The most visited city in the entire nation for both international and domestic tourists is New York City. Everyone loves New York and for a good reason. As the social, economic and artistic capital of The United States and some might argue the world, NYC has something for everyone. But all that prestige doesn’t come cheap. If you’re on a limited budget, how do you enjoy the big apple without it taking a bite out of you? Well, here are 10 things you can do in one of the world’s most expensive cities absolutely free.
Look I know there are some things you definitely want to splurge on while visiting NYC. The view from the Empire State building, a lovely meal in a world-class restaurant, a Broadway show. It’s understandable, these are all things are quintessentially New York. Doing some free stuff helps you balance out the expenses and gives you a chance to interact with the people who live here.
10) Times Square Not everyone’s fancy, but at least they aren’t charging admission yet. A cacophony of sounds, lights noise, and mayhem, Times Square is like a ferret on a double espresso. The hyperventilating heart of Manhattan could be just the adrenaline you need after your long flight into town.
9) Free Kayaking If visiting Times Square left you with too much energy, you can work some of that off with free kayaking. You can Kayak on the Hudson River or Long Island Sound. Both locations even offer free lessons for beginners. You need to sign a waiver, and you can only go out for a twenty-minute session when they’re busy. If it’s a slow day, you can stay out much longer.
8) New York Public Library Guarded by the twin marble lions named “Patience” and “Fortitude” this classic Beaux Arts building is one of NYC’s most filmed landmarks. The building has been featured in countless films including the original “Ghostbusters” and the recent reboot. More than just a library, the NYPL has exhibits, free movies, and lectures. You can see an original copy of the Declaration of Independence as well as the Gutenberg Bible. A word of caution if you see a ghost reading a book there, don’t talk to her, she gets very upset.
7) The Highline The Highline is located on an abandoned elevated spur of the New York Central Railway. The tracks were converted into an urban walkway. The 1.45-mile track has been replaced and turned in to a green sidewalk. The walk is elevated about twenty feet off the street level and affords picture worthy vistas of the Hudson docks and the lower Manhattan skyline. The Highline is accessible for those with disabilities.
6) Governors Island With free ferry service to take you there, Governor’s island offers a little something for everyone. There are over five miles of walking and biking trails many which provide a clear view of the skyline and the statue of liberty. The island has long served as a military garrison with buildings from the revolutionary period and the civil war still standing. Many are now abandoned creating a ghost town effect. The island also has a three-acre urban garden staffed by children from local high schools.
5) Date-specific freebies
Many of the museums that usually charge admission have a day where the entry is either free or donation based. There are several I’ve researched so I will include most of them here: Brooklyn Botanical Gardens 10-noon Saturdays free (also free every weekday in winter) Brooklyn Museum First Saturday of month free Bronx Zoo Free on Wednesday Museum of the moving image (Covers history of film. Very interesting museum) Free 4-8 on Fridays 9/11 Museum 5-8 on Wednesdays Free New York Botanical Garden 9-10am Wednesdays free The Upright Citizens Brigade (home of alumnus Amy Poehler and Tina Fey) Free Open Mic on Thursday
4) Attend a live taping. It’s not just Colbert, Seth Myers, The Daily Show and SNL. In total over 25 network and syndicated shows tape in NYC. Some tickets are easier to come by than others. For all the major players will have to request your tickets in advance. There are some cases where you’ll need to require more than a year out (SNL). The upside is every one of these venues has standby. No one really thinks of doing that so you may have a shot.
3) Walking the Brooklyn Bridge. The Brooklyn bridge could very well be one of the most famous bridges in the world. The bridge has a pedestrian walkway that is safely located above traffic and is so popular with the locals, you can’t really tell who’s new and who’s a regular. According to the city over seven thousand walks or bike across the bridge daily. The design of the bridge is a real feast for the eyes and has justifiably been featured in almost every movie that has been set in New York City.
2)The Staten Island Ferry You don’t need a car to ride the Ferry. Many people ride it just for the view. Moving up from lower Manhattan the ferry provides some of the best photo-ops in the city. The boat has a passenger lounge and a concession area to keep you refreshed, and journey across New York harbor takes you right next to the statue of liberty and Ellis Island. Many people enjoy the ride so much they will disembark on Staten Island only to turn around and re-board.
- Central Park Much like the Brooklyn Bridge and the Staten Island Ferry, Central Park is equally popular with tourists and locals alike. The park has so much to offer: an obelisk from ancient Egypt, an actual castle, a Shakespeare garden, free concerts, lakes and infinite people watching. There are parts where the woods are so thick in the summer you could forget you were in a city of eight million people. For the budget minded, New York City could appear to be out of range. Hopefully, these tips will give the Big Apple appeal. (sorry for the pun) So what are your tips for NYC freebies? I’d love to hear your thoughts.