How I’d Spend a Perfect Day in My City for Under $50
Stefanie O'Connell
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As much as I love a good Netflix marathon, I can only binge-watch for so long. And with summer coming to a close, I know I’ll be itching to get out and make the most of these warm sunny days.

The only catch? I live in New York City, where tickets to Hamilton are $350 (if you’re lucky) and chocolate chip cookies can cost $4 apiece. With price tags like these, even sensible staycationing can be a major budget buster.

Of course, consuming prohibitively expensive entertainment and artisan desserts aren’t the only ways to tour big cities, which can also be beacons of free and low-cost activities if you know where to look.

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To prove it, we asked big-city dwellers to tell us how they’d spend a day off in their hometowns for less than $50. Here are five budget-friendly itineraries, starting with my own Big Apple guide.

Stefanie CitibikeTour New York City’s Hot Spots by Bike

I’d kick off the morning in Brooklyn Bridge Park, taking in the Manhattan skyline and window-shopping in the surrounding DUMBO district. A quick peek at the park event calendar typically reveals a bonus freebie—a fitness class, kayaking, maybe even a music festival. (City park and library calendars are gold mines for finding freebies.)

Then I’d walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to City Hall and grab a $12 day pass for NYC’s bike-share program, Citibike. After a quick ride north to Astor Place, I’d spend some time exploring St. Marks Place and the many thrift shops and cultural treasures of the East Village. The 99-cent pizza joint offers the most budget-friendly lunch, but nearby Mamoun’s falafel is hard to beat with a hearty, healthy meal for less than $5.

From there, it’s a straight shot west to Washington Square Park, a perfect resting spot to people-watch. A few more minutes west, you’ll hit the Hudson River and the beautiful waterfront bike path, which I’d follow northbound to midtown. I’d make a right in the 40s and find a spot to dock my Citibike on 8th avenue, then try my luck at a Broadway show lottery. If I win, I’d enjoy my front-row theater seats for as little as $30. If I lose, I can head to the restaurants on 9th avenue in Hell’s Kitchen for happy hour to close the day out on a high.

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