Everybody’s favorite word… “FREE!” Honestly it’s music to my ears. New York City is essspensive, as I’m sure you already know, but it’s totally possible to find cheap and even free things to do! Here are 10 free things to do in NYC this summer!
10 FREE THINGS TO DO IN NYC
1. movie in Bryant Park
Every Monday night there is a free movie in Bryant Park. You can claim your spot starting at 5 pm, and I recommended getting there early because the grass will fill up fast! Bring your own snacks, drinks, pizzas, whatever and enjoy time with friends before the movie starts at sundown.
2. explore Central Park
Central Park is HUGE, you can spend an entire day exploring every inch of it and never get bored. A few of my favorite spots to see are Gapstow Bridge, the sea lions at the Central Park Zoo, the pond and Bethesda Terrace. Here are a few more ideas…
-Listen to music at Strawberry Fields.
-Have a picnic on the great lawn.
-Listen to street performers, shop the street art and goods.
-People watch! Trust me, you will be entertained.
-Shakespeare in the park at Delacorte theater. Tickets go on sale the day of the show. For more details visit their site.
3. Free days
There are a ton of attractions and events that offer free admission on certain days of the week or pay what you can. Here is a list of them!
Staten Island Zoo (2pm-4pm)
New York Aquarium (pay what you can, 3pm to close)
New York Botanical Garden (free grounds access only)
Queens Botanical Garden (April to October, 3 to 6pm; all day rest of year)
Van Cortlandt House Museum
Bronx Zoo (reservations required, does not include admission to special exhibitions.)
First Thursday of the Month
Museum of Chinese in America
Asia Society (September to June, 6 to 9pm)
Brooklyn Botanic Garden (March to November, before noon)
Japan Society (6 to 9pm)
Morgan Library and Museum (2 -5 pm, reservations required)
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) (5:30 to 9pm)
Museum of the Moving Image (4 to 8pm)
New York Hall of Science (2 to 5pm)
The New-York Historical Society (pay what you will, 6 to 8pm)
Rubin Museum of Art (6 to 10pm)
First Saturday of the Month
Brooklyn Museum (5 to 11pm)
Brooklyn Children’s Museum (4 to 7pm)
The Morgan Library and Museum (J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library only, 4 to 6pm)
New York Hall of Science (10 to 11am)
Queens Botanical Garden (April to October, 9 to 11am; all day rest of year)
Free to New York Residents
Free things to do in NYC
4. The Vessel
This interactive piece of artwork is only free if you book ahead of time, so make sure to reserve your time in advance! You’ll see some great views and also get a workout on the stairs!
5. Join lotteries
Now, this might not be free depending on the show you want to see. Some lotteries will give tickets for free and others are reduced prices. Either way, if you plan to see a show and love reduced prices like me, join some lotteries or go to the box office early in the morning to rush last minute tickets! Try 1iota and lucky seat to find lotteries!
6. China Town & Little Italy
These are two fun areas worth taking a stroll through. Strolling is always free, but as you know it is insanely difficult to say no to pasta or dumplings! It’s easy to find some inexpensive food in Chinatown, not so much in Little Italy though. If you do decide to stop for a bite, Da Gennaro is one of my favorite places in Little Italy!
Is this your first time to NYC? Check out my first timers guide!
7. Take a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge
One of the best free things to do in NYC is walk the Brooklyn Bridge as the sun goes down and Manhattan lights up! Make it a day by going over to DUMBO to window shop, hang at Brooklyn Bridge Park or take your own iconic Manhattan bridge photo before walking back to Manhattan.
Keep costs even lower by checking out some of the best happy hours in Manhattan!
8. Union Square farmers market
Union Square is a fun place to hang out on its own but, if you happen to go Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Saturday from 8 to 6 then you can check out the farmers market! You’ll find fruits, veggies, meats, cheese, wine, and so much more. Plus there are free samples!
9. Walk the High Line
The High line is a 1.45-mile-long walkway created on a former railroad. Open from 7am- 7pm Monday to Friday and 10am-6pm on Saturday and Sunday. This is a great activity to tie into both the Chelsea Market (close to where the high line starts) and the Vessel (where the high line ends.)
10. Chelsea Market
This market has a little bit of everything. Shopping, bars, food and all in one place! It’s fun to walk around and explore all the many things the market has to offer.
I hope you enjoyed this list of free things to do in NYC this summer! Is there something I missed? Let me know below!
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