New York Tourist Spots Price List

I am thrilled to tell you that this little theatre travel geek is heading back to the Big Apple next month! Just for an overnighter with my sister, but back is back! I'm trying to think of a nice mix of fun and touristy things to do with Shannon paired with some local stuff I know so I got to Pinning for some out of the box ideas that are, well, so IN the box that there's a box in that box.

So, any Pinterest board will tell you there there is an absolute must do list for tourists in New York City. It's all of the best that the Big Apple's Tourism Board has to offer- Statue of Liberty, the 9-11 Museum, Empire State, blah blah blah touristy stuff is fun for a minute, but it's boring and crowded even for a solo traveler. Nobody tells you not to do these things. Except me.

We all know those days. The "don't fuck with me, I hate crowds, GOD why are there always SO MANY people in the exact spot I am, MOVE moods that catch you a tad off guard whilst traveling. We have all been there. And if you're following an ill-gotten checklist of MUST DO cliches in NYC then you're in for a real awakening. Some of them are terrible. So that makes it extremely difficult to know how to spend your limited time and money in the city. At least within my levels of snark you'll have the most current prices of these traps in one spot to mull over.

I did not write this fun list.

*I do like museums but it's ridiculous to list EVERY museum in the city on a must see list. Not everyone is interested in the same stuff, the same art or the same artifacts. And for crazy people like me who love check lists AND traveling, it's a little bit insane to think that paying $30 admission for ALL OF THESE MUSEUMS SEPARATELY is a possibility. The Detroit Institute of Arts is free, y'all. FUCKIN FREE.

Mostly these MUST DO lists going around aren't actually things worth doing- they're just a list of things in the city that are expensive, incongruous or redundant. Nobody's telling you the honest truth about them so nobody knows what crapshoots some of these places and things are. So listen up (with your eyes) to the kinds of price tags this bucket list carries. 

Central Park: Cool, I guess. But even just viewing it from above was insanely busy for late March. Plus I hear they're mean to the horses. But at least it's free.
Times Square: Trash. Annoying AF and overpriced. The pizza in this area if worse than hospital food and the best shopping is from carts on the sidewalk. Plus I think that an off-brand Elmo tried to hump me. Free is not free enough.
Statue of Liberty: I'll probably go back and see this, but you can see it in the distance from almost anywhere above the 20th floor. I just like heights. $25 for the cheap tickets that include the top view from her crown.
Boat Trip on the Hudson: WHY IS THIS MANDATORY?  Is it not enough to walk next to? There are about 24 different companies all boasting their views as if being on a different charter boat will change the scenery. Tickets start at $21 and go up to about $75.
Helicopter Flight: Not cheap. Even Groupon has it for like $300 per person for 30 minutes! GAG.
9/11 Memorial: Why spend your time crying again? I lived through it, made my peace, said my prayers, donated, etc. Maybe I'm as asshole but this seems like a personal choice, not a bucket list item. $28 to cry here or you can go to a church and donate to their parish and light a candle without a gift shop cashing in on the death of others.
Brooklyn Bridge: Yeah, actually do this. It's trippy because you can see the river below, and it's really beautiful. Plus some really good artist set up shop there and you can buy a bag of mangoes at the end. Free. Mangoes are $3, first come, first served.

