Best free things to do in NYC

New York City is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and for good reason. There is something for everyone in this bustling metropolis, from world-class museums and theaters to iconic landmarks and vibrant neighborhoods. And the best part is, many of the best things to do in NYC are completely free.

Here are some of the best free things to do in NYC in 2023:

Explore Central Park

Central Park, NYC
  • Central Park is a sprawling 843-acre oasis in the heart of Manhattan. It’s a great place to go for a walk, run, bike ride, or picnic. There are also plenty of lakes, ponds, and fountains to enjoy. And if you’re looking for some culture, check out the Central Park Zoo or the Belvedere Castle.

Take a walk on the High Line

High Line, NYC
  • The High Line is a public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. It’s a great place to walk, bike, or just relax and enjoy the views of the city. There are also plenty of art installations and gardens to check out along the way.

Visit the Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge, NYC
  • The Brooklyn Bridge is an iconic New York City landmark and one of the oldest steel-wire suspension bridges in the world. It’s a great place to walk or bike across and enjoy the stunning views of the Manhattan skyline.

Catch a free ferry to Staten Island

Staten Island Ferry, NYC
  • The Staten Island Ferry is a free ferry that takes passengers from Manhattan to Staten Island and back. The ride takes about 25 minutes and offers stunning views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the Manhattan skyline.

Explore the Chelsea Galleries

Chelsea Galleries, NYC
  • Chelsea is home to some of the world’s best art galleries. Many of these galleries offer free admission, so you can easily spend a day or more exploring the art scene in this neighborhood.

Enjoy a free outdoor movie

Free outdoor movie, NYC
  • In the summer, there are a number of free outdoor movies shown in parks all over NYC. Check out websites like NYC Parks and Moviefone for listings.

Visit the American Folk Art Museum

American Folk Art Museum, NYC
  • The American Folk Art Museum is a great place to learn about American folk art. The museum’s collection includes everything from paintings and quilts to furniture and sculptures. Admission is free every Thursday from 6pm to 8pm.

Take a free tour of Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal, NYC
  • Grand Central Terminal is one of the most iconic buildings in NYC. It’s also a great place to people-watch. There are a number of free tours of the terminal available, so you can learn about its history and architecture.

Wander around Times Square

Times Square, NYC
  • Times Square is the heart of New York City. It’s a great place to people-watch and enjoy the bright lights and Broadway shows.

Art and Museums

  • Explore NYC’s renowned museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, and the Guggenheim on free days or with pay-what-you-wish admission.

  • Discover free outdoor art in parks and neighborhoods, including sculptures, murals, and photographs in locations like the High Line, Central Park, and Socrates Sculpture Park.

  • Visit the 81st Street Studio at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, a unique art and science play space for kids and families.

  • Explore the Polonsky Exhibition at NYPL, featuring over 250 rare items from the New York Public Library’s archive.

Historic and Cultural Activities

  • Join a free historical walking tour of the Flatiron-Nomad neighborhoods every Sunday at 11 am.

  • Take an audio tour by the Brooklyn Public Library, exploring landmarks related to literary legends in Brooklyn.

  • Visit Green-Wood Cemetery, a historic resting place with Victorian mausoleums, cherubs, and gargoyles.

  • Discover the Free Black Women’s Library in Brooklyn, a new free library celebrating Black women and non-binary authors.

Parks and Outdoors

  • Enjoy the 1.45-mile High Line park on an abandoned elevated train track.

  • Attend a free 7 am all-levels vinyasa flow yoga class every Thursday morning at Chelsea Market’s Maker’s Room.

  • Experience the city’s longest continually farmed site at the Queens County Farm Museum.

  • Escape to Governors Island, a year-round destination with parks, art spaces, and adult playgrounds.

Other Free Activities

  • Visit Little Island, a popular “floating” greenspace in Manhattan with open lawns, colorful foliage, and free performances during the summer.

  • Explore the Bronx Museum of the Arts, featuring over 1,000 works, highlighting Bronx-based or diverse artists.

  • Discover a new exhibition at the Grolier Club, telling the story of how the U.S. military promoted free thought by disseminating over one billion books to troops.

  • Enjoy free comedy shows around the city, featuring both rising and established comedians.

I hope you have a great time exploring NYC!

Please note that some of these activities may have specific admission fees or require pre-registration. Be sure to check the website or contact the venue for more information.

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