14 (Almost) Free Things To Do In New York

new york tip

I was sent an e-mail from a lovely reader who wanted to know if I was planning on doing an (almost) free things to do in New York as she and her friend are heading there on tight budgets and want to do some free/very affordable things out . Now, I haven’t been to New York City (I chose to visit Omaha, Nebraska instead) but my lovely friend Adam (you might know him from this post) spent some time in the city when he had a beau over there and was happy to share a few insider tips.

Cheap flights from the Netherlands to New York are sometimes hard to find. KLM has the so called “werelddeal weken” where you kind find tickets for good prices and convenient flight times. Keep in mind that those offers are only around February and September for four weeks.

  • Obviously you have to ride the free Staten Island Ferry from Lower Manhattan to Staten Island and back. You’ll get a great view of NYC and see Lady Liberty in all her finest. Do it before sunset to get great views with good color for those social media likes. I expect at least 50 likes, no go!
  • Walk the length of the High Line park in the early evening, right before the sunset and preferably with your +1. I think this is the first urban landmark specifically designed for Instagram, but it’s great to stroll and people watch.
  • They are sooooo summer of 2013, but if you want a great souvenir, drop by the free photo booths at the Warby Parker flagship store at 121 Greene Street in Soho. So strike a pose and work it!
  • Magnolia Bakery? Cronuts? Total rip off when it cones to prices, and those calories always go somewhere. Dragon Land Bakery in Chinatown is where you should head to for ridiculously cheap pastries. They cost between $1 – $2. Treat yo’ self.
  • I had my own guide, but I’m not giving you his deets – but you can find a free walking tour of almost any neighbourhood, so make use of that.
  • Too stressed? Get relaxed and go for a ‘work-out’ (just don’t strain too hard, just enjoy) and follow a yoga class at Yoga to the People. Suggested donation is $10 (and you can hire a mat for $2), but you can give whatever you would like. I would like to pay off my classes with this positive word of mouth. Namaste.new york tip
  • There are a number of restaurants which serve up free food if you put down money on drinks. Head down to this Belgian beer bar in the East Village, where they offer free pomme frites every Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. The frites show up between 5-6:30, and are available until they are gone (probably for the best, as I would eat my weight in these things). Otherwise, the Crocodile Lounge on 325 East 14th Street dishes out free pizza with your drink.
  • The Museum of Modern Art offers free admission during UNIQLO Free Friday Nights, held every Friday evening from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. There is usually a bit of a line, because everyone knows this is the best museum in the world and it’s well worth the wait. The sculpture garden kinda cute and there’s a ridiculously opulent high-end restaurant called the Modern too, sadly I’ve only frequented the bar, so have yet to sink my teeth into their fancy menu – who wants to take me?
  • Are you a fan of Night At The Museum? Then the American Museum of Natural History is for you, it’s free during the last hour (4:45-5:45pm). But if you have the guts (or tightly toned abs) to look them in the eyes and say you’ll be paying $0 then they will let you in for free too on any day (they operate a pay-what-you-wish policy).
  • On Wednesdays the Bronx Zoo has free admission. But don’t be a complete ass and do consider making a small donation to help support caring for the animals, sadly they don’t get to explore the city like you and I!
  • A lot of TV shows are taped in NYC! Though I’ll never get to star across from the delicious Charlie Cox on Daredevil (filmed in NYC), at least I can go enjoy some free comedy from Fallon, Meyers, SNL or the Daily Show and make sure my laugh gets on the show. Here’s an overview and info on how to get a free spot in the audience.new york tip
  • Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge – from NYC City Hall to Brooklyn. You’ll get a great view of NYC and the opportunity to photobomb so so so many people and make yourself a mini social media celebrity.
  • Go to one of the many parks (yes, there are more besides Central Park) and you’ll be able upload the 100 images you just took for free!
  • Books? Yeah, they’re those things like tablets and iPhones but heavier and get dusty on shelves. Well, if you’re still into that old fashioned type of thing, go visit the only travel bookshop in the city: Idlewild on West 19th St.

Do you have anything to add?

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  1. What a brilliant read. I might be visiting New York this autumn (fingers crossed!), and am already starting to feel lost in the millions of things to do in the city, so need all the expert tips I can get 🙂 Plus my partner is a huge comedy fan, so will be sure to see if we can sneak into the audience of one of those shows!

    1. I grew up here! I live here! I find something new to do every time I leave the house! It will be impossible to do everything! Pick your battles wisely!

  2. Great article! The MET (Metropolitan Museum of Art) is also a “suggested price” museum so you can give them any amount you want. They also have a rooftop garden at the MET with a bar, not a ton of people know about it but sometimes it can still get a little crowded. Excellent views though and I would definitely suggest going if you can fit it in.

  3. I wish I can go to New York one day. I’ll bookmark this whenever that day will come. I am hopeful.

  4. These are great tips! I also suggest people head to the boroughs and Governors Island for great (and free) views of Manhattan.

    Also, during the summer, the number of free things to do in NYC quadruples. There are free movie screenings around NYC (Bryant Park, Hudson River, etc.), street fairs and festivals on the weekends, free concerts in Central Park, Prospecr Park and other places, and you can head to the beach or check out Coney Island.

    1. Agree with the free concerts and shows. Don’t forget Shakespeare in the Park! The main Manhattan branch of the NY Public Library also has some cool exhibits & architecture worth seeing. Also a good way to cool off during the summer!

      If you’re coming to NYC to go to the beach then you must be lost! Yeah there are beaches, but don’t expect amazing views and pretty green and blue colored water! The further east you drive out on Long Island the better the quality of the beaches.

  5. I’ll be in New York next year. So I’m gonna save this post on Bloglovin hihi! Thank you!

  6. There are so many things to do in the city and places to eat! Love the guide xx

  7. You can also get rush tickets to many broadway plays (the broadway spotted rush report is invaluable for this) and also get discount tickets to the lincoln center theater using the linctix program if you’re under 35. Hope your reader has a great time in nyc!

  8. I really love NY and can’t get stop reading about it. The tips you mention are great, I have done a couple of those. I actually just posted my own blogpost about free stuff to do in NY and named 1-2 other things that you can do for free in amazing New York.