Affordable Family Vacation in NYC

As a family, we decided to save up for a fun trip to see some family this year in New York. We all made some sacrifices in order to save enough money on a monthly basis, and we were rewarded with a trip of a lifetime. We went on a field trip every day, for free, and had so much fun together.  It was the best vacation we’ve had in a long time.

As I mentioned in a previous post (The Benefits of a Science Museum Membership), we have a membership to our AZ Science Center, and with that we can get into other museums across the country for free, or discounted.  When planning our trip, we took that into deep consideration, and implementation.

We were fortunate to stay with family in New York City, so our stay was free.  Cramming our family of six, plus two grandparents into my sister’s two bedroom apartment was cozy and memorable to say the least.  But it was free!

We just had to purchase our plane tickets, food and metro tickets.  Timing the purchase of our plane tickets could not have been better. The airline deal reminders are very helpful when planning a trip far in advance.  We got a great deal on flights months in advance.

While in New York we got unlimited metro cards for the week, as we knew we would get plenty of use out of them.  We found that many tourist things were free, you just had to get there. Our kids loved the subway.  No car seats, they could even stand?!  It was also totally cool that they were traveling underground!

We went to see the Statue of Liberty for free by taking the free Staten Island ferry, rather than the tour guided ferry, and still got a beautiful view of Lady Liberty.  With our AZ Science Center membership we got our family into the New York Transit Museum, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, and on our way home we went to the Louisville Science Center as well.  All of these places were free for our entire family of six.

We also attended the Natural History Museum.  While that is not free, it is by donation, so you give what you want. So, it was still quite reasonable. There were other museums we could have gone to in NY for free, like the Staten Island Children’s Museum but as we had nice weather we decided to spend some of our days outside.  Likewise there are a number of other places that are by donation in the city.

  Knowing we wanted to be out and about, we planned to bring a sack lunch with us most days.

We visited Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Wall Street, the World Trade Center and the Freedom Tower, and visited Central Park three times.  We timed our trip so that we could also go to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as a family too.  All of these places were free.  We just had to get ourselves there.  The unlimited week Metro card made getting there quite affordable.

The only thing we had trouble finding for nearly free was a rooftop view of the city.  But as we had family who lived there, they were able to get us a free rooftop view from a friend who lived in a very tall building near the Empire State Building.  Allowing our kids (and us) the perspective of seeing how much taller the Empire State Building was in comparison to everything else was more valuable than seeing the city from it’s tallest building.  It was absolutely beautiful.

Accounting for everything, our full vacation (plane tickets, food & transportation) cost us less than $375/person!  We thought we would pay that just in flights alone.  As we returned home we felt as though we’d made out like bandits having enjoyed our time so much and getting to do all that we did for such a reasonable price.



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Sonshine Kinkead

Happily married, homeschooled homeschooler, and stay-at-home mother of 4 boys.

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