New York is one of the most costly cities in the United States, but taking your holiday here doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Slash the cost of your New York City holiday when you enjoy some of these fun and free attractions.
BAMcafe at the Brooklyn Academy of Music
On Friday and Saturday nights from September through to June, you can enjoy free live music at BAMcafe Live, a program hosted by the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Since 1999, BAMcafe has hosted established and emerging R&B, pop, jazz, world beat and experimental performers.
Socrates Sculpture Park
Socrates Sculpture Park was born in 1986, when a group of local residents and artists converted the abandoned landfill into an open-air exhibition space and community park. Today this outdoor museum showcases some of the world’s best outdoor sculptures and is home to an internationally celebrated artist residency program. It’s free to the public every day of the year, from 10 a.m. until sundown.
The Riverside Church is modeled after the famous 13th-century Gothic cathedral in Chartres, France. The Flemish stained glass windows in the narthex date back to the 16th century; they were probably rescued from a church destroyed during the French Revolution. A Flemish Transitional tapestry, dated from the late 15th or 16th century, depicts a scene from the life of King Clovis I, the first king to unite all of the Frankish tribes. A French Renaissance tapestry, dated from the late 16th or 17th century, depicts a biblical scene believed to be the return of the Prodigal Son.
Sony Wonder Technology Lab
The Sony Wonder Technology Lab in Manhattan is a free entertainment and technology museum for patrons of all ages. Its exhibits help more than 200,000 yearly visitors learn about the arts, media, technology and science in a hands-on learning environment. The museum hosts regular programs and events, including film screenings for children and adults.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral St. Patrick’s Cathedral is a cathedral in the Neo-Gothic style which took 20 years to complete, from 1858 to 1878, partly because work on the structure was interrupted by the American Civil War. Its stained glass windows were made by American and European artists. You can see numerous award-winning works of art here, including the cathedral’s stations of the cross. Book a New York hotel convenient to this stunning landmark.
Gain free admission to the Bronx Zoo every Wednesday, where you can see more than 600 species of animals from around the planet and learn more about their biology, natural history, conservation status and cultural importance. Don’t miss the daily sea lion and penguin feedings!
New York Botanical Garden
Visitors to the New York Botanical Garden can enjoy free grounds-only admission on Wednesdays, and from 9 to 10 a.m. on Saturdays. The extensive gardens highlight some of the region’s most beautiful flora; depending on the season of your visit, you can see flowering chrysanthemums, daylilies, water lilies, rare orchids and more.
Ellis Island National Monument
Ellis Island was once the largest immigrant processing station in the country. More than 12 million new Americans were processed here during its decades of operation. At the Ellis Island National Monument, you can learn more about the people who kept this American landmark operational and the immigrants who passed through here. Though the monument itself is free, you’ll have to pay a fee for the ferry ride out to the island.
National Museum of the American Indian
A branch of the Smithsonian Institution, the National Museum of the American Indian contains the world’s largest collection of artifacts, photographs, historical archives and media from Native cultures ranging from the Arctic Circle to the southernmost tip of South America. The George Gustave Heye Center in New York City is one of three separate facilities of the NMAI; the other two are in Washington, D.C. and Maryland, respectively. The George Gustave Haye Center is free every day.
Big Apple Greeter Tour
Since 1992, New York City residents have volunteered with Big Apple Greeter to show visitors around the city’s many neighborhoods. There’s no better way to get a local’s perspective on the city. Donations are encouraged, but not required.
Though New York City is known for being expensive, there are plenty of free things to do in the Big Apple. Try one of these budget-friendly activities during your next New York holiday.