NYC on $100 a Day

Standing near the base of the Statue of Liberty and looking up into her giant green face, it struck me that I had actually done it. No one believed I could. Not even me. Yet here we were. As I looked up at the face of Lady Liberty, I felt a satisfied smile cross my own face as I clicked my camera’s shutter.

My brother and his wife plus my sister and her husband were in town for a family event. My brother and sister-in-law had ever been to nearby New York City before so a day trip was on their wish list.

The hustle bustle of Manhattan in New York City.

The hustle bustle of Manhattan in New York City.

New York City has a reputation for being expensive. Knowing that everyone was on a limited budget, I tried to dissuade them.

It didn’t work.

Having traveled quite a distance to get here, they were not likely to get such a golden opportunity as this again any time soon. To make matters worse, they didn’t just want to go into the city and drive around. They had a long list of sites they wanted to stop off and visit: the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Times Square, the 9/11 Memorial, Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall…

So I set about trying to determine the best way to do this. I set myself a challenge to figure out how to get them to see most of the sights on their list for just $100 per person without starving ourselves or scrimping too much.

With the help of my very resourceful brother-in-law, the first thing I looked at was double-decker bus tours. Such a tour was one of the wish list items and I figured it would be a convenient way to see some of the sights while also doubling as a source of transportation. We managed to find one that would take us past just about all the locations on everyone’s collective wish list. It included hop on-hop off privileges, was only $74 per person and included the ferry to both Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.

For reasons of both cost and convenience, we parked across the river in New Jersey and rode the train into New York. Round trip, that would ring up another $12 per person.

Thankfully, no one felt any special need to go inside places like the Statue of Liberty or 9/11 Memorials. Touring the grounds would be enough. Knowing that there was no admission for other attractions like Times Square, this started to look possible.

In order to keep it under the $100 limit, each person could only spend $14 on lunch. Such a feat is not impossible but not exactly easy either. Our best bet would be to order larger dishes that could easily be split up and eat family style so we could all share. We each also packed one granola bar. That would be small enough to fit in a pocket yet substantial enough to carry us through the afternoon hours.

Nine hours later, we were back on the train to New Jersey. There were no congratulations to be had — everyone was too excited talking about the things they’d seen — but that was okay. We did it. We had toured New York City for just $100 per person.

Me and my daughter in front of the New York City skyline.

Me and my daughter in front of the New York City skyline.

Big Bus Tours (Liberty Package & free extra day)

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