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Visiting NYC on a Student Budget: Things To Do
March 8, 2011
<em>This is the final installment in a series of three guest posts written by Amelia Germain. Amelia was a classmate of ours at Michigan State University and a fellow Spartan Marching Band member. She is currently a senior at MSU and has visited New York City several times during her college years. Follow more of her adventures on Twitter (@ameliagermain).
The bulk of anyone’s trip, regardless of the destination, is hitting all of the bullet points on the ‘to do’ list. Some travelers are against the touristy NYC spots, but you really just have to hit all of them. I still have quite a lengthy ‘to do’ list for my future trips to the city.
A few of the fun New York City things to do are more easily enjoyed during certain months, depending on the season. For example, going up to the Empire State Building Observation Deck may be more feasible when the weather is warm. I went up for my view of the city with my mom in the end of October and it was unbearably cold and windy. Adult tickets for the observatory are around $20 for adults and the views are well worth the price of the ticket. I viewed the city at night and the lights were breathtaking. I’ve never been up there during the day, so deciding when to take the trip up is up to you!
If you’re a fan of Late Night television and the likes of Jimmy Fallon, SNL, Tina Fey or Dr. Oz, the NBC Studio Tour is perfect for you. Tickets are $20, but the NBC Pages are great tour guides. It was so overwhelming to see the sets of some of my favorite NBC shows and learn about the history of the famous network. One of my bucket list items is to try to be in the SNL studio audience! We learned how to do just that during our tour. We’ll see how the next trip goes.Madame Tussauds. This is one of the locations of the infamous wax museum. There are several floors of wax figurines of all of your favorite celebrities. There are also no boundaries, so hug, pose with and touch them all you want! I’m big into the world of social networking and when my roommate and I got to the museum, we both checked in on Foursquare and participated in the Foursquare special, which saved us close to $10 on our admission! It was SUCH a great deal. If you have a smart phone, download the app, create an account an start checking in to all of you favorite places that will sometimes offer specials when you check in.
Times Square: An intersection in New York City formed by the juncture of Broadway, Seventh Avenue, and 42nd Street in midtown Manhattan. Long noted as a center of the city’s entertainment district, it is the site of annual New Year’s Eve celebrations.
…if you’re in New York and you don’t go to Times Square, you’re definitely missing out. From the big lights and broadcasting screens to the hustle and bustle of shoppers and tourists, this Manhattan landmark is the best place for photo ops and celebrity sightings. My roommate and I have seen Page Davis from TLC’s ‘Trading Spaces’ twice in NYC during two different trips. This is the hub for all subway lines, so head here to shop, grab coffee, take pictures or even see a Broadway show.
The culture of Broadway is hands down my favorite thing to experience in NYC. I’ve seen 6 shows in the city and I’ve paid anywhere from $30-$130 for a ticket. Ticket prices seem to be the largest setback for any tourist in the city. I have some tips to settle those woes!
TKTS—this is one of the main Broadway show ticketing box offices, located in Times Square. The link will provide you with more information about box office hours. The earlier you get in line the more likely you are to get great deals on tickets.
Sometimes, you won’t be so lucky with the TKTS box office and same-day rush tickets for shows can get you better deals. For example, my roommate and I wanted to see Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark the last time we were in the city. Same-day tickets from the Foxwoods Theater were $30, cash only. We got in line the morning of the show at 8 AM (in -7 degree weather) and waited for the box office to open. We were 24th in line and got one of the last sets of tickets for the show we wanted. Trying to save money on Broadway tickets is a gamble, sometimes. Calling the specific box office for the show you want to see is your best bet for the same-day rush deals.
My roommate and I stuck around after seeing Spider-Man to meet the lead cast members, Reeve Carney and Jennifer Damiano. There’s so much talent on Broadway.
New York City is one of my favorite cities in the world and I love that I’ve found a way to get there and experience some of the greatest tourist spots in the nation on my tight college budget. I’ve found that personal expenses like shopping and spending money at the bar are where money is spent without even realizing it. If you’re careful with your money, but do things that you want, you can have a great experience in a wonderful city and still have money left over in the end. Best of luck to you with your traveling endeavors and I hope you’re able to have memorable experiences.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about student travel in NYC, Chicago or Europe!