20 Free Things to Do in NYC on Your Next Vacation

Start spreading the news: New York has plenty of free things to do.

Or course, the city definitely lives up to its reputation of exorbitant prices and excessive wealth. Some restaurants serve $35 chocolate martinis and T-bone steaks upwards of $100. High-end boutiques hang basic black dresses made of cotton on sale racks for $820 and an Uber to the airport can be $135 when demand is high.

But the Big Apple doesn’t have to mean big sticker shock. The city’s culture, history, skyline, parks, people and even businesses offer plenty for a visitor to enjoy at no cost at all.

20 Free Things to Do in New York City

  • IKEA ferry past Statue of Liberty
  • 9/11 memorial at Ground Zero
  • Queens botanical garden
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • St. Patrick’s Cathedral
  • Times Square
  • Empire State Building
  • Wall Street’s Charging Bull
  • Grand Central Station
  • Chinatown
  • Central Park
  • Trinity Cemetery
  • Trinity Church Churchyard
  • Birdland Jazz Club
  • White Horse Tavern
  • General Grant National Memorial
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  • Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment
  • The “Friends” apartment building

A “Stranger Things” virtual reality experience in Brooklyn costs $46 each. Tea at the American Girl Place starts at $40 per person. Numerous other NYC activities and excursions come with big price tags, too. Tastes of the real New York, however, are free and can be just as entertaining as manufactured fun.

Put these ideas on your itinerary:

IKEA’s Ferry Past Statue of Liberty

No need to pay $25 to $50 for a boat tour past the Statue of Liberty. You can see the famous lady from a free NY Waterway Ferry that transports riders to IKEA’s store in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood. The ferry leaves from Midtown and Downtown Manhattan piers throughout the day taking potential IKEA shoppers round trip to the 6.5-acre waterfront Brooklyn Erie Basin Park. The park features walking and bike paths, outdoors seating and beautiful green space as well as easy access to the IKEA store, of course.

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