Best things to do for free in New York

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New York is a wonderful city
to visit, whether alone or for those, like us, traveling with family. It is an
immense city, full of life and, it is the city par excellence where you will
return home with the feeling that you have to go back there.
We loved our trip and we sure
want to come back one day. However, we only had 5 days in New York (you can see our itinerary here) and whoever follows our blog knows that we trie to plan our days as much as possible, to make the most of our time in a place
and also to be able to organize our budget.

This is because a family trip
to New York is not one of the cheapest ones you can do. To start the trip from
Europe to New York is always expensive and, secondly, because a hotel in
Manhattan is one of the more expensive places we’ve stayed. Since we traveled
with our son, when we stay in cities, we always try to stay in central places,
because it makes the whole process simpler and allows us to make better use of
our stay. We stayed in a very well located hotel and although we have made a
good deal, it is always a very expensive stay.
Throughout the preparation of
our itinerary for the trip in New York, we have always taken into account the
values ​​to be paid in the different attractions, as there are attractions that
we would very much like to go and, we knew we would have to pay but we also
knew that we could see for free in this wonderful city.
So we tried to join in our
itinerary those attractions that we paid but could not fail to see and the maximum
of free attractions. Some of the free attractions we visited were not always,
only at certain times / days, so we also tried to adjust our days according to
those occasions.
What we intended now was to
share with you our experience and our research, in the sense of transmitting to
you what you can do for free in this fantastic city. Surely there will be more
to do for free, but these are our main recommendations.
It is impossible to travel to
New York and not pay a visit to Central Park. Opened in 1857, it is located in
the center of Manhattan and is huge and fantastic, a true oasis in the midst of
the city’s skyscrapers.





Besides being a privileged venue for festivals and
shows, you always have to make the obligatory visits to Belvedere Castle,
Swesish Cottage and Strawberry Fields, the memorial inaugurated in honor of the
singer John Lennon, murdered in front of his former residence , in the Dakota
Building, right next to Central Park. You can spend hours strolling through its
many paths, playing sports or having fun with your children in the playgrounds.

We loved the feeling of
tranquility that existed in the parks of New York, and one of the most liked
was Madison Square Park. It is a small park, very small when compared to
Central Park but, it is an ideal place to rest, to look at nature and dogs,
because there is a Park of Dogs.

And since we are talking about
park, we wanted to leave another suggestion and it was one of the most pleasant
surprises of our trip to New York, Bryant Park.
This
park is located 
behind the New York Public
Library, which is on 6th avenue between 40th and 42nd Streets and is a
delightful park.



Despite being surrounded by buildings, manages to bring calm
in the midst of the bustle, which makes it perfect to rest and watch the
inhabitants of New York. In the summer, this is one of the favorite places to
play games, have coffee or just sit on the grass, something that we also did
and it was just great. In the summer, it’s usual to pass free movies at night,
check here the program before
you travel, it may be the perfect scenario for one night in New York.

Also at
Bryant Park, during the winter, an ice skating rink is installed which is free,
provided you bring your own skates. If you wish to rent, this is possible but, it will be
paid.

3. New York Public Library
As we mentioned, Briant Park
is right next to the New York Public Library. And this is another of New York’s
top attractions that you can, and should, visit. The New York Public Library is
the largest marble structure ever built in America and it is beautiful.


We highly recommend a visit to
the whole building but, for those who like us traveling with children, be sure
to visit the children’s area, you’ll love sitting there with your kids.
5. Grand Central Terminal
The Grand Central Terminal is
another of the free places you have to discover in New York. The outside of the
station is beautiful but, believe us, inside is even more. When you visit, it
is impossible not to focus on the 4-sided clock in the center of the station,
which is the station’s famous meeting point. The ceiling is an astronomical
mural, which is a project of the French painter Paul Helleu and represents the
sky seen in the Mediterranean between March and October, with more than 2500
stars.

The entire building, over 100
years old, retains the exuberance and glamor of the time it was build, which is a charm in
the middle of New York, all in perfect condition.

The Grand Central Terminal also offers a free guided tour every Friday at 12.20pm, which will allow you to get
to know this attraction guided by local teachers for 90 minutes. To do so, be
sure to start the Whitney Museum in the lower corner of the lobby and then
proceed to one of the two groups that are usually organized.
6. Strolling along 5th Avenue
Strolling down the street is
free, and one of the streets you’ll love is the world-famous 5th Avenue. I went
and fell in love with the skyscrapers, to go shopping is dangerous, because the
prices are high, but the views are free.
7. Staten Island Ferry and see
the Statue of Liberty
On our trip to New York we
chose not to go up to the Statue of Liberty, either for financial reasons, also
because of lack of time and because it was not the experiences that most people
told us about as indispensable.



