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There’s no doubt about it. New York City is an expensive city to visit (and to live!). With hotel nights running upwards of $200 – $300 dollars a night for a crappy hotel in the middle of nowhere, a budget is definitely needed keep your vacation in check. Despite the high costs, there are a surprising number of things you can do in the city for free. Here are 7 of my favourites:
Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge is an architectural icon in the New York City skyline. Completed in 1883, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world until 1903 when the nearby Williamsburg Bridge was built. Running the length of the bridge is a raised pedestrian walkway which can easily be accessed from City Hall Park. The walk across the is about 2 km or 1.25 miles and there are benches along the way as well.
Read more: Walking Across the Brooklyn Bridge
Bust ghosts at the New York City Library
Want to see where Ghostbusters was filmed? Then you need to keep quiet at the New York City Library. For over 100 years, the two marble lions, Patience and Fortitude, have stood guard outside this Beaux-Arts building. Walk through the reading room with its original Carre and Hastings lamps. Explore the various exhibits in the library which feature a copy of the Declaration of Independence, a Gutenberg bible and lots of beautiful old maps. You can explore the library yourself or you can sign up for a free library tour.
Catch a Show
No, not a Broadway show. As an entertainment hub and home base for many tv shows, you can score yourself some tickets to see your favourite show filmed live with a little planning. As soon as you know you’ll be in the city, you’ll need to request tickets. It’s a gamble whether or not you get them. I went to see a filming of America’s Got Talent and more recently, The Chew. Both were widely different experiences and it’s really cool to see all that TV magic behind the scenes. Alternatively you can also get tickets to see the Upright Citizens Brigade in the Lower East Side.
Read more: Behind the Scenes at America’s Got Talent
Walk around Central Park
You can’t visit New York City without explore at least a little part of this massive park. Stretching over 800 acres, the park is huge and there is so much to see and explore. Check out the Central Park Carousel, one of the largest in the USA. Pay homage to John Lennon at his memorial in Strawberry Fields. Walk the famous mall seen in countless movies that leads to the Bethesda Fountain. Hunt for the Alice in Wonderland statue. The Central Park Conservancy also offers free walking tours. Whether your walk, run or bike around the park, it can be easy to spend a day here.
Take the Staten Island Ferry
To get a closer glimpse of the Statue of Liberty, hop on the Staten Island Ferry. While it doesn’t take you right up to the statue, it gets you closer than the view from Battery Park.
Read more: Riding the Staten Island Ferry
Free Museums and Museum Nights
There are lots of museums in New York that are free to the public. The New York Transit Museum is great for train lovers or see the world’s largest accumulation of gold at the Federal Reserve Bank. Depending on the days of your visit, you can get access to a variety of museums for free (or pay what you like). Every Friday evening after 4pm the Museum of Modern Art is free to the public. The Morgan Library and Museum are free on Tuesday and Friday afternoons.
Explore the High Line
One of my favourite features of the whole city, the High Line is a park built over what use to be the New York Central Railroad. In a perfect example of turning something of historic significance into something that can be used today. Check out the art and statues along the way. There are seating areas where you can enjoy a meal. Grab food from the nearby Chelsea Market or any of the restaurants and food carts along the way.
Read more: The NYC High Line – History Reinvented
Visit the Met
Did you know, technically the Metropolitan Museum of Art is free? It sits on land rented from the city for free which stipulates that the museum be free to the public. Of course, they don’t advertise it and suggest a donation of $25 for adults, but technically you don’t have to pay it. On average, people pay about $11 to enter.