New York is one of the world’s most expensive city’s and after you’ve paid for your metro ticket and bought the essentials from Saks Fifth Avenue, you may find a trip up the empire state building or mosey around the Guggenheim just pushes the budget over that precipice. However, don’t panic, don’t fret and certainly, don’t return all your Macy’s purchases because there is a much thriftier way of exploring the Big Apple without exploring the possibilities of a bank loan.
Our first trick to seeing New York for free is being aware of specific times where main attractions offer free entry. These include the American Museum of Natural History who offer free entry during their last hour, the Museum of Moving Image which is free between 4 and 8pm on Fridays, and the Bronx Zoo, which isn’t specifically free, however on Wednesday’s they do offer a ‘pay what you wish’ price scheme. There are also a whole host of other attractions which offer free entry at certain times, check the websites of specific attractions of interest for more information.
So, now onto the attractions that are 100% free, 100% of the time.
A Manhattan landmark, the site of Harry meeting Sally and more recently, the Muppets, Central Park is totally and utterly free. You can wonder entrance fee free into any of the gates, have a picnic (not included) on the grass or stroll around the lake. Various events take place on a regular basis on this vast park in the heart of New York, as well as street acts and brilliant (and we mean brilliant) people watching.
New York Public Library
New York’s most famous library, over 100 years old, offers you free entrance to the exhibitions and reading rooms, all housed within impressive architecture. We realise that even with the free entrance, you may be thinking, ‘it’s a library’, however this is no ordinary library, it contains the original Declaration of Independence, the Gutenburg Bible and runs free tours between 11am and 2pm.
Rockefeller Centre Public Art
Lit up by a giant Christmas tree in winter and hosting the Today Show on a daily basis, the Rockefeller Centre is a New York icon. You can tours around the NBC studios for under twenty dollars, however for zero dollars you can pay a visit to the art on display to the public, including a statue of Prometheus who in colder months watches over the skaters on the ice rink.
Staten Island Ferry
We’re about to share a secret with you, although Ferry Tours will cost you some dollars, the Staten Island Commuter Ferry is completely free and will provide you with enough snap happy opportunities and ‘skyline from a distance’ appreciation before dropping you on the neighbouring island. Then, for a further zero dollars, you can hop back on and head right back to New York again and go for some lunch.
Amy Labbadia is a world traveller who writes for Wanderforth, a luxury tour operator specialising in holidays to New York