However, we could not miss seeing this city
icon closely and despite there being several paid tours, we chose to take the
Staten Island Ferry which is free and passes just in front of the Statue of
Liberty. Learn more about our tour through this link.

8. Governors Island Ferry
Continuing to talk about boat
trips, another free ride you can take is the free Ferry to Governors Island and
visit some of the island’s iconic sites such as Nolan Park and Admiral’s House.
Click here to know more about Ferry schedule.


9. Strolling along Brooklyn
Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge is one of the
most famous and beautiful bridges in the world. Most of us have seen her over
and over again in a movie, and taking her for a walk between Manhattan and
Brooklyn is one of the experiences you are going to enjoy most in New York.





When
it was inaugurated, it was the largest suspension bridge in the world and its
towers were the tallest buildings in the city. It’s amazing to imagine how the
city has changed since then but all the charm of the bridge remains.

After crossing the bridge, you
can find out for free that New York has more to offer than Manhattan and we
highly recommend you to take a tour of the Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass
(D.U.M.B.O.).





This area, which is underneath the Brooklyn Bridge, will allow
you to discover the contrast between the old and the modern New York and in
particular we can not recommend you to visit the Brooklyn Bridge Park, you will
have the chance to enjoy a beautiful view of Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge.
Especially for family travelers, be sure to explore the park’s outdoor water
laboratory.

The Brooklyn Museum has paid
admission (you can check here the official website for prices and times) but if your
stay in the city is on the first Saturday of the month, you can visit the city’s
second largest art museum free of charge from 5pm. 





And in addition to being
able to visit its galleries free of charge, at this end of the day the Museum
always offers perfect activities to do with your family, ranging from cultural
shows, concerts, movies, and there is also the possibility of eating your meal
in the Museum. the adults, enjoy a good glass of wine, which is also sold in
the Museum’s cafeteria.

12. Bronx Zoo and New York
Botanical Garden
As we mentioned, New York has
a lot to offer apart from New York and two attractions you can visit for free
are the Bronx Zoo and the New York Botanical Garden. To visit the Bronx Zoo for
free, you can do it on Wednesdays but it could be a busy day.





Regarding the New
York Botanical Garden, we recommend that you check the official website, as it
has a calendar with the days you can visit free from payment.

13. Brooklyn Brewery Tours
Also in Brooklyn you can take
a free tour of the Brooklyn Brewery Tours, which are held on Saturdays and
Sundays. You can check the times on the official website.


14. Chelsea Brewing tours
And since we are talking about
Brewery Tours, returning to Manhattan, specifically in Chelsea, you can also
go to the Chelsea Brewing tour every Saturday from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., where
you will even have the right to try the brewed beer for free, just do not
forget to take your ID to prove your age. You can find out more information
through the official website.
15. Museum of Modern Art
(MoMA)
One of New York’s most
important museums, the MoMA, has the possibility of being visited free of
charge every Friday from 16 o’clock. The queue to enter for free at the Museum
starts at the door that leads to 54th Street (you can see the exact location on Google Maps here) and although when there you will probably come across a
huge queue, after 4pm you will find that it will take very little time to
enter.



To know more about the museum, timetables, prices, temporary
exhibitions, or buy tickets online for other dates, you can consult the Museum
website here.
16. The Morgan Library &
Museum

And since we are talking about
Museums and Fridays, also on this day of the week, between 7pm and 9pm you can
visit The Morgan Library & Museum. This library and museum was the old
house / office / library of the famous banker JP Morgan, who resided in New
York.



The house itself is stunning, with a beautiful architecture that gets a
perfect blend of old and modern. During your visit, you can admire a bible
printed in the Gutemberg press, original Mozart, Ravel, Lizt, original books
and texts by Faust, Goethe and even the writings of Bob Dylan.
17. Museum of the Moving Image
The Museum of the Moving Image
is in Astoria, Queens and is another museum that you can visit for free on
Friday between 4pm and 6pm, and you can access more information through its
official website.


