Fun & free things to do in New York

Are you going the Big Apple but on a budget? You’ll be delighted to hear there’s no shortage of free things to do in New York.

Statue of Liberty
free things to do in New YorkKoshyk / / CC BY

This comprehensive list created by the team at details the fun activities in NYC that don’t cost a cent to take part in.

Central Park

Probably the most famous park in the work, Central Park is a must-see destination and it’s totally free. Frequent events take place in the park so check listings calendars before you go to really make the most of your visit. It’s a great spot for a picnic in the summer, an autumnal stroll or a spring-time wander. There are museums and other points of interest dotted about the park so check the maps located at various points to make sure you don’t miss anything you were hoping to see.

Big Apple Greeter

Big Apple Greeters are volunteers who offer free walking tours of the sights and attractions in various neighbourhoods. The tours last from two to four hours and, understandably, fill up quickly so be sure to reserve your spot several weeks ahead of your visit. These tours offer a great way to see NYC through the eyes of a local and to explore areas often left off the tourist trail. The greeters will point out popular neighbourhood restaurants, shops and cafes, meaning you can return to places which catch your eye later on.

Staten Island

The Staten Island Ferry is free and takes visitors from Manhattan across to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. The trip is worth it for the ferry journey alone, which offers spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline. Grab your camera, head on to the deck and snap away. Once you arrive on the island, there’s plenty more to see. The 267-acre Conference House Park offers a self-guided walking tour which takes in historic buildings and other points of interest. If the weather is fine, take a stroll along the boardwalk at South Beach.

Grand Central Walking Tour

A free walking tour taking in Grand Central Station, the Lincoln Memorial and the Chrysler Building, the Grand Central Walking Tour takes place every Friday afternoon. Widely considered one of the best walking tours in New York, it is run by the historian Justin Ferate.

Adventure Course

Located in Queens, the Alley Pond Park is home to New York’s largest adventure course. The course is open on Sundays and is completely free to members of the public. The adventure course consists of zip lines, suspended swings, climbing walls and a host of other activities to try your hand at.

City Hall

Tours of City Hall are free, but must be booked in advance. Offering a fascinating look around the home of New York City’s government, the tours come highly recommended.

New York Public Library

Housed in a magnificent Beaux-Arts building, the New York Public Library is over 100 years old and is well worth a visit. The two famous marble lions outside the entrance make a great setting for photos and the inside of the museum is simply spectacular. The library runs free tours all week.

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