• Beatrice

4 Absolutely Free Things to Do In NYC

Updated: Aug 4, 2018


Sunset over NYC

New York City might be the city that never sleeps, but it's also an expensive city; however, a savvy vacationer can find many things to do that doesn’t break the bank. Families and individuals looking to experience the magnificent New York City can visit any or all the following four places without paying a cent on entry fees.


New York City Public Library - Stephen A. Schwartzman Building


The Stephen A. Schwartzman Building, the one with the lion statues, is also considered the Main Branch and Central Building of the New York Public Library. The building found on 476 Fifth Avenue, on the corner of 42nd and Fifth Avenue, is open seven days a week, typically opening at 10 a.m.; however, for best results check the website because the hours change depending on holidays and other events.


The library is free and is not like a traditional library. The library includes sections for research and manuscripts, as well as free Wi-Fi and computer access; however, it also includes rare books, art collections, antique maps, and some of the best architecture you can find in New York City.


If you find yourself at the Schwartzman building on select Fridays, they offer performances, drinks, and exclusive collection tours. Families with children will find plenty of free programs in their Children's Center, and The Library Shop provides some unique souvenirs.


Grand Central Terminal



Grand Central Terminal, or station, is in the middle of NYC. It has one of the most well-known ceilings behind the Sistine Chapel. It is 100% free to visit, and while they offer a guided and audio tour experience for a fee, you can find information about unique sites and other fun things to do in the station using your smartphone for free.


You can experience the ceiling with over 2,500 hand painted stars and the Whispering Gallery as well as a tremendous indoor market experience that offers all the artisan and farm-to-table foods that make NYC restaurants so great.


In addition to the free sites in Grand Central, there are so many excellent dining options to fit any taste buds. They also offer multiple events throughout the year and unique shopping experience of some of the famous brands in not only the world but NYC.


National Museum of the American Indian


Part of the Smithsonian Institution’s group of Museums, the NYC branch of the National Museum of the American Indian is 100% free museum located on the south side of Bowling Green near the 4 and 5 trains and Battery Park. Many people will recognize the museum as the art museum from Ghostbusters 2. The museum is open between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily and is closed only on Christmas Day.


The museum has many different seasonal events for visitors; they offer a Children's Festival in May and provide celebrations for Hispanic Heritage Month and a Native Sounds event that runs between June and August yearly. They also offer a Museum Shop that sells unique handcrafted items including jewelry, textiles, and art by living Native Artists as well as toys and souvenirs.


Staten Island Ferry


If you are looking for a calm boat ride, the Staten Island Ferry is a free mode of transportation that you can ride between Staten Island and Manhattan 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Manhattan ferry terminal, Whitehall Ferry Terminal, is found at 4 South Street near the South Ferry Station and accessible by the 1, 4, 5, J, Z, and R subway trains.


The ferry makes a 25-minute trip to St. George Terminal in Staten Island and connects to the Staten Island Railway (SIR) and over 20 different NYC Transit buses that travel all over Staten Island.


The Staten Island Ferry is excellent for sightseeing. Tourists can view and take pictures of the NYC Skyline and the Statue of Liberty, amongst other things. While the ferry is a perfect free excursion opportunity for families with children, parents should keep an eye on their children while on the outer decks.


The boats also have concession stands that offer food and beverages. For adults looking to view the NYC skyline while drinking an alcoholic drink, the ferry does sell beer for consumption on the boat.


One detail to consider is that during both morning and evening rush hours the ferry is packed, limiting the ability to see the sites and find acceptable seating situations. It is best to avoid the Manhattan to Staten Island ferry during the evening rush-hour and the Staten Island to Manhattan ferry during the morning rush-hour.



Whatever you decide to do in New York City, make sure you keep that extra money for some of the trips and visit these spectacular free destinations.

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