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New York on a Backpacker Budget


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Written by: Jasmine Barnes

I love New York City.  It’s one of my favorite places to explore because you never know what you’ll find there. But some think that it can be a bit expensive.  The truth is, it doesn’t have to be. With just a little bit of planning and research, you can find fun places to explore and activities that won’t have your wallet screaming for mercy by the end of your visit. Here are a few to get you started.

Take a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge

Some of the common sites people often visit when they come to New York are the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and Times Square, but Brooklyn is the new place to be. Spanning 5,989 feet, the Brooklyn Bridge is still considered one of New York’s most famous landmarks. The views from the bridge of the Manhattan skyline, which includes Freedom Tower, are breath-taking, and on any given day, you’re bound to meet an interesting individual with a story. Just two quick tips if you plan to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Stay out of the bike lane, and wear comfortable shoes. You’ll thank me later.

Visit Roosevelt Island

Roosevelt Island. Some consider it one of Manhattan’s hidden treasures. Conveniently situated between Manhattan and Queens, if you like the outdoors minus the huge crowds you would find at other attractions in the city, you’ve hit the jackpot here. Roosevelt Island is great for kicking back and relaxing, having a picnic, that sort of thing. Just to get away from the constant hustle and bustle of the city that never sleeps. Sometimes a little peace and quiet is a good thing.

Stroll through Flushing Meadows Park

If you’re a lover of history, then look no further than Flushing Meadows Corona Park. This 1,255 acre site is the largest park in Queens. During the 20th century, it was the sight of two world fairs (1939 and 1964) and some parts of the park still have artifacts from that time. It has expanded over the years to include the Queens Museum of Art, the New York Hall of Science, the Theater in the park and many other things. The area that surrounds the park is also one of the most diverse areas in Queens. The park hosts events year-round that reflect this. For example, the Colombian and Ecuadorian Independence Day Festivals in summer and a Korean Harvest Festival in the fall. So before you visit be sure to check the park’s events calendar to stay up to date on what’s happening. The park also has some of the most gorgeous natural backdrops in the city.

Discover BBQ’s

Calling all food lovers! If you ever find yourself in the Bronx, then you owe it to yourself to drop by Dallas BBQ’s in Co-op city. This establishment primarily serves American food, BUT you most certainly get your money’s worth. The portions are huge, and that includes the drink sizes. Try the Sticky Wings, you won’t regret it. They’re also famous for their ribs. A typical meal will cost you about $15-20. They also have specials that vary throughout the day so don’t hesitate to ask about them. It’s a great place for lunch, dinner, or just hanging out with friends.

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Go to Open Mic Night at the Phunky Elephant

Staten Island sometimes gets a bad rap as New York’s forgotten borough. However, you can find interesting things to do there. For example, do you sing, write poetry or tell jokes? Well they have a place for you. Open Mic night at the Phunky Elephant is every Thursday beginning at 8pm. If you’re into that laid back, cool lounge sort of atmosphere this is the place to be. Come share your talent. Or maybe, just discover something new. Open mic usually lasts until closing time here so feel free to grab the mic more than once. Just be sure to show up before 8pm and add your name to the list of participants. You never know what can happen.

Whether you decide to take that walk across the Brooklyn Bridge or discover the greatness that is BBQ’s, I just want you guys to enjoy your time in the Big Apple. It’s really a great city no matter how much money you have in your pocket. Enjoy!

Check out more articles about backpacking the USA on a budget

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