In addition to the
aforementioned museums, there are several others that you can visit for free in
New York City and, although they are not of the best known, they have much to
offer and can be great discoveries, among them:
19. Pay What You Wish Museums
Although not free, there are
other museums in which there is the possibility of Pay What You Wish. That is,
the visitor is invited to pay what they feel they can or want to pay. We
highlight the following:


The Guggenheim (Pay What You
Wish every Saturday, from 5:45 p.m. to 7:45 p.m., last ticket at 7:15 p.m.)



We ask you to always confirm
prices, dates, times and addresses through the official museums websites, which
you can access through the links by clicking in the museums names.
20. World Trade Center
Memorial
The WTC Memorial is the place
where par excellence New York pays tribute to the victims of the brutal attacks
of September 11, 2011. Your visit is free and a must do for anyone who wants to
know the recent history of the city and, from all over America.

21. National September 11 Museum

Although a visit to The
National September 11 Memorial Museum is payable, there is the possibility of
holding it for free on Tuesdays, from 5 pm to 8 pm. However, you will have to make
the reservation through the official Memorial website (click here to access), and you should do well in advance to make sure
you get your place, with the recommended time being around 2 weeks prior to
your visit.

 

You can also try to go to the Memorial a little before opening in
the hope that there will still be free tickets, but in that case, it will be needed very luck.
22. Federal Reserve Bank of
New York

Very close to the WTC is the
Federal Reserve Bank of New York and, you can get a free tour,
which includes the possibility of getting to know this historical building of
the city and includes a visit to the safe.


Reservations for this tour
should be made online approximately one month prior to your visit and, we
recommend you do so even one month prior to your visit, as early as 9:00 am in
New York as tickets tend to run out quickly. You can make your reservation for
free through the official website here. It is also possible to carry
out visits without being guided, but they you can’t see the safe.
23. Wall Street and the
Charging Bull

A must-see and obligatory walk
passes to visit the Financial Center on Wall Street and, of course give a
feast on the Bull statue (Charging Bull). They say it’s for good luck,
and good luck is never too much.

Also obligatory is the passage next to the Federal
Hall, where you can see the famous statue of the first President of the United
States of America, 
George Washington, next to the building where he was entitled has President in 1789.

This 200-year-old building,
which is a historic landmark of the city and country, and can admire its exterior,
you can rest in the garden around you, very quiet. For those who want to see
their interior, you must make the reservation online well in advance through
this link,
and the tours take place all Thursday mornings at 10am.

Also in Lower Manhattan you
have the possibility to visit Trinity Church for free. This beautiful church
makes more of an impact by staying where it is, next to the frenetic world of Wall
Street. It has a very beautiful architecture and, the curious thing is that its just next door with a cemetery, which you can also visit.

26. St. Patricks Cathedral
Another religious monument
that is a must visit in New York is the St. Patricks Cathedral. This Cathedral,
just in the middle of Fifth Avenue near Rockefeller Center is both impressive
and beautiful on the outside. It was built between 1858 and 1878 and designed
by architect James Renwick, Jr., and is a historic building of New York City.
To better understand the
history of this location, you can download it on iTunes or Google Play from the
app that gives you an audio-guided tour of the cathedral, which is available in
two languages, English (adult version and child version) and in Spanish.


 

 

27. The Cathedral of Saint
John the Divine
Finally, and still connected
to historic and religious buildings, we could not fail to mention the
possibility of visiting The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine for free.
It is possible to walk inside this Cathedral, as well as its gardens, but if
you want to take a guided tour, you can do it for free but you will have to
make an early appointment. You can access more information about guided tours
through the official website by clicking here .

This is one of New York’s
newest parks but it is already an image of the city and it is perfect in the
city. It was built in an old railway line, and is suspended in the air and
along its route, you can enjoy the art facilities around it, the various
stalls, small markets and the extraordinary view through the middle of
Manhattan.

It is situated in an area that stretches from Gansevoort Street in
the Meatpacking District to West 30th Street between 10th and 11th avenues.

29. Strolling through the
different neighborhoods of New York

There is nothing better than
strolling through the different neighborhoods of the city to know a little of
its identity. Each neighborhood is unique, with its characteristics and
particularities. We love to walk, walk and dine in different parts of the city,
where we strongly recommend you to visit and explore.