Shopping 5th Ave: Hella touristy but fun to look. As expensive as you'd think. A good walk and you'll feel like a Waldorf. Saks is pretty neat looking but people definitely do look at you funny if you're shopping alone and look like a punk ass kid like I do.
Broadway Show: Actually, yes. It's a form of culture anyone can appreciate and there are loads of ways to get cheap tickets day of. Day of lottery tickets can be $25 but they're usually $100ish+
Empire State Building: Neat looking but honestly some of the views are blocked and it's pricey. Again, the moment you find a photo op that you really want to take in a sticky child or bumbling tourist WILL stand directly in front of you taking Insta photos for ten minutes and calling themselves influencers. Prices range from $42 for the loser 86th floor and up to $360 for full access to 86+ and museum.
One World Observatory: If you can, go on. Tallest spot in the city. It's billed as a romantic spot, so maybe you'll see a proposal. I love that shit. And heights. But it'll cost you $35 per person to ugly cry when someone gets engaged.
Top of the Rock:  Really cool because 30 Rock is smack in the middle so from all sides you can see Central park, the Chrystler and Empire State Buildings, Lady Liberty herself, pretty much everything AND it gives you the chance to get the cool cityscape photos unimpeded. Super fun to take in the 30 Rock guided tour as well. Ask for Lindsay! $38 for TotR and $25 for the tour. (I won a CityPass for 3 attractions so these were both free for me)
Chinatown: Great! I stayed here (Holla Gino) and had some great food, pet a kitten and everything was bright. And smelly. So much raw fish....But affordable!
Grand Central Station: The Serena Van Der Woodsen moment walking up and the ceiling are worth stopping in. It's basically a small shopping mall otherwise and a bit of a maze.
Staten Island Ferry: I guess? Weather pending? Free!
MoMA: Really expensive for finding maybe 5 art pieces you can really get into. Its mostly filled with culture fakers and tourists who think they're supposed to be there. $25 to get in.
Governor's Island: Another ferry. Even on the GI website it has a what to do here section that has "nothing to show at this time" so why even bother?? To see the skyscrapers you were just standing in or next to? Neat?.......but only $2.
Smorgasburg: Brooklyn open air food market. Seems really fun and delish but wasn't open for the season yet when I was near.
Eat Doughnuts at Peter Pan Bakery: Specifically? Only here? There are literally 100 shops. I'm sure it's good but all doughnuts are good here. I really liked Dun-Well in Bushwick.
Watch A Game at Yankee Stadium: Not only is it far off from the city, it's HOURS LONG and if you don't even like baseball or they're playing a team you hate then you're wasting your day and $20-$150. I like the history of the team but I can see them here in Detroit for much cheaper. Go Tigers.
NY Botanical Garden: Seems neat and again, maybe I'm the asshole here, bujt kind of you see one botanical garden you've seen them all. Tropical plants. Some birds maybe. A bird of Paradise flower. Maybe a banana tree or some cacti. Done. $25 well spent............... (just visiting the grounds is free)
Concert at MSG: Madison Square? Really? I fully get to go see it for the history of it BUT to go to a concert there JUST to cross off a bucket list? Hella expensive. I'd rather see boxing anyhow. But like I really need to rock out with a bunch of people who think Maroon 5 is a good band just to get that $100 minimum check mark. (I understand that not every show is crappy but it seems a stupid bucket list item because it's purely based on taste, schedule, timing and finances)
Chelsea Food Market: Same thing. Buy one jar of honey or ear of corn from a tent, buy em all. It's more geared toward SAYING you went than actually going, it seems. There's merchandise.
9/11 Memorial Museum: Again, personal choice, an it's nutty to put the memorial and memorial museum on a bucket list that's clearly cashing in on tragedy with that $28 price tag.
Griffith Observatory: Isn't this in LA??
The Met: See above. Gorgeous building. Like, you could cry. But again, touristy or filled with school children. Also $25.
High Line:  A park built on an old freight line and saved by the city? Kinda wish I went to this. It seems strange to me though that there's a gift shop for a public park selling $75 paper weights.
Ellis Island: My family came through here on multiple sides. Not exactly a destination when they mostly just boast about the morgue now through guided tours. I do like haunted buildings, though, and you KNOW this has a few ghosts. But still not exactly what I'd call a Pinterest worthy activity. It's $26.25 to ferry out and go to the museum and SEE the Statue of Liberty, but admission to the great Lady is not included.
Radio City Music Hall: Saw it from the outside. Again, though, not something you can just always walk up and do. You of course can not get a tour during shows, and it's weird that people think you can. The tour is mostly for the history and architecture, which I love. Tickets are $31 though but there's a Happy Hour for $45 with a drink of choice and Rockette meet and greet.
Bronx Zoo: I love zoos and I go to many. But seriously, in Midwestern and Eastern areas of the USA you may see what, one animal that you've never seen before. But it's a conservation zoo meaning that the animals inside are rescued and cannot be released back for one reason or another and it's an AZA accredited zoo. It's the biggest in the country and possibly worth the $23 to see Tiger Mountain.
Coney Island: One day. March isn't an ideal time for a waterfront theme park.
Breakfast at Tiffany's: A fun idea but since it's Tiffany's AND a tourist trap- it's breakfasts START at $29 which I can only assume is one egg over easy and toast with an orange slice. Either way, it's closed for renovations until next year. 
Shakespeare in the Park: The Public Theater offers a free show at the Delacorte in Central park. you can get free tickets day of or reserve a spot by donating online.
Eat Candy at Economy Candy: I do like their addition of a historic candy store, but because it's historic in NYC I'm sure it's twice as expensive for that regular Hershey  bar. Looking at their website- it's basically just an 80 year old candy store, nothing special offered. They have regular candy fare and by the pound styles but nothing really special like an international section like for your KitKat or Mars bars in a Japanese style.
Oculus Mall: Aka Westfield. Neat looking outside, like eyelashes. Makes for cool photos, and is free.

