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Free New York

Updated on October 11, 2011
Skyscrapers are a New York trademark, and it certainly doesn't cost anything to look at them!
Skyscrapers are a New York trademark, and it certainly doesn't cost anything to look at them!

The Greatest City in the World is renowned for being incredibly expensive. Spending one week here can be like dropping your full wallet into the garbage disposal and waving goodbye.

From rent you'd have to sell your kidneys to pay to restaurants whose menus would make your eyes bleed, New York is pretty much one of the easiest places to spend money and to do it fast.

But most of us don't want to spend any money, let alone a lot of it!

So what if you visit or live here and want to entertain yourself without spending a dime? That's right... there's more than enough stuff to do in New York for free!


Washington DC may be famous for its abundance of free museums, but true New Yorkers know that's not fair! Plenty of worthwhile museums in New York are free, and even more than that have a "suggested donation" (which means you can pay a penny or a thousand, no matter what). Here's a list of free or "suggested donation" museums in New York City, with a ** next to the ones I personally recommend!

  • American Museum of Natural History **
  • Brooklyn Children's Museum **
  • Brooklyn Museum of Art **
  • Carnegie Hall / Rose Museum
  • The Cloisters **
  • Dahesh Museum
  • Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art **
  • El Museo del Barrio
  • Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology
  • Museum of the City of New York
  • New York Historical Society
  • Goethe House German Cultural Center
  • Guggenheim Museum SoHo
  • Museum of American Folk Art
  • National Museum of the American Indian **
  • New York City Police Museum
  • Taipei Gallery
  • Queens Museum of Art
  • Whitney Museum at Philip Morris

A street sign from the Upper West Side. (Photo by Luiz Valdez)
A street sign from the Upper West Side. (Photo by Luiz Valdez)

TV Show Tapings

I've never done this personally, but tens of famous shows tape almost daily in New York! Some of their tickets are harder to get than others, but if you plan in advance you're sure to get a seat! The following are some of the shows I know about that tape in New York City and have free tickets.

  • The Colbert Report
  • The Daily Show
  • David Letterman
  • The Early Show
  • Good Morning America
  • Judge Hatchett
  • Montel Williams
  • The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet
  • Rachael Ray
  • Saturday Night Live
  • The Today Show
  • The View

The view from Central Park. (Photo by David Lat)
The view from Central Park. (Photo by David Lat)

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So there's an innumerable amount of parks in New York City, and obviously they're free to go to! Whether you pack a picnic and spend the day or just take a sunset walk through the trees, visiting a park can be a great way to entertain yourself or your guests for absolutely no money!

Here's a list of some of my favorite parks in the city and a few words about them.

  • Central Park -- obviously the largest park in New York, and filled with adventures. Even if you grew up in the city, there are corners of the park you've never explored. I especially love the Rambles, the Reservoir, and walking by the Central Park Zoo.
  • McCarren Park -- a big park in Brooklyn just a few stops outside of Manhattan with a lot of open space. The McCarren Park Pool is one of the coolest concert venues in the whole city (though the concerts aren't usually free).
  • Washington Square Park -- a tiny park in the Village that is constantly vibrant with life. If you want to find a bunch of interesting people playing music, hula hooping, doing yoga, or just relaxing, there's no better place.
  • Riverside Park -- a long and skinny park lining the Upper West Side. There's a lot of architectural beauty along this park and a great view of the Hudson, as well as three dog runs!
  • Madison Square Park -- another relatively small park but one with lots of beautifully tall trees and with a cute 50s-feeling hot dog and malt soda restaurant (which is obviously not free). This park has a very open feeling and is easy to wander through on your way down to Union Square or up to Times Square.
  • Fort Tryon Park -- up by the Cloisters (suggested donation only!), this is a seriously gorgeous park; you won't even believe you're in a city. The Rockefellers bought the New Jersey Land that Ft Tryon overlooks so that it could never be developed and would retain its natural beauty.

Living Free

You don't have to spend a lot of money to have a huge amount of fun. Be creative, and make things into an adventure! Take a free ride on the Staten Island Ferry and admire the view or take a walk up or down Broadway. With so much to see, it's a crime to do anything but soak it all up!


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    • helenathegreat profile image

      helenathegreat 10 years ago from Manhattan

      Great, Gino! Have fun the rest of your time here, and thanks for commenting!

    • profile image

      Gino 10 years ago

      EXCELLENT HUB. I am in NY on vacation right now and did a few of these thigns. Thanks for sharing the love.

    • helenathegreat profile image

      helenathegreat 10 years ago from Manhattan

      Thanks, compu-smart! New York would love to have you sometime. I've been to London a few times and absolutely loved it!

      P.S. My picture is actually from the main market square in Krakow, Poland! There is a man there who sells bird seed, and the pigeons go crazy for it... quite an experience!

    • compu-smart profile image

      Compu-Smart 10 years ago from London UK

      Love the Hub.I'm from London and i would love to go to New York one day..The nearest i can get is the times square live streaming cam..

      Ps .Your pic has always reminded me of Trafalgar Square!! I'm sure you can guess why lol


    • helenathegreat profile image

      helenathegreat 10 years ago from Manhattan

      Thanks for commenting, coolbreeze. I appreciate it!

    • coolbreeze profile image

      Rik Rodriguez 10 years ago from Hawaii

      Nice hub!

    • helenathegreat profile image

      helenathegreat 10 years ago from Manhattan

      Thanks, jaymz! It is a truly unique place with SO much to do!!

    • jaymz profile image

      jaymz 10 years ago from USA

      Great hub! I'm a born New Yorker. I haven't been home for some time.. I miss it. It truly is a state of its own.