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10 Free Things to do in New York City

places to visit 7 min read , August 4, 2023

New York City is one of the greatest cities in the world. It is a diverse and unique place. On top, there's a bunch of free things to do in New York scattered all over the city. With our list of 10 best free things to do in New York City, you can surely experience a lot this city has to offer and the best part is - it won’t cost you a fortune!

Free Things to do in New York City
Free things to do in New York City- Photographer: Luca Bravo | Source: Unsplash

1. Visit Statue of Liberty

Free Things to do in New York City - Liberty Statue
Photographer: Anthony DELANOIX | Source: Unsplash

Visiting the Statue of Liberty is popular amongst travelers coming to New York City. This statue was a gift from France to America. Built in 1886, it remains a world famous symbol of freedom and one of the greatest American icons. It is one of the world’s largest statues with a weight of around 450,000 pounds (200,000 kg). You can have a great view of Battery Park. If you truly want to appreciate the Statue of Liberty, the best thing you can do is to take a short boat trip to Liberty Island and see it up close.

2. Picnic in Central Park

Free Things to do in New York City - Central Park
Free things to do in New York City - Photographer: JR Harris | Source: Unsplash

Would you like to have a great view while enjoying a nice meal? You can simply have a lovely picnic in Central Park. Let me walk you through one of my favorite free things to do in NYC. I’ll explain, not only is Central Park a great place to get a little bit of nature, but it also has many attractions within its border. Most of these are free, which makes it one of the few cheap things to do in NYC. Popular attractions include the Belvedere Palace, the Central Park Zoo, the strawberry fields and the lake. If you're exploring the park on your own, better id you first get a map at one of the visitor centers. You can check the link to explore more: Visiting New York's Central Park: Top Attractions

3. Visit Empire State Building

Empire building - New York Attractions
Free things to do in New York City - Photographer: Chris Barbalis | Source: Unsplash

The Empire State Building is one of New York's most famous landmark buildings and a major tourist attraction. Empire State Building immediately became a landmark and an icon for NYC when it opened in 1931. There are actually two observatories on top of the Empire State Building, but both offer amazing views, amazing, isn’t it? On clear days, you can see up to 80 miles, looking into the neighboring states of Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. Unfortunately, heading to the top of the Empire State Building. But it is a must tourist attraction, even if you do not head to the top of it.

4. Enjoy your night in Times Square

Free Things to do in New York City
Free things to do in New York City - Photographer: Jorge Fernández Salas | Source: Unsplash

Love it or hate it, Times Square is without doubt one of New York’s most iconic places. Lined with huge, brilliantly lit billboards and screens, Times Square is busy and perpetually crowded but has its own unique appeal. On busy days more than 460,000 people pass through Times Square, and up to a million come to ring in the New Year at the ball drop, a tradition going back to 1907. Just come prepared for a long (chilly) night.

5. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge - sightseeing in New York
Free things to do in New York City - Photographer: Ling Tang | Source: Unsplash

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge can become one of your most memorable activities during your visit to New York, and the good thing is that it doesn't cost a penny. The Brooklyn Bridge, with its Gothic-shaped arches and suspension cables, is one of the city's most famous landmarks and has inspired generations of songwriters, poets, and painters. The best way to experience this historic bridge is to take an hour and walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. From the bridge, there are amazing views of Manhattan, the East River and the Statue of Liberty beyond. Cycling over the bridge is another option, but pedestrian traffic is often very heavy and cycling on busy days can be slow and difficult.

6. Visit Bryant Park

Parks in NYC
Free things to do in New York City - Photographer: Krisztina Papp | Source: Unsplash

Another free thing to do in NYC that is actually worth it is Bryant Park’s many free activities. On a summer's day, it's hard to get through the leisurely afternoon at Bryant Park. Bryant Park offers many different free activities, such as ping pong, chess, yoga classes, fencing, and much more. During the summer days, they also have free movie nights on Mondays and even do free Broadway performances occasionally! Bryant Park is located between Times Square and the New York Public Library

7. Visit Free Museums in New York City

sightseeing in NYC
Free things to do in New York City - Photographer: @heyminhy | Source: Unsplash

Since the cost of entry to a NYC museum is often high, checking out some of the great New York museums can be a huge strain on your travel budget, especially if you want to explore several different museums during your trip. But good news! There are also many free museums. Check out these New York City museums and cultural institutions that offer free entrance every day that they are open.

  • The Bronx Museum of the Arts: The Bronx Museum, the Bronx's flagship cultural institution, collects and celebrates 20th-century contemporary art, with a focus on artists of African, Asian, and Latin American descent, as well as artists with a connection to the Bronx.
  • Queens Botanical Garden: Out of season visits to the Queens Botanical Garden is free daily from November to March.
  • National Museum of the American India: Located in the Alexander Hamilton Customs House, the museum has rotating exhibits about native cultures in the Western Hemisphere.
  • Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology: Changing exhibits on fashion along with the permanent collection.
  • The Studio Museum of Harlem: The exhibits at the Studio Museum of Harlem focus on works by local, national and international artists of African descent.

8. Walk in the Socrates Sculpture Park

Parks in NYC
Free things to do in New York City - Free things to do in New York City - Image by Paula Rryszkiewicz

Socrates Sculpture Park was founded in 1986 to provide artists with the opportunities and the space to exhibit large-scale sculptures and multimedia presentations. In this unique outdoor setting, trees are dwarfed by the consequence of creative expression. During the summer, crowds gather for everything from kite flying events to circus performances. Outdoor cinema, free yoga classes, and art exhibitions make Socrates Sculpture Park the place to go for summer entertainment. There's even an eight-week open-air cinema program celebrating Queens' cultural diversity.

9. Climb the Vessel

Free Things to do in New York City
Free things to do in New York City - Photographer: Marcelo Cidrack | Source: Unsplash

The Vessel! is one of NYC’s newest attractions located in the Hudson Yards, the Vessel is easily one of the best free things to do during your visit to NYC. When you are at 150 feet by 154 flights of stairs, head up at sunset for some epic views! To climb the Vessel and experience that feeling is completely free, just better if you make sure to book your free ticket online a few weeks ahead so you can get a time slot for you. It is possible to get tickets on The Hudson Yards website here!

10. The Flatiron Building

Free Things to do in New York City
Free things to do in New York City - Photographer: Jermaine Ee | Source: Unsplash

If the architecture fascinates you, visit one of NYC's most photographed buildings because of its unique triangular shape that divides the streets in two. You can't officially go inside, but you can take a few photos, hang out at Madison Square Park.

Find out about your personal top sights in New York City with our interactive game!

Looking for something else?

Are you still looking for other things to do in NYC? It gets better, we have not finished yet. If you feel like you could get more of your trip with cool people, who share the same interests as you, then how about giving UNBLND a go? This new social app is designed to bring like-minded people closer together, whether as a tourist, an expat, or even a local. You can download the UNBLND app on Google Play or Apple Store. Find yourself the best travel buddy. Happy Unblnding!

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