1. Staten Island Ferry.Everyone wants to see the Statue of Liberty, but the ferry tours there start at $18.50 for adults. Fortunately, the Staten Island Ferry, which cuts across the New York Harbor and offers a great view of Lady Liberty, is absolutely free. Having been in service since 1905, the ferry carries 19 million people across the harbor each year. East end of Battery Park, Lower Manhattan.
2. The High Line.From Gansevoort Street to West 34th Street, between 10th and 12th Avenues, Manhattan
Explore the High Line, an elevated freight rail line transformed into a public park, for free every day. Open Dec. 1- Mar. 31, from 7 am-7 pm; April 1 to May 31, from 7 am-10 pm; June 1 to Sept. 30, from 7 am-11 pm; Oct. 1 to Nov. 30 from 7 am to 10 pm.
3. Grand Central Partnership Walking Tours.Two historians lead free 90-minute walking tours at 12:30pm every Friday, hitting places like Grand Central Terminal’s ‘whispering gallery’ and the Chrysler Building. 120 Park Ave, at 42nd St, Midtown East.
4. New York Earth Room.Now for something completely different: the Earth Room, Walter De Maria’s 1977 art installation, a single room filled with 280,000 pounds of dirt, combines the framework of an ordinary office with the scent of a wet forest. 141 Wooster St, SoHo
5. New York Aquarium.Surf Avenue & West 8th Street, Coney Island, Brooklyn.What better location for an aquarium than beachfront in Brooklyn? The Coney Island icon, the oldest continually operating aquarium in the U.S., offers pay-what-you-wish on Wednesdays from 3 pm to closing.
6. The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology
Seventh Avenue and 27th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan
The museum’s permanent collection includes about 50,000 garments and accessories ranging from the 18th century to present-day. Admission is free to the public Tuesday through Friday from noon to 8 pm and Saturdays from 10 am to 5 pm.
7. New York Botanical Garden . 2900 Southern Boulevard, The BronxVisit one of the greatest botanical gardens in the world, as well as the largest in any city, for free all day Wednesday and from 9-10 am on Saturday.
8. NYC Pools
Various locations in all boroughs
To benefit from the city’s free public pools, all you need is a swimsuit. Free swim programs for youth, seniors and people with disabilities are available. Pool hours are from 11 am- 7 pm during the summer only.
9. Free fishing
Various locations in all boroughs
The city boasts over 500 miles of shoreline, as well as lakes and rivers, so there’s plenty of opportunities to fish. While it’s free to fish in every borough, city regulations must be followed.
10. Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
26 Wooster Street, Soho, ManhattanThe museum is the first dedicated LGBTQ art museum in the world. It’s open 12-6pm Wednesday- Sunday and 12-8pm on Thursday. Admission is free, but there’s a suggested donation of $9 per person.
11. Rockefeller Center Public Art.Famously known for their giant Christmas tree in December, the 22-acre Rockefeller Center is also home to many pieces of art, beautiful gardens, and ever-hanging exhibits.
12. Central Park
Located in the center of Manhattan is the famed Central Park. It originally opened in 1857, was named a National Historic Landmark in 1962 and covers over 840 acres in the city. It is one of the most famous spots in New York and offers beautiful natural landscapes, trails, and playgrounds. Numerous festivals and events are held here year-round and there are a few indoor attractions located in the park including the Belvedere Castle, Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre, and the famed Carousel.
13. African Burial Ground.Between the 16th and 17th century, over 15,000 free and enslaved Africans were buried in an area in Manhattan. After rediscovering an area from this site in 1991, historians now preserve the grounds that hold over 400 Africans that were buried. The African Burial Grounds National Monument is a National Historic Landmark.
14. National Museum of the American Indian.You’ll find some of the best collections of Native American art at the National Museum of the American Indian. The museum is focused on culture as opposed to history, so you’ll find all sorts of beautiful pieces and extraordinary artifacts.
15. TV Show Tapings. Have you ever wondered how the audience gets chosen for shows like Late Night with Jimmy Fallon or Late Show with David Letterman? Turns out, they don’t. You can stand in line or register online before these (and many other) talk shows to get your free tickets. Visit NYC Official Guide, for a list of all the shows and contact information.
16. Pier 6 at Brooklyn Bridge Park.The Brooklyn Bridge Park, is huge and you’ll find hundreds of free activities and events here each and every year, however Pier 6 is a great spot for kids thanks to its many attractions. Slide Mountain, several jungle gyms, Swing Valley featuring Tarzan ropes, a Sandbox Village, sand volleyball courts and even a full Water Lab are all available for free.
17. Japan Society.The Japan Society holds many cultural exhibits, an art gallery, language center, 262-seat theater, and more. Admission is always free.
18.New York Public Library.The famed New York City Library, is one of my favorite places to visit in the city. The adventure begins outside the library as the sidewalks leading up to the building feature quotes about literature. The library is the largest marble structure ever built in the US and the Rose Main Reading Room is a highlight that must be seen, thanks to its incredible coffered ceiling.1
19. Hispanic Society of America Museum and Library.In north Manhattan you’ll find America’s largest collection of Spanish art and over 600,000 rare books and manuscripts at the Hispanic Society of America Museum and Library. It’s hard to believe that admission is free!
20. Governors Island.You can take a ferry to Governors Island for free and roam the 172-acre island to your heart’s content. Nolan Park and Admiral’s House are a couple of military sights that are worth a visit, or you can take a ride along the island’s bike path, enjoy a picnic, and play a round of mini golf.