With countless cultural attractions and a large city parks system, New York has a lot to offer to its visitors.

So finding free activities to fill your days while visiting New York is easier than you might think. You just have to know where to go. So, we’ve compiled a list of free things to do in New York to help you plan a budget-friendly New York itinerary.

Free things to do in New York, USA
Visit Central Park in New York

Free things to do in New York

Looking for free activities in New York? Here you have some ideas:

Central Park

Yes, most of the parks in New York are free to visit but you can be sure that most parks don’t host as many activities as Central Park does. Being probably the most famous park in New York, Central Park is filled with free events, statues, people-watching and sites like Strawberry Fields, an ‘Imagine’ mosaic near the Dakota, where John Lennon was killed in 1980. Uptown.

Chelsea Galleries

New York’s most concentrated area for a gallery crawl is in Chelsea, mostly in the 20s Streets between 10th and 11th Avenues. All of them are free, but if you have the chance you can visit them on Thursday evenings, during the wine-and-cheese openings.

City Hall

Home to New York City’s government since 1812, City Hall tours take in its cupola-topped marble hall, the governor’s room as well as the spot where Abraham Lincoln’s coffin lay in state briefly in 1865. Tours must be reserved in advance. City Hall Park, facing the Brooklyn Bridge, Lower Manhattan.

High Line

Created from an abandoned stretch of elevated railroad track, this amazing park has wonderful Hudson River views, or of pedestrians on the sidewalks below. Watch for public-art installations and events. Gansevoort Street to 30th St (currently), between 9th & 11th Aves, Chelsea.

National Museum of the American Indian

The National Museum of the American Indian is one of the country’s finest collections of Native American art. Tapestries, cave paintings, and artefacts, all thousands of years old, make up some of the displays. Find it at 1 Bowling Green, Lower Manhattan.

New York Public Library

New York’s most famous library is situated in a grand Beaux-Arts icon east of Times Square. It’s fronted by marble lions named ‘Patience’ and ‘Fortitude,’ and is just astonishing to walk through, particularly the reading room fit for 500 patrons reading with the aid of the library’s original Carre-and-Hastings lamps.

There are exhibits too, including a copy of the original Declaration of Independence, a Gutenburg Bible, plus 431,000 old maps. There are free tours at 11am and 2pm Monday to Saturday, 2pm Sunday (closed Sunday in summer). Find it at Fifth Ave at 42nd St, Midtown East.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Home to the country’s largest collection of documents, books, recordings and photographs related to the African-American experience, the Schomburg Center also hosts free exhibits, music performances and self-guided tours. Guided tours must be booked at least one month in advance. Find it at 515 Malcolm X Blvd at 135th St, Harlem.

Staten Island Ferry

For a scenic maritime tour of the New York Bay, hop aboard the Staten Island Ferry. The ship’s route offers views of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline and it’s totally free. East end of Battery Park, Lower Manhattan.

Read our tips for visiting the Statue of Liberty.

Free things do in New York
Staten Island ferry

As you can see there are plenty of free things to do in New York. No need to worry, you can enjoy yourself without spending a dime!

Check out our other posts for visiting New York

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    Travel Dudes

    I'm sure you've had similar experiences I had whilst traveling. You're in a certain place and a fellow traveler, or a local, tip you off on a little-known beach, bar or accommodation. Great travel tips from other travelers or locals always add something special to our travels. That was the inspiration for Travel Dudes.