New York City is my favorite place in the world. I had the great fortune to live there for six months on a work assignment for Microsoft and have also travelled there extensively over many years for both business and pleasure. I even married a born and bred New Yorker! And while I’ve travelled all around the world, I still have yet to find a city that rivals NYC. Just walking around the various neighborhoods, eating $1 pizza and bagels from the street carts, strolling through Central Park and visiting many famous museums keeps me busy. Most of what I love to do in NYC is FREE! So, I’m going to share with you my favorite free things to do in NYC. Enjoy the journey!
Central Park (Your Official Guide to Central Park I… | Central Park Conservancy (centralparknyc.org) is where real New Yorkers go to exercise and relax. Check out Belvedere castle, the turtle pond, and the great lawn. Wander around and take care not to get run over by the many bikes, roller bladers, horse carriages, etc. on the roads and pathways. It’s beautiful.
NYC Public Library tour (https://www.nypl.org/events/tours/schwarzman) I love libraries in general, but the NYC main library is by far the best I’ve seen. I didn’t appreciate how special it was until I took the free tour that took us behind the scenes and throughout all the areas you wouldn’t normally see. My husband found out that the tour guide won’t tolerate talking in the library as he got “shushed” more than once. Especially now as libraries and censoring our books is a real issue, go to the NYC Public Library and celebrate this amazing institution of learning and culture.
Little Island Park Home – Little Island is fairly new and located in Hudson River Park. It’s a great place to take a walk, enjoy the view of the Hudson and perhaps catch a concert if you’re lucky. Great pit stop when exploring the High Line and Chelsea neighborhoods-clean and plentiful public bathrooms!
High Line Walk Home | The High Line Enjoy a stroll on this former NYC railroad line. Great for people watching AND exercise. Open daily from 7 am to 10 pm. Maybe you might even stumble upon some cool street music like the picture above in one of the local parks in the neighborhood. We even saw a grand piano one time being played in a park. Awesome random experiences like that happen all the time in NYC and is one of the many reasons I love this city so much.
Grand Central terminal Grand Central Terminal – Be Transported Open since 1913, this terminal is not only a transportation hub but an iconic NYC landmark. One of Grand Central’s main attractions is the four-faced opal clock that sits in the center of the Main Concourse above the Information Booth. Grab a cocktail at The Campbell Bar, restored to its original grandeur on the balcony level or try the Oyster Bar, the oldest restaurant in the terminal. Cheers!
Times SquareTimes Square NYC When in NYC, you have to at least walk through Times Square to gawk at the bright lights in the big city. Word of caution-don’t touch the many characters walking around-who knows the last time that costume was washed! If you take pictures with them, they expect to be paid. You’ve been warned. Look but don’t touch!
Visit the TKTS booth here if you want to see a Broadway play that night and spend 30-50% less than the ticket price. Our jam was going to Broadway when we lived there and once a week we would line up and see whatever was available that night.
Museums-below are the “free” details but always check on the museum website just before you go to make sure there haven’t been any changes! More details here: Free Museum Days or Pay What You Wish | NYC-ARTS Here are some of my NYC favorites:
Metropolitan Museum of Art aka The Met The Metropolitan Museum of Art (metmuseum.org) It is always “pay as you wish” so make a donation or walk in for free-up to you! When we lived in NYC, we got a membership and went at least once a week. My favorite rooms are the Temple of Dendur and the rooms that are exclusively Monets everywhere you look-heaven! Check out the Cloisters (part of the Met) north of the city. Worth the subway ride to get to.
Morgan Library The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, founded by Pierpont Morgan free every Friday from 5-7 pm! Libraries are my happy place and this mansion filled with books is a shrine to the written word from the Gutenberg Bible to Mozart’s scores to fabulous art.
Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) MoMA For NYC residents, the first Friday of every month from 4-8 pm is free but you still need to book tickets online-it gets busy! Children 16 and under are always free. MoMA offers one free admission to active members of the US military with valid ID as well as free admission for military families with dependent cards. Tickets are available at the Ticketing Desk.
Governors Island Park is a 172-acre park in New York Harbor. A destination for transformative public art, unforgettable events, cultural and educational programming and recreational activities for all ages-check the website Governors Island (en-US) (govisland.com) for more details on event programming. Wear comfortable shoes and go on a nice day to enjoy the island and the beautiful view of Manhattan. We had the place to ourselves when we went as it is not a well-advertised tourist site. Hidden gem!
Open 7 am to 6 pm daily. Free ferry ride to get there on Saturday/Sunday before noon. Nominal fee at other times-buy tickets online: PURCHASE TICKETS (govisland.com)
Free, guided walking tours (not in the winter), departing from the Soissons Landing Welcome Center every Saturday and Sunday at 10:45am, 12:45pm, 2:45pm.
Concerts in the park in the summer – it’s a party! If you are travelling in the summer to NYC, enjoy the free musical and theater concerts in the parks. Check the event calendar here: Free Summer Concerts : NYC Parks (nycgovparks.org) We’ve enjoyed so many shows-some were planned to attend and others we just stumbled upon when we were walking around the city. Plan ahead and pack a travel blanket so you have a place to sit.
Neighborhood Walking Tours-Flatiron district When I lived in NYC, this was my neighborhood. From Madison Square Park where we would take our dog to the dog park to run wild with his pooch friends to gazing at the Flatiron Building to shopping at Fish Eddys, it was spectacular. Take a walking tour and find out the history of this magical place. Especially for architecture buffs, this 90-minute tour also include these landmarks: the New York Life Building, the MetLife Clock Tower, and the Appellate Courthouse. Tour is free but tip the guide! Every Sunday at 11 am, rain or shine. No RSVP or registration required.