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  • Writer's pictureHaley

The Twenty-Something's Guide to Exploring NYC

If you are a twenty-something looking to get a taste of the big city life, a trip to NYC is an absolute must! There are so many incredible things to explore - but when you’re traveling on a twenty-somethings budget, you want to make sure you are making the most of your time and money during the course of your stay.

Fortunately, this blog post will serve as your guide to exploring NYC and all the amazing things it has to offer -- all within reasonable means for us young adults still diving into our careers! We’re going to look at how to effectively plan your trip from start to finish: this includes, food, attractions, and the best photo ops!

Before you get started planning your adventures to the big apple, you’ll want to set a mental budget for yourself. This will play a big role when determining what days you want to travel, where you want to stay, and the things you’ll do while you're there! Decide how much you are willing to spend on your trip, and how much you want to allocate to different outings. For example, do you want to splurge on a nice hotel, or do you want to find a cheaper hotel but treat yourself to a fancy dinner every night? Got that number in mind? Good!

Once you’ve done the logistical parts - finding your flights, booking your hotel, etc., you can get to the fun part of the planning!

Make Food Reservations Ahead of Time

There will be no shortage of amazing food spots to choose from while you venture through the city. My advice is to choose a few of your must-try spots, and make reservations at least a couple weeks in advance. Remember, things will book up really quickly, so planning a few food stops ahead of time will be essential.

If you book your Sunday brunch or evening dinners in advance, you’ll avoid long wait times or getting turned away at the door. This will also help you decide what areas you want to visit throughout your trip, and you can plan your days easily around these reservations.

Need some recommendations? Here are some adorable, delicious and not-too-out-of-budget spots from brunch to late night desserts:

  • NOMO Kitchen

  • The Smith

  • Da Andrea

  • La Mercerie

Turn to Yelp and Locals for Nightlife Suggestions

If you want to explore some of the nightlife in the city, you will have a huge variety of bars and clubs to choose from. My advice? Google and Yelp reviews. These will let you know what the most popular spots are, and show you which places are worth the cover charge. If you don’t have any locals to ask, find bars or clubs that are internet-approved!

You’ll definitely want to find a rooftop bar or two to get that magnificent view of the city. There are also fun “themed” bars if you are looking for a one-of-a-kind. Maximize your budget by stopping at some famous spot for a drink or two, rather than an entire meal. Obviously, we couldn't afford a stay at The Plaza, but grabbing a cosmo in the hotel bar was a must!

Explore the Many Museums

You’ll definitely want to soak up the culture by visiting a few of the city’s glorious museums. Whether you want to see some art, explore history, or tour national spots, there’s a place for you. Visit the Met if you’re looking to see the classics, the MoMa for all things modern art, and the Guggenheim for the gorgeous architecture. This website does an amazing job of outlining different museums in the city, showing which ones are free, and even tells when museums offer free or donation-based days. If you're trying to visit museums on a budget, check it out!

Make Use of Free Attractions

A great way to maximize your trip without having to spend a lot is to make use off all the amazing-sight seeing opportunities that don't even cost a cent! This is also the best way to fill your IG grid with some classic NYC shots. Fortunately, you’ll have a photo opportunity basically down every street. If you want to plan some free of cost but still gorgeous sights to see, check out a few of these:

  • The Brooklyn Bridge

  • Soho

  • Times Square

  • Central Park

  • Washington Square Park

Find the Best Methods for Getting Around

If your also a born-and-raised San Diegan like me, you may be a novice to public transportation. Fortunately, the subway system is super simple to use, and an affordable way to get around! Especially if you are traveling on a budget, the subway makes everything efficient and is a cheaper alternative to taxis or ubers.

Get to where you need to go quickly and affordably by taking rides on the subway.

Get Ready to Travel!

New York City is definitely not known for its affordability (Hello, upper-east side). We always wonder HOW the f-r-i-e-n-d-s could afford those gorgeous, spacious apartments, or how Carrie Bradshaw could by Manolo Blahniks in the city on a writer's budget, but there are options for us twenty-somethings on a budget to take full advantage of the city -- at least, for a little while!

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