaurants such as Le Bernadin, the flagship eatery from Eric Ripert. With a focus on seafood, the tasting menu starts at US$280 per person and US$430 with wine pairings.

For accommodation, the Royalton in Midtown West has a dreamy suite with a fireplace, perfect if you’re visiting in winter. Some suites come with a giant circular tub where you can sip your champagne.

The Gramercy Park Hotel opened in 1952 and its black and white tiled floors and sweeping chandeliers take you back into the 1920s. It was where Humphrey Bogart got married, the drinking spot of Babe Ruth and also JFK’s home for a brief period of time. 

NYC romance.

Family

The city that never sleeps is not only a giant playground for the adults, but also for the kids. Filled with plenty of parks, zoos and museums, New York is a fabulous place for a family holiday. 

The Brooklyn Children’s Museum is the first museum created for just the kids. Founded in 1899, the museum has impressive collection of minerals and fossils to complete a skeleton of an Asian elephant, musical instruments, masks and dolls. 

The New York Transit Museum is housed in a decommissioned subway station and tells the story of the underground passages that transport millions of people a year. Visitors can walk through vintage subway cars and learn about the construction of the tunnels between 1904 to 1927. There are free programs for children on Saturday and Sunday at 1:30pm.

And as a treat for the kids – and to find a souvenir from NYC – the world’s most famous toy store, FAO Schwarz, has moved to Rockefeller Plaza. Children can design their own racing cars, take home a bear from the Build-A-Bear workshop, or play a tune on the store’s famous walk-on piano.  

The city also has an array of kid-friendly restaurants. Head to the Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain where the kitchen turns out short-order dishes like grilled cheese sandwiches and ice cream sundaes and floats. Or visit Nom Wah Tea Parlour, New York’s first dim sum house which is known for their pork buns and spring rolls. 

A tip for families when booking accommodation in New York: If you’re looking for hotels or apartments in Manhattan, avoid Midtown as it tends to be more expensive. Look for options downtown or uptown. 

Check out Sohotel, a funky boutique located in The Bowery. There are a variety of rooms which suit families, including a family room with two queen beds and a single. 

Hotel Beacon on the Upper West Side offers self-catering options and is just a short walk to the American Museum of Natural History. Choose from a range of rooms with two double beds, a suite with a separate living area or a two-bedroom suite – ideal for larger families.  

Classic American cuisine.
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