Student Flights


How far can $1 take you in the USA? 29 Things to do for less than a buck

Published January 18th, 2018

They say America is the land of opportunity. Well it sure is when it comes to travel, and right here right now we’re going to tell you all of the things you can do in the USA for $1. It’s true a buck doesn’t go as far as it used to, but it can still buy you some pretty epic iconic moments, a good bargain or two, some tasty bites, and heck, even long bus rides across the USA.

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New York City

People watching in Times Square

Brash, bold and infinitely American, spend an afternoon taking it all in, from the bright lights of the electric neon billboards, to the whacky iconic fixture of the Naked Cowboy. Located on Broadway, you’ll see all sorts of people in Times Square from busy New Yorkers, wannabe actors, camera-clicking tourists and maybe even a famous face or two.


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Dollar pizza slices

When hunger strikes, bypass New York’s swanky, pricey restaurants and make a beeline for one of the $1 pizza joints. New Yorkers are huge pizza lovers, so ask any local and you’re bound to be given directions to a delicious hole in the wall place nearby.

A dose of culture at MoMA

On any other day of the week New York’s legendary Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has a hefty entrance fee. If you head here on a Friday however, you can waltz right in for absolutely nothing between 4 and 8pm. If you’re not in town on a Friday however, you can still visit the museum’s sculpture garden free of charge each morning between 9:30am and 10:15am. Entry to the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden is via the museum’s main lobby.


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The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Unfortunately they’re about to change this, but until March 2018, you can in fact take the entrance fee price as a suggestion. That’s right, you don’t actually have to pay the fee, you can instead walk right on in. Get in quick while you still can!


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A walk in the park

Central Park is a true icon of this grand city, and a wander through the green space will lift your soul after the mad hustle of the city. Best of all, there’s heaps of free attractions from watching the model boats in Conservatory Water, relaxing in Shakespeare Garden and admiring the famous Bethesda Fountain to waving at the horse-drawn carriages passing by. If you’re here in Winter, people watching at the ice skating rink is a fun way to kill an hour or two and get into the festivities without paying a thing.


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$1 street cart coffee

Get your buzz for less. About as easy to find as the one dollar pizza is one dollar coffee in NYC. The $1 street cart coffee is a local institution. They’re scattered all over the city and through Central Park.

Walk the High Line

An old railway that’s since become an iconic New York Park, the High Line is a great place to spend some time while in town. You can join free walking tours that cover the High Line’s history, enjoy live music and myriad more cultural events.

San Francisco


Sea lion spotting at Fisherman’s Wharf

Among the heaving crowds, street performers and tacky souvenir shops of Fisherman’s Wharf, the flip-flopping of the cute California sea lions around Pier 39 will make you feel all warm and fuzzy. Allow at least half an hour to get your fix of sea lion cuteness, with hundreds of the little fellas providing free entertainment as they sunbake, frolic around and push each other off the pier.

Grab a (cheap) cuppa at the San Francisco Art Institute

It’s free to visit this cultural icon of the San Francisco art scene, so check out contemporary student art exhibits and hit the epic futuristic concrete rooftop café, which is open to the public. You’ll be wowed by the unbeatable views of Coit Tower and the whole bay spread out below. The San Francisco Art Institute is located in Russian Hill near North Beach.


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Get groovy in Haight-Ashbury

The birthplace of America’s counter culture still rocks the hippie vibe in a big way. Wandering the streets of Haight-Ashbury is a real eye-opener, from the colourful bohemian residents to the brightly painted Victorian houses. At the end of Haight Street, head to Hippie Hill on the eastern edge of Golden Gate Park for the true Haight-Ashbury experience of drumming circles and questionable smoke swirls.


Sunday arvo hangs in Delores Park

Get off the tourist trail and hang with the locals at vibrant Mission Delores Park, which is sprawled across a hillside in the multicultural residential neighbourhood. Bring a picnic blanket and kick back as you soak up the happy vibes with kids break dancing to old-school beats, young lovers frolicking in the sunshine and families enjoying the playground, topped off with amazing views over the city.


Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge

It might not be as quick as cycling across, but walking allows you more time to take in the surrounds. On a clear day you can look out to see, and see the city spreading into the distance, but even when it’s misty this walk is as beautiful as it is iconic.

Los Angeles

Star spotting in Hollywood

The ritz and glitz of the film industry, the promise of stardom - Hollywood has it all. Wander along Hollywood Boulevard, even if you don’t spot any famous faces, you’ll see many of your idols emblazoned on stars along the pavement on the Hollywood Walk of Fame - all under the watchful eye of that sign high up on the hills above.

