Welcome to the city that never sleeps, New York! While this bustling city is known for being expensive, you don’t need to break the bank to have an amazing time. We’ve gathered 60 affordable or free things to do in New York City. So, whether you’re a local looking for fresh ideas or a tourist seeking budget-friendly fun, we’ve got you covered!
Exploring Iconic Landmarks
1. Central Park:
Central Park is the city’s backyard. Take a leisurely stroll through its lush landscapes, row a boat on the lake, or have a picnic with friends. It’s the ultimate urban oasis!
2. Times Square:
Neon lights and bustling crowds – Times Square is an experience in itself.
3. Brooklyn Bridge:
Walk the Brooklyn Bridge for stunning views of the skyline.
4. Grand Central Terminal:
Step into the beautiful Grand Central Terminal, where you can look at the famous and beautiful, vaulted Main Concourse ceiling, and maybe grab a bite to eat at the food market.
5. Staten Island Ferry:
Hop on the Staten Island Ferry for a free ride (free with your Metro Card) with unparalleled views of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline. Perfect for a photo op!
6. Museum of Modern Art (MoMA):
On the first Friday of every month from 4 pm to 8 pm, MoMA offers free admission. Get your art fix with works by Picasso, Van Gogh, and many more.
7. The Met:
At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, you can “pay what you wish” – even if that means paying nothing. Explore ancient treasures, timeless art, and captivating exhibitions.
8. Bronx Museum of the Arts:
Enjoy free admission every day, and immerse yourself in contemporary and culturally diverse art.
9. Public Libraries:
New York’s public libraries are hidden gems. Explore the beautiful architecture and attend free workshops, readings, and events.
10. Street Art in Bushwick:
Roam the streets of Bushwick, Brooklyn, for a vibrant, ever-changing outdoor gallery of street art. Every wall tells a story.
Parks and Outdoor Fun
11. Prospect Park:
Brooklyn’s answer to Central Park, Prospect Park offers picnicking, paddle boating, and free concerts at the bandshell in summer.
12. High Line:
Walk the High Line, a former railway track turned urban park. Enjoy art installations and beautiful greenery with an elevated view.
13. Coney Island:
Relax on the sandy beaches of Coney Island, stroll along the iconic boardwalk, and maybe even catch a fireworks show in the summer.
14. Governors Island:
Take the ferry to Governors Island during the summer for car-free biking, picnicking, and art installations. The Ferry is not free but it only costs $4.
15. Bryant Park:
Year-round, Bryant Park hosts free events, movie nights, and even juggling lessons. A green oasis in Midtown! In December you can enjoy their famous winter market.
16. Top of the Rock:
Get awe-inspiring city views from the Top of the Rock‘s observation deck, without the high price tag. It’s not free but very affordable.
17. Staten Island Greenbelt:
Hike the trails and experience breathtaking views of New York Harbor amidst nature’s beauty.
18. Brooklyn Heights Promenade:
Stroll along this elevated walkway and soak in iconic views of Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty.
19. The Cloisters:
Venture uptown to this medieval museum, and enjoy both the art and the serene views of the Hudson River. This museum is free if you already have a ticket for the Met on the same day.
20. The Vessel:
Check out the futuristic Vessel at Hudson Yards. You can no longer go up in the Vessel but it’s free access to see it from the ground.
Every weekend on Saturdays in Williamsburg, you can sample a world of flavors at Smorgasburg’s open-air food market. Pro tip: Come hungry!
22. Chelsea Market:
Explore Chelsea Market, a foodie’s paradise with free samples aplenty. Indulge your taste buds!
23. Grand Central Terminal Whispering Gallery:
Discover the remarkable Whispering Gallery in Grand Central Terminal. Stand in diagonal corners, whisper a secret, and watch it magically travel across the domed ceiling to the other corner.
24. Central Park Conservatory Garden:
Visit the Conservatory Garden within Central Park, a well-kept secret of New Yorkers.
25. South Street Seaport:
Walk around and explore historic ships and soak up the waterfront atmosphere, all for free.
The Great Outdoors
26. Fire Island:
Take a day trip to this car-free barrier island, known for its pristine beaches and untouched natural beauty.
27. Pelham Bay Park:
Explore the vast expanse of Pelham Bay Park, featuring salt marshes, woodlands, and plenty of hiking trails.
28. Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge:
Discover the stunning wildlife and birdwatching opportunities at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.
29. Alley Pond Park:
Uncover hidden gems in the serene trails and natural beauty of Alley Pond Park.
30. New York Botanical Garden:
Enjoy free grounds admission on Wednesday mornings at the New York Botanical Garden, a true urban oasis. This only apply if you’re a New York residence so make sure to bring your New York id.
Art and Culture
Experience the ever-changing street art gallery in Long Island City. The murals here are great!
32. Socrates Sculpture Park:
Stroll along the waterfront and explore contemporary art installations at the Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens.
33. The Hispanic Society Museum & Library:
Delve into a world-class collection of Spanish art and literature at the Hispanic Society Museum.
34. The Rubin Museum of Art:
Friday nights at the Rubin Museum offer free access to Himalayan art and cultural exhibits.
35. Federal Hall National Memorial:
Discover the birthplace of American government at Federal Hall, where history comes to life.
36. Union Square Greenmarket:
Taste the freshest local produce and gourmet treats at the Union Square Greenmarket, a food lover’s paradise.
37. Brooklyn Brewery:
Saturdays mean free tours and tastings at the Brooklyn Brewery, a must-visit for beer enthusiasts.
38. Economy Candy:
Step into Economy Candy, a Lower East Side institution where you can browse a vast selection of nostalgic and hard-to-find candies.
39. Chelsea Galleries:
Explore Chelsea’s thriving art scene, where galleries offer glimpses of cutting-edge contemporary art.
40. Brooklyn Bridge Park:
Lay back and enjoy stunning views of Manhattan in Brooklyn Bridge Park, a waterfront gem.
41. City Hall Park:
City Hall Park, nestled amidst governmental buildings, offers a peaceful escape in the heart of the city.
42. The Hispanic Society Museum & Library:
A hidden treasure in Upper Manhattan, the Hispanic Society Museum is a cultural and artistic delight.
43. Lefferts Historic House:
Step back in time at the Lefferts Historic House in Prospect Park, a Dutch Colonial farmhouse with a captivating history.
44. Green-Wood Cemetery:
Explore the picturesque beauty and final resting place of notable New Yorkers at Green-Wood Cemetery.
45. Morris-Jumel Mansion:
Uncover history at the oldest house in Manhattan, the Morris-Jumel Mansion, with its intriguing stories.
46. Washington Square Park:
Be entertained by talented street performers, musicians, and artists in the lively atmosphere of Washington Square Park.
47. Central Park Drum Circle:
Feel the rhythm of Central Park’s Drum Circle, where spontaneous dancing and drumming unite.
48. Subway Musicians:
New York’s subway platforms often feature live music performances, adding a unique soundtrack to your commute.
49. Battery Park:
Relax with the sound of live music while gazing at the majestic Statue of Liberty from Battery Park.
50. Shakespeare in the Park:
During the summer, enjoy free performances of Shakespearean plays in Central Park, a cultural treat for theater enthusiasts.
51. Trinity Church:
Visit Trinity Church and explore its historic cemetery. Enjoy looking at the stunning church interior and discover tales of old New York.
52. African Burial Ground National Monument:
Discover the rich heritage of African Americans at the African Burial Ground National Monument, an important historical site.
53. Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site:
Step into the childhood home of the 26th U.S. President, Theodore Roosevelt, and gain insight into his early years.
54. New York Public Library:
Experience the grandeur of the New York Public Library, particularly the iconic Rose Reading Room, a literary haven.
55. Irish Hunger Memorial:
Learn about the Irish famine and find solace in the contemplative space of the Irish Hunger Memorial.
56. Stand-Up Comedy Shows:
NYC is a hub for comedy. Check out free stand-up comedy shows at various clubs and bars for a night of laughter.
During the summer, enjoy free live performances in various parks throughout the city at the SummerStage series.
58. Bryant Park Movie Nights:
Watch classic movies under the stars during the summer at the Bryant Park Movie Nights. Don’t forget your picnic blanket!
59. St. Patrick’s Cathedral:
Visit the architectural masterpiece that is St. Patrick’s Cathedral and attend a free service to experience its grandeur.
60. Governors Island Art Fair:
Explore a diverse range of art installations on the charming Governors Island, where creativity knows no bounds.