During your stay in New York, you will have the opportunity to do many activities and visit many monuments and museums. But access to all these attractions can quickly add up into a very significant budget. Fortunately, visiting New York doesn't always have to be expensive and you can also find visits that are free!In this post, I present to you some activities that make it possible to visit the city of New York for free! 😄
VISITing CENTRAL PARK
Central Park, the huge green space in the heart of Manhattan, can of course be visited entirely free of charge. Whichever season it is, you can discover this park –probably the most famous in the world – and admire the amazing contrast between all the greenery and the imposing New York buildings that rise behind the trees.
You can stroll the park's paths, relax or have a picnic on the grass and discover several iconic sites such as the monumental Bethesda Fountain, Bow Bridge or the Strawberry Fields.
Of course, there are also other ways to explore the park. For example, you can rent a bike in Central Park, or an electric moped.
Another possibility is to discover Central Park with the latest means of transport: the electric scooter! To book a scooter, you can.
You can also take a guided tour of the park on a horse-drawn carriage. For more information about that, you can.
VISITING NEW YORK’S ICONIC NEIGHBOURHOODS
New York is an amazing city with many different neighbourhoods. One of the best ways to discover the city without breaking the bank is to simply take the time to walk the streets of these neighbourhoods, to enjoy their unique atmospheres and naturally meet the locals.
Discover the popular culture in Harlem, enjoy the art in Greenwich Village, visit the old port of South Street Seaport... every borough and neighbourhood in New York has something to offer its visitors.
If you fall in love with a neighbourhood and want to see more of it, you can explore it in depth with a guided tour. For example, you can discover Greenwich Village and the surrounding areas (Soho, Little Italy and Chinatown) on a wonderful walk with a guide.
TAKING THE STATEN ISLAND FERRY
It may come as a surprise, but the ferry from Staten Island to Manhattan is completely free. Every day, dozens of New Yorkers take the Staten Island Ferry to work, and it's also a great way for tourists to get a wonderful view of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline.
The crossing takes about 25 minutes. Once on Staten Island, you can take the opportunity to visit the Empire Outlets, one of New York's premier shopping destinations. The ferry actually operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! Once done, you can make the crossing again at night to admire the illuminations of Lady Liberty and the New York skyline.
If you like the experience and want to discover more, you can also take other cruises in New York. The best cruise will undoubtedly be the one that takes you under the Brooklyn Bridge and within metres of the Statue of Liberty, before reaching Ellis Island. To get your tickets for this cruise, you can follow this link.
Visit the MoMa
The Museum of Modern Art in New York is one of the most famous cultural places in the world, and an absolute must-see in the city. But it's relatively expensive to get in, and I understand that if you're not necessarily a big art lover, the price can become a barrier. Yet you should know that the MoMa is freely open to everyone, every week on Friday evenings, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Of course, there’s always a lot of people that come for the occasion, but let’s be honest, this museum is almost always crowded anyway, even in normal times! This is a unique opportunity to see some of the works of legendary artists such as Matisse, Picasso and Van Gogh for free.
If you like modern art, or if you can't make it on a Friday night while you're in New York, I'd recommend taking a skip-the-line ticket instead, so you can visit MoMa without having to wait in a queue.
The museum is definitely worth a visit, and this ticket is the only way do your visit with very little or even no waiting time 🙂
DISCOVER THE NEW YORK CENTRAL LIBRARY
The New York Public Library is the second largest library in the United States after the Library of Congress. It is in fact made of no less than 89 libraries located in various parts of New York – the most famous one being in Bryant Park on Fifth Avenue. If you are visiting Manhattan and more particularly Midtown, this library is one of the places you should definitely visit, just like Times Square, Grand Central Station or the Empire State Building. All the more because it's completely free!
You will discover the exceptional architecture of this place where millions of books are stored, and you can freely visit many rooms and consult all the books you want – as long as you don't make noise, of course!
ASSIST TO A GOSPEL mass
This is an activity that is becoming increasingly popular with travellers visiting New York. If I had to give my opinion, I would honestly say that attending an authentic gospel mass is a must-do activity during a stay in the Big Apple.
