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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