10 Things to do in the Big Apple When You’re 17 and Broke


Doriana Lacitignola, Milly Rock Expert

I was recently in the city with a few friends, and it was fantastic! You know… when we actually figured out what we wanted to do. The day started out great- we caught a bus to Port Authority, hopped on the subway, and swung by an escape room.

Our victory photo

But after our miraculous escape, we were stumped. (ironic huh?) What was there to do in the city? I mean yeah, there’s plenty to do… if you have money. But we’re high school students i.e we’re all pretty much broke. So, anything on trip adviser with $-$$ next to it was immediately put in the discard pile. My phone was useless! The recommended (free) sites to visit were either too far away, or a complete snooze fest. But after some trial and error and a healthy dose of adventuring, we figured out some fun and noteworthy things to do. And because I’m a nice human being, I’ve decided to share with you my top ten list of what to do in the city when you’re 17 and broke.

1.Play Where’s Waldo with NYC’s goodest boys (aka doges)
See a dog? Immediately scream “DOG” at the top of your lungs and hit your friends so they too may share the experience of seeing a dog. Proceed to follow said dog until the owner turns around and asks if you want to pet it, meekly say yes, pet, and repeat.

2.Go window shopping!

You know what doesn’t cost money? Using your imagination. (insert spongebob “imagination” meme here) This sounds like a horrible and boring idea, but hear me out here…it’s not.

3.Go to the High Line

The High Line: think more refurbished train track turned park that spans a good portion of the city and less stoner’s paradise. Side note: This is where the group ended up, and we didn’t regret it one bit.

4.People watch

Don’t like your own life? Watch other’s instead! Is this a healthy thing to do? I don’t know man, I’m not a psychologist, but what I CAN tell you is that it is buckets of fun.

5.Parks are free… go there!

Bryant, Washington Square, Madison Square, Central, etc. have a few things in common: they’re all parks and they’re all free! The bigger and more established parks have events going on year round. If you’re bored, stop by the park and take a gander at the activities that day.

6.Try your hand at chess

Whatever your skill level, players are always welcome. Not only do parks host wonderful events and activities, a lot of them also offer built in chess sets. Nothing says fun like beating a chess master at his own game! Warning: all games are BYOP (bring your own pieces).

7.Make a (cheesy/bad) music video with your friends

I promise you this is hours of fun. Unleash your inner YouTube star and smile for the camera! Added bonus: finding awesome locations in the quest to shoot the video.

8.Visit museums

Whoever said museums are boring… may have been onto something. But hey, a lot of museums in NYC are free (or reduced) if you bring in your school ID. Need a break from the great outdoors? Pop into a museum, check out some artwork, and live out your “night at the museum” fantasies.

9.Take some cool photos

Art is everywhere. Take me for example! Humor aside, NYC is teeming with artistry; all you have to do is look. While you’re at it, take a photo or two so you can remember your time there always.

10.Go on an awesome adventure

Each visit into the city is distinct and unique. I like to think of it as a never ending “choose your own adventure” book. My biggest piece of advice is to explore. Walk down streets you have never seen before, find an underground restaurant that becomes a second home, and inhale the scents and see all the sights New York City has to offer.