Manhattan is clearly the most expensive, but also the most visited borough of New York City. Here you'll find museums, attractions, view points, art galleries, restaurants, shops, tours, shows, concerts, and everything else a visitor could want to experience. But as you probably already know, most of these activities come with a price tag. And that's why we've put together this list of free things to do in Manhattan, so that you can save some money on your next trip to the Big Apple. So let's get to it, here's the free things to do!
The heart and lungs of New York City, the famous, expansive, and huge Central Park is an iconic destination in the city featuring a variety of smaller attractions and features within itself. From ball fields and jogging paths to botanical gardens, concert spaces, cafes, ponds, playgrounds, and more, the park offers something for everyone. Don't forget to take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the park - one of the quintessential tourist activities in the city.
New York City, New York
Washington Square Park
Washington Square Park in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Lower Manhattan is one of the city's most famous public parks. Visitors here can find the huge Washington Arch which is a large, marble triumphant arch which serves as a landmark and honors the nation's first president. In front of the arch is a nice fountain. The arch also serves as the terminus for 5th Avenue. Also located in the square is a monument to Alexander Lyman Holley, along with some walking paths, benches, and shaded tree areas which make for a nice and relaxing picnic spot.
Washington Square Village, NYC, New York
Times Square is one of the most famous areas in New York City. It's known for its brightly lit billboards which really brighten the city at night. But even if you visit during the day you'll find the area filled with energy, activity, and people. If the crowds get to be too much, there are bleachers set up on one side where you can sit and take a break. Times Square is also recognizable as the location of the iconic ball drop on New Years Eve. It's also an entertainment center for the city.
Times Square is in the Midtown Manhattan neighborhood at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue.
This eight block area runs between Broadway and South Street and is where you'll find some of the world's most important exchanges including the New York Stock Exchange, the NASDAQ, and the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Broadway, this is also where you'll find the famous bronze statue of Charging Bull at Bowling Green.
Broad Street, NYC, New York, 10004
Ulysses S. Grant's Tomb
Formally known as the General Grant National Memorial, this is the final resting place of Ulysses S. Grant (1822–1885), the 18th President of the United States, and his wife, Julia Dent Grant (1826–1902). Construction was completed in 1897, and the tomb and monument is located in Riverside Park in the Morningside Heights neighborhood.
501 Riverside Drive, NYC, New York, 10024
Flatiron Plaza is a triangular pedestrian plaza that offers a great view of the famous Flatiron building. It's also right by Madison Square Park. During the warmer months, this plaza comes to life with live music or other forms of entertainment, but it's a nice place to relax and people watch any time of the year.
Bethesda Terrace & Fountain
In the heart of Central Park sits the Bethesda Fountain and the Terrace which overlooks it along with the lake. This scenic spot has appeared in multiple films and TV shows over the decades, and it's a very popular spot with tourists and locals alike.
Central Park, NYC, New York
9/11 Memorial and Museum
This memorial commemorates the tragic loss of life felt on September 11, 2001 when suicide-piloted planes flew into the two towers of the World Trade Center. More than 3,000 people were killed as a result of the attacks on that day. The memorial is designed with a series of cascading waterfalls, recessed pools, and bronze panels that show the names of those killed during the attacks. The museum shows photos, videos, and artifacts from the events. It is recommended you purchase tickets in advance to visit the memorial. You can also visit for free on Mondays between 3:30 and 5:00, but reservations are still required.
180 Greenwich Street, NYC, New York, 10007
African Burial Ground National Monument
African Burial Ground is the oldest and largest known excavated burial ground in North America for both free and enslaved Africans. It protects the historic role slavery played in building New York City.
NYC, New York
This is one of the first two historic buildings to be located on Wall Street. It once served as New York's City Hall and after the American Revolution it was the meeting place of the Congress of the Confederation.
Pine Street, NYC, New York, 10005
This monument, previously Fort Clinton and Castle Garden, is a sandstone fort that is found in Battery Park. It once served as the first immigration station between 1855 and 1890 before Ellis Island.
NYC, New York
Hamilton Grange National Memorial
The Hamilton Grange National Memorial is the home and burial site of U.S. Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. The mansion showcases the restored historical rooms of the house, along with an interactive exhibit showcasing the history and life of Hamilton.
160 Convent Avenue, NYC, New York, 10031
Fort Tryon Park
Fort Tryon Park, in Hudson Heights, has 67 acres of forest area that overlooks the Hudson River and George Washington Bridge. A certain 3-acre section resembles an English estate garden. Other areas have a unique collection of trees which bloom during various seasons.
63 Margaret Corbin Drive, Fort George, NYC, New York, 10040
Irish Hunger Memorial
This memorial and park is dedicated to raising awareness of the Great Irish Famine, also known as "The Great Hunger", during which more than one million people starved to death.
NYC, New York, 10282
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
This interesting museum located in the Museum Mile on the Upper East Side is part of the Smithsonian Institution. The museum showcases design aesthetic, creativity, contemporary design, and showcases other interesting related works of art and design.
2 East 91st Street, NYC, New York, 10128
This outdoor theatre in Central Park is home to the Shakespeare in the Park
shows which are free. Opening in 1962, this theatre has been home to a large number of free shows which are loved by adults and children alike. While sometimes the shows are based on Shakespeare's works, other times the theatre hosts musicals and other classic plays.
Central Park, NYC, New York
The High Line
This popular urban walking trail is located high above the city streets on an old rail line. It's a linear public park that has been lined with plants and trees that are particularly beautiful during the spring months. There are also benches and art work that give the trail a fascinating atmosphere. From the park there are impressive views of the city and access is available at various points along the route.
The High Line, NYC, New York, 100014
Gay Liberation Monument
The Gay Liberation Monument, created by American artist George Segal, is located in Christopher Park along Christopher Street in the West Village.
Christopher Street, 204 West 4th Street, NYC, New York, 10014
Riverside Park 91st Street Garden
The curated garden at 91st Street in Riverside Park was made famous from a final scene in You've Got Mail
starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Located right by the water, this small but scenic garden hosts a variety of flowers blooming throughout the warmer months.
Riverside Drive at 91st St, New York, New York, 10024
Louise Nevelson Plaza
Located by William St. and Liberty St., this plaza is where you'll find the seven sculptures called "Shadows and Flags." You'll likely pass by it on your way to catch a boat to see the Statue of Liberty. There are several glass benches in the area as well where you can relax for a bit before continuing to explore Lower Manhattan.
Union Square Park is a popular place to tourists and locals alike. The park is a hub of activity and there always seems to be something going on. Locals are often in the park playing chess, and there are performers that entertain tourists and those passing by. The park also has lots of public artwork as well as the Metronome and Countdown Clock, which shows 24 hour time from left to right and also counts down the time that's left in the day. Various markets are also held here at different times of the year, such as Christmas.
St. Vincent's Triangle Park
This triangular plaza is in the middle of Greenwich Village and is the location of the New York City AIDS Memorial. The park also has beautiful vegetation and plenty of seating where wanderers can rest their weary legs. Whether you want to watch the people passing by or just take a moment to reflect to yourself, this is a nice space to spend some time.
The Cloisters is located in a park by the Hudson Rivers and you can reach it by following a charming path that leads to a castle. This is where you'll find the Met's medieval art and architecture collections. Popular exhibits include the Unicorn Tapestries, the 12th century Fuentidueña Chapel and the Annunciation Triptych by Robert Campin.
99 Margaret Corbin Drive, New York, NY, 10040
How much does it cost?
Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $3 to $2,010. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $111. A few of the best options are below.
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