The Best Things to do for Free in New York City

| by Sponsored | 13 Comments » | North America, United States

Pictures of New YorkThe Big Apple, the city that never sleeps and where anything is possible – including having a great time on a budget.  Backpacking in a big city can be pricey, especially in a prosperous country such as America.  But it is possible to find cheap accommodation in New York City, to see the sights and experience life in New York without blowing your meager backpacker’s budget.  After all, it costs nothing to soak up the atmosphere of bustling, neon light-filled Times Square, gaze up at the jagged skyscrapers, or watch the sun set over the Hudson River from Battery Park.  The best of New York is completely free.

New York City PicturesSpend Hours in Museums

Whilst the most famous museums in New York charge an astronomical fee, believe it or not free ones do exist in the city.  Try the National Museum of the American Indian, housed in the beautiful 1907 Beaux Arts U.S. Customs House.  This National Historic Landmark, worth a visit in its own right, contains an impressive collection covering over 10,000 years of mainly North American and Hawaiian Native heritage. Other museums have free evenings, such as the highly regarded and diverse Brooklyn Museum, which opens its doors admission-free every first Saturday after 5pm.

Ride the Staten Island Ferry

A ride aboard this commuter ferry provides the best way to the see the city, and it costs absolutely nothing.  Fantastic views of the lower Manhattan skyline, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the New York Harbor can all be experienced from the ferry, making it possibly the best attraction in the whole city!

Relax in Central Park

For over 150 years, New Yorkers have taken refuge from the hustle and bustle of the city in the 843 acres of green parkland in central New York.  Wander through the winding paths past green meadows, woodland, lakes, bridges, gardens and monuments, and take a breather in the city’s lung.

Christmas in New York CityWindow Shop

Just visiting Macy’s, Sak’s Fifth Avenue, and Barney’s is an essential New York experience.  In November and December, the windows of all the major stores are spectacularly dressed for Christmas – Sak’s Fifth Avenue is arguably the best.

Walk and Gawk at the City

It costs nothing to use your legs and your eyes so don a pair of comfy shoes and walk around the city.  Don’t miss the iconic art deco Empire State Building and Chrysler Building, the imposing and always busy Grand Central Station and, in December, the fabulous Christmas tree and ice skaters at the Rockefeller Centre.  You may not be able to afford to stay in them but don’t miss a couple of New York’s grand, beautiful and historic hotels, such as The Plaza and The Waldorf-Astoria, the only 2 hotels in the city to be designated National Historic Landmarks.  With the GFC leading to great deals on hotels, you may even be able to stay in a fabulous hotel in New York City yourself!

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Tags: New York, New York City, North America, USA

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13 Responses to “The Best Things to do for Free in New York City”

  1. Michael Hodson says:

    Free??!! I love free. And beer. And free beer. ;)

    great post, thanks for all the tips!

  2. Andrea says:

    Having lived in NYC, I can completely agree that some of the best things to do there are free! You’ve provided a great list here.

  3. Aaron says:

    To this list I would add:

    -Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.
    -Visit the High Line Park (an old elevated railroad turned into a beautiful riverside park)
    -Attend a TV taping (it’s a little bit more work, but still free).

  4. Kelly says:

    I know it seems counter intuitive, but I actually find I can have fun more cheaply in a big city than in a small one. It’s so entertaining just to people watch. I heart NY!

  5. Steve says:

    I love the idea of visiting New York and seeing a lot of sites for free. Thanks for sharing this.

  6. Chris (Amateur Traveler) says:

    I am surprised that walking the Brooklyn Bridge did not make your list… considering you had a picture of it and everything. I also like the new High Line Park as Aaron suggested.

  7. Laura says:

    I would add this to your museum info. The Guggenheim offers admission by donation on Saturday evenings. I recently read the most popular donation is just $1. And though the MET advertises a $20 admission fee, it’s technically a suggested donation so you can pay what you like to enter there too. A lot of museums in the city have deals throughout the week so be sure to scope them out online before you go.

    • Jason says:

      That’s a good point Laura. They often make you feel like the minimum donation is $20, but it’s not. It’s entirely up to you. Thanks for adding to the post.

  8. Nancy R says:

    I am going to NYC in two weeks. Thanks for the tips. I already have on my list to see Empire State Building and Central Park. I did not realize it is 843 acres. Wow! It’s HUGE!!! I look forward to my trip! :-)

    • Jason says:

      It is very huge and would take days to see it all. If you want to spend some money on excellent meals check out Lidia’s Becco Italian restaurant and The Central Park Boathouse for brunch in Central Park. It’s our favorite city in the world. Enjoy!

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