8 Free Things to do in New York City

new york city at night

8 Free Things to Do in New York City – I don’t know about you but one of my favourite parts about exploring a new place is finding all the exciting things you can get up to for free! There isn’t any traveller I know who doesn’t love a good bargain after all why pay a higher price for something that you could get for cheaper?! When me and mum took a girly weekend break to New York City we’d be doing some hard saving. Whenever you chat to someone about New York the price always seems to come up in conversation & not in a positive way! Yes, New York City is renowned for being expensive! People save for years to just visit the city for a weekend.

I arrived in the big apple ready to spend a fortune on eating out, attractions and subway. Luckily I was more than pleasantly surprised when I had some dollars left over at the end of our trip! Once you do some research and dig a little deeper you’ll actually find that there is so much to do and see in the big apple for as little as, well nothing! In fact I can guarantee that you can probably find more than 8 free things to do in New York City.

Now I know what you’re thinking! I must mean some trashy museum or attraction that nobody has heard of, because let’s face it we don’t get anything decent for free in this world? Wrong! New York is a whole other level! I’m taking famous sights costing absolutely nothing! Ready? Here are 8 of the best free things to do in New York City & if you happen to know any extra things to do for free then please let me know in the comments at the end of the post!

8 Free Things to Do in New York City!

1. The Statue of Liberty

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The amazing Statue of Liberty

Dare I say the most famous landmark in New York City? She’s definitely one of them that’s for sure! And you can visit her up close for free via the Staten Island Ferry. The ferry passes the Statue of Liberty on both its inbound and outbound journeys! The ferry goes really close to the lady herself so you’ll get a great snapshot of her without a doubt! You want to get the Staten Island Ferry from Whitehall Ferry Terminal in Manhattan, you can the subway there. The ferry is completely free and is what the commuters of New York City use to get to and from their jobs in the city.Keep in mind that most people in the city will be working 9-5 so the ferry will be jam packed in at morning and evening rush hours! The best time to hop on the ferry is in the middle of the day in the week, the weekends will of course be packed out with tourists so just make sure you get to the front of the line!

Top Tip: Sit on the right side of the ferry on the departing journey from Manhattan and the left side on the return!

2. Central Park

8 free things to do in new york
The amazing central park

This is probably obvious because it’s a public park so yes it’s free but none the less it is still one of New York’s most amazing places to visit! The notion of all this greenery in a city filled with sky scrapers amazes me to this day. That’s what I love about New York, you can surrounded by rushing people and angry taxi drivers one minute and then laid out on the grass catching the summer sun in another. Central Park really is the heart of the city and one day I will be sat in this park writing a book of my own (my biggest dream!). You can pay for things inside the park like the zoo but you really don’t need to! Just walking around Central Park is breath taking make sure you visit the Alice in Wonderland Statue, Strawberry Fields and Turtle Lake, all costing nothing! I would recommend buy a $2 map though because even with the map we still managed to get very lost!

Top Tip: You want to save at least one full day to get the most out of Central Park. The length of Central Park is 4KM so you can imagine how long it takes to explore all the nooks and crannies within the park too! Also, if you wander down the left hand side of the park towards the main entrance then you can see some of the zoo animals without having to pay to get in!

3. Bryant Park

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Bryant Park, New York City

Bryant Park is again another one of New York’s most famous public parks and one that took me by surprise. I’d heard of this little park but didn’t expect to think much of it compared to the great Central Park. Again, New York surprised me here (it kept doing this!). As you approach Bryant Park you are greeted with quaint fairy tale like gardens. Though it’s a lot smaller than Central Park it’s just as beautiful and if I had to choose between the two I think this one would be my favourite of the two.

Of course to explore the park is 100% free but the park is filled with cafes and bars. You’ll also find an array of board games, inflatables, exercise classes, the reading room and even a small carousel if you’ve got little ones on your trip. The perfect day in Bryant Park would be in summer, take a picnic and some bubbly and people watch the day away! If you are heading to New York for the holidays then you’ll find Bryant transformed into a winter emporium complete with an ice skating rink!

Top Tip: Check out this website for details of free exercise classes on the lawn!

4. Grand Central Terminal

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Broadway, New York City

If you read my Top 10 Things to Do in New York City then you’ll know that I was star struck when I stepped into Grand Central Terminal. Grand Central is an absolute show stopper! I think it’s probably the only place in New York where I actually felt like an actual movie star! You walk in and feel like you’ve been whisked into one of your favourite movie scenes! It’s amazing! From the architecture of the building to the upmarket shopping areas. There’s even a farmers market inside the terminal! Grand Central is not to be missed and of course it’s free and probably one of the best places to enjoy on this list of 8 free things to do in New York City!

Top Tip: Find the list of shops and eatery’s on the concourse here!

5. Times Square

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Times Square. New York City.

