Posh, fast-paced, expensive, glamorous, dream-worthy, exciting, and flashy.
These words could all be used to accurately describe New York City.
One word that you often don’t hear in the same sentence as New York City is free.
We expect that every attraction comes with a shocking price tag, but it just isn’t true.
There are over 35 free things to do in New York City that provide a memorable cultural, historic, or fun experience. Some are free all the time, while others are free certain days of the week or year.
Free Things to Do: Every Day
- Brooklyn Bridge: Walk from Manhattan to Brooklyn across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge.
- Brooklyn Bridge Park: Enjoy the rolling hills, riverfront promenades, lush gardens, and spectacular city views of the waterfront Brooklyn Bridge Park.
- Central Park: Take a peaceful stroll through Central Park, which is filled with beautiful sites, statues, free events, and places like “Strawberry Fields,” an “Imagine” tribute mosaic to John Lennon.
- China Town and Little Italy: Although shopping and dining locations abound, walking through China Town and Little Italy are cultural experiences in themselves. Take in the sights, smells, and sounds and try your hand at Mandarin and Italian phrases.
- Federal Hall National Memorial: See where George Washington took his oath as the first president of the United States.
- Grand Central Terminal, Main Course: You don’t need a train ticket to admire the incredible architecture of Grand Central Terminal. Don’t miss the ‘Whisper Hall’ outside the restaurant area!
- General Ulysses S. Grant National Memorial (Grant’s Tomb): The final resting place of the general who ended the Civil War and also the largest mausoleum in North America.
- Governor’s Island: Take the free ferry to 172-acre Governor’s Island . Enjoy military sites such as the Admiral’s House as well as mini golf, a 2.2-mile bike path, and a picnic area.
- Harbor Defense Museum: This museum holds a fine collection of military artifacts from the Revolutionary War to World War II. Learn about the evolution of NYC’s coastal defense system at this museum located at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn.
- Hamilton Grange (Alexander Hamilton’s Home): Visit Alexander Hamilton’s Harlem home.
- The Hispanic Society of America features one of the finest collections of paintings, sculptures, textiles and archaeological finds outside of Spain. It is a museum and library dedicated to Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American culture and art. Dine on authentic Spanish and Latin American cuisine in the surrounding neighborhood.
- The Irish Hunger Memorial is a beautiful half-acre outdoor garden with more than 60 types of Ireland flora, a recreated 19th-century Irish cottage and rocks from the 32 counties of Ireland. The memorial was built to raise awareness of the 1845-1852 famine in Ireland.
- The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology features rotating student exhibits and a detailed collection of the country’s first gallery of fashion. It’s always Fashion Week at this museum!
- National Museum of the American Indian exhibits objects from nearly every North American Indian tribe. Additionally, it features films and other works by living ancestors of these tribes.
- New York Public Library is a jaw-dropping work of Beaux-Arts architecture, inside and out. Now over 100 years old, patrons can still read by the original Carre-and-Hastings lamps in the reading room.
- Rockefeller Center: Visit this 22-acre site to take in gorgeous sculptures of Prometheus overlooking the skating rink and Atlas holding up the world. Not to mention that this is the site of the famous Christmas tree and NBC’s today shows.
- Scandinavia House: The Nordic Center in America showcases the culture of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. Diverse exhibitions, film series, concerts, readings, lectures, symposia, language courses, and children’s activities are all available.
- Sony Wonder Technology Laboratory is a museum dedicated to entertainment and technology. Interactive exhibits are fun and educational for all ages.
- St. Patrick’s Cathedral: Considered America’s parish church by many Catholics, this gothic New York City landmark annually inspires millions of visitors.
- St. Paul’s Chapel: Located on the edge of the World Trade Center, this chapel miraculously escaped physical damage from the 9/11 attacks and served as a place of rest and comfort for the rescue workers and firemen in the aftermath. The chapel now serves as a 9/11 memorial and museum.
- Staten Island Ferry: Take this free commuter ferry between Manhattan and Staten Island for excellent free views of the Statue of Liberty.
- Taping of The Today Show: This show tapes on the ground floor at the corner of West 48th Street and Rockefeller Plaza. Fans gather outside on the plaza to watch (and to try to snag some time in front of the camera).
- Theodore Roosevelt Birth Place
- Times Square: Take a stroll to soak up the lights and sounds of Times Square or find a seat for interesting people watching.
Free Things to Do in New York City: Wednesday
25. Museum of Jewish Heritage (4 to 8 pm)
26. New York Botanical Garden (Free grounds access all day)
27. Staten Island Zoo (after 2pm)
28. Queens Botanical Garden (April to October, free hours on Wednesdays from 3 to 6 pm and Sundays from 4 to 6pm. November through March, free at all times)
Free Things to Do in New York City: Thursday
Free Things to Do in New York City: Friday
Free Things to Do in New York City: Saturday
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