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Last updated on March 31st, 2022 at 01:29 am
New York City is one of the most expensive destinations in the United States, a city full of high expectations and starving artists, and one of the biggest tourist destinations in the country. However, while a trip to the city can be expensive, there are plenty of free things to do in New York City too.
Fun & Free Things to do in New York City
Attend the taping of a TV show.
Many popular TV shows with live studio audiences, from morning news to late night comedy, are taped in New York City and most of them offer free tickets. They can be difficult to secure without advance notice though, especially for the more popular shows like The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Other shows that are taped in NYC include The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Good Morning America, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Late Night with Seth Myers, Today, and Saturday Night Live, among others. Most shows require that you be 18 to attend, and tickets should be requested as far in advance as possible.
Explore Central Park.
Central Park, one of the city’s most iconic destinations, is free to visit and explore. While there are certainly opportunities here to spend money, it’s not necessary. Pack a lunch and spend the day wandering through the iconic landscape. Make sure to check the event calendar beforehand – you might be lucky enough to catch a free concert or event.
Join a Free Tours by Foot.
Free Tours by Foot is a great company that offers tours all over the city with no upfront cost. While it is recommended to leave a tip equivalent to what you feel the tour was worth at the end, the cost is up to you. For a family or group, this is a great alternative to the more expensive tours, and the guides are knowledge and upbeat, giving you an opportunity to learn more about the city than you might on your own.
Explore the many free museums.
New York City has no shortage of museums, some famous and others more obscure, and visiting several can lead to hefty entrance fees. However, there is a long list of museums that are always free and many others offer special days or hours with free admission.
Museums that are always free include The Bronx Museum of the Arts, the African Burial Ground Memorial Site, the American Folk Art Museum, and the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, among many others. The 9/11 Memorial is free and open to the public seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Museum tickets can be purchased up to six months in advance and include entry to all available exhibitions. Find more information about free museums and free admission days here.
Head to the Zoo.
The Bronx Zoo offers free admission on Wednesdays, though you still need to reserve a time and get a ticket. This free admission doesn’t include special exhibits like the Butterfly Garden at the Bronx Zoo.
The Staten Island Zoo is free after 2 p.m. on Wednesdays. Learn more about the Staten Island Zoo free admissioin policy.
Check out Battery Park.
Battery Park, located in Manhattan and originally named for the battery cannons it was once home to, is full of quirky monuments, memorials, and gardens. There’s also a stone labyrinth for meditative strolling and, in the summer, many concerts are held here.
This is, of course, only a very small sampling of the many free things to do in New York City. There are many free pop-up events throughout the entire city, so it’s worth doing a quick search prior to your visit. Whether you’re hoping to end up on TV or want to spend a day museum-hopping, New York City doesn’t need to be expensive.
What are your favorite free things to do in New York City? Leave me a comment below!
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I have plans on visiting New York City in the near future. And this post is surely helpful that I’ll get to see NYC without spending too much once I’m there.
These are awesome ideas to do in New York city for free. We love museums so we would be seeing as many free museums as we could. Joining a tour by Free Tours by Foot would be something worth checking out. Thanks for sharing these free things to do in New York city.
oh man I love NYC! My birthplace! There is just so much to do with so little time
I love strolling through Central Park, its one of the first things I do when I get there.
New York is a nice place to visit. It’s good to know there’s so many free things that one can do in NYC.
Ana De- Jesus
Battery park looks awesome as does the free tours. Also I love going to museums so it looks like there is so many free things to do in NYC! x
I love walking in Central Park and also…I’ve attended a few free tapings! They’re super fun, just annoying to wait a little. But these are all such great suggestions!
Great post! I’m trying to budget and save at the moment so I will see what free options are available near me.
Fun! I love NYC. I haven’t been in years and can’t wait to go back. What great ideas!
I THINK CENTRAL PARK MUST BE A MUST!!
IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL AND YOU CAN SIT UNDER A TREE AND READ A BOOK
Love this !! I live in NYC and this is some great ideas. I love Battery Park so many gems there to explore 🙂
Oh wow it is great to know that there is things to do in New York I would love to visit Central Park personally.
I had no idea about the Zoo days. This is good to know. I have a trip planned New York soon.
That is so awesome that the Bronx Zoo and Staten Island Zoo offer free admission on certain days! I may need to add that to my schedule when we head there next year!
It’s great to know there are things you can actually do for free in New York. I think Central Park would be top of everyone’s list.
I wish to explore the Central Park, one of the New York’s romantic place I believe 🙂 Sounds cheesy but i like it!
Ohhh I Love New York and I love your suggestions! I will def have to save this list for future trips!
A lot of the museums can be free with their “pay what you want” admission rates. I just liked walking around and exploring the city.
This is a great post. I love NYC and there really is a lot that you can find for little or no money if you know where to look.