Top 10 Free Things To Do In NYC This Summer
The best things in life are free. No passes. No tickets! Just time and a mind to seek out new experiences! Cut your wallet some slack by checking out these absolutely free things to do in NYC:
Free things to do in NYC for movie buffs:
Ever wanted to be part of a live TV show? NYC offers you a chance to be part of many hit shows that’ve gone down in media history for absolutely no charge!
To be a part of Saturday Night Live: Enter an unbiased lottery by emailing [email protected] in August with your contact details and wait for a reply. Or go the long route by waiting in line at the 49th street side of 30 Rockefeller Center on the day of the show at 7 am.
To be in the Tonight’s Show with Jimmy Fallon: You can visit the official website at this link. Alternatively, you can wait at the 49th street side of 30 Rockefeller Center at 9 am. Rockefeller Center is a threshold for many studios and filming arenas, hence, an irresistible spot for blooming TV-show aspirants.
Sex and the City hotspots: The hilarious romantic comedy Sex and the City showcased the most glamourous destinations in Manhattan. Many of these places such as the New York Public Library where the wedding of Carrie and Big were to happen, are free to visit. Walk down Bleecker Street while exploring Greenwich Village and SoHo. You’ll be able to quickly identify the gyms, shops and bakeries shown in the film!
- The Plaza Hotel is apparently the most filmed hotel in the world with hits such as Bride Wars and The Great Gatsby shot here.
- The supposed apartment complex where the F.R.I.E.N.D.S characters lived is at corner of Grove and Bedford Street in the West Village. However, the real apartment was a studio set. You can now see where the exterior visuals of the apartment were filmed.
Spoiler Alert: The fountain shown at the opening credits of the series is not in Central Park, but in California. Many flock to the Pultizer and the Cherry Hill Fountain, thinking its the same. But we’re popping the bubble here – Its not the same fountain!
- The New York Film Academy is not a place you can casually visit. However, if you are an ardent movie buff, standing before this mighty institute, home to Steven Spielberg, Al Pacino, Jamie Foxx, Susan Sarandon, Bono – will be one those spine-tingling moments full of claustrophobic pride.
Free things to do in NYC for the theatre buffs:
The TKTS booths (run by the TDF – Theater Development Fund) offer discounted Broadway and off-Broadway tickets for same day shows at Times Square, South Street Seaport and Downtown Brooklyn. Lines open at 11 am for matinee and 3 pm for evening shows.
Every year, the Public Theater of New York sets stage for lively theatrical shows of some of Shakespeare’s greatest works at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park. The show is called “Shakespeare in the Park” and has featured artists such as Meryl Streep and Denzel Washington. It’s usually from the summer months of May to August. Line up and get tickets or visit the official page of Shakespeare in the Park at the Public Theater website.
Undoubtedly, this is one of the most worthwhile free things to do in NYC.
Bryant Park is always teaming with cultural events and ice-skating rinks (in winters). You can catch coveted old classic movies screened at the park every Monday between 8 pm to 9 pm during the months between June and August. A big bonus: the park has free Wi-Fi!
The theatre culture of New York showcases how the city spews spotlight dreams and artistic responses from all sections of society. Museums and art galleries have captivated tourists and New Yorkers alike with their exuberant and historical displays.
New York Museums – Here’s a list of free museum hours at NYC
Free things to do in NYC – Exploring Gardens and Parks
New York Botanical Garden – This elegant garden in Bronx is a place of comforting silence and peace where you can spend afternoons with your kids roaming in between beautifully cut rock gardens and orchid pathways. Entry is free on Wednesdays and Saturdays between 9 am to 10 am.
Brooklyn Botanical Garden – The garden, nestled inside the Prospect Park, hosts the Brooklyn Zoo and also, the LeFrak Center. The garden is always teaming with food fests and outdoor activities such as ice skating. Park entry is free on Tuesdays.
Central Park – Undoubtedly the heart of NYC, explore this gorgeous garden on foot or bike while enjoying events and people watching. You can hire free tour guides at the Central Park Conservatory, or can get a map and discover new routes on your own. Meander towards the Strawberry Fields memorial or explore the vintage carousel at the south end. Find the hidden Alice in Wonderland statue and seek out the ancient Belvedere Castle in the middle of all the rambling foliage!