Take a selfie with a star

You never know who you’ll bump into at the entrance to Madame Tussauds in Hollywood. Sure they’re made of wax, but no one on Instagram is going to know that, are they? This free photo op features random stars, so rock up and see who’s come out to say hi!


The spectacle of Venice

Dive into LA’s beach and alternative culture at legendary Venice Beach.  Wander along the beachfront and boardwalk and you‘ll see people from all walks of life with an anything goes attitude. From entertainers juggling chainsaws, street-dancing performances and rollerblades galore to the jocks of Muscle Beach, Venice is hours of free fun.

The high life at the Getty

Fancy a high society hangout with views over the LA skyline alongside sublime architecture and some of the world’s best-known artworks? Well you can, even on a $1 budget, thanks to the generosity of one of the world’s richest families. The exceptional J. Paul Getty Museum Villa is located high in the Pacific Palisades neighbourhood surrounded by beautiful gardens, and entry is always free.


An extra half mile in a Los Angeles taxi

Feet sore from pacing past every single star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame? Hail a cab and get a head-start on your next stop – a dollar will squeeze out an extra half-mile for you. That’s about 800 metres – nearly a kilometre! Every bit counts.


Sunset on Santa Monica Pier

It’s an iconic site for and iconic sight. The timbered beauty that is Santa Monica Pier, along with the vibrant beach culture make for the perfect picnic* spot come sundown.

*Picnic food not included in the $1, sorry.

Las Vegas

Try your luck

It might be pointing out the obvious, but Vegas is one place your $1 can quickly turn into so much more. Throw yourself headfirst into the eternal dinging of the slot machines and try your luck. Some casinos even bring you free drinks to keep you playing on. We won’t be held accountable if you kept swept up in the fun and spend more than a buck.

A wish come true

Haven’t quite made it to Rome’s Trevi Fountain to toss in a few coins and stir those wishy warm and fuzzies deep down in your soul?  No worries. There’s a replica Trevi Fountain at Caesar’s Palace in Vegas. Your wishes are sure to come just as true as true can be!

Sign selfie

The ‘Welcome to Las Vegas’ sign, you know that one? Nothing says “I’m rocking Vegas” like a selfie with the sign, so grab that phone and say cheese. ‘The Sign’ is located on the strip just south of Russell Road and it’s free to visit.


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Get floral at the Bellagio Conservatory


Another of Vegas’ free public attractions, the luxury Bellagio casino and hotel’s conservatory is bursting with a stunning display of flowers, plants and trees. Get your fix of nature right in the centre of the concrete jungle of The Strip.


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The Dancing Fountains of the Bellagio

Another of Vegas’ most famous sights, the sky-high fountains outside the swanky Bellagio are simply mesmerising. The dancing water show switches up every 30 minutes, so you’ll be happily entertained for hours.

All across the country!

A bus ride to whole new city

It may be hard to believe, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. You can ride between cities from as little as one dollar with Megabus. You may have to be flexible and book in advance, but you’ll never find another bus ride as cheap as this again!

Delicious Reese’s candy 

Peanut butter + chocolate = heaven in your mouth. There’s nothing more iconic – more tasty – than the delicious world of Reese’s. Be it a pack of two peanut butter cups or a packet of peanut butter candy pieces in a crunchy shell, this is a dollar well spent.

10 photos at Walmart

You know how the saying goes: a picture is worth a thousand words. And at Walmart, a thousand words only costs 10 cents! That means 10 glossy memories that you can relive without needing a phone charger. Stash them in your suitcase for backup. Tangible is back in guys.

Cheap beers

You heard right. Beer for one buck is for real in the USA. There are plenty of cheap beers you can pick up, including the wonderfully cheap Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. Bars across the States also hold $1 beer nights. #Winning! Just do your research to track them down.

Souvenir pennies

Don’t want to spend lots on souvenirs for friends and family back home? Or just need a souvenir that’s light and won’t take up much space? That’s where the souvenir penny comes in. For an easy US$1 note, snag one of these nifty little pocket pieces at any of the obvious crowd-drawing hotspots. Souvenirs sorted! And to budget. 

A Wendy’s small classic frosty

The ultimate hangover cure. Cold, sweet and oh so refreshing. Whether chocolate or vanilla is your vice, a Wendy’s small Classic Frosty will set you back 99 cents to be exact. Got another dollar? You could also grab a Junior Cheeseburger, Crispy Chicken Sandwich, or their Value Natural-Cut Fries.