New York is known as one of the most expensive cities in the world and, indeed, the cost of living is very high compared to other American and European cities. Yet there are many free activities you can do in New York.
Some examples? Go jogging in Central Park, go where the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges meet and enjoy a breathtaking view of the New York skyline, admire the lights of Times Square when they turn on at dusk, attend the many outdoor concerts in the city parks… The list is long and we want to give you in detail useful tips to fully enjoy the American metropolis without spending a cent.
We have created a list of for you below things to do for free in New York with information and tips.
- Cruise on the Staten Island Ferry
- A walk on the High Line
- Visit one of the New York museums during free hours
- Tour in the vault of the Federal Bank of New York
- Visit the Chelsea art galleries
- Whispering in the Whispering Gallery in Grand Central Terminal
- Free tours of Brooklyn distilleries
- Brooklyn Brewery Tour
- New York Distilling Company
- Attending Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show as an audience
- Visit the New York Public Library
- Visit the Saint Patrick Cathedral
- Attend a free jazz concert
Cruise on the Staten Island Ferry
Lo Staten island ferry is the free ferry that connects Lower Manhattan with Staten Island. It takes around 25 minutes to complete the tour and no ticket payment is required. The ferry departs from the dock South ferry in southern Manhattan, near Battery Park.
There is a departure every 30 minutes and therefore, in addition to not having to pay anything, you won't have to wait too long before getting on board. The ride is approximately 5 kilometers long and passes close to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. You will then have the opportunity to navigate a short distance from the symbol par excellence of New York and snap some photos on the fly. An advice? For the best view, if you are traveling from Manhattan sit on the right, while if you are leaving from Staten Island sit on the left.
Sailing on the Staten Island Ferry also has historical value: there was a time, in fact, when using the shipping company was the only way to reach some of the neighborhoods close to Manhattan as the bridges that today had not yet been built. they channel city traffic and the movement of New Yorkers and tourists.
A walk on the High Line
Where the New York elevated railroad tracks once ran, today there is a public park open all year round and totally free. The High Line transformed New York, and in particular the West Side of Manhattan: between 1934 and 1980 it allowed the transport of goods and mail from one place to another without interruptions or stops, then in 1999 the residents themselves prohibited their demolition and in 2009 it opened the High Line as a hybrid public park about a mile and a half long that allows you to walk in the green while observing the city from above, without worrying about cars, scooters and buses.
Not only that, the High Line has also become a meeting place for artists and designers with exhibitions, performances and art installations along the route from Gansevoort Street to 34th Street in the west of Manhattan. In warm weather, walking over New York is an experience not to be missed, but if you are in New York in winter you can still enjoy a refreshing walk along the High Line, which is open all year round.
Visit one of the New York museums during free hours
Please note:: Due to the changes imposed by the pandemic these free days are not currently available
There are so many museums in New York and some are true icons of the city, absolutely not to be missed. Among these there is certainly MoMA: on Friday afternoon from 16:00 to 20:00 you will have the opportunity to visit one of the most famous and visited museums in New York for free. During the whole day, however, you can visit the MoMA Sculpture Garden.
In addition to museums with free days and hours, there are museums where the Pay what you wish formula applies on a specific day of the week, i.e. pay what you want. This is the case with the Guggenheim Museum Saturdays from 17pm to 00pm with a free cash donation, possibly for a minimum of $ 20.
In our article on free museums in New York you will find a detailed list of those with always free admission and those that instead have fixed days and times with free access: as you will see, the list is long and you just have to choose.
Tour in the vault of the Federal Bank of New York
Please note:: Due to the changes imposed by the pandemic this tour is not currently available
Not everyone knows that it is possible to visit the vault of the Federal Bank of New York with a guided tour that illustrates the function and responsibilities of the Federal Bank in the banking system. The building dates back to 1920 and is located on Wall Street in New York's financial district. The vault holds more than 6.500 tons of gold, most of which has been there since the end of World War II.
Through the Federal Bank website it is possible to book your tour: seats are limited to 25 people. Through the site you can book one of the tours thirty days away. From Monday to Friday there are two guided tours per day: at 13pm and 00pm. Entrance is at 14 Maiden Lane and it is recommended that you arrive approximately 00 minutes early for security. Remember to bring the printed ticket and an identification document with you or you will not be able to participate.
Visit the Chelsea art galleries
Chelsea is one of the most interesting neighborhoods in New York thanks to its art galleries. And the beauty is that these spaces full of creativity and inspiration are almost always completely free. Among the galleries to visit I suggest you the David Zwirner Gallery at 519, 525 and 533 West 19th Street, opened in 2002 with works by both American and European contemporary artists, the Gagosian Gallery at 555 West 24th Street with some of the most important works of the American artist and the PaceGallery, at 510 West 25th Street.
These are some of the most popular art galleries in the area, but Chelsea is one of the neighborhoods with the highest number of galleries in the world so you can choose which ones to enter and what to see based on your tastes and feelings. arouse the works exhibited. In addition to art in the strict sense, the museo del Fashion Institute of Technology at the intersection of Seventh Avenue and 27th Street: over 50.000 pieces of clothing, clothes and accessories from the 1700s to today. Admission is free.
