The city of dreams. A shoppers paradise. There isn’t much you can’t do in New York City, even with little or zero budget. If you are thinking of taking a trip to the Big Apple or perhaps you’re just a few days, weeks or months away from your city adventure, my list of 5 of the best free things to do in New York may come in handy…
After spending what was the best week in the best city in the world, I have returned home with an abundance of content ideas and wanted to start with something that could help those who perhaps don’t want to spend too much money during their stay.
Compared to previous trips to New York, this time I dedicated more of my time to being outdoors and seeing new areas of the city (with an occasional stop by Sephora or Madewell). It was the trip that reminded me that the best things in life come for free, and it was the “inbetween moments” that really captured my favourite memories.
Hopefully this short guide will encourage you to put your purse down and enjoy those in-between moments a little more…
Hang out at the Park
Central, Washington Square, Union Square… whichever park floats your boat, spend some time relaxing and take in the beauty of the city in one of the many parks in Manhattan.
I discovered Washington Square Park on this trip and fell in love with it. Live music (like Coyote & Crow), fascinating folk (like the pigeon man) and just a short walk from numerous cute independent shops and cafes, this square is probably most recognisable for the famous arch. Catch it from the right angle and you can capture the Empire State Building in the distance.
One for the bucket list, explore Central Park. Covering 843 acres, you can find yourself strolling for hours across the park and forget about the fact you’re in the middle of a concrete jungle. You’ll spot a number of familiar locations from TV and movie scenes, and you must pop by to see Strawberry Fields. If you did want to spend a few pennies, why not pop to the Central Park Zoo or grab a drink at the Boathouse.
Visit the Public Library
Another iconic building located just a stones throw away from Grand Central Station (also a great free hangout spot), why not pop in to the New York Public Library and look around – it’s a beauty! It’s the fourth largest in the world too, pretty impressive and one to tick off your NY Bucket List (look out for my New York Bucket List coming soon to the blog!) On the day we visited there was a free 1960’s art exhibition on and I’m sure they have these on a regular basis so it’s worth stopping by for that alone.
Don’t forget an obligatory photo on the steps too!
Walk the High Line
One of the best things we did was walking along the High Line, a 1.45 mile long elevated linear park, greenway and rail trail. Walking about 10 blocks from Macy’s, my better half and I enjoyed a leisurely walk through the Chelsea district to where the High Line starts. A cold but sunny day, we were lucky with the weather as we strolled along the old railway line towards the West Village. Above the hustle and bustle without the need to stop for traffic lights, here you’ll also find other tourists enjoying a stroll, stopping occasionally to rest or to capture the incredible city views.
Where were you on 11th September 2001? I had just arrived home from school, expecting to watch CBBC when what appeared to be a scene from a disaster movie played out in front of my eyes. A harrowing spot that you must visit if you are in New York, the 9/11 memorial site is free to wander around. Whilst you’re in the area, why not pop in to the World Trade Centre Station and take in the incredible architecture.
Create Your Own TV & Movie Tour
Another free thing to do in New York, find your favourite television and film locations in the city and map out your own tour!
I briefly mentioned this in my blurb about Central Park, but there are so many locations around the city (not just the park) that you will pass by and recognise from a famous TV or movie scene. There are tours you can book onto (I did the TV and Movie Tour 10 years ago, followed by a Sex and the City tour back in 2012) and whilst I do recommend them as you also get to see a lot of the city, you can easily create your own for free! Have fun planning your own tour around the city by doing a bit of research beforehand (this could take a bit of time), and snap yourself in front of those familiar TV and movie spots that people would pay to see…
There are so many free things to see and do in New York City, these are simply just a small handful that I did during my recent trip to the Big Apple. Subscribe to the blog and stay in touch to read the latest blog post, I have plenty more New York content for you!
I would love to hear your recommendations! Tweet me or comment on my latest Instagram post.