In addition to the famous
Chinatown and Little Italy, we highly recommend you get to know Korean Town,
Soho, Greenwich Village, Chelsea. The more you walk, the better, as it allows
you to realize a little better how the locals actually live.
Another must-see in New York
is Times Square. Full of lights, colors, people and animation, this is one of
the city’s signature images. In addition to being able to walk down the street,
every Friday at 12h there is the possibility of a free tour of Times Square,
the Times Square Alliance Exposé Tour. Over two hours you will explore and
experience the past and present of this area, where for two hours a guide will
tell you the stories that have made this place so important in the history of
the city.


To do this tour, you do not
need to pre-register but you should arrive a little before the start time (12h)
in Times Square Information Center at 1560 Broadway, inside a restored theater
(you can see the exact location in Google maps here) to carry out your
registration and where they will tell you where to meet your guide.
31. The Grand Central
Partnership Walking Tours
Offered by The Grand Central
Partnership, offers the possibility to realize a free award-winning walking
tour of the Grand Central neighborhood, that provides a survey of many of the
architecturally and historically significant sights – among them the Chrysler
Building, Grand Central Terminal, itself and Pershing Square – that fall within
the boundaries of our business improvement district.

For anyone visiting New York
near the Christmas season, you will love seeing the giant Christmas tree that
is put here each year and is part of the city’s trademark images as well as the
ice skating rink. But even without being during the winter, this place is worth
a visit.

Seeing the famous statue of Prometheus, or the sculpture of the Atlas
Holding The World are unique opportunities. But everyone in this center has a
number of shops, works of art, exhibitions and events that always captivate
those who visit and certainly will not cease to enjoy meeting you.
33. Free kayaking on the
Hudson River

There are numerous free events
taking place in New York, so we left the suggestion to consult the NYC Official
Guide before your trip to the city. But there are also events that often occur
that, when we get organized in advance, we can see and can be a great
experience.


Who does not know the famous
Talk Shows like “Saturday Night Live” and “The Daily Show with
Jon Stewart”? Or others such as “The Daily Show with Trevor
Noah” (Comedy Central), “The Dr. Oz Show”, among others. For it is possible
to be part of the audience of one of these spectacles during your visit to New
York. Just click here to find out how
you can watch live at these events. It will not be easy but it is possible if
you prepare in advance.
35. Free shows at Juilliard
School.
Juilliard is known as one of
the world’s best schools of music, dance and theater, captivating students from
all over the world for their classes.


Although many of their shows
are paid for, there are often free events open to the public that may coincide
with your stay in the city. We recommend that you check your Performance
Calendar (you can access the website here) to see the dates
and description of the shows.
There are shops that are
unique and special in New York City. And although shopping can be expensive,
walking and getting to know them is free and, in many cases, a must see. We
leave here a list of the shops that, in our opinion, are a must visit on your trip
to New York:
– Macy’s, known for being the
largest store in the world;
– Fao Schwarz (reopened
recently, but now at Rockefeller Center);


– Lego Store at Rockefeller
Center. Besides the visit being free, there is a space where you can just
play with legos as a family and see the program of the store (see here the program), because
every month the Mini Model Build event is held, for children from 6 to 14 years
old, where they can ride a small lego and take it home. Our son managed to make a Lego parrot, which he loved, and still has it in his room today.
Consult the
program to check the exact time and date of the event, we recommend that you
arrive shortly before the scheduled time, as the event ends when the legos
destined to be distributed are exhausted. We also visited the Lego Store next
to the Flatiron Building but this, was our favorite;
– Disney Store in Times
Square;
– M & M’s World, also in
Times Square;
– Apple Store on 5th Avenue,
with its iconic glass cube at the entrance. There is another one in Grand
Central Station which is quieter for shopping but, this shop is the most
impressive;
– Dylan’s Candy Bar, the
world’s largest candy store, impressive and delicious to visit.

37. The Annex – Hell’s Kitchen
Flea Market

It is not a shop, but a
Market, which is held every Saturday and Sunday, from 9am to 5pm and where you
can find everything you can imagine, especially old-fashioned items.
New York can be an expensive
city without a doubt but, for those traveling on a tighter budget, it does not
stop at all from being a city full of possibilities. It is quite possible to
realize unique and fascinating experiences, and to know much of what the city
has to offer, without spending any money.


We hope that these ideas that
we leave here help you 
to organize your trip and to enjoy the best that New York has to offer. Be sure to check out our 5-day itinerary in New York that
can be a great help for anyone planning their trip and please, leave us your
comment.



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