New York City is simply filled to the brim with amazing free things to see and do – you just have to know where to look! If you’re on holiday in the Big Apple, it’s a lot of fun to try off the beaten path activities such as a tour of the Brooklyn Brewery or a kayaking trip on the Hudson River. To save you the time of looking for great free things to do in the city, we’ve compiled a list of our top 10 free things to see & do in New York City!
1. Take a Free Ride on the Staten Island Ferry
Another great free ferry is the IKEA water shuttle, which runs from Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan to IKEA’s own Red Hook dock in Brooklyn. You can ride the ferry for free during weekends, and the shuttle departs three times per hour.
2. Visit New York City’s Museums for Free
To visit some of the best museums in New York City for free, you’ll have to read the admission rules pretty carefully. Many of the best-known museums in the city organize special days or evenings when you can visit for free. For example, you can visit the Museum of Modern Art for free every Friday between 4 pm and 8 pm. Do prepare for long lines, as you can’t get free tickets in advance!
Furthermore, not everyone knows that the Metropolitan Museum of Art only asks for a recommended admission, which means you’re free to pay what you like and will be allowed to enter regardless. The same rule applies for the permanent collections of the American Museum of Natural History.
There are several museums in New York City that are always free to visit. To just name a few, there’s the American Folk Art Museum, Sony Wonder Technology Lab, the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and the Brooklyn Museum.
3. Enjoy a Tour of the Brooklyn Brewery or Chelsea Brewery
For a brewery tour in Manhattan, head to the small but cozy Chelsea Brewery on Pier 59. Free tours start on the hour between 2 pm and 6 pm on Saturdays. You’ll even get a free beer sample during the tour!
4. Discover the Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Fancy seeing a real gold vault? Book a tour of the Federal Reserve Bank in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan. On the tour you’ll learn all about the role of the New York Fed and the economy, and you’ll get to see the interior of the beautiful building that occupies a whole block on Liberty Street between Nassau Street & William Street. Free tours are organized every weekday, except on Bank holidays. To go on a tour, please book in advance online on the website of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
5. Take a Free Grand Central Walking Tour
6. Go Kayaking at The Downtown Boathouse
7. Enjoy a Picnic in one of New York City’s Amazing Parks
That you can visit New York City’s parks for free shouldn’t come as a surprise, but several parks in the city are just so amazing we simply had to include them on the list! Central Park is truly a safe haven of tranquility in the busy hub that is Manhattan. Prepare a picnic basket at home and head out to one of the park’s many lush meadows. Spending a sunny afternoon in this park will have you feeling completely rejuvenated. To find the best spots for a picnic, check out Explore Central Park in Manhattan!
Other parks in the city that are definitely worth a visit include the High Line, Bryant Park and Prospect Park.
If you’re staying in a vacation rental apartment in New York City you can easily prepare your own lunch for a picnic, as you’ll have access to your own fully-equipped kitchen! Besides saving money on dining out, the apartments also provides plenty of room for family and friends, so it’s easy to bring the whole family on a city trip.
8. Peruse the Books at the New York City Public Library
9. Pay a Visit to Saint Paul’s Chapel
If you want to view the 9/11 Memorial, visitors are advised to reserve a pass online at the 9/11 Memorial website. While admission to the Memorial is free of charge, you do have to pay a $2 fee to reserve a pass. For more information about the 9/11 Memorial and Lower Manhattan, see The Revival of Lower Manhattan: A Tour of the New World Trade Center.
10. Soar through the Sky on the Roosevelt Island Tram
The last attraction on the list isn’t technically free, but if you have an unlimited Metro card, all you have to do is swipe it at the ticket stand to ride the Roosevelt Island Tram. The aerial tramway runs from 60th Street & 2nd Avenue in Manhattan across the East River to Roosevelt Island. The tram was featured in the movie Spider-Man and offers amazing views of the Midtown Manhattan skyline. See our New York for Free video for more free views of New York City!
For a truly free alternative, visit one of New York’s many amazing bridges! A walk across the Brooklyn Bridge or Manhattan Bridge guaranties spectacular views of the East River, Brooklyn, and the Lower Manhattan skyline. Check out our Top 5 Bridges in New York for more information.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this list of free things to see & do in New York City! What’s your favorite free landmark in New York?