18 FREE THINGS TO DO IN NEW YORK CITY ALL YEAR ROUND
Visiting New York City is a trip of a lifetime and needless to say it can cost a small fortune to tick off some bucket list attractions while you’re there. Whilst the best time to visit NYC is usually during the summer & winter months, these can also be the most expensive. However, New York City is also a great place that won’t break the bank if you plan your trip properly and take advantage of the free things to do!
Oh and before you get confused and start asking ‘is New York is is a country, a city, island or state’ let us confirm: New York City is a city within New York State!
One of the most famous things to do in NYC, the Rockefeller Center! Many people assume that going to ‘the top of the rock’ to see panoramic views of the city is the only thing the Rockefeller Center has to offer. Little do they know that you can visit for free, albeit with restricted access to the lower floors. However, it’s also possible to grab some great views if you go up to Bar SixityFive on the 65th floor. This is a cocktail lounge that opens from 4 pm and while it’s not entirely free after a few obligatory drinks, it’s a fraction of the price you will pay for a standard ticket to the top! Whichever you choose, heading here is one of the best things to do when it rains in NYC too.
Tip: This is an awesome place to get a great view of New York at night; we love the Canon EOS M50 as a beginner’s camera to get some great shots!
Where to find it: 45 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10111
No New York City trip is complete without a visit to Times Square. It’s just around the corner from the Rockefeller Center and no matter what time of day you visit, the atmosphere will be buzzing. Times Square is home to a vast amount of bars, restaurants and shops that are always busy; visiting here will show you exactly why NYC is ‘the city that never sleeps’!
Tip: There is also a camera in Times Square where you can go and give your family and friends a wave!
Where to find it: Times Square, Manhattan, NY 10036, United States
TV SHOW SCREENINGS
Ok, so it might not be the show you were hoping for at Broadway, but it’s still a fun night in NYC and totally FREE! To find the latest shows, check out this website but DO NOT book through them as they will charge you just under $5. Instead, just google the show you like the look of followed by ‘free audience tickets’ and you can usually get it for free.
Tip: Make sure you check dates in advance.
If you happen to be in New York City on a Wednesday, be sure to visit and get free admission! Limited tickets are released on a Monday for the upcoming Wednesday, so get in quick to see all of your favourite animals living it up in the city!
Where to find it: Bronx Zoo, 2300 Southern Blvd, The Bronx, NY 10460, United States
STATEN ISLAND FERRY
From Whitehall Street in lower Manhattan, you can board the ferry and take a 25-minute free tour to the terminal in St. George on Staten Island. Along the way, you’ll get great views of Manhattan as well as the Statue of Liberty. Once you arrive, there is plenty to do; from New York Chinese Scholar Garden’s to Fort Wadsworth, you can spend time exploring the island.
Tip: Avoid rush hour – these times can be found highlighted in yellow on the schedule link above.
Where to find it: Staten Island, South St, Whitehall St, New York, 10004, United States
NEW YORK CITY’S HIGH LINE
Escape from cars honking their horns among the busy streets of New York and head to this peaceful boardwalk that joins up the city from above. What was once an old railway line is now a pedestrian walkway providing fantastic views of the city. It’s the perfect way to get around or simply take a relaxing walk and is one of the most unique things to do in NYC.
Where to find it: Gansevoort Street, Meatpacking District to West Side Yard on 34th Street near the Javits Center
It would be criminal to visit New York City and not go to one of the most iconic shopping streets in the world (even if you can’t afford anything!). Known as millionaires row, Fifth Avenue is a great place to window shop and grab a coffee – who knows, you may even bump into a few celebs!
WATCH A FREE MOVIE IN BRYANT PARK
Every Monday night from mid-June to mid-August, Bryant Park hosts a free movie night for anyone who swings by! It’s usually a well-known classic like Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Anchorman or Back to the Future to name a few. Although the film doesn’t usually start until around 8 pm you’ll need to get there at around 4:30 pm to claim a front-row spot. Obviously, this is a long time to be hanging around, so make an afternoon of it by packing a picnic, some drinks, and games to relax and pass the time!