In many of the churches in Harlem or the Bronx, you can attend these unique singing celebrations and experience the religious fervour of the people living in these neighbourhoods. On Sunday mornings, you will always be warmly welcomed and you can really join these celebrations by taking part in the singing.
Attending mass is of course completely free of charge. If you want to learn more about these traditions and discover the emblematic neighbourhood of African-American culture Harlem, you can take a guided tour of Harlem. You'll learn about the history of famous buildings such as the Apollo Theatre, and take part in a traditional mass in one of Harlem's most beautiful churches.
THE ROOFTOPS OF MANHATTAN
One of the most impressive things you can do in New York City is to take a bit of altitude to admire the view. You won't necessarily need a ticket to do this. On the roofs of many buildings in Manhattan (and now even in Brooklyn and Queens) are terraces: the famous Rooftops.
Whether during the day or in the evening, you can go there to have a drink and enjoy a pleasant atmosphere while admiring an incredible view. These rooftops are often located on top of bars or restaurants, and you can go up there for free as long as you purchase a drink.
230 Fifth is probably the most famous rooftop in New York. It has the advantage of being accessible to minors and offering affordable drinks.
The Press Lounge, Westlight, The Skylark or the MET Roof Garden Bar (located on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art) are other very pleasant Rooftops.
Of course, the best views you can get of New York City are those from the observation decks of the Empire State Building or the Top of the Rock. Unfortunately, these tours are not free – though they are still a must-do during a trip to New York!
If you have to do only one paid activity during your stay, I would of course recommend the Empire State Building 🙂 It’s a tourist’s real favourite and one of the major emblems of the city (the Statue of Liberty is easier to see and visit on your own)!
The second platform, the Top of the Rock, is also worth a visit, as you won't obtain the same view from it – despite the fact that both buildings are in the same area 🙂 I encourage you to do both if you have the chance. You won't regret it and you'll make great memories. More details on how to get to the Top of the Rock by.
GO TO A COMEDY CLUB
In New York, you can see a lot of talent performing in clubs like the Comedy Cellar, Stand Up New York and the Broadway Comedy Club The shows of these young artists are free, though you will still have to pay for a drink.
I'm sure you've already planned to spend at least one night in a bar during your stay in New York, so why not take the opportunity to see a comedy show at the same time, without paying extra?
Note that not all clubs are free, and sometimes you'll need to make a reservation if you want to be sure to catch a show at one of New York's biggest comedy clubs.
To discover and see the different Comedy Clubs in the city, you can.
VISIT OTHER NEW YORK SITES AND MUSEUMS FOR FREE
Many other New York sites can be visited for free:
- The 9/11 Memorial, built on the site of the Twin Towers, pays tribute to the victims of the attacks. It can be visited free of charge on Tuesdays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., by reservation.
- The American Folk Art Museum is located right next to Central Park. This museum, which displays American folk art, is completely free.
- The General Grand National Memorial is the final resting place of General Ulysses S. Grant, former US president and Civil War hero. Admission to the mausoleum is free.
- The Neue Galerie is a museum dedicated to the works of German and Austrian artists, located right next to the MET. It can be visited free of charge on the first Friday of the month from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
- The National Museum of the American Indian is located across from Battery Park. It is the former New York Customs House, which now houses a museum that tells the story of the American Indian. Admission is free.
- The Federal Bank Reserve is located in the Wall Street district. This is where coins and banknotes are made. There is a free guided tour every day of the week, if you register in advance on the Federal Reserve Bank's website.
- The Brooklyn Botanic Garden can be visited free of charge on Friday mornings, and daily during the winter.
- The Bronx Museum of the Arts is a museum dedicated to contemporary American art. It is located on Grand Concourse, one of the Bronx's main thoroughfares, and is free to visit.
- The Museum of Moving Image is a museum in Queens dedicated to film. Admission is free from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Fridays.
And that’s it for this article on How to visit New York for free! I hope I could help you with your research and that you enjoyed this article 😊