As much as I would love to do blow allllll my money in New York, I am stuck with a very realistic budget. Seeing New York City’s attractions can mean spending a hefty chunk of your trip budget on tickets which adds up over time. So are there any free activities that you can do in New York? Luckily, even in one of the most expensive cities, there are lots of things to see and do in New York that are free or almost free! Down below, you’ll find a list of free things to do in New York!
Free Things to do in New York
9/11 Memorial: While the museum itself is not always free (Tuesday evenings from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. are free with the last entry is at 7 p.m.), the two enormous waterfalls and reflecting pools with the names of those who passed away are always free to see.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden: Brooklyn Botanic Garden is an urban botanic garden that connects people to the world of plants, fostering delight and curiosity while inspiring an appreciation and sense of stewardship of the environment. (Free on Tuesdays and Saturdays 10–Noon Except festival dates)
Bronx Museum: The Bronx Museum of the Arts is a contemporary art museum that connects diverse audiences to the urban experience through its permanent collection, special exhibitions, and education programs.
Bronx Zoo: All the cute animals, carousel, and a 4D theatre for kids! (On Wednesdays, it is pay what you can)
Brooklyn Bridge: Take a walk onto the bridge, head to the park under the bridge, and take in the skyline!
Central Park: Head over to go on a walk, run, or have a picnic and enjoy the view!
City Hall: As of right now (Sept 2017) there are no reservation tours available, however, there’s still the non-reservation city hall tours that are first-come, first-serve. Guests must register on Wednesday, the day of the tour between 10:00 AM and 11:30 AM at the NYC tourism kiosk, which is at the southern end of City Hall Park on the east side of Broadway at Barclay Street.
Coney Island: Kind of free! Visiting the island itself is free but activities/food is not. Jump on the subway and enjoy a trip to the oceanside.
Federal Reserve Bank of New York: Learn about how they set monetary policy and more. Admission is free but you have to sign up around 30 days in advance. Important details: Visitors age 16 and older must present a valid, government-issued ID with photo, such as a driver’s license or passport. The name on the ID must match the name printed on the ticket. Photography is not allowed.
Governors Island: Governors Island is a 172-acre island in the heart of New York Harbor. The ferry ride to the island itself is $2 (round trip) but the island itself is opened to the public from May 1-October 31. While activities on the island such as mini golf can cost up to $22, other things like their bike paths, kayaking, exhibitions can be free.
Grand Central Walking Tours: Are you a history nerd like I am? The Grand Central Partnership offers a free, weekly, no-reservations-required, award-winning walking tour of the Grand Central neighbourhood led by historians for a full 90 minutes. The Grand Tour meets every Friday 12:30 pm in the atrium at 120 Park Avenue, located at the southwest corner of East 42nd Street and Park Avenue directly across from Grand Central Terminal.
New York Aquarium: From the Black-footed Penguin to the Sea Otters, spend some time with some amazing swimmers! Admission on fall/winter/spring Fridays from 3:00–3:30 p.m. and on summer Fridays from 4:00–5:00 p.m. is by pay-what-you-can.
NY SCI: The New York Hall of Science demystifies is great for children with their colorful hands-on exhibits. In addition, there’s a 60,000-square-foot outdoor science playground! Free Fri 2–5pm, Sun 10–11am.
Staten Island Ferry: The Ferry runs for free 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week. There’s also free wifi!
Watch a Race: There are loads of races that take place in New York – with a quick google search, you can be watching 100s of 1000s of people getting their sweat!
What are some of our favourite things to do in New York on a budget? What are some free things to do in New York?
Want to read more about New York?
55 Hours in NYC – Carmy
Where to find the best photo spots in NYC via A Globel Well Travelled
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