10 of the best free things to do in New York City

As yellow cabs speed down bustling streets: welcome to the city that never sleeps. New York is one of the world’s greatest metropolises for architecture, theatre, art and food. 

If you’re travelling to the Big Apple for the first time, you’ll find plenty of extraordinary landmarks and exhilarating activities to explore – many of which won’t cost you a cent. Here, September Withers uses the latest Top 10 New York City to discover ten free, easy and awesome things to do next time you’re visiting...


Take the Staten Island Ferry

The Staten Island Ferry crossing the Hudson River

To see panoramic views of New York City and the Statue of Liberty, taking the Staten Island Ferry is a must. Operating between St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island and the Whitehall Terminal in Lower Manhattan, the trip takes roughly 25 minutes, costs absolutely nothing and offers some of the best sights of the glittering Manhattan skyline.


Watch the New York Philharmonic’s Concerts in the Parks

July-August /

Sit back and relax under the stars as the New York Philharmonic’s annual summer concerts transform parks throughout all five of the city’s boroughs into a paradise for classical music lovers.


Be an audience member in a TV show

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert /
Rachel Ray /

Cheer, applaud and whoop as a member of the studio audience on one of the popular talk shows filmed in NYC. From The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to Rachael Ray and more, watch the cameras roll and apply for audience tickets via the shows’ websites.


Take to the river with Downtown Boathouse Kayaks

Pier 26, Hudson River Greenway at North Moore / mid-May–mid-Oct: 9am–4:30pm Sat, Sun, & public hols; mid-Jun–mid-Sep: 5:30–7pm Tue, Wed, Thu evenings /

Kayaks rowing in front of Lower Manhattan

What better way to spend a hot summer’s afternoon in New York than on the Hudson River? The Downtown Boathouse project promotes public access to the water for all and offers free kayaking sessions at locations on the river and Governors Island.


Wander Chelsea’s world-class art galleries

Between 10th and 11th Aves, from West 18th to West 28th Sts

 From paintings to photography, sculptures to glasswork, Chelsea in Manhattan is brimming with formidable galleries, many of which host free art openings on a Thursday night. You could even receive a complimentary glass of wine, if you’re lucky.


Explore indoors with Open House New York

Runs over a weekend in October /

Balconies of the Brooklyn Army Terminal on Open House New York weekend

Every year across one weekend in October, New York opens the doors to some of its most extraordinary buildings to celebrate the best of design and architecture. Choose to marvel at impressive structures located across the five boroughs and attend talks, tours and other special events throughout the weekend.


Taste a modern institution on the Brooklyn Brewery Tour

Free tours every 30 mins 1-6pm Sat & Sun /

See behind the scenes of Brooklyn Brewery and discover how two local brewers kick-started the company in honour of their beloved New York borough. Free tours are available every 30 minutes between 1-6pm on weekends and visitors can also sample some of the great beers being brewed.


Treat your inner bookworm at the New York Public Library

The world-famous marble lions guarding the New York Public Library

This magnificent historic public library, guarded by a pair of world-famous marble lions, contains millions of books and offers free events, lectures and readings most months.


Free Fridays!

A whole host of museums in New York operate free entry hours on a Friday including: Whitney Museum of American Art (7pm-9:30pm), New York Historical Society (6pm-8pm), Morgan Library & Museum (7pm-9pm), Asia Society (6pm-9pm), Museum of Modern Art (4pm-8pm), Museum of the Moving Image (4pm-8pm).


Enjoy NYC-style stand-up Comedy

New York’s comedy legacy knows no bounds with the likes of Jack Benny, Woody Allen and Jerry Seinfield calling the Big Apple home. For an evening filled with laughter, the city hosts many free regular comedy shows including select nights at Upright Citizens Brigade.

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