If you’re exploring New York on a budget, you’ll be pleased to hear that there are plenty of free attractions to keep you busy. You can take a free boat ride across the New York Harbor and get the perfect Statue of Liberty selfie, spend an evening stargazing on the High Line and even enjoy a free brewery tour.
Here’s our guide to New York’s best free attractions…
You can’t come to New York and not visit Central Park. It’s the most-visited urban park in the US, and the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Look out for Strawberry Fields (the memorial to John Lennon), the Great Lawn and the Chess and Checkers House, where you can challenge fellow players to a game.
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Ride the Staten Island Ferry
The Statue of Liberty is one of New York’s iconic sights, and you’ll get the perfect view of it from the Staten Island Ferry. The ferry is free to ride and takes passengers from Manhattan to Staten Island every half an hour. Take the 25-minute relaxing journey across the New York Harbor and you’ll see The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the skyscrapers and bridges of Lower Manhattan too. Not bad for a free trip.
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Grand Central Terminal
Most railway stations are fairly run-of-the-mill. Not the Grand Central Terminal though, which is a tourist attraction in its own right. This vast, majestic building boasts grand architecture, a whispering gallery, a huge ceiling mural and secret elevated passageways to explore. It’s the perfect place to people watch while grabbing a bite from the huge food court or the gourmet food market within the station. Exhibitions and concerts are held here regularly too, so there’s always something to keep you entertained.
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The High Line
This disused railway line has been turned into a unique garden, with art and nature side-by-side for strollers to stop and admire. The views of the West Side are some of the best in the city, photo opportunities are endless, and it’s a pleasure to saunter along and enjoy the surroundings. During summer, the Amateur Astronomers Association set up telescopes between West 15th and West 16th Streets, so you can do some serious star-spotting too.
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Brooklyn Brewery Tour
If you like craft beer, head to the Brooklyn Brewery in Williamsburg on a Saturday or Sunday. You’ll find free brewery tours going on all afternoon, between 1pm and 5pm. While you’re there, check out all the bars, restaurants and cafés this buzzing neighborhood has to offer.
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It’s one of the busiest bridges in the world, but there’s a separate walkway for pedestrians, keeping the traffic at a distance. The Brooklyn Bridge connects Manhattan and Brooklyn over the East River, and it’s a pleasant stroll in both directions. You’ll get some great shots of the NYC skyline through its famous web of pylons, and feel the pulse of this vibrant city too.
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African Burial Ground National Monument
This national monument in Lower Manhattan commemorates over 400 people who were buried on this site from the 1690s until 1794. Free and enslaved Africans were buried here, and it’s a haunting and emotional monument. There’s also a visitor center, where you’ll find out more information about the burial site.
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This is one of the hidden gems of Brooklyn, and of New York as a whole. The cemetery is a beautiful and atmospheric place to while away a few hours. You’ll find free maps at the cemetery’s four entrances, or you can download their mobile app for a self-guided tour. Among others, the composer Leonard Bernstein and Wizard of Oz actor Frank Morgan are buried there.
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New York Public Library
This is the third-largest library in the world, and one of New York’s best free attractions. Wander the reading rooms and browse the endless shelves of books, or take a free guided tour and get an insight into the library’s stunning architecture. While you're there, take a moment to check out surrounding Bryant Park as well - in addition to regular free events, you’ll find free board games, chess sets, ping pong, craft supplies, and classes.
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You don’t have to be a big spender to experience the best bits of NYC. Along with free attractions there are plenty of free events and concerts throughout the year, plus you can take advantage of special offers on museums and attraction entry too. Start planning your visit to the City That Never Sleeps today.