Some people think they can’t visit New York City without spending an arm and a leg which isn’t true! There a lots of wonderful free things to do in New York City you just need to know about them. Here are some of my favorites.
Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is must for anyone visiting New York. The bridge was completed in 1883 and currently is open to both cars and pedestrians (don’t worry the cars are below the pedestrian walk way) 24 hours a day. The walk can take anywhere from 25-60 each way minutes depending on your shape and how many stops you take to admire the view of either Manhattan or Brooklyn.
Many people choose to take the A or C subway to the High Street-Brooklyn Bridge stop and walk 2/3 of a mile to the Brooklyn Bridge entrance so they can walk the bridge facing towards Manhattan skyline. It is a perfect evening walk before heading to Times Square for the night.
If you want to get a good look at the Brooklyn side of New York take the 4,5,6, J, or Z train to Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall and you are dumped out practically on the bridge. After walking the bridge you could explore Brooklyn or visit the famous Grimaldi’s Pizzeria below the bridge.
Take the Staten Island Ferry
60,000 Local New Yorkers take the Staten Island Ferry every day to and from Manhattan and so can you for free! Don’t expect a posh ride however on these the big orange vessels, they are meant to transport a lot of people . Step outside and look at the amazing Manhattan skyline and even the Statue of Liberty as you head over to Staten Island. You can then return right away to Manhattan or spend some time exploring the nice areas and restaurants of Staten Island. You can take multiple subway lines down to the ferry terminal which operates 24 hours a day.
Walk through Central Park
In the middle of a city of more than 8 million people you would think it would be impossible to find some peace and quiet but you can in Central Park. The park is 843 acres (2.5 miles by 0.5 miles) which may not seem that big but once you see it you will change your mind.
You can find lots of activities going on in central park or you can simply sit down and read a book under a tree. You can kayak or ice skate depending on the time of the year, ride the Central Park Carousel, watch a baseball game, visit Strawberry Fields (in tribute to John Lennon),rent a bike and bike through the park, or visit the Central Park gift shop.
African Burial Ground
In lower Manhattan sits a not well known National Monument called the African Burial Ground. The memorial site sits atop the remains of more than 400 Africans buried during the late 17th and 18th centuries who were mostly slaves. Visit the outdoor memorial everyday from 9 AM to 5 PM or the indoor visitors center Tue-Sat 10 AM-4 PM.
From 21st street and 26th Street in between 10th and 11th Avenue sits an area of New York called Chelsea. Home to more than 3 dozen art galleries you could a day strolling through Chelsea and probably not see everything. The galleries have rotating collections so you will want to check out chelseagallerymap.com to know which galleries you want to hit.
New York City Library
You might think why on earth would I want to go see a library on my trip to New York City but trust me this library is amazing. The New York City Library is home to over 53 million items, making it the second biggest behind the Library of Congress. Spend an hour looking through the old books or just sit in one of the amazing reading rooms. Also take time to look at what an amazing building it is inside and outside. If you have time you can even take a building or exhibition tour.
Federal Reserve Bank of New York
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is one of the 12 regional reserve banks in the United States. You can take a guided tour, walk through the banks museum, and best of all walk through the vault. You need to get reservations as soon as possible (up to 4 months in advance) because they only take 25 visitors 6 times a day M-F. The tour lasts 45 minutes.
After September 11, 2001 New York City changed forever when terrorists blew up planes into the World Trade Center Towers. What once stood two of the tallest towers in the world now sits a memorial site with fountains going deep into the earth with names of everyone who died that day in the terrorist attacks.
Visiting the site is free but does require a ticket you can get from the 9/11 memorial site (they ask for a donation but that is up to you) Plan to spend an hour or two.
High Line Park
High Line Park is one of my favorite places to visit in New York City each time I go. The High Line park is a 1 mile park built on the old high line railroad by the old meat packing district near Chelsea. The park is beautifully kept and offers great views all while keeping a lot of the rails in place. The park is open from 7 AM to 11 PM daily. There are numerous entrances along the line.
Everyone knows about Times Square. Situated at the junction of Broadway and 7th Avenue and stretching from 42nd Street to 47th Street Times Square has everything you could ever need. Restaurants, movie theaters, Broadway, and street performers crowd Times Square each day. Times Square always has something going on. Sit on the stairs and enjoy people watching for a bit.
Trinity Wall Street Church
There are a few beautiful old churches in New York City and you should at least take time to go look inside at the amazing architecture and stained glass or if you plan it right you can even attend a free concert. I tell everyone they should visit the Wall Street Church and cemetery. It is easily accessible using public transportation and usually has something going on.
This list barely scratches the surface of free places or things you can do while you visit New York City but it is a good start for anyone that hasn’t been to the Big Apple before.