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15 Free Things to Do in New York City

New York City is one of the most iconic cities in the world, and it is known for its expensive lifestyle. However, there are plenty of free things to do in the city that won’t break the bank. From parks to museums, there is something for everyone. Click through the gallery to explore 15 free things to do in New York City.

1. Take a stroll in Central Park

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Central Park is a vast, beautiful park that covers 843 acres in the heart of Manhattan. Visitors can enjoy a variety of free activities, such as bike riding, hiking, picnicking, and free concerts during the summer. There are also many iconic landmarks within the park, such as the Central Park Zoo, Bethesda Fountain, and the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir.

2. Visit the Brooklyn Bridge

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The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most iconic landmarks in New York City, and it offers stunning views of the city skyline and the East River. The bridge is open 24 hours a day, and visitors can walk, bike, or even rollerblade across it. The walk from Manhattan to Brooklyn takes about 30-45 minutes, and there are plenty of photo opportunities along the way.

3. Take the Staten Island Ferry

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The Staten Island Ferry is a free commuter ferry that offers stunning views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the New York Harbor. The ferry runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and it takes about 25 minutes each way. Visitors can take the ferry from Manhattan to Staten Island and back, enjoying the views along the way free of charge any day of the week.

4. Stop by The High Line

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The High Line is a unique public park that was built on a former railroad track. The park is elevated above the city streets, offering visitors a new perspective of the city. Visitors can enjoy art installations, gardens, and city views as they walk along the High Line. The park is open from 7 am to 7 pm, and admission is free.

5. Visit the National September 11 Memorial & Museum

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The National September 11 Memorial & Museum honors the victims of the 9/11 attacks, and admission is free. Visitors can see the twin reflecting pools, which are set in the footprints of the former Twin Towers, and learn about the history and impact of the attacks. Advance reservations are recommended.

6. Swing by the New York Public Library

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The New York Public Library is a beautiful and historic building that is free to visit. The library’s main branch is located on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, and visitors can marvel at the stunning architecture and explore the vast collection of books. There are also free guided tours of the library available.

7. Take a look inside The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the largest and most comprehensive museums in the world, and admission is free (though donations are suggested). Visitors can explore the museum’s vast collection of art and artifacts, which span over 5,000 years of human history. Some of the highlights of the museum include the Temple of Dendur, the Egyptian Wing, and the American Wing.

8. Go to Grand Central Terminal

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Grand Central Terminal is a bustling transportation hub and a landmark in its own right. Visitors can take a free tour and learn about the history and architecture of this iconic building. The tours are offered daily and cover the history of the terminal, the art and architecture, and the secrets of the Whispering Gallery.

9. Spend a Wednesday at the Bronx Zoo

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The Bronx Zoo is one of the largest metropolitan zoos in the world, with over 600 species of animals. Admission is free on Wednesdays, but donations are appreciated. Visitors can see animals from all over the world, including tigers, gorillas, and sea lions. The zoo also offers a variety of free talks and feedings throughout the day.

10. Enjoy the New York Botanical Garden

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The New York Botanical Garden is a beautiful and serene oasis in the middle of the city. Admission is free on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9 am to 10 am. Visitors can explore the 250-acre garden, which includes a variety of themed gardens such as the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden, the Native Plant Garden, and the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. The garden also hosts free events throughout the year, such as concerts, art exhibits, and seasonal festivals.

11. Spend a Friday evening at the Museum of Modern Art

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The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is one of the most influential museums of modern and contemporary art in the world, and admission is free every Friday from 5 pm to 9 pm. Visitors can see works by some of the most important artists of the 20th and 21st centuries, such as Van Gogh, Picasso, Warhol, and Pollock. The museum also has an extensive collection of photography, film, and design.

12. Stop by the Highbridge Park

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The Highbridge Park is a beautiful and historic park located in northern Manhattan. Visitors can enjoy the park’s many trails, picnic areas, and scenic views of the Harlem River. The park also has a public pool, a skate park, and a variety of free events throughout the year, such as concerts, fitness classes, and movie nights.

13. Visit the Cloisters

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The Cloisters is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art located in Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan. The museum is dedicated to the art and architecture of medieval Europe and has a stunning collection of tapestries, sculptures, and manuscripts. Admission is free on Fridays from 4 pm to 5:30 pm, but donations are suggested.

14. Visit the New York Historical Society

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The New York Historical Society is a museum and library located on Central Park West in Manhattan. The museum has a vast collection of artifacts and exhibits that showcase the rich history of New York City and the United States. Admission is free on Fridays from 6 pm to 8 pm.

15. Go to the Brooklyn Museum (on the first Saturday of the month)

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The Brooklyn Museum is one of the largest art museums in the United States and has an extensive collection of art and artifacts from around the world. Admission is free on the first Saturday of every month from 5 pm to 11 pm. Visitors can see works by famous artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Norman Rockwell, and Jean-Michel Basquiat, as well as exhibits on ancient Egyptian art, contemporary art, and more.

What will you do in The Big Apple?

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New York City may be known for its high prices, but there are plenty of free things to do that allow visitors to experience the city’s culture, history, and natural beauty. From iconic landmarks to serene parks, New York City has something for everyone. So, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly way to explore the city, check out these 15 free things to do in New York City.



Jenna Gleespen is a published author and copywriter specializing in personal and investment finance. Her expertise is in financial product reviews and stock market education.