York City can be more than a little expensive. But there are plenty of ways to enjoy New York for free! Not only are these activities guaranteed a good time, but they’re 100% budget-friendly.
Bryant Park Summer Film Festival
For movie buffs in New York, the annual HBO Summer Film Festival is back for its season in Bryant Park. Every Monday during the summer (June 20 through August 22), you can head to the Lawn for free viewings of classic, feel-good movies. Roll out your blankets at 5pm and wait for the opening credits to start 30 minutes after sunset.
There is nothing better than taking a stroll up above the traffic and congestion. The Highline Park is a 1.45-mile-long linear park built on an elevated section of the old West Side Railroad Line. It’s an artistic mix of industrial railroad and plant-life. This public space has multiple entrances from 34th Street down to Gansevoort, with plenty of areas for sunbathing or stargazing.
Kayak the Hudson River
The Downtown Boathouse at Pier 96 offers free 20-minute kayaking on the Hudson River on weekends in the summer, starting May 21st. Some brief kayak instructions and all safety equipment is included, even sunblock and bike locks!
Shakespeare in the Park
The Delacorte Theatre in Central Park is a true summer tradition, with over 5 million people having visited it for the free performances. Experience the magic of Shakespeare at one of this summer’s play. Free tickets for Shakespeare in the Park are distributed every day that there’s a performance at 12noon via the Free Lines at the Delacorte. Or use TodayTix, the free mobile app that provides last-minute access to tickets, is offering exclusive access to tickets to each performance of The Taming of the Shrew (May 24- June 26).
The Brooklyn Brewery in Northside Brooklyn makes delicious beer. Plus you can get a free tour of the facility on the weekends! For no-charge you can grab a ticket to a tour, offered every half hour from 1 – 5pm on Saturdays and 1 – 4pm on Sundays.
Central Park Picnic
Central Park is a hub of activity in the summer time. From gondola rides, bike rentals and walking tours, there is plenty of sightseeing to do from the park. But a free option is to pack a picnic, lay out on the Great Lawn and enjoy this giant piece of greenery in the middle of the concrete jungle.
While eating in Chelsea Market isn’t free, it’s an experience in itself to walk around and window shop at all of the various storefronts and vendors. Vegan treats, wine tastings, fish markets, restaurants, clothing stores… an hour walking and exploring Chelsea market is definitely well spent.
Sightseeing Boat Ride
Most people think seeing the Statue of Liberty costs a pretty penny. If you want to take the ferry to Liberty Island and tour the monument, the price is just $18 (or more) per person. But you can get an excellent view of Lady Liberty and the Manhattan skyline for free when you take the Staten Island Ferry! The ferry to Staten Island is no cost, so ride it back and forth all day long if you want to.
Comedy at the UCB Theater
The Upright Citizens Brigade in Chelsea offers the best live comedy for $10 or less. But on Monday nights, their weekly showcase titled ‘Whiplash’ is free! Just be sure to make your reservations in advance, because these shows sell out quickly.
And of course, the iconic Brooklyn Bridge is absolutely free to walk across. You get spectacular views of Manhattan once on the BK side, and can enjoy a day lounging in the Brooklyn Bridge Park or exploring Dumbo’s eateries.