10+ Free Things to do in New York

As much as I would love to do blow allllll my money in New York, I am stuck with a very realistic budget, especially with my student debt (three cheers for my super expensive degree!). Luckily, even in one of the most expensive cities, there are lots of things to see and do in New York that are free (you know, other than running all the miles)! So here are 10+ 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.

55 Hours in New York City

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!

55 Hours in New York City

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 YorkLearn 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.

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!


QOTD: 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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45 thoughts on “10+ Free Things to do in New York

  1. Great list! There are plenty of free things to do in New York. My kids and I took a friend there a few years back. We enjoyed Central Park and window shopping. Would like to check out the Federal Reserve Bank. And I definitely need to get back to see the 9/11 Memorial.

  2. I loved Central Park when I went there. Unfortunately, I was there before the 9/11 Memorial was finished but I did get to see part of it during the construction process. #citytripping

  3. Love NY! I grew up 15 minutes outside the city and spent lots of time there. So many people think they can’t afford NYC but as you posted, there are so many free things and cheap food everywhere if you know where to look.

  4. I am researching a trip to New York and I found a company called Free Tours by Foot. They have about 30 tours in the city. I am planning to take a few if I do visit. After taking some of these free tours in Europe, I am sold on the idea.

  5. Hanging out in Central Park is still one of my favorite FREE activities in NYC. Window shopping is better during the winter, the big stores really go BIG. There are plenty of free and crazy expensive things to do, plus everything in between!

  6. Some really great things to do in NYC but not all are free as the items on your list. I have not been there in years and did not know that anything was still free. As Jen said you have to include Central Park in the list, visiting Wall Street, the garment district and even more.

  7. Great tips! I definitely want to get back to New York before too long but it’s not the cheapest of holidays, so a few freebies always work well. The High Line is high on my list. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

  8. Thanks for sharing! I’m never been to New York, well only through TV series and movies (poor me) but these helps me to at least familiarize the city. If only I would have a chance to be with New York for a week… Ahh heavens I will be the happiest girl in town 😀

  9. Well documented.
    Evenings will be well spent there seeing all these free places. I just hope to get there.
    Just saw from other comments there are still more sights!
    What an amazing place I say!

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  11. New York is a must visit place for almost everyone. It is nice to know that there are so many activities that can be done free. Travel does drain one’s purse and it is good to know that you can cut costs without diluting the whole experience.

  12. A very useful list… Especially since going to New York itself is an expensive affair. Would definitely do the free walking tour. That sounds amazing

  13. It seems that there are lots of free things to do inn NYC. I would love to go to the Island. Thats what caught my attention the most. also, the bank. I never knew that bank tours also happen. It seems interesting and I want to see it for myself.

  14. I’ve always been hesitant to review NYC because it’s such an expensive city. This guide convinces me it is possible to go back on a budget!

  15. Great list shared! NYC is the greatest city in the world and to explore all the attractions of Manhattan itself, one trip won’t be enough! I love visiting NYC!

  16. Wow. That is an extensive list for NYC. I would definitely visit the Museum in Bronx and also go for the Grand Central Walking tours as I am a history buff. A day in the Central Park would be well spent too

  17. Hooray for free things! I only live about an hour from NYC but haven’t made it up there since the beginning of July! I’m going to need to check out the aquarium, and that’s awesome that the Staten Island ferry is free! :O!!

  18. Thanks for a great list of free things to do! I’ve never been to New York before, but as you know with our crappy dollar if I ever DO go, doing as many free things as possible will def help the budget 😉

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  20. It is actually amazing that there are so many free things to do in NYC. Enough to do for 2-3 visits. I really loved the Staten Island ferry as I was staying in that area, so I used it as a public transport.

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