While New York can be an expensive place to live and visit, not everything costs an arm and a leg. In fact, some things in the city are completely free. Check out these classes, shows, parks, museums, and more at no charge.
Visit Central Park
Park borders include W. 110th, W.59th, Eighth Ave., and Fifth Ave.
Central Park is like a city of its own, with 843 acres of gardens, restaurants, lakes, rides, entertainment, sports, fishing, games, and more. Play on the adventure playground, take photos of the Alice in Wonderland sculpture, relax in the Arthur Ross Pinetum, visit Belvedere Castle, and more. Want someone to show you around? The Central Park Conservancy offers free guided tours.Ride the Staten Island Ferry
Battery Park runs from Battery Pl. to South St.
This commuter ferry runs from Battery Park to Staten Island and is completely free. Not only will you get a complimentary boat ride along the New York Harbor, you’ll also have the chance to see some big-name sites, such as the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, as well as photo-worthy city skyline views.
Experience contemporary art at the Swiss Institute
18 Wooster St., between Canal St. and Grand St.
While most of the museums and art galleries in New York have discounted and free days, the Swiss Institute of Contemporary Art is always free. While the original mission of the institute was to showcase Swiss art and artists for a predominantly Swiss audience, it has now become an “innovative international venue for art that provides a significant forum for cultural dialogue between Switzerland, Europe, and the United States”.
Also worth mentioning is that some of the best museums and art galleries in the city have a “suggested donation” as the admission, meaning you can pay what you can afford. Some of these include the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Explore the New York Public Library
5th and 42nd St. in Midtown
If you’re thinking there is nothing worthwhile to see at a library, then you have never been to the New York Public Library. In addition to its extensive collections, ranging from Accents and Dialects to Women’s Studies to Immigration and beyond, the library also features music, movies, classes, and museum exhibits.
Visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Fifth Ave., between 50th and 51st
According to Heather Cross from About.com, St. Patrick’s Cathedral first opened to the public in May of 1879. With the capacity to seat 2,200 people, it is the largest Gothic-style Cathedral in the United States. There are many opportunities to attend mass, as they are held at multiple times every day of the week.
Attend a live jazz performance at Rue B
188 Avenue B., East Village
Seven nights a week at 9PM, you can head over to Rue B for live jazz music. While the performers rotate, Thursday nights they feature their own in-house musician, Henry, a cabaret singing piano player who will perform standards, classics, and even pop covers.
Take pétanque lessons in Bryant Park
Between 40th and 42nd and 5th and 6th
For those who don’t know what pétanque is, it’s a French ball game that involves throwing metal balls as close as possible to the “cochonnet” (a smaller wooden ball). Most games are played in teams, and the New York City pétanque club, La Boule New Yorkaise, will teach you the tips and tricks you need to know to be successful at the game. Stop by Bryant Park Monday-Friday from 11AM-6PM for your free lesson.
Eat free food at The Mark Bar
1025 Manhattan Ave. at Green St., Greenpoint, Brooklyn
Dining doesn’t have to be expensive in New York anymore. Everyday from 6PM on enjoy free pizza at this laid back bar. On Sundays, The Mark Bar also offers free bagels and coffee, perfect for nursing a New York style hangover.
Tour the Chelsea Brewing Company
Chelsea Piers, Pier 59, W 19th St. at the Hudson River
Every Saturday, from 2PM-6PM, Manhattan’s only active brewery gives free tours. Not only that, but at the end of the tour visitors will get a free beer sample and will have the chance to ask questions to brew experts.
Learn the art of theater
254 W. 29th St., between 7th and 8th
A few times a month, the Magnet Theater hosts a free workshop lead by trained instructors called Intro to Improv. No experience is necessary and all are welcome to participate. Would you rather watch a show than actually perform in one? The Magnet Theater offers tickets from $5-$10, which many times will include multiple shows.