A New York City Weekend for $100

If you’re mourning the loss of most of your cash after the holidays but still want to get away for a few days, check out this helpful article by Seth Kugel of the New York Times. He advises the “frugal traveler” on how to enjoy a weekend in the Big Apple without breaking the bank!

Clockwise from top left, Doughnut Plant for guess what; the Guggenheim for pay-what-you-wish; Grounded Cafe for bagels and ambience; the Lower East Side for a podcast walking tour. Photos by Seth Kugel, Joshua Bright, Robert Caplin.

How much spending money should you set aside for a weekend in New York City that includes taking in some theater, museums and experimental film, dining out at restaurants for every meal and having a few beers, too?

Does $100 sound reasonable?

Perhaps not, but it should. Manhattan may seem like the most expensive place in America — you could make $10,000 disappear in a weekend if you really wanted — but it can also be cheap. Even with just $100, you can paint the town red without going into the red.

A few weekends ago, I did just that, imagining a budget and itinerary I might recommend to a cash-poor friend crashing on my couch during a first visit to New York. The budget: $40 for food, $30 for culture, $20 for the subway and $10 for drinks. The result was an exhausting, exhilarating weekend that mixed classic tourist spots with unusual stops. All you’ll need is a free place to stay (Couchsurfing.com works, if you don’t have friends here) and a good deal of energy.

Here’s how I spent my time (and money).


The plan: pizza and theater, followed by a microbrew. One hundred dollars wouldn’t even cover a Broadway spectacle, but on most weekend nights, the city’s theater scene offers plenty of riches for $20 or less. I combed through listings at nytimes.com/theater and Time Out New York magazine, and found that the Public Theater was putting on “Measure for Measure” at Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village for $15. It was the first production of its new Mobile Unit, which had performed the show at prisons, senior centers and elsewhere. It was an unusual performance — done in the round with house lights on — but the cast made it work even for philistines like me who never read the play in high school.

The show’s run has ended, but cheap theater tickets can usually be found by scouring the listings that I did.

I found my pretheater dinner just a few blocks from Judson, at Joe’s, where I ate two thin and crispy slices for $5.50, and I had a post-show beer (Sixpoint Righteous Rye Ale) nearby at Blind Tiger Ale House for $7.50, including tip.

A New York City Weekend for $100