8 Top Free Things to Do In New York City

New York City… the City that Never Sleeps gets a bad rep for being expensive but don’t fret there are plenty of free things to do for the budget friendly traveler.

42nd Street Splendor:
While taking the subway you might see several different 42nd Street Station stops. They are not the same! Bryant Park, Grand Central Terminal, and Times Square are three popular stations and free attractions.
Bryant Park is a nice oasis smack dab in the middle of the Midtown madness. During the summer Bryant Park has free movie screenings, dance shows, Shakespeare plays and many other activities.

Staten Island Ferry
Staten Island is one of the lesser-known boroughs in New York City. It’s probably because it’s a bit of a hassle to get to there. You need to take a ferry, bus or drive over there. Did you know that the Staten Island Ferry is FREE! The best part of this boat ride is that you get an awesome FREE view of the Statue of Liberty.

Cultural Bonanza!
NYC is known as a cultural hub. One of the best things about NYC’s diversity is that cultures at times blend together seamlessly. This is shown in the neighborhoods known as Little Italy and Chinatown. It’s hard to tell where one begins and the other ends. Little Italy and Chinatown are food havens with so many good eats and tasty snacks. If you happen to be in NYC in September there is the San Gennaro festival in Little Italy. The Lunar New Year Parade takes place in around the end of January or February in Chinatown.

Central Park
Central Park is legendary and has a reputation of it’s own. At 843 acres this park has so much history and every time you visit it’s a brand new experience. Besides having a lovely picnic and people watching, you can bird watch or hunt for parts of the park that where used in movie and TV shows.

Walk the Brooklyn Bridge
What is a trip to New York City without visiting and walking across the Brooklyn Bridge?

The Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn is very trendy and hip. It’s also a place to eat great food and a beginner photographer’s paradise. There are many beautiful murals. If you end up here on the right weekend you might even be able to see an artist in action.

Roosevelt Island
Roosevelt Island is another NYC hidden gem that most New Yorkers might not even know exist themselves! You can either take the F train or a special Roosevelt Island tram. On one end of this island you can get a great view of the NYC skyline. In March/April you can sit under the Cherry Blossom trees.

Museums, Museums, Museums!
New York City is LOADED with museums! While museums like the MET (Metropolitan Museum of Art) and the MOMA (Modern Museum of Art) get all the attention, NYC also has tons of hidden gems for example the Louis Armstrong House and Museum and the Museum of Moving Image. Some museums have days and times where they are free. For example the Brooklyn Museum has First Saturdays where it’s free the first Saturday of the month after 5pm. The MET used to be Pay-as-You-Wish but as of March 2018 the suggested price is now mandatory for non-New York residents. So be sure to check out the museum’s website to see what are the recommended or mandatory fees.

New York City has so many things to do it can be quite overwhelming, especially if you are on a budget. But have no fear it’s absolutely possible to explore NYC’s greatness without burning a hole in your wallet.

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Author: Summer Salut (Do You Salut




Showing 11 comments
  • Adventuregirleliana

    Yeap! As a New Yorker, I still have Staten Island and Roosevelt Island yet to visit. Planning to go to Roosevelt soon though! I think, it will be a great kid activity, to riding that tram!

  • Olivia

    Great list! I haven’t been to New York City in over a decade. I think it’s high time to return. I’d like to see Central Park again.

  • Kelly

    We always take the free Staten Island ferry when we go to New York, it’s a great way to see fantastic views on NYC! Central Park is also one of my favourite places to visit, especially at Christmas

  • Heraa

    Wow never thought there would be something free to do in New York. This list is amazing.

  • Ella

    Oh my, I had no idea the ferry was free! That’s amazing. I can’t believe I’m still yet to visit NYC! It’s so high on my list.


    This is such a great post Eliza. I didn’t know there was so many free things as NYC is always said to be very expensive. I will add these to my plan for going there one day!

  • Any

    I am itching to get to NYC, and I didn’t know that the Staten Island ferry was free! Great post and pinned for future reference 🙂

  • Anna

    Such a good list! I’ve done about half of these, but I’ll definitely try to do the other half next time I’m there. Free stuff is always good! lol

  • Denny George

    I’ve not been to the US yet. However, when I do, I intend to spend a few days in New York city. Your list of free things will certainly come in handy given I’m a budget traveler. I definitely want to take the Staten Island ferry and explore the Williamsburg neighborhood among other things.

  • daniele

    I can’t believe I have still to visit New York City! It’s so high on my bucket-list. It’s an impressive city and you capture it perfectly. Well done

  • Renata Green

    These are great tips. So they will change the pay as you wish? I always made my museum schedule according to the free days (whereby the MOMA and the Whitney collided since they were both on Friday ;-D ),
    Another great, not so known place the the Frick collection – pay as you wish on Sunday 😉

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