There’s no place quite like it on earth – New York City is a buzzing destination that beats to its own drum. Soaring skyscrapers, oases of green and world-class museums are all part of the fabric of life here, just waiting to be discovered.
Despite its reputation for being pricey, this city has plenty of attractions that don’t cost a dollar to enjoy, as long as you know where to look.
If you’re heading to the Big Apple, here are five free things to do in New York to add to your itinerary.
1. Take a walk along the High Line
Stretching from the Meatpacking District to Hudson Yards, the High Line offers visitors a unique perspective of the city. Stroll along this former freight rail line, suspended more than nine metres above West Manhattan’s streets, and soak up the spectacular views.
This unusual park is lined with 210 species of plants and plays host to a number of cultural attractions including art installations and performances. We’d recommend visiting during the day, to admire the flora and fauna, and after dark to take in New York’s twinkling skyline.
2. Explore Central Park
Spread across 843 acres, Central Park is the city’s lush heart and has plenty to offer visitors all year round. Embrace the fresh air and wander among the meadows and tree-lined paths to your heart’s content.
Among the park, you’ll find statues, monuments and fountains. See if you can spot the bronze sculpture of Alice in Wonderland and stop off at Strawberry Fields to see the famous Imagine Mosaic. Belvedere Castle is also a must-visit, built in 1865 atop a rock to provide amazing views of the city.
3. Discover iconic buildings
Sleek high-rises punctuate the sky of NYC, creating one of the world’s most impressive cityscapes. Turn your gaze upwards and crane your neck as you amble through Manhattan, spotting famous buildings from your favourite films and TV shows.
Start with the Flatiron Building, then tick off the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building and Grand Central Terminal. New York’s many department stores are just as impressive as its skyscrapers thanks to their elaborate window displays. Bloomingdale's and Macy’s go all out at Christmas in particular, so keep a look out as you walk around.
To get the best views of the Statue of Liberty, take the ferry out to Staten Island and see the famous sculpture as you cruise across the waters. The ferry is free to ride, departing regularly from Whitehall Terminal on the southern tip of Manhattan.
4. Stroll around Chelsea Market
A leisurely walk through impressive Chelsea Market is free, although we can’t guarantee you won’t be tempted to buy some of the delicious food on offer.
Based in the Meatpacking District, Chelsea Market has become one of the greatest indoor markets in the world. More than 35 vendors fill the halls of this former biscuit factory, selling everything from seafood to cakes, coffee and fresh fruit and veg. As well as a number of food outlets, there are plenty of boutiques too – perfect for window shopping.
5. Visit the Museum of Modern Art on a Friday evening
Head to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) between 4pm and 8pm on a Friday to see creations by the likes of Picasso, Monet, Renoir and Damien Hirst for free. Nothing is out of bounds – you can access all the galleries and exhibitions, including film screenings, although you’ll need a separate ticket.
To make the most of the free slot, MoMA recommends getting there at 6pm – you’ll avoid the queues and still have two hours to explore the thousands of contemporary works on display. Must-see pieces include American pop artist Andy Warhol’s Campbell's Soup Cans and Dutch painter Van Gogh's The Starry Night.
The possibilities of free things to do in New York are endless, with new attractions and events sprouting up all year round.
Posted: 20th Sep 2019.