Must Visit Free Attractions in NYC that Locals Do Too!

In keeping with my theme this month! I’m trying to share as much as I can with my followers about my own city, New York! New York can be a very overwhelming place if you have never been before. That’s where I come in! New York has no shortage of things to do. You may be surprised to find though how many of its best attractions are free! And since you’re probably spending an arm and a leg on your hotel, it never hurts to save a few bucks. Here are what I consider to be the top free things to do in New York City!

Central Park Literary Lane

New York’s Free Parks

The City’s Parks are a great place to start to enjoy some of Manhattan’s gorgeous natural beauty. Central Park is actually bigger than you may think with over 800 acres of gardens and wide-open spaces. There are tons of beautiful places to visit! Some of my personal favorite highlights include the Central Park Zoo, the Conservancy Gardens, Literary Lane, Strawberry Field, and the Reservoir. Prospect Park in Brooklyn was created shortly after Central Park by the same landscapers and also features its own zoo, boating lake and carousel. If you’re looking for an iconic meal (not free of course), check out the Central Park Boathouse or Tavern on the Green.

Central Park Reservoir

New York’s Free Museums

You may be surprised to know that most museums in New York city are either free, “Pay what you wish” or have at least one day of the week where the fee is waived. Two of my favorite museums are the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History are pay what you wish.

The signs aren’t so clear but take it from me, you can hand them any amount that you wish to donate and they’ll grant you admission. Then the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney, the Frick Collection, the Jewish Museum, the Neue GallerieMuseum of the City of New York and the Guggenheim, just to name a few, offer free admission certain days of the week—just check their websites.

Best Free Things to Do in NYC

The Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge is also one of New York’s most magnificent structures. It links Manhattan and Brooklyn across New York’s East River. Take in the sights of Manhattan’s City Hall and the New York City Supreme court before you take a stroll on the pedestrian walkway for some of the greatest views of Manhattan. When you reach Brooklyn there are some beautiful parks and even a carousel to enjoy before you head back. Be careful of cyclists who share the same pedestrian lane.

top free things to see nyc

The New York Public Library

The main branch of the New York Public Library features stunning Beaux-Art architecture. Be sure to check out the famous reading room while you’re here as well as the famous marble lions that guard the main entrance, nicknamed Patience and Fortitude. There are free tours daily, too!

The Highline

The Highline is an elevated old railway that used to carry goods to different factories on New York’s West Side. However, as the city continued to develop and factories moved elsewhere these tracks became abandoned. Recently they revamped them and turned these rusty old tracks into an oasis with greenery, flowers, benches and even fountains. It’s a fab place to take a stroll on a sunny afternoon to escape the craziness of the city’s streets. If you end up chilly after your walk, be sure to check out our top picks for Cozy Bars in NYC guaranteed to warm you up!

Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station is one of New York’s most famous historical landmarks. It’s a transportation hub for trains and subways but it features stunning Beaus-arts architecture and lots of fun restaurants and bars like the Grand Central Oyster Bar, the Campbell apartment and a fun food court.

Times Square New York

Times Square

You should also wander through Times Square—home to bright lights and broadway shows! It’s insanely crowded but it’s a special place.

rockefeller center

Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center Complex is also a great place to pass some time. Wander into the shops and in the winter you can sip hot chocolate as you watch skaters on the famous ice rink.

best free things to do nyc

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine

And finally, if you’re up for a trip uptown to Morningside Heights in Northern Manhattan The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is the largest church in the United States. Explore the grounds and gardens where you just may spy a peacock wandering about.

For more fabulous advice about New York City check out Travelingpanties top picks for NYC’s Best Food experiences and also find out the Best Things to Do in NYC that locals actually do too!

And just for fun, here is a fun photo of my husband and I in Central Park where we got engaged on the Bow Bridge! In case you’re gearing up for a Travelingpanties tour! haha

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