Eat Pizza: Any pizza? Cause that's not telling very much about NY pizza, which is the number 2 best style. I reported earlier on the top pizza slices in the city if you want to know real slices. Hint- it is NOT Broadway Pizza. That pizza was horrid and the bathrooms were 1000% unattended.
 Walk Greenwich Village: Could be fun? I don't understand why it's a MUST DO yet, though.
Explore Brooklyn: This one I get because Brooklyn is basically a whole different world than Manhattan. It's more artsy, less shoppy. It's more hip, for sure, and a tad overwhelming on foot. It feels like you're in a different place entirely with every neighborhood and there are some really great gems here like Word Bookstore, Bagel Bros and Bunna Cafe.
Self-Guided Graffiti tour: Basically this means just walk around town. Da fuq? Why is this on a must do list? That's like saying have eyes or BE in NYC in general. Stupid. Graffiti is everywhere. EVERYWHERE.
Today Show: If you're into it, it's free. It's basically standing in a pool of tourists to look in through a glass window at people you'd ordinarily never really care about staring at the back of.
Tonight show with Jimmy Fallon: If you can get tickets, go! It's free but competitive just to get in that door! Tickets open up in advance and are very specific to date and time.
Wall Street: Spoiler alert- you will not find Leonardo DiCaprio there. So why bother? It's nothing really special to see, just buildings, some street art and traffic.
Eat a Bagel: Any bagel? Because let me tell you- not all bagels are created equally. I went to The Bagel Store for a rainbow bagel and it was overpriced and frankly, quite awful. Like wax fruit.
 Watch A Comedy Show: Any comedy show? Or like, a ticketed event? Improv? Guy on the street shouting "Gimme a noun!"? This gal's bucket list was SO specific when it started out. But yes, comedy. Do that.
Performance at Lincoln Center: I work at a smaller version of the LC where we have tours and rentals, movies, musicals and shows going any day of the week. It's an incredible job but in no way would I call it a MetroDetroit must do. So I don't understand why this is. Is it for historic reasons? To see the building? Because I'm sure you could just ask to see inside and save yourself some dough seeing a ballet or opera or see it on tour in your own home state for less. It's good to support the arts, don't get me wrong, but for the purpose of tackling this rando's bucket list with 18k views on Pinterest- meh. Not an ideal stop along the NYC way. See above. Timing matters.

NY Transit Museum: Finally, a place where I can get all of my bus, subway and rail system viewing in one fell swoop! It's fun that they have workshops, days for kids and crafts but it's def not a must if you only have, say, two days in the area. You want to see a subway car? Ride the subway. I'm sure those cars are only a generation newer than those on display anyhow. Want to see inside an old smelly bus? Take the bus. At least the tickets are $10, making it the cheapest museum visit you'll get. It looks pretty neat in there if you're my friend Lauren and have been dressing like Mad Men since college. Cool place for a photoshoot.

Total Price for the entire list* at lowest tourism price: $1,015.5

*I rounded the pricier things like MSG, sports and Broadway to an even $75 because it changes per event. I also didn't take food prices, souvenirs or travel/parking into account. Probably add at least another $200 to it.

So, I guess that's it. This dumb ass viral bucket list of just random things in the city has been debunked by someone who's been there and knows how to do her own research in a fine and frugal manner. There are loads of better places to see, some fitting your personal tastes, your wallet or your belly. Perhaps I'll make my own budget friendly must do NYC hit list that'll include free and cheap with pointers of my own.

Til next time, be kind out there.


  1. I haven't been to New York before but love that there is a checklist to help first timers with getting all of the major sightseeing places checked off. Oooooohhh! I mean it may cost money for some attractions but totally worth it. Love that there is so much to do. I know I want to have Breakfast at Tiffany's regardless of its tourist trap haha. Thanks for sharing!

    Nancy ♥


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