What are the best free things to do in New York City?

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Believe it or not, some of the best things to do in New York City are free. Save your money for eating and shopping. Here are five things that won’t cost you a dime.

In addition to free tours and all kinds of visual arts exhibits and music and dance performance events, the enormous marble New York Public Library building is a sight in itself — and its collections are comparable to that of the Library of Congress and the Bibliothèque nationale of France.

Those with a little imagination know the scenic 25-minute Staten Island Ferry ride is a tourist feature, far more a sightseeing pleasure cruise than a weary commute to work. The free ride offers a great view of Manhattan from the water.

In the summer, free weekly outdoor movie screenings at Bryant Park are held from June to August on Mondays, beginning at sunset (usually between 8 and 9 p.m.). Just be sure to get there with your blanket early, as the park fills up rather quickly.

Check out the New York Botanical Garden for free on Wednesdays. With more than 1 million plants, this is one the largest and oldest (founded in 1891) botanical gardens in the country. It consists of 250 landscaped acres with 50 curated gardens and plant collections. The property also contains the largest relmaining part of the native forest that once covered New York City. You will have to pay to enter The Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, though, where you'll find 11 distinct plant environments with changing exhibits and permanent displays, including the annual orchid show. There is a great emphasis on education, with programs on horticulture and science. For the kids, there is the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, a 12-acre space that offers a boulder maze and giant animal topiaries. (Access to the adventure garden also costs extra.) The botanical garden is one of the best ways to get out of the city without leaving its borders.

On certain days, a handful of museums in New York either drop their usually steep admission for a couple of hours or ask for donations. The Museum of Modern Art (Fridays), the Whitney Museum of American Art (Fridays), the Guggenheim (Saturdays) and The Frick Collection (Sundays) all participate. It’s a great way to visit some of the most famous museums in the world, for free.

Walking around in the most amazing city in the world is the best free thing to do in New York. On your journey, the following are also free:

A concert in Central Park

The River to River festival (in summer)

A tour of the store windows (at Christmas)

A tour of the Art Galleries of Chelsea

Movie night in Bryant Park

There are many great free activities in New York City. The five best things to do without having to open your wallet are take a stroll along The Highline in the Meatpacking District, visit the 9/11 Memorial, take in city views aboard the Staten Island Ferry, explore Central Park and participate in Free Friday Afternoons at the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art).

Here are five great things to do for free in New York City:

A walk on the highline.

A ride on the Staten Island ferry.

Visit 9/11 Memorial (this can only be obtained online).

A glass of bubbly while powdering your nose at "Beauty & Essex" (yes, it’s free!), nevertheless, you will pay for dinner.

Watch the changing seasons of trees in Central Park from your Trump International Hotel & Tower park view suite.

Photo for Laurent Tourondel

1. Visit the Apple store on Fifth Avenue.

2. Staten Island Ferry.

3. Walk through the Green Market in Union Square.

4. Walk on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Michael Romei
  • Michael Romei

  • Chef Concierge, The Waldorf Towers New York

  • New York City, New York

1) Federal Hall in lower Manhattan: Two US Presidents were inaugurated their including George Washington who took the oath in 1789 when New York was the first Capital.

2) Forbes Collection: The lobby galleries of Forbes magazine have some curios from the late Malcolm Forbes' Collection including his early versions of Monopoly Boards 62 Fifth Avenue at 12th Street 

3) New York Public LIbrary Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street is a grand Beaux-Arts icon with its famous reading room featuring original Carre-and-Hastings lamps. Its exhibits are most incredible and feature a copy of the original Declaration of Independence, among other treasures.

4) The MOMA on Fridays between 4-8PM; located on West 53rd Street between 5th and 6th Avenues in the heart of midtown Manhattan The MOMA features one of the most extensive collections of modern art in the world. 

5) The American Museum of Natural History is always FREE its last hour 4:45PM-5:45PM plus it also advertises a "Suggested" admission price.  Located on Central Park West and 79th Street. The American Museum of Natural History features one of the largest dinosaur exhibits in the world, among other extensive scientific and historical exhibits.

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