It’s both a blessing and a curse that New York is less than two hours away from campus. Exploring the city is an expensive venture, especially if you’re a college student. However, if you budget your trip right, it’s totally possible to have fun in the Big Apple without your wallet taking a huge hit. Here’s how you can spend a day in New York for under $100:


To get to New York, the cheapest way is via Megabus or BoltBus. Both buses can pick you up at 30th street and JFK, which is only a 15 minute walk from campus. Both average about $12 a ride. 

For transportation in the city, the subway is definitely the easiest way to get around. A single ride costs $3.00, but if you plan on using the service more than four times, it’s a better idea to buy a Metrocard for $1.00 because each ride costs $2.75. Alternatively, you can just rely on walking if you plan on staying in the same neighborhood.

Morning Activities:

If it’s a nice day, you can first go to the Highline, located on Manhattan’s west side. The Highline is an old railroad converted park and stretches a little under two miles. It’s a great place to take photos and get a view of the whole city, not to mention it’s completely free to access. You can also never go wrong with getting lost in Central Park and having a picnic with sandwiches from a local deli. 


There are plenty of options for lunch, from food trucks to Chelsea market. If you haven’t tried The Halal Guys food truck, I would definitely recommend it. One plate is usually around $8 and comes with more than enough food for one person. Chelsea Market is an urban food court located in the Chelsea district. You can grab tacos from Los Tacos No. 1 or Takumo Tacos and mini donuts for dessert at Doughnuttery. 

Afternoon Activities:

After lunch if you want to spend time inside, you can go to a number of museums. The Museum of Modern Art is free after 4 p.m. on Fridays, the Guggenheim is free on Saturdays between 5 and 7:30 and the Whitney is free between 7 and 10 on Fridays. If you can’t make it during any of those times, students tickets are $12 at the Metropolitan and $18 at the Whitney and Guggenheim. If you’re feeling extra spicy you can visit the Museum of Sex, which is $15.50 with a student discount. 

If you don’t want to spend time inside but still want to be in an urban district, you can go window shopping in Soho or explore Greenwich village. Soho has shops ranging from Gucci to Uniqlo, and mini boutiques in between. Greenwich village is on the west side of Lower Manhattan, and is full of coffee shops such as the historic Cafe Reggio. For music lovers, Greenwich village is home to a variety of jazz clubs and record shops, such as Generation Records. 


For dinner, there are a lot of great cheap food options in Koreatown or Chinatown. In Koreatown, Woorijip is a cafeteria style restaurant with options ranging from noodles to bulgogi and seafood pancakes. If you’re willing to spend a little more money after a long day of conservation, Jongro BBQ is the ideal spot for Korean BBQ. The only thing is, there’s always a guaranteed wait so it’s a good idea to call ahead of time. In Chinatown, Joe’s Shanghai is a popular destination for soup dumplings. If you’re looking for noodles, Tasty Hand–Pulled Noodles Inc and Great N.Y. Noodle town are both true to their names. Afterwards, you can go to H–Mart and smuggle Asian snacks back to campus.

You did it! A day in New York for under $100! If you have the time and resources, getting off campus to spend a day in New York with friends is totally worth it. With simple budgeting skills, you can avoid blowing through way more money than you intend to and still have just as much fun.