While often considered to be one of the most expensive cities in the world, New York actually hosts a number of free events and attractions. We’ve pick out 27 great ways to spend time in the Big Apple which won’t cost you a single dollar!
Squeeze in a bit of culture
New York is littered with museums, art galleries, stunning architecture and history
Museum and art
- The Museum of Modern Art on West 53rd Street in Manhattan is free-to-enter between 4pm and 8pm on Fridays. Get there early as the queue gets very big very fast.
- The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) is a specialised fashion museum holding over 50,000 garments from the 18th century onwards.
- The Dia Art Foundation has five sites of artistic displays in New York City.
- The National Museum of the American Indian has one of its homes in New York, and often includes films and dance performances alongside its exhibitions and collections.
- The Museum and Gold Tour at the Federal Reserve Bank runs on Mondays and Tuesdays at 1pm and 2pm.
- The National Memorial to General Ulysses S. Grant is the largest mausoleum in North America.
- Governor’s Island, without which a trip to New York would not be complete. Annoyingly the ferry to get there will now charge you $2, but the monument itself and most program events are free.
- The Grand Tour will teach you all about the history of the Grand Central area including the Chrysler Building, Grand Central Terminal and the original Lincoln Memorial.
- Riverside Park’s Bird Sanctuary is perfect for those with an interest in our avian friends.
- 91st Street Garden, as seen in You’ve Got Mail, is where the green-fingered Garden People join forces to keep the garden stunningly beautiful.
- Ever wondered what lurks in New York’s East River? Seining at Brooklyn Bridge will reveal all.
Pepper your evenings with music and comedy
- Whiplash is a weekly free alternative stand-up comedy event at the UCB Theatre on West 26th Street.
- Free music performances are held all over the city every night of the week – take your pick!
- Bargemusic, New York’s ‘floating concert hall’, hosts free family music concerts at 4pm on Saturdays.
- Riverside Park is full of sporting opportunity, from basketball courts to running tracks and playgrounds for the kids.
Get a bit of exercise
- The High Line is a new way to tour New York, its three current sections having only opened between 2009 and 2014.
- There are several free public pools to help you cool off and teach the kids to swim in the baking New York summer.
- You can kayak for free from one of the public boathouses.
- Take a walk across Brooklyn Bridge. You can either do this yourself or there are some free tours run by volunteers if you’d like more information.
- Central Park is known across the globe, and is a great way to spend a relaxed afternoon on a long walk, doing your morning run or skating on Wollman Rink in the winter.
Negate your exercise with free beer!
New York is home to a number of breweries and bars which run free tasting sessions.
- Bierkraft: head up to Brooklyn for 7pm on a Tuesday (make it 6:30 – the place gets filled early!) and you’ll be treated free nibbles and be able to sample beers from local breweries.
- Singlecut Beersmiths: runs free tours, and the Taproom often hosts free events including music gigs and, for some reason, Regional Air Guitar Qualifiers.
You can’t move for parades in New York
New Yorkers will celebrate just about anything with a parade, with some incredible floats, giant balloons and performers on show:
- The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a great example of American pride in heritage, with thousands turning out on Fifth Avenue and 44th Street in Manhattan for the show.
- New York’s Village Halloween Parade transforms Greenwich Village with 50,000 bizarre costumes, the rise of giant puppets, and even a huge spider dangling terrifyingly from Jefferson Market Library.
- The Veterans’ Day Parade is a more formal, but no less powerful, experience than other parades in New York City. The parade itself is not to encourage any military action – only to honour those veterans and current military serving their country.
- The Coney Island Mermaid Parade celebrates the coming of summer, with a King Neptune and Queen Mermaid overseeing proceedings. Previous rulers have included Harvey Keitel and Queen Latifah.
- The Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade is the one you’ve heard of with the giant balloons; now in its 89th year, the parade is now surrounded on the streets by 3.5 million people on its 2.5 mile route.