10 Free Things to Do in New York City

The High Line, one of New York's newest public parks.
The High Line, one of New York's newest public parks.

New York City is arguably one of the most expensive cities on the planet, but there are several free and affordable places and items a person can visit or do without much worry about money. Some of these places are historical and host millions of visitors all year round. Some of the common activities in the city include art, film and performances which attract many enthusiasts. The high cost of living and commodities in New York has been contributed by several services and comfort the city offers. Here is a list of ten places one can visit for free or for a small fee.

10. Times Square

Times Square, also known as “The Crossroads of the World,” “The Center of the Universe,” or “The Heart of the World” among other names, is a major tourist destination, an entertainment epicenter and commercial intersection of the world. An estimated five hundred thousand pedestrians pass through on a single day. Located in Manhattan with a bow tie shape, Times Square is the home of the New York Times and many other Multinational Corporations. Here, people are free to eat, take photos, walk and do other leisure activities. Times Square has many advertising lights called “spectaculars” and is among the most visited places on the planet with close to 131 million visitors yearly.

9. Grand Central Terminal

The Grand Central Terminal, also referred to erroneously as Grand Central Station or the Grand Central, is a rapid transit terminal in Midtown Manhattan. The Grand Central is the biggest railroad system in the world spanning 48 acres. There are 44 underground platforms with over one hundred tracks. Described as one of the most magnificent buildings in the world, the terminal receives over 22 million visitors every year and is among the top ten most visited tourist attractions in the world. Here, visitors are free to enjoy the artistic granite building, astronomical ceiling, good food, and transport services.

8. Socrates Sculpture Park

In 1986, Mark Du Suvero created the Socrates Sculpture Park from an abandoned landfill in New York. This park provides space and resources for artists to create and exhibit their sculptures. There are also several programs like artist's residency, edification, and training. The park survived an attempted bid by a private developer who wanted to erect a commercial property in 1998. As a result, it was declared an officially protected park. In the park, artists lead tour programs. There are picnic sites and free public events like movie screening and yoga sessions.

7. Roosevelt Island Tram

The Roosevelt Tramway was constructed in 1976 to connect the narrow Roosevelt Island and Midtown Manhattan. The 4-minute tram ride at 16 miles per hour offers a spectacular view of the New York skyline. The trams, each with a capacity of over 100 passengers, serve tourists, students, and local commuters. The prices are low, but passengers with disabilities and students will have their rates waivered. Depending on the number of passengers and time, the trams can be operated continuously or periodically.

6. Fashion Institute of Technology Museum

Founded in 1969 as a design lab at the Fashion Institute of Technology, historical collections of textile, clothing and other accessories can all be found in the museum. The first exhibition was held in 1970 and stock of fashion related artifacts has been continually added over the years. It is estimated that over 100,000 people visit the facility every year, a figure that has been on the rise largely because the museum is free to the public. The Museum offers educational and entertaining exhibitions and publications. There is a variety of things to see, including garments from the 18th century that are historically momentous. The Museum has three main galleries for historical collections, special exhibitions, and student and faculty works.

5. Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest hybrid suspension bridges in the world. It measures 1,595.5 feet long and was completed in 1883 to connect Manhattan and Brooklyn on the East River. The bridge is an icon of New York City and a National Historical and Engineering Landmark. Its fortifications are made of limestone, granite, and cement. The bridge is usually floodlit at night to illuminate its neo-gothic architectural beauty. During celebrations, massive fireworks are usually launched from the bridge.

4. High Line

The High Line is also known as High Line Park. It is a 1.45-mile-long linear urban park. Built in Manhattan on an elevated section of an old railway line that had not been in use for a long time, it is referred to as a rails-to-trails park offering great aerial greenway. The pack receives close to five million tourists annually and can be accessed by visitors on wheelchairs through five of its eleven entrances. The park has robust and drought tolerant grass and rugged trees springing up from the hard railway chippings. Different plant species, art projects, an urban theater that has been featured in many movies and music videos can all be found in the park.

3. Staten Island Ferry

Serving over seventy thousand passengers a day and over 22 million annually, the Staten Island Ferry is among the few remaining ferries in New York serving Staten Island and Manhattan. The Ferry has been serving long before any bridge was built. The 5 mile ride takes 25 minutes and provides a high view of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, bridges, high-rise buildings, and the New York Waterfront for free. It has frequently been called the greatest and shortest water expedition. The Ferry services run non-stop throughout the day.

2. Brooklyn Brewery

Brooklyn Brewery was started in 1988 by Steve Hindy and Tom Potter in Brooklyn, New York. The brewery was an idea borrowed from Asia and implemented in Brooklyn. The company has been expanding since then, and its products are one of the favorites for locals and visitors. The company also runs a beer brewing school and emerged bigger and stronger after surviving the 2008 recession. The company announced in 2006 that they were planning to relocate the main brewery site to Staten Island, New York.

1. Central Park

Central Park is the most visited and most filmed urban park in the US with close to 50 million local and international tourists visiting annually. Established in 1857, it covers an estimated 843 acres of land. It was declared a Historic Landmark in 1962 and receives close to thirty-five million visitors annually. Central Park has several exceptional services and attractions for tourists. There are historical sculptures, the Central Park Zoo, exhibitions, unique geographical features and a variety of Flora and Fauna species. There are seven artificial lakes, sporting activities, leisure facilities and great places to practice different hobbies. There are also different museums and restaurants in the park.


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