There’s so much to do in this park – You can’t possibly do it all in one day!
Wave Hill – This premier garden is known for its weekly poetry recitals and author readings. Admission is free on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 9 am to 12 pm.
Socrates Sculpture Park – This Long Island city park has breathtaking sculptures by local artists rising against the Manhattan skyline backdrop. It’s always free and screens movies on Wednesdays in summer months.
The High Line – The High Line is an old railway track remodelled into a lengthy stretch of park. Its a little bit of fitness track, apt for running and jogging right in the city centre. Titled one of the most romantic hotspots in the city, its also New York’s most elevated park. The High Line offers a bit of paradise and privacy in the middle of the bustling traffic and commuter life.
The Amateur Astronomers Association of New York has sprinkled in some celestial wonder by installing high-power telescopes along the way at the 14th street where you can star gaze all night long on Tuesdays. Follow the time schedule on their Twitter page: https://twitter.com/highlinenyc.
Bronx Zoo – This large zoo boasts of sea lion and penguin feeding and hosts the rare western gorillas. Entry is free on Wednesdays.
Other free things to do in NYC:
New York Public Library – Guarded by the marble lions of “Fortitude” and “Patience,” the New York Public Library is open to the public all year. The library houses copies of the original Declaration of Independence, the Gutenberg Bible and more than 400000 old maps. There are free tours at 11 am and 2 pm on weekdays and Saturday.
Not just is this one of the best free things to do in NYC, its also the largest marble structure ever built in the US.
Grand Central Terminal – Famous from its appearances in movies, the Grand Central Terminal docks 60 rail roads and 50,000 commuters on any given day. The towering greenish-blue ceiling with constellation engravings is one of its biggest attractions.
If you are lucky, you can find the “Whispering Gallery” under the titled arches near the Oyster Bar. It’s said that you can hear people communicate when they stand at the diagonal arches and whisper to each other. Like having an invisible telephone!
The train station even houses a free tennis court (available on reservation) called the Annex. So miss a train? You can definitely swank some balls and click away time!
- Governor’s Island – This calm and serene island offers great military sights, acres of outdoor lawns and wide views of the Statue of Liberty.
- Roosevelt Island Aerial Tram – Take this quick 5-minute ride to see some hidden views of the glassy Manhattan city from the air.
More free things to do in NYC – Tasting Tours and River Cruises
- Bierkraft Brewery wine tasting – This brewery stocks over 1000 varieties of beer and 14 seasonal draughts. The place hosts free tastings every Tuesday at 7 pm.
- Brooklyn Brewery tour – Look inside the creation process of some of USA’s finest beer in a free tour every hour from noon on Saturdays.
- The Brooklyn Bridge – Whether you walk or hike along this iconic bridge, it’ll give you the most intense New York experience of the sky and water melting together into a maddening rush of cars and buildings at the Manhattan skyline.
- Staten Island Ferry – This is perhaps the easiest way to traverse through the waterways between the islands. And it’s free! Sit on the right side to view the Statue of Liberty. Club it with your Wall Street tour for quick navigation.NYC Boat Cruises: Onboard the Circle Line Cruises
- Federal Bank of New York’s Gold vault – While exploring Wall Street, check out hoards of huge gold bars stocked at this bank’s gold vault. There’s a free tour on weekday afternoons with 30-day advance reservations. Also, while you are there, catch a glimpse of counterfeit currency and the rare coin collection here.
- Big Apple Greeter –Now, if after all this, you still need a free guide for NYC, contact the volunteers at the city’s welcome program, the “Big Apple Greeter.” These informed guides can show you around the neighbourhoods and historic landmarks. Plus, they’re ever-ready to answer your queries and doubts all the time. Reservations are required.
Make sure you check out our video guide on New York City before heading out:
Best places to visit on the East Coast:
Washington DC – in springtime for the cherry blossom festival!
Niagara Falls – undoubtedly a wonder!
Chicago – in summer when the weather is just right!
Planning your winter travels as well? Check out our guide to warm winter destinations across the globe here.