Worldwide icon-chevron-right North America icon-chevron-right United States icon-chevron-right New York State icon-chevron-right New York icon-chevron-right Your 24-hour itinerary: The Wallet Watcher

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Your 24-hour itinerary: The Wallet Watcher

There’s something to do at every hour of the day in New York, and we’ve got the proof right here


Sure, New York is amazing, but holy crap is it expensive. We all know how draining it can be to feel like you’re getting gouged at every turn, so who could blame you for looking for some cheaper entertainment options? The good news is, if you know where to look, NYC is stuffed to the gills with awesome free stuff, from museums to comedy shows to drinks and snacks. Check out your personalized itinerary below for all the cheap or free stuff you can handle. (Just remember to tip.)

8am-10am—get a deal at Century 21

Shopping Department stores Financial District

The FiDi location of this bargain-shopper’s paradise opens at 7:45 on weekdays—maybe for 9-5ers who woke up in someone else’s bed that morning with no time to head home before work (not that that’s ever happened to us). It’s also a great hour to browse sans the typical crowds. Find heavily discounted clothes, shoes, purses and more by Gucci, Armani, Escada and dozens of other fancy-pants designers.

10am-11am—ride the cable car to Roosevelt Island

Attractions Public spaces Roosevelt Island

Score a wondrous view of the Manhattan skyline from this commuter cable car, which zooms between the Upper East Side to the island that separates Manhattan from Queens (though it’s still technically part of Manhattan, if we’re counting) for the mere swipe of a Metro card ($2.75, or “free” on your unlimited).

Photograph: Julienne Schaer

11am-12pm—milk the free Wi-Fi at NYC parks

Attractions Parks and gardens Brooklyn Heights

One more reason to love this city: You can maintain your tech addiction without becoming a pasty white blob. Hang out in the sun with your tablet and the free Wi-Fi in green spaces including Bryant Park, Union Square, City Hall Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Battery Park, Prospect Park and McCarren Park.

12pm-1pm—take a free juggling lesson at Bryant Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Midtown West

Now put down the tablet and back away from the free Wi-Fi, because it’s time to learn a party trick: juggling! Experts offer gratis lessons in this Midtown park daily at noon in the not-miserably-cold months (roughly January through September). Find them on The Deck or at 42nd St Plaza.

Federal Reserve Bank
Photograph: Dmadeo

1pm-2pm—see the gold vault at the Federal Reserve Bank

Attractions Civic buildings Financial District

A tour that costs nothing and shows off a stockpile of gold—is there anything that will make a miser more gleeful? Reserve tickets up to 30 days in advance (they go quickly) for guided group visits of this Financial District institution, taking off at 1pm (and 2pm) most days.

2pm-3pm—shell out a buck for pizza

Restaurants Italian Hell's Kitchen

$1 pizza—another wonder of the New York world. Try 99-Cent Fresh Pizza in Midtown West. Good may not be quite the right word, but for a penny shy of a single this slice is cheesy, carby and satisfying (also available 24 hours).

Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photograph: Courtsey The Metropolitan Museum of Art

3pm-5pm—relax on the rooftop at the Met


It’s sort of a dick move, but you can slip $1 across the counter for admission at this art museum (it’s technically pay what you wish) and head to the gorgeous rooftop, which features a rotating exhibition and amazing views of Central Park. (There’s also a bar with overpriced drinks, but that defeats the purpose of being frugal.)

Photograph: Jena Cumbo

5pm-6pm—drink at a cool wine shop

Shopping Liquor stores Flatiron

Chelsea wine store Bottle Rocket kicks off free tastings at 5pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Be warned: With wines this good, you’re going to discover something you want to buy.


6pm-9pm—see cheap comedy at UCB

Comedy Stand-up Hell's Kitchen

With shows starting between 6pm-8pm daily for the discount-lover’s price of $10 to free, you won’t find a better deal than this improv and sketch comedy theater. Depending on the timing of your show, enjoy cheap drinks at the theater bar either before or after (and during, of course).

Gotham City Lounge
Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

10pm-2am—get drunk for less than $10

Bars Dive bars Bushwick

Bushwick bar Gotham City Lounge is packed with comic-book figurines and people who know about its ass-kicking anytime drink deal: $3 for a PBR and a whiskey shot. Just try to recite the storyline of your favorite comic book after too many of those.

2am-3am—sober up with falafel

Restaurants Central Asian Greenwich Village

For just $3.50 at Middle Eastern joint Mamoun’s, score a giant pita stuffed with falafel and tahini—best drunk-person’s deal in the city. The West and East Village locations, both open until 5am, are also in stumbling distance of the neighborhood’s bar circuits.

Peter Pan
Photograph: Jolie Ruben

4am-5am—eat freshly made doughnuts for $1.10

Restaurants Bakeries Greenpoint

Doughnuts shouldn’t cost $3 a pop, and this Greenpoint institution—which hasn’t changed its doughnut recipes for more than 60 years—proves it. Employees cue up the fryer at 2am to have warm batches ready by the shop’s 4:30am opening.

David Barton Gym
Photograph: Rayon Richards

5am-7am—open your pores at David Barton Gym

Things to do Noho

A free 1-day guest pass (new clients only) to this Astor Place gym, which opens at 5:30am daily, gets you a lot more than just basic workout machines. But hell, we vote for not working out at all—just relax in the steam room while the other early birds are huffing and puffing through bench presses.

New York attractions
Photograph: Ilenia Martini

7am-8am—walk the High Line

Attractions Parks and gardens Chelsea

Starting at Gansevoort Street and newly extended to 34th Street, this nature-in-the-city walking path (converted from an elevated freight rail line) opens at 7am—which may be the only time you’re not strolling through the flora in a frustratingly slow single-file line of tourists with selfie sticks. Enjoy it.


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