7 Fun Free Things To Do In NYC

According to Booking.com, a night at your average 3-star hotel in New York costs $134. That number goes up to nearly $200 per night if you’re looking to stay in a place that’s four stars or above.

As one of the most expensive cities in the United States, you truly have to know how to navigate the Big Apple if you’re looking to travel on a budget. But, the good news is that it’s totally doable (just ask any struggling art student or local looking to save cash).

Our best trip for travelling to New York City on a budget? Learn about all of the great free things to do in NYC. The city’s full of fantastic art exhibits and lush parks where you can get a feel for local culture without breaking the bank.

Free Things To Do In NYC

1. Stroll Through Central Park

This urban park is perhaps one of the most famous in the city, if not the entire world. And, it’s easily one of the best free things to do in NYC. Lush secrets await you here, with over 863 acres to explore and enjoy. The best part is that it really doesn’t matter what time of year you’re visiting; the park’s pretty magical during every season. Be sure to check out the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir and of course Bow Bridge.

Free Things to Do in NYC

2. Enchant Your Eyes at MoMA

Did you know that admission to New York’s famous Museum of Modern Art is free for all visitors every Friday? That’s right, from 5:30–9:00 pm each Friday you can gain free access to the city’s coolest art exhibits. Visiting in 2020? Through July they’ve got a fantastic exhibit called Private Lives, Public Spaces. Featuring homemade works from throughout the 1900s, it “explores the connections between artist’s cinema, amateur movies, and family filmmaking as alternatives to commercial film production.”

3. Ride the Staten Island Ferry

Arrive at the Whitehall Ferry Terminal in Manhattan and hop on the Staten Island Ferry for a free, stunning view of the Statue of Liberty. Enjoy scenic views of the New York harbour and skyline from the water. The ferry runs 24 hours a day, making it a great (and free) way to indulge in an especially romantic sunrise or sunset if you’re travelling as a couple. Once in Staten Island, visit the Snug Harbor Cultural Center.

4. Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge

Sure, this might sound silly to locals, but for travellers visiting New York City for the first time, this is an absolute must. Not only does walking across the Brooklyn Bridge give you a different perspective of the bustling city, but it’s a great way to get in some exercise as you enjoy breathtaking views of both Brooklyn and Manhattan’s skylines. We suggest heading in early in the morning to avoid crowds and to enjoy beautifully painted skies.

Free Things to Do in NYC

5. Wander Through Chelsea Market

This Manhattan market is a lot of things rolled into one. It’s a food hall, shopping mall, office space unique historic building full of fun things to see and do. Simply exploring the market with your camera is a delight. And, if you’re travelling on a budget then you’ll encounter numerous unique food stalls offering world-class eats at half of the cost of what you’d pay at a normal NYC restaurant.

6. Reach for the Stars at the High Line

Walking along the High Line is a must for any visitor. And, it’s definitely one of the best free things to do in NYC. But, on Tuesdays from April until October, you can take your High Line visit to the next level by joining the Amateur Astronomers Association as they peer through high-powered telescopes to take a fascinating journey into the solar system. You don’t even need a reservation to participate. Just show up and enjoy!

Best Free Things to Do in NYC

7. Tour the New York Public Library

When it comes to the most beautiful libraries in the country, the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building in Manhattan easily comes out on top. And, you can now enjoy a one-hour free tour of the building, including the opulent Rose Reading Room. Free tours begin at 11 am and 2 pm Mondays through Saturdays and provide a lot of insight into the building’s rich, storied past.

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Elizabeth Thorn
Elizabeth Thorn

Elizabeth has lived and worked in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia, all of which have contributed to her passion for travel writing. When she's not writing, you can find her exploring little hideouts in Colombia or watching photography tutorials on YouTube.

Contact: [email protected]

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