Whispering in the Whispering Gallery in Grand Central Terminal
Visiting the Gran Central Terminal is already in itself one of those free activities to do in New York: a historic station inaugurated in February 1913 that fascinates 750.000 passengers with its architectural style, its functionality and the many curiosities that characterize it. that enter it every day. From the outside you can understand its magnificence admiring the Beaux-Arts style building located at 89 East of 42nd Street.
The interior also amazes for its size, for its elegance, for the ceiling with the constellations painted in reverse, the track 61, the 4-sided clock worth about 10 million dollars and obviously the famous Whispering Gallery. Enter Grand Central Terminal and head to the main lounge, next to theOyster Bar & Restaurant you will find the famous arched gallery. Thanks to its conformation, anyone who whispers on one side of the arch can be heard on the other side by friends or family. An acoustic effect to experience in person, free and fun inside one of the most majestic stations in the world.
Free tours of Brooklyn distilleries
Walking among the skyscrapers of New York, visiting the museums, strolling through Central Park, queuing up to enter the main attractions… it's time for some relaxation. And what's better than sipping a good craft beer or, for those who love the strongest tastes, an excellent gin or an aged whiskey? Obviously, for both, entry is only allowed to those over 21 years of age.
Brooklyn Brewery Tour
To the historical Brooklyn Brewery, at 79 North 11th Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, at the weekend you will have the opportunity to participate in free tours: there is a tour every thirty minutes between 13:00 and 18:00 (seats are limited to 40 people per tour and it is not possible to book). By participating in the guided tour you will discover all (or almost!) The secrets to producing an excellent beer ... the tasting is a must!
New York Distilling Company
La New York Distilling Company opens its doors for free tours of its distillery on Saturdays and Sundays at 14pm, 30pm and 15pm. After your visit, don't miss the chance to taste their renowned Dorothy Parker American gin. The New York Distilling Company and its bar, the Shanty, are located at 30 Richardson Street in Brooklyn.
Attending Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show as an audience
You may not be a talk-show enthusiast, but anyone has ever seen at least one of the Tonight Show interviews with the many American or international celebrities who have participated in the program in over sixty years. The first episode of the Tonight Show aired on September 27, 1954 and today it is the longest-running talk show in the world.
Broadcast on the NBC television network, the show has had various hosts and has been presented by Jimmy Fallon since 2014 under the title Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. The recording studios are at the Rockefeller Center and you will be able to attend a recording of the show for free. Tickets are available online on the NBC website one month in advance of the bet and can be bought by registering without paying a dollar. If you are over 16, then why not experience the thrill of being part of the audience of one of the most famous TV shows in the world? And who knows who could be the guest of the evening ...
Visit the New York Public Library
Inside the Stephen Schwarzman Building, between 5th Avenue and 42nd Street is the headquarters of the New York Public Library: a marble building whose Beaux Arts style is absolutely unmistakable among New York skyscrapers. The lions that welcome you at the entrance, the staircase and the columns characterize this large historic building inaugurated in 1911. The entrance to one of the most renowned libraries in the world is totally free: also for this reason, the visit to the NYPL must be a must in the program of activities you will do in New York.
Not only that… the library tours of about an hour at 11am and 00pm from Monday to Saturday and Sunday at 14pm are also free. The meeting point for the guided tour that will take you to discover the magnificent areas of the library and its most precious volumes is the reception desk in the Astor Hall on the first floor.
And as if this were not enough, the program of free events and lessons that the library offers every day is huge ... just consult the site to find out what the days you will be in New York offer. Also how can we not forget the fact that it was the memorable set for the first episode of Ghostbusters!
Visit the Saint Patrick Cathedral
It happens more and more often to arrive in front of a church and discover that you have to pay an entrance ticket to be able to admire the internal architecture and the treasures kept within its walls. This won't happen to you in front of Saint Patrick Cathedral, New York's Catholic cathedral and one of the most famous Neo-Gothic churches in the world. Consecrated on May 25, 1879, the church is among the oldest in the United States and, despite being surrounded by skyscrapers and with the main entrance on chaotic Fifth Avenue, it has been a symbol of peace, meditation and architectural beauty for over a century.
The church is open from 6:30 am to 20:45 pm and admission is free. You will also have the opportunity to participate in organized guided tours which generally start at 9:30 and whose calendar is available online. If the outside with its spiers, the massive bronze portals, the 8 meter rose window is a marvel for the eyes, the inside will be even more so with its chapels, the high altar, the crypt and the stained glass windows. polychrome.
Attend a free jazz concert
Not only did Broadway musicals characterize the New York music scene, on the contrary ... in the years of prohibition, the "clandestine" places to consume alcohol and listen to jazz swarmed along the streets of the Village, Harlem and other New York neighborhoods. Today it is possible to relive the Jazz Era in historic venues with an unforgettable atmosphere such as the Marjorie Eliot’s Parlor Jazz Sundays from 15:30 to 18:00 andEar Inn some Sundays from 20:00 to 23:00.
In addition to the clubs that open their doors for free to artists and visitors (however a free offer is welcome), do not miss the many summer musical events open to the public and free in the city parks, one of them being theHarlem Meer Performance Festival in Central Park. If you want other suggestions you can read our in-depth study entirely dedicated to the best places to listen to Jazz music in New York.