Now obviously you could spend a fortune in Times Square If you wanted. It is the hub of entertainment and shopping in New York City! But if you’re like us then you’re probably not there for the shopping and if you are, make sure you hit up H&M for a cheaper shopping trip! There’s also heaps of dinners in Times Squares but because of their location of course the price for a meal is ramped up! If you enjoy eating at quieter spots and just want to see Times Square to take it all in then you don’t have to spend a penny! Enjoy watching the bright lights of Broadway dance through the night and that’s really all you need!

Top Tip: If you’re looking for discounted Broadway tickets then the TKTS booth in Times Square is the place to line up! Note that most of the big shows never get discounted like the Lion King! Although we did get these tickets cheaper than on Ticketmaster on a website called Attraction Tix.

6. The Brooklyn Bridge

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Brooklyn Bridge, New York City

I think by now you probably think I’m biased because I love everything about New York! But The Brooklyn Bridge is yet again not something that can be missed on your visit to New York. The bridge is free to walk or cycle over and gives you glistening views on Manhattan on the water. You can drive over the bridge but it doesn’t have the same affect! The architecture over the bridge is stunning and a real masterpiece. We took the subway over to Brooklyn, explored the area and then walked back over the bridge to the city which was a lovely way of doing it! It is just as gorgeous to walk towards Brooklyn I’m sure but if you do walk towards Brooklyn you simply must do the walk back to Manhattan so you can see the skyline as you approach the city.  

Top Tip: Wear good blooming shoes – I worse my converse and boy did my feet hurt after the walk!

7. 9/11 Memorial

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9/11 Memorial, New York City

I think the date 11/09/2001 will be a date that stays with a lot of people for a very long time if not forever. The day that struck New York with disaster, loss and heartbreak. The day thousands of husbands, wives, sons and daughters went out to work and meetings and didn’t return. As their loved ones waved them off that morning for many they had no idea that would be the last time they saw their faces. To pay tribute the thousands who lost their lives stands the 9/11 memorial. The memorial is sat in the exact place that the twin towers were struck in the foundations. It is free to visit and pay your respects to those involved but the museum does charge entry. The entry that’s charged for the museum pays for its upkeep and that of the memorial.

Top Tip: Go early in the day so that you can take your time looking around the museum if you choose to go.

8. The High Line

8 free things to do in new york

One of the newest walks from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Formerly a freight line running through Manhattan The High Line is an elevated public park that has put the abandoned railway back on the map. The construction of the park first started in 2006 after the line was abandoned in 1980. The park first opened to the public in 2009 and its still under construction with the final sections hoping to be open this year. The walk through The High Line is beautiful with views of New York all the way through! Weave in and out of residential streets, shopping malls and markets. The entrance to the High Line is located in the Meat Packing District where you can treat yourself to a gorgeous lunch before you enjoy the walk. If you like sugar and cocktails then check out ‘The Sugar Factory’ which is where me and mum spent a few hours before walking off all that glucose!

Free Things to Do in New York City

So there you have it! This is definitely not an exhaustive list of free things to do in New York City but a simple list of the 8 best things we found! From Parks, walks to landmarks you really can see the best of New York for free! I would love to hear from you if you know of any other epic free things to do in New York City leave them in a comment below and I will add some of your suggestions onto the end of this post! If you enjoyed this post then you will enjoy some of my other posts on New York that you can find here!

I haven’t been able to top a city that I love more than the big apple yet in this world yet, I honestly feel like New York is a place I could visit time and time again. Are you a NYC lover or hater? There is definitely a large mixture of both in this world but I have no idea how you couldn’t enjoy a place that I am so fond us. But then again if we were all the same life would be so very boring. I have no idea when I’ll be returning to the big city but I hope it’s not too far in the distant future!

Free things to do in New York City


Alicia is a travel obsessed Registered Nurse who is on a mission to help other unfulfilled nurses reconnect with their purpose, passion and joy for life. Alicia has suffered from countless bouts of burnout in her nursing career and now wants to help other nurses too. Alicia is a huge advocate for travel and travel makes up a huge part of her life and this blog! Join her on her adventures nursing around the world and helping others to live a happier more positive life.

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  1. 07/09/2018 / 06:26

    Born and raised in NY, and I didn’t know the ferry to the Statue of Liberty was free. I mean, shame on me! Granted I haven’t been there since I was child and climbed to the top. Vague, blurry memory though. Seriously though, this is on the top of my list when I have the opportunity to return to NYC and be a tourist. I love this list. Brought back a lot of childhood memories. Thanks for sharing.

    • Alicia
      15/09/2018 / 22:27

      Hey Kathy, thank you so much again for your comment. You have no idea how much it means to see you commenting and reading the posts! The Staten Island Ferry is amazing and goes so close to The Statue of Liberty I can’t believe it’s free! I can’t to see what you think of it when you visit NYC again! New York surprised me with the amount of free things you can see and do! It’s a city full of surprises!

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