31 Insanely cheap and free things to do around New York

31 Insanely cheap and free things to do around New York

My first time visiting New York was absolutely unforgettable. It’s a place that’s too big to completely absorb, offering so many wonderful things to see and do you can’t quite possibly do it all in one trip. It’s a city you find yourself wanting to visit time and time again. One very important thing I learned while there was how costly it can be for visitors. It’s quite easy to completely blow your budget and overspend at every turn. Luckily for us, New York is bursting at the seams with insanely cheap and free things to do! Woohoo! Here are a few of my top picks for the very best cheap and free things to do in New York.

1/ Take a free tour of the Brooklyn Brewery Tasting Room, offered every half-hour from 1-5pm on Saturday and 1-4pm on Sunday

2/ Visit rooftop lounge The Delancey where you’ll find them serving up cheap drinks and awesome free events

3/ Love books? Spend a few hours exploring the stunning New York Public Library, be sure to check out the events page too

4/ Head to the New York Aquarium from 3-3:30pm on Fridays in fall, winter and spring or 4-5pm in summer and gain entry by pay-what-you-wish donation 

5/ For cheap drinks and free pizza head to the Crocodile Lounge where you can play skee ball and enjoy a cocktail on the patio

We love looking at the High Line from above. Thanks to @timothyschenck for the great #aerialshot! #highlinenyc #aerial #nyc

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6/ Explore The High Line, which runs from West 30th street down to the Meatpacking District, created out of a disused section of NYC Railroad it offers fantastic, unique views of the city and a great spot to sit and relax for a while

7/ The High Line runs from West 30th street down along the old line to Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District.  It runs through Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton through West Chelsea, and into the Meatpacking District (don’t worry, those neighborhoods aren’t as scary as they sound!).

8/ Get your hands on free hot dogs and cheap beers at NYC dive bar, Rudy’s Bar and Grill

9/ Catch a free movie at one of the many free screenings across New York in the summer, you can also catch them at Bryant Park

10/ Take a tour of New York’s City Hall for absolutely free and see the Governor’s Room, visited by Abraham Lincoln and Albert Einstein

11/ Visit the American Museum of Natural History where the admission fee is suggested and you can pay less, if you wish, by purchasing your ticket at the museum admission desk

12/ You’ll find bookstores all across New York offering free readings, so stake out the event pages of Barnes & Noble or Housing Works Bookstore Cafe or check out the super cool KGB Bar in the East Village, a favourite of authors for many years

13/ You’ll find cheap beers and small plates of delicious Japanese food (plus spin-your-own cotton candy!!) at Kenka in the East Village

14/ Catch tango dancers and jazz musicians outside Lincoln Center at the annual, free, monthlong Out of Doors festival, held in August.

15/ It’s a no-brainer, but, be sure to visit Central Park and BYO picnic if you’re particularly broke (me!)

16/ Kayak for free from public boathouses such as the Downtown Boathouse and Long Island Community Boathouse in Queens.

17/ Love the theater? Watch a free show, like Julius Ceasar or A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with Shakespeare in the Park

18/ There are plenty of art galleries in Chelsea, just begging to be explored for absolutely free! Time it right and you might find yourself at an event or launch, sinking back free wine!

19/ Take advantage of cheap drinks at Dive Bar favourite Jimmy’s Corner, near Times Square

20/ Visit the Bronx Zoo on Wednesday, when admission is pay-what-you-wish donation

Someone say snow day? #redpanda #bronxzoo #snow

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21/ It’s free to enter the Fashion Institute of Technology where you’ll find a museum with fantastic exhibits, like Black Fashion Designers and Paris Refashioned, they also have regular events worth scoping out

22/ Explore the Hispanic Society of America Museum in Washington Heights, for free, to discover an incredible collection of Spanish art

23/ Ride the Staten Island Ferry and take a totally free 30-minute (each way) trip with incredible views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the Manhatten cityscape

24/ Visit the stunning Neue Galerie on Fifth Avenue on the first Friday of the month, between 6-8pm, to explore the latest exhibition for free and fulfill your Upper East Side dreams (xoxo)

25/ Discover the yet-to-be-discovered rising stars of the creative arts at The Juilliard School’s free student concerts

26/ Take yourself on a DIY walking tour of Wall Street and explore the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock ExchangeCity Hall ParkFederal Hall National Memorial (where George Washington was sworn in) then onto Battery Park and the South Street Seaport.

27/ Spend a few lazy hours walking the Brooklyn Bridge

28/ Catch the free ferry to Governor’s Island, once there discover a world of fun activities, events and exhibitions as well as gorgeous views of the Manhatten skyline

29/ Enjoy live Jazz and cheap drinks at Fat Cat in the West Village

30/ Visit the Brooklyn Botanic Garden on a weekday in winter for free entry (November – February) and Tuesdays (all day) and Saturdays (10am-noon) all other times

31/ Head to Full Circle Bar in Williamsburg for their famous $4 beer and hot dog combo while shooting skee ball

Watch: our ‘NOT Your Average Luggage Review: the Lojel Cubo’ video


Phoebe Lee Profile ImagePhoebe Lee is a travel writer and award-winning blogger with a love for storytelling. Phoebe creates practical, fun and engaging written content designed to inspire and energise travel-lovers and dreamers. Follow her and Matt’s adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and through InstagramFacebook and YouTube.

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