10 Free or Cheap Things to Do in New York City

Author: pakce  |  Category: Destination NewYork

You may think that a trip to New York is all about upscale dining, high-end shopping and five-star accommodations. Sure, the city is full of these types of indulgences, but the metropolis also offers so many cheap and free things to see and do around the five boroughs (yes, there is a New York outside Manhattan), that you can have the vacation of your dreams, without going bankrupt.

Jan 2016 Accuquilt Sale

From the streets of Brooklyn, to the parks in Queens, wildly popular tourist attractions in Manhattan, New York has something for everyone. So here are some ideas to check out when you visit the Big Apple.


Central Park

Nicknamed “The Backyard of New York,” Central Park offers so much to see and do for any type of traveler. You can play a game of catch on the great lawn, or snack on a city pretzel while just people watching. Other fun activities in the park include playing chess or checkers, jogging, bicycle riding, horseback riding or simply strolling. In the summer months, enjoy free concerts at the “Central Park Summer Stage,” and in the winter slip on a pair of ice skates and hit one of the two rinks in the park. This beautiful piece of land, that stretches 843 acres, is a true gem to both visitors and locals. ^Top

Times Square

This iconic landmark in the middle of the most popular city in the United States is worth seeing even with the crowds of visitors and locals that stream along its sidewalks. No matter when you visit, whether it is a crisp fall day or a muggy summer night, the place is electric. From the larger-than-life billboards, to the masses of people, cars and stores, Times Square is something to experience in person. Best of all it is free!
Recently celebrating its 125th birthday, the Brooklyn Bridge is by far one of the most famous bridges in the world. This structure, that connects Brooklyn and Manhattan, is the oldest suspension bridge in the United States. Walking across this engineering marvel is a must for any New York enthusiast. The views of both lower Manhattan, and the neighboring Manhattan Bridge, are breathtaking. There are plenty of places to stop, snap a picture, and relish in a true New York moment. When crossing the bridge, be sure to stop into Grimaldi’s pizza (on Old Fulton Street, on the Brooklyn side, under the bridge) for one of the best slices in New York — it is worth the journey!

Jan 2016 Accuquilt Sale

This area of land in midtown Manhattan spans two city blocks, hosts 19 commercial buildings, and is full of great free things to see and do. There is no “best time” to visit Rockefeller Center, but a very popular one is the holiday season from Thanksgiving through New Years Day. Some things to check out are the store’s front windows that are adorned with holiday cheer. Then of course there is the Rockefeller Christmas tree. No Christmas tree gets as much attention around the world, and rightfully so, because it is awe-inspiring in person.

But Rockefeller Center is not just about Santa and shopping. Throughout the year, wake up early — really early — and be in the live audience outside, during a taping of the Today Show. Bring a poster, and say hello on national television to your friends and family back home. Or ascend to the skies by taking an elevator 70 stories up to the Top of the Rock Observation Center, for stellar 360-degree views of the city. ^Top

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Located on 5th Avenue between 81st and 82nd streets is one of the most culturally fulfilling ventures you can take on your trip around New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (aka “The Met,”) is truly one of the best ways to spend a day in the city. From ancient to modern, all types of art are found within this building. Check out other great areas of this museum, like the musical section, which hosts an array of instruments that have had both historical and social importance. Like most of the great museums in this city, admission is free, but donations are highly suggested and welcomed. ^Top

Coney Island, Brooklyn

Take the D, B or F trains to Stillwell Avenue, and you will find yourself at a very historic part of New York. Long before Big Apple residents ran off to the Hamptons or the Jersey Shore to escape city life, thousands would make Coney Island their weekend getaway. Today’s Coney Island, while not as popular with the rich and elite, sure does offer travelers much to see and do. After you grab a Nathan’s hot dog, cheese fries and lemonade, make your way to the boardwalk and enjoy the salty sea breeze.

Located right by Coney Island are two great attractions. One is the Brooklyn Aquarium, which is a low-cost, yet fun-filled way to spend the afternoon. The other is truly a great idea for the sports lover on the trip. The Brooklyn Cyclones softball team plays in newly constructed Keyspan Park. Watch the home team battle such nemesis as the Staten Island Yankees. Tickets are priced between $8 and $15.

Brooklyn has easily become “the place” to live in, dine at or simply be seen in these days. Celebrity residents like Steve Buscemi and Jennifer Connelly have made living in Brooklyn hip. So it comes as no surprise that this borough also offers a lot of things to do. Take Park Slope for example.

This trendy neighborhood is chock full of great restaurants, trendy shops and beautiful architecture. A great way to spend a day here is to grab a bite to eat at Tutta Pasta, stroll down one of the many streets lined with beautiful century-old brownstones and make your way to Grand Army Plaza. This is a part of Brooklyn that is truly one of a kind and very fun to visit.

Prospect Park, Brooklyn

If you find yourself in the Park Slope area of Brooklyn, then be sure to check out Prospect Park. This 585-acre oasis was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who also created Central Park. It has been said by many friends of the two, that they preferred Prospect over Central. Its no wonder, this park is just gorgeous and full of fun things to do. There are plenty of walking, running and biking paths for travelers of all speeds. The park is also great for birding. With so many rare kinds of birds and 18 different species of ducks, it is a great way to spend the day.

Jan 2016 Accuquilt Sale

Queens Botanical Garden

Just a few blocks from the hustle and bustle of busy Flushing Main Street, is the picturesque grounds of Queens Botanical Garden, with 39 acres of tulips, roses and hundreds of other types of flowers. Check out such amazing areas of these grounds, like the bee garden, rose garden and cherry hill. Amazing flowers and plants decorate pretty much every inch of this gem in Queens. The best part of checking out this attraction is that it will not cost you a thing! Free admission year round, but donations are welcomed.
Climb aboard a free ride around the Upper New York Bay. This 25-minute ride will depart New York City’s South Ferry and arrive in Staten Island’s St. George’s Ferry Terminal. Along the way you can get a whole new view of the city that never sleeps. Snap some great pictures of the Manhattan skyline and enjoy a day on the water. The five-mile journey is called the “biggest bargain” in New York by many locals.

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