Looking for ways to stretch your travel dollars while visiting a major U.S. city so you can indulge in plenty of great food, explore iconic attractions, take in the local culture, and maybe even enjoy a world-class performance or two? With seemingly endless options for food and fun along with the typical high prices found in major Metropolitan areas, it may seem as though a trip to a big city is bound to strain your travel budget. So to help you plan an amazing experience without overspending, we’ve put together some suggestions on ways to bypass inflated prices—while still enjoying the best of what a big city has to offer:
Bundle your fun with a CityPASS: Want to ensure that you get a chance to visit the most popular attractions in a city without paying full price for any of them? Do yourself a favor and purchase a CityPASS, which provides prepaid admission to the top five or six sights in twelve cities based on annual attendance. By bundling your tickets this way, you’ll get up to half off what it would cost to purchase admission to these sights individually. What’s more, you’ll skip many of the ticket lines with VIP admission to certain featured attractions. To learn more, visit http://www.citypass.com.
Get dining certificates online: You can find discounts of up to 50 percent on your final dining bill for more than 22,000 restaurants throughout the country on Restaurant.com. Subscribe to Restaurant.com’s newsletter, and you can access even more great deals from this service. Just be sure to note minimum spending requirements, and be aware that in most cases you are obligated to pay 18 to 20 percent in gratuity. Other excellent places to find steep discounts on local cuisine (and attractions, entertainment, etc.) are daily deal sites such as Groupon, Living Social, and Yipit.
Get onto Goldstar: For a huge selection of half price tickets on events and attractions including Broadway musicals, festivals, concerts, sightseeing cruises, theme parks and much more, check out Goldstar. This online ticket retailer partners with more than 4,000 venues and producers throughout the U.S. to provide a comprehensive listing of fun things to do at deeply discounted prices. Sign up on Goldstar is free, and listings are customized according to your preferences. Just be sure to note that the company does attach a small service fee to ticket prices.
Seek out free entertainment: While entertainment in major U.S. cities often comes with a high price tag, it’s encouraging to know that big cities also offer plenty of free activities—from street performances and concerts in the park to art displays and walking tours. To find them, simply Google “free events in (city name)” or “free things to do in (city name).” You can even get an insider’s view of cities such as Chicago and New York by linking up with an organization like The Global Greeter Network, which provides local volunteers to give you a free tour of the city. And don’t forget to visit the local tourism board for more insights on free events and discounts on attractions.
Engage in strategic timing: By syncing your travel itinerary to the days of the week or hours of the day that businesses and nonprofits offer special pricing or free admission, you can realize major savings on dining, entertainment, and activities. Experience a Broadway show when tickets tend to be less pricey, such as during a mid-week matinee, and find out if there is one day of the week when the museums you plan to visit offer free admission (most have these). Is there a popular upscale restaurant you’ve been waiting to try? Your bill is likely be substantially lower if you eat there at lunch, rather than dinner when prices are higher and servings larger. Also don’t forget to take advantage of happy hours for great deals on drinks and food in the late afternoon (and sometimes in late evenings).
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