New York City is one of the most expensive cities in the United States, yet there are plenty of ways to enjoy yourself without spending money. From walking in the famous Central Park to visiting some of the world’s most respected museums, here are a few of our favorite free things to do.
Museum of Modern Art
The Museum of Modern Art, or MOMA, is one of the largest and most influential modern art museums in the world. Fridays from 4:00-8:00 pm, you can visit free. Visiting MOMA is one of the best things to do in New York in general. Without the price tag, it is a must-see. You can learn more about the museum at MOMA.org.
Take a Tour of City Hall
City Hall is the oldest functioning city hall building in the nation. Wednesdays, you can take a tour of the beautiful building at no cost. During the tour, you will learn a bit about the history of New York, the architecture of the building, and the different uses the building holds today. Learn more and book your tour directly on the city hall website.
Brooklyn Botanical Garden
The Brooklyn Botanical Garden is one of our special things to do in NYC. With 52 acres of land, the 100-year-old garden is a wonderful place to spend your day. From the Japanese garden to the lily ponds, this botanical garden is great for individuals, couples, and families. Every Friday from 8:00 am to noon, admission is free. You can find information at BBG.org.
Walk the High Line.
The High Line was reopened in 2014 and is one of the best free things to do in the city. On the West Side, the High Line is a public park constructed on an old railroad line above the streets. Check out its website at www.TheHighLine.org.
Visit Brooklyn Heights
The Brooklyn Heights Promenade is one of the most spectacular scenes in New York City. The quarter-mile stretch above the Brooklyn-Queens expressway has been featured in many movies and offers views of Lower Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge, and beautiful old townhomes and mansions. You can find photos, reviews, and more information about the Promenade at NYMag.
See a Late Night or Talk Show
New York is home to many popular talk shows and late-night shows. Unknown to many, you can enter a lottery to receive free tickets to be a part of the studio audience. Every show has a different process, but you can find information on how to get tickets to various shows here.
Several times a week, the famous Metropolitan Museum hosts talks and lectures from knowledgeable professors, researchers, and leading experts in the world. Talks cover a variety of topics, and there are usually a few free talks every week. Their calendar can be found on the Met website.
Walk through Central Park
Central Park barely needs an introduction. The 843-acre park sits in the middle of Manhattan and is free to use year-round. Established in 1857, this park is in the center of the city. Take a walk through, see the gardens, or check out the park's free events at CentralParkNYC.org.
Visit the Bronx Zoo
The Bronx Zoo is one of the most visited zoos in the world and is the largest zoo in the United States. If you’re looking for a great free thing to do in NYC, head to the zoo any Wednesday for the pay-what-you-wish day. Visit the Bronx Zoo website to plan your visit.
Take the Staten Island Ferry
Taking a ferry may not seem like the most exciting thing to do in the world, but the Staten Island Ferry is a fantastic thing to do that doesn’t cost any money. You'll have unique views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Governor’s Island, and Lower Manhattan. Find the ferry schedule and plan your ride at SIFerry.com.
Visit Governor’s Island
Governor’s Island is a small island just a few hundred yards from Lower Manhattan. The historical island has been home to troops in the Revolutionary War, an army base, and a national park. The ferry is only $3, but you can ride free in the mornings. You can view the ferry schedule and find out more information here.