Some of the best free things to do in New York City!
Yes, there are so MANY attractions in NYC and we automatically tend to go crazy and think that we will go back home completely broke,. But this is not true and I will show on some of my favorite things to do in NYC for free or almost free. For more NYC tips make sure to follow me on instagram @marthasachser and @blognyandabout.
One of the best things about NYC is that you can simply walk around and check all the must see spots without spending a dime! Here is an example: Central Park, Times Square, High Line Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, 9/11 Memorial, Brooklyn Bridge, Domino Park, St. Patricks Cathedral and soon much more!
Don’t wanna spend money going up to some of the beautiful observatories in the city? Well, you can get something similar at one of the MANY rooftop bars in New York, all year long! They are free to go up (except maybe Brooklyn 1 hotel) and once you’re there you can get a drink and maybe something to eat (I’m thinking Magic Hour and Bar Sixty Five *.*) and have a great time mingling with locals. Ah! You must be at least 21+ to enter. Although places like 230 5th offers a brunch on weekends and customers under 21 may enter with an adult. Check my favorite rooftop bars in NYC HERE!
Roosevelt Island tram
This used to be a hidden gem but I feel like it’s getting more popular every year. So, as the name says, it is a tram that connects Manhattan to Roosevelt Island and you can get a beautiful view of the city during the short ride to the other side – about 3 minutes. The best part? All you need is your metro card, it’s the same fare or if you have an unlimited metro card then it’s “free”. To get there simply walk to 1st Avenue and 59th Street. Or if you want take the subway to the island and then ride the tram on the way back (or vice-versa), take the F train to Roosevelt Island.
FREE ADMISSION TO ATTRACTIONS
One of the best ways to visit all the paid attractions in NYC is buying a discount pass, such as CityPass, Sightseeing Pass or New York Pass. They offer a lot of attractions with a great discount. After using the pass a few times the attractions are basically free. Make sure to get yours if you are visiting at least 3 paid attractions in NYC (such as Empire State Building, Top of The Rock, MET Museum and maaaaaany more) to get a better price.
Free Walking Tour
Overtime I travel I try to book a free tour in advance, it is such a nice way to explore the city, get tips and really learn about the history of a place. The tours are free but you are supposed to leave a tip if you enjoyed it. There is not set amount and you can use your best judgement but I’d say anywhere from U$5-20 is great. You can learn more and book your free tour HERE!
Staten Island ferry
Wanna see Lady Liberty but don’t feel like spending money on it? Well, you can see the Statue from different locations, especially some waterfronts in downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn… But my favorite has to be the Staten Island Ferry! First of all: it is free! No metro card needed. Second of all, you get beautiful views of downtown Manhattan and it adds a special touch to your trip, you get to sit down and relax a bit.Plus, if this isn’t your first time, you can always take advantage and explore Staten Island! How to get to the ferry? Take the 1 train (to South Ferry station), or R/W (Whitehall Street Station) , 4 ou 5 (Bowling Green station), J or Z (Broad Street Station). The first two are the closest ones ( they are located literally in front of the entrance to Staten Island Ferry).
Yes, your read it right! If you are visiting NY from May to October, you can kayak for free in NYC, and yes, they provide everything you need, there is no catch. Get all the details here or for more options HERE!
Most museums in NY offer either free hours, suggested admission or pay-what-you-wish days. Choose the ones you’re more interested in exploring and check the official websites to make sure you have the right information. Some of my favorite are: MoMa (free on Fridays from 4pm-8pm); Whitney Museum of American Art pay what you wish on Fridays between 7pm-10pm; New Museum pay what you wish on Thursdays between 7pm and 9pm. The American Museum of Natural History is also pay-what-you-wish, but they have a suggested price. Click HERE for more free museums and other cultural venues.
The Vessel at Hudson Yards
The biggest private real state development in the US, Hudson Yards is the new must-see in NYC and it brings with it the Vessel, this sculpture with 2500 steps that lead to nowhere – there is also an elevator. This unique design was created by Thomas Heatherwick. You can get tickets for free on the website or try same day tickets, learn more HERE!
If you are a big fan of Opera this is a must. Of course you can always buy a ticket and go see it live inside but this post is about free stuff so here it is: in the summer months Lincoln Center offers an experience under the stars to watch the streaming outside of its opera show. You can learn more HERE!
Summer in NYC is humid and extremely hot but it comes with some awesome activities. One of my favorites? Summer Stage in Central Park; Good Morning America Summer Concert Series sponsored by Good Morning America and at Rockefeller Plaza, the Today Concert Series by Today Show. You can check the links for more and learn how you can get tickets. Yep, it’s free and maybe you’ll get to see your favorite artists without paying a dime!
WHERE TO GET TICKETS FOR:
One World Observatory – skip the line
Statue of Liberty + Ellis Island
Shakespeare in the Park
This is another favorite during the summer months. You can get your free tickets at Delacorte Theater in Central Park from 12pm, when they start the distribution. Try to get there earlier.You can get 2 tickets per person. You can also try the Today Tix lottery or try the standby line later. For more info click HERE!
New York Philharmonic
If you are in the city, make sure to grab a blanket, some snacks and drinks and head to Central Park. It’s such a local thing to do. This still amazes me … when I see people from all over the world, from different backgrounds having such a good time, celebrating life, friendships and great music. For more info and dates click HERE!
Brooklyn Botanic Garden e New York Botanical Garden
Another thing to have in mind, not only museum but places like Botanical gardens, aquariums, zoos and so on, always have the free admission on one specific day or hour. Two of my favorites are the Brooklyn Botanical Garden (free every Friday before noon from March-November and free on weekdays from December to February) and the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx (free on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9-10am).
Not the best option in the cold months but one of my favorite places to visit in the summer! I’d recommend going on a Friday, it is not as crowded as the weekend and you can stay late and watch the fireworks on the beach. It’s a long subway ride there but it’s a good option for a day trip and you can also explore the area, walk around the boardwalk, get some Nathan’s hot dog, etc… If you are traveling with kids they will love the amusement parks (Luna Park is a must)!
BOOK YOUR SHUTTLE FROM/TO AIRPORT/HOTEL/AIRPORT HERE:
Super Shuttle: HERE!
NYC Airporter: HERE!
This is my favorite view! If you are feeling a little fancy and wanna skip the lines at the Top of The Rock, head to Bar Sixty Five instead for a nice view and cocktails! They also serve some food and the whole experience is worth it. Dress code: avoid jeans, shorts, sandals…
The largest zoo in NYC offers pay-what-you-wsh on Wednesdays! Click here to learn more!
Broadway in Bryant Park
Summer…so much to do so little time. You can also get a taste of Broadway at Bryant Park! Check the schedule and more info HERE! And the Shops at Columbus Circle offer Broadway Under the Stars on Mondays at 5pm in November and December. Click HERE for dates and shows!