Tip: Having Christmas in New York? Don’t miss the ice rink here!
Where to find it: Byrant Park, New York, NY 10018, United States
CHELSEA ART GALLERIES
There are a whole bunch of art galleries in the trendy neighbourhood of Chelsea that you won’t want to miss! With new exhibitions launching every day, this is a great freebie to immerse yourself in. Some of the top galleries include Alexander Gray Associates, Galerie Lelong & Co., and Marianne Boesky Gallery!
Brooklyn Bridge is the piece of the puzzle that connects the well-known boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn and is a must-see attraction in New York. You can walk, drive or cycle across the bridge; if you’re walking then make sure you stay on the left, and if you’re cycling then stick to the right. You can snap some great artistic photos of the bridge whichever mode of transport you choose. Alternatively, you can head down to Pebble Beach to get a full-length view of the bridge with the NYC skyline in the background (particularly spectacular at sunset!).
Where to find it: Pebble Beach, 65 Plymouth St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, United States
FRIENDS APARTMENT/CENTRAL PERK CAFE
Any Friends fanatic obviously needs to add this to their itinerary immediately! The apartment sits above the cafe and is located in Greenwich Village which is a nice area of New York City to walk around. You can take some snaps outside for the obligatory Instagram story with the caption ‘ill be there for you’ or head in to grab and coffee, which of course is not free!
Where to find it: 100 Bedford St Corner Grove, New York City, NY 10014-5304
The 9/11 Memorial stands as a monument to the 2,977 people who lost their lives on September 11th, 2011. Each person’s name is engraved around the edges and is a harrowing reminder for many to pay their respects while they enjoy the city that so many no longer can. If you want to learn more about the terror attack then there is a museum closeby or an app called ‘9/11 Memorial Audio Guide’ which can be downloaded for $1.99.
Tip: At night, the memorial is lit up to represent New York Cities unbreakable spirit.
Where to find it: 180 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10007, United States
CHINATOWN, NEW YORK CITY
One of the best places to visit in New York has to be Chinatown! It’s ALWAYS busy and for a good reason too! Bubble tea, dumplings, pork buns, and oodles of noodles….this is every foodie’s paradise! Indulge to the max on food from the native owners of Chinese and Southeast Asian restaurants, pick up unique souvenirs, or hang out in Columbus Park – the historic spot to relax among the rainbow of flowers!
Where to find it: Chinatown, 199 ha, New York, United States
GRAND CENTRAL STATION
Well, the clues in the name and I can confirm that it is pretty grand! The incredible detail of this station is one definitely to marvel at in between all of the people watching!
Where to find it: 89 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017, United States
NEW YORK AQUARIUM
New York City’s Aquarium is the oldest in the United States and is home to many different animals including otters and sharks! Similar to the Zoo, the aquarium is free on a Wednesday, however, this is only after 3 pm. Tickets are released on the Monday before so be speedy!
Where to find it: New York Aquarium, 602 Surf Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11224-3452
The funky structure of the Vessel should be enough to draw you towards it, let alone up it! 2500 steps and some achy legs later will be rewarded with some fabulous views of the Big Apple! You’ll need to book your one-hour timeslot here, which is completely free, of course.
Where to find it: The Vessel, 20 Hudson Yards, New York, NY 10001, United States
New York Cities very own beach break; With street performers, fairground rides, and a pier from the beach, some locals say this is their favourite part of the city. It’s the perfect place to visit for a day of entertainment, or to switch up city life for a day relaxing at the beach and to find some little hidden gems in NYC!
Where to find it: Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY, USA
And last but not least, one of my favourite spots and undoubtedly the best park in New York; Central Park! Whichever season you visit, Central Park is a beautiful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. You’ll be able to explore the park along the mile and half loop, discovering each corner while the city that never sleeps buzzes away in the background.
Tip: If you’re visiting New York City in winter then don’t miss the ice-rink!
Where to find it: There are many entrances around the Upper West and Upper East Sides of Manhattan.
And that sums up our list of freebies! For us, these were some of the best things to do in New York that I would definitely add to my list if I were to visit the city again!
Love Millie x
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