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Visit New York City on a Budget: Free Events, Shows, and Exhibitions

Updated on November 3, 2017
Catherine Stolfi profile image

Catherine is an independent research consultant at NASA Langley with degrees in English, Biology, and Environmental Science (M.S.).

AMNH Rose Center for Earth & Space
AMNH Rose Center for Earth & Space | Source

Enjoying New York without spending too much money is achievable in this city filled with high-rise apartments, expensive 5-star restaurants and entrance fees. There are plenty of free events and free admissions to museums and shows at any given time of the year in NYC and its surrounding area.

Live Blues at Lucille's Grill Times Square

For free live performances every night of the week you can go to Lucille’s Grill in Times Square in midtown Manhattan with guaranteed great acts as it is an extension of the well-respected BB Kings with blues bands in plethora. It is an all-ages club that also offers a great food selection and is open from 11am to 1am on weekdays and until 3am on the weekends.

Staten Island Ferry for a View of Manhattan & Statue of Liberty

For an amazing view of the Statue of Liberty and lower Manhattan, you can take The Staten Island Ferry, a 25-minute ride, for free. It runs all year, 24-hours a day, every 15 minutes at rush hour to every hour late at night. It leaves from the Manhattan Whitehall center located at 311 Whitehall Terminal, downtown near Battery Park.


NYC Museums with Suggested Donations

If you’re interested in going to museums but not satisfied with the Student Discount prices just remember that many museums in the NYC and surrounding area have suggested donation admission prices, meaning you pay what you can. Such museums include the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), located at Central Park West and 79th Street, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, located at 1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street and the Brooklyn Museum of Art, located at 200 Eastern Parkway, in Brooklyn. For most of these museums, hours are 10am to 5:30 pm. If your guilt gets the best if you, remember, the money you do give goes towards special exhibitions in the art museums and science museum's research and educational outreach programs.

Free Broadway Preview Performances

For those fans of Broadway, you can’t miss out on the yearly Broadway on Broadway event considered to be the quintessential event of the Broadway season. It is an annual kick-off celebration with musical numbers from Broadway shows performed on a giant outdoor stage in the month of September. There will be giant screens in Times Square, celebrity performers, and a big finale with tons of confetti. In Times Square audiences will get to preview the season’s upcoming performances and long running favorites.

Queen's Botanical Garden

For nature lovers there’s Queens Botanical Gardens. It is located in Flushing on the borough of Queens in the New York tri-state area rat 4d3 Avenue and Main Street. It’s closed Mondays but open every other day at 8am to 9pm through October, and until 4:30 pm during the winter season. You can go for a walk in the gardens and enjoy the seasonal displays or go to one of the many events happening throughout the year.

Resident Giraffe at the Bronx Zoo
Resident Giraffe at the Bronx Zoo | Source

Shakespeare in the Park

You can also experience Shakespeare in the Park at Central Park’s Delacorte Theater in the summer months. See your favorites on rotation from Hamlet to Romeo and Juliet to The Comedy of Errors. Tickets are free and available on the day of the performance (two per person) at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park right in the heart of New York City beginning in the early afternoon and at The Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street (near Astor Place). The Delacorte Theater is located at 81st Street at Central Park West and 79th Street at Fifth Avenue. For more Info you can go to

Free Days at Museums and Gardens

Particular museums and gardens are free on certain days of the week such as The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) which is free for all visitors during Target Free Friday Nights, sponsored by Target, every Friday evening, 4pm to 8pm, located at 11 West 53rd Street, between Fifth and Sixth avenues. The Bronx Zoo, which is open year round, has free admission (accepting donations) every Wednesday, hours from 10am to 5pm. Visit for information and directions.

There are plenty of resources to find out more about free events in the NYC and metro area such as on and

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    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Such a well written article with all great information within in it to show you how to visit NYC when on a budget. Well done !

      Vote up and more !!! Sharing !