Cheap and New York aren’t exactly words that people would normally string together. Most people that have been to the Big Apple can attest to the amount of dough you’d have to spend in order to enjoy the amazing things the city has to offer. For example, a trip to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), one of the world’s most revered museums, could cost you $25 just to get in.
If you think about it, a quarter of a hundred bucks isn’t entirely crazy. But, to put things into perspective, that’s just one destination. If you’re thinking of experiencing other NYC staples such as climbing up the Empire State Building or eating a Michelin-star steak from Peter Luger Steak House, know that you’re going to have to spend a couple more.
But if you’re a seasoned traveler or a local that’s been to all the touristy places, you probably know that there are spots to enjoy in New York City that’s completely free. Yep, you read that right. Free. We here at TheGetWell did the heavy lifting and found the best free things to do in NYC — all you need to do is relax and scroll down!
Free movies? Yes, please!
Summer in New York City is both beautiful and busy. With more activities to do and more pop-up shops to check out, it’s going to be impossible to run out of things to do. But one event that has been established as one of the best summertime experiences in New York is… *drumroll please!* free summer movie nights!
Believe it or not, there’s no catch. It’s all free! All you need is a picnic blanket and some snacks and enjoy whatever’s showing. These movie nights have been known to feature Hollywood classics, cult favorites, and even blockbusters. But which parks offer free movie nights? Some of the most popular venues are Bryant Park’s Movie Nights and Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Movies with a View.
Pro tip: Get to the venue at least an hour before the screening starts as these screenings can get packed. Be sure to clean up after yourselves after too! Let’s keep our parks clean!
Stroll through an NYC park
According to NYC Parks, New York City boasts 1,700 parks across the five boroughs. These parks give tourists and locals alike a chance to take a break from our digital-centric lives and enjoy the outdoors. From iconic parks like Central Park and Bryant Park to the almost-always packed Brooklyn Bridge Park and Washington Square Park, one thing’s certain: New Yorkers can’t get tired of their greenery. And who could blame them? Parks offer a welcome respite to the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle.
Pay your respects at the 9/11 Memorial
As a place of remembrance, contemplation, and history — the 9/11 Memorial is probably one of the best free places to visit in New York City. Not only will you be able to pay your respects to the 2,983 people killed in the 2001 and 1993 terrorist attacks but you will also learn about the detailed history of the World Trade Center and what transpired in 9/11. The memorial pool and the memorial grounds are completely free with the National September 11th Museum offering free admission on Tuesdays from 5pm to closing.
Wanna see Lady Liberty up close without spending money?
It’s actually possible to see Lady Liberty up close without spending a dime. Here comes the Staten Island Ferry to the rescue! The Staten Island Ferry cruises pretty close to the Statue of Liberty so taking photos of the iconic landmark wouldn’t be an issue. The best thing about this ferry is that it’s free of charge and operates 24/7 — whether you want to experience New York’s morning hustle or just want peaceful time alone during the night, the Staten Island Ferry is perfect for you!
In need of a new hobby/activity?
Check out free yoga classes in the city! These classes, depending on the season, can be indoor or outdoor. Contrary to popular belief, yoga classes aren’t just prevalent in warmer weather. If you search hard enough, you could actually find free yoga classes (or pay what you want yoga classes) in the wintertime as well. Some of the most popular free yoga classes during the summer are hosted in Bryant Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and Randall’s Island Park. For all the yogis out there, TimeOut New York has put out a great list of the best outdoor yoga events in NYC. Check it out!
Bonus: Free brewery tour by Williamsburg’s Brooklyn Brewery
If you’re in the mood for a laid back weekend after enjoying the very busy city streets during the week, Brooklyn Brewery’s free brewery tour is perfect for you! Every Saturday and Sunday, Brooklyn Brewery hosts a couple of free tours in their Williamsburg brewery where they talk about the science behind beer brewing as well as the history behind the company. To know more about the brewery’s free tours, visit their site here. Please note that the brewery’s schedule may change. Be sure to give them a call first!
If you have money to spare, NYC’s home to the best pay-what-you-want or pay-what-you-wish destinations/activities too! But how does pay-what-you-wish work? Exactly how it sounds like! The pay-what-you-want or pay-what-you-wish policy welcomes anyone to donate whatever they can in order to get in. Establishments that offer this type of policy are usually museums and other cultural, historical, or learning institutions that want you to learn and enjoy the experience without breaking the bank.
NYC-ARTS has put out a great article enumerating New York’s finest institutions that offer free days or pay-as-you-wish days. Check out the entire article here.
And there you have it! These are just some of the best things you can do in the City that Never Sleeps for absolutely $0. What are you waiting for?