NYC is one of the most expensive cities in the U.S., and spending Christmas in the Big Apple can quickly drain your holiday funds. At the same time, the city’s wonderful holiday decorations and its magical Christmas atmosphere mean there are few better places to spend the festive season.
After lightening your load by dropping off your bags at an NYC luggage storage spot, check out these Christmastime hacks that will help you save money while making the most of the holidays.
Check out the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
New York City decks the halls with vibrant Christmas trees and lavish decorations. While there are plenty of gorgeous trees to check out across New York, nowhere does it better than Rockefeller Center. The Rockefeller Christmas Tree is undoubtedly one of the largest and best-known Christmas trees in the country. This famous tree has been around since the 1930s and is a New York City festive staple. Usually standing at a minimum of 75 feet tall, this tree is sure to get you in the Christmas spirit. The tree is also free to visit, meaning you won’t have to splurge to appreciate this Noel marvel.
Stroll through an array of Christmas markets
One excellent way of joining in the festivities without burning a hole in your pocket is by exploring some of the Empire City’s cozy Christmas markets. There are several markets scattered across the city, including French-inspired Strasbourg-Alsace Christmas Market and the famous Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park.
These markets are free to enter, and if you’re low on funds, you can get in the festive spirit by wandering past the stalls, taking in the smell of chestnuts roasting on an open fire, and listening to Christmas music. The Bank of America Winter Village also offers free admission to its massive ice-skating rink — just make sure you bring your own skates, as they cost extra. The ice rink also hosts some impressive ice-skating shows, and you can even bring your little ones to meet Santa free of charge.
Enjoy free festivities in Central Park
A trip to NYC during Christmas wouldn’t be complete without ambling through Central Park. During the holiday season, Central Park is full of inexpensive activities for you and your family to enjoy. You’ll love exploring the park on a snowy winter’s day with a cup of warm cocoa, or simply taking in the park’s beautiful Christmas lights and decorations.
An excellent activity for kids is the Delacorte Music Clock, situated near the Children’s Zoo. This ornate clock plays one of over 30 different Christmas carols every half-hour, with adorable figurines of animals dancing along to the music while playing musical instruments.
Visit iconic attractions and save money with a tourist pass
If you fancy stopping off at some of New York’s traditional attractions over the Christmas period without spending too much, consider purchasing one of the city’s tourist passes. Two popular options, Citypass and the Sightseeing Pass, provide different experiences depending on what you’re looking to do.
The Citypass gives tourists access to six of New York City’s most expensive attractions, including the Empire State Building, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Top of the Rock Observatory Deck. This pass costs roughly $130 and is valid for nine days, making it an inexpensive way to see the city before and after Christmas.
The alternative is the Sightseeing Pass, which is more flexible and gives holidaymakers a day pass that allows them to discover over a hundred of New York’s best attractions. The day pass costs as little as $35 and provides entry to popular attractions, such as the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, the Bronx Zoo, Madame Tussauds, and so much more.
Chow down for cheap at these affordable eateries
One of the most difficult decisions to make over Christmas, especially in the Big Apple, is where to eat. Many restaurants in the city are relatively pricey; however, there are some cheaper options available that will help you save a few bucks.
Frequenting some of New York’s top-notch pizzerias is a thrifty way of saving money. Many of these pizzerias, like Joe’s Pizza, offer huge slices of some of the best pizza in the country for under $2. Alternatively, many of the city’s Christmas markets offer festive treats for a reasonable price, and you can always head to Coney Island for a classic American hot dog.
Picking a place to eat on Christmas Day can be especially tough in New York. Thankfully, there are some reasonably priced restaurants open on Christmas Day, where you can enjoy a casual and relatively inexpensive lunch. If you fancy something a bit different, why not check out Chinese Tuxedo for a banquet-style meal, or head to Katz’s Delicatessen for one of their famous Reuben sandwiches and traditional Jewish cuisine?