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Free Things to Do in New York City

New York City is one of the top travel destinations in the US. Planning a trip to New York City can be a daunting and expensive endeaver for a family. Not everyone is in the market for a luxury hotel in New York City. Here are some free things to do in NYC to help you have fun and stay on budget while traveling. No need to break the bank for that vacation or holiday.

Statue of Liberty Aerial View coyright NPS

Staten Island Ferry – This FREE commuter ferry runs from Manhatten to Staten Island and provides a fantastic view of The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and New York Harbor. Concessions are available for sale when the ferry runs. Passengers must get off the ferry and stand in line for the return trip. The official website offers great tips and an updated schedule: Staten Island Ferry

Naked Cowboy playing Times Square in NYC by Shannon Hurst LaneTimes Square – The first time I visited new York City I acted like every other tourist and stood in Times Square looking around at all the signs blinking overhead and the people bustling by. It is a must-see that is truly the image we all think of when planning a visit to the Big Apple. A regular fixture is the Naked Cowboy, but don’t worry, he isn’t really naked. Times Square Office Site

Rockefeller Center – Walk around and take some pictures of Radio City Music Hall and 30 Rockefeller Center (aka 30 Rock) or stop in the NBC Universal Store for that logo item signifying your momentous visit to New York City. NBC Studio Tours, Top of the Rock Tour, and Radio City Music Hall Tour are extra charges. Rockefeller Center

Exterior of Radio City Music Hall by Shannon Hurst Lane

Little boy playing firefighter at FDNY Fire Zone by Shannon Hurst LaneFDNY Fire Zone – Located at 50 Rockefeller Plaza, Fire Zone is fun for kids of all ages. It not only excites the littlest of visitors, but teaches life saving information. Kids can climb on fire trucks, try on bunker gear and learn how to crawl through a smoke-filled hallway. For a small fee, children ages five and up can experience a multi-media fire simulation presentation. Visitor aren’t just entertained at this free attraction, they also learn tips on what to do in emergency situations. FDNY Fire Zone

Central Park – Take a free walking tour courtesy of Central Park Conservancy and get acquainted with this 843 acre park full of gardens, play areas, Belvedere Castle, Alice in Wonderland and many other outdoor and cultural delights. Central Park Tours

FAO Schwarz – This magical toy store has enchanted children for over 150 years. NYC visitors from all over the world have made it top priority to stop in at this wonderland of toys. The doors are guarded by real life toy soldiers and the Grand Hall is lit by 20,000 colored lights. Be sure to take a few steps on the oversized dance-on piano keyboard, design your own Muppet Whatnot, or satisfy that sweet tooth at “FAO Schweetz” confectionary. New York Public Library

Concert at Juilliard – During the school year, students perform free concerts at 60 Lincoln Center Plaza. Be sure to check out the official events calendar to get in a bit of culture at one of the world’s most famous school for the performing arts. Juilliard Events

Big Apple Greeters Tour – If you are an out of town visitor, volunteers from Big Apple Greeters offer FREE guided tours of the various boroughs. Be sure to book as far ahead in advanced as possible as the demand for these local guides is high. Tour sizes are include 2-6 people making this a fantastic NYC introduction for families. Big Apple Greeter

Attend a Show Taping – Good Morning America welcomes guests of all ages. Taping occurs each morning from 7-9am and tickets can be requested online at GMA Ticket Requests. You can brings signs or wear custom shirts, but make sure that there are no brand or website promotions on them.

These are just a few favorites of the many free things to do in NYC. Have you been or are you planning a trip? What are some of your favorite free things to do in New York City? Don’t forget that Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a free annual event.

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  1. Great ideas! Thanks for sharing these. Hope to get the NYC very soon. With the cost of travel and hotel, it’s great to know about some free activities. Have done a few of these, but not all.

  2. Great tips Shannon! I hope we can take a culinary tour of New York soon, time to re-visit some great food places and see the city again.

  3. As a New Yorker, I am always looking for free, cheap and discounted stuff to do. So, I appreciate these ideas. I found some other great ones on nyc-visitor-discounts.com. So, I am sharing. If anyone has any other great websites or ideas, please share too.

  4. I was a former New Yorker – and one of my favorite free things to do was go to the Farmer’s Market in Union Square on Saturday mornings. In addition, make a stop at Grand Central Station – also free and plenty of people watching.
    However, my best advice is free art. Head down to Chelsea mid week /mid day and you’ll get in to see some of the best art in the world at galleries that are selling the hottest artist work to museums. You can take tours there too – but it’s also easy to simply walk around from gallery to gallery – they are all small – but wonderful!

  5. One thing that I was not disappointed by when I was in NYC was Times Square. It really is as spectacular as you see on t.v. The only thing I wish was that it wasn’t so crowded!! But I guess that’s New York 🙂 Made me glad to get back to my http://www.boutiquemanhattanhotels.com hotel room!

  6. the first thing for everybody come to newyork to visit and enjoy your time in the famous city for freedom i like much this city i own website for travel to egypt my site iswww.tourinegypt.net.

  7. The Federal Reserve offers free tours of the cash-manufacturing facility and the gold vault.

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