Here I am chilling on the Staten Island Ferry on my way out to, you guessed it, Staten Island. I went out there last week to go to the Staten Island Mall and I actually forgot how fab it is, especially on a fab summers day. Fun fact about the ferry… It’s one of my favourite things to do for free in NYC.
After our trip out on the ferry, I remembered just how long it’s been since I shared a good Things to do in NYC style post. I get so many questions about things I do and just things to do in NYC in general, so here I am with an updated “Favourite things to do for free in NYC” list (because it’s been 3 years since my last one!!), with a bonus things to that aren’t gonna break the bank section too. NYC is expensive, but you really don’t have to break the bank to enjoy this amazing city.
Some of my favourite things to do in NYC for free:
- Brooklyn Bridge (especially at Sunset)
- Grand Central (someday I will share all the random GCT facts i have stored in my brain) – There’s also a free tour too, that I have yet to do.
- Dumbo, Brooklyn… I’m so lucky I get to see this place 5 days a week.
- The Staten Island Ferry – A great way to see the Statue of Liberty if you don’t want to go on the island.
- The Parks… All the parks! Central Park, Bryant Park, Madison Square Park, Washington Square Park, Gantry State Plaza.
- The Highline – Also fab at sunset
- Soho & The West – You never know who you might see (stop off at Perry St. to see Carrie’s stoop).
- Fifth Avenue – Honestly, nothing feels more NYC to me. Especially from The Plaza to Saks.
- Washington Mews – a hidden gem near WSP. Feels like you’re in Europe!
- Going for a random wander – It’s the best way to see the city.
- Hoboken, New Jersey – As amazing as the view is from Dumbo, it’s probably better from Hoboken. It feels way closer to the city.
- Outdoor Movies (in summer) – There’s loads of different places across Manhattan and Brooklyn.
- The Williamsburg Bridge – It’s very different to Brooklyn Bridge and a hell of a lot quieter. Warning… Brooklyn Bridge is very busy and bikers are crazy!!!
- The Oculus – The amazing new transportation hub at the World Trade Center. It’s spectacular. It also has a Westfield Shopping Centre.
- Irish Famine Memorial – If you’re Irish! This has recently re-opened after repairs and it’s amazing and moving!
And the not free but not too expensive stuff…
- Rooftop bars – You just need to pay for drinks (probably $18-$20 with tip)! My favourite rooftops:
The One Hotel in Dumbo
The Standard in Meatpacking
The Rainbow Room Bar at Top of the Rock – (pro-tip you can do this instead of going to the top and it’s pretty much the same view)
The Met – The view overlooking the park is amazing!! You do have to pay a small entry to The Met too.
- The East River Ferry – I get this to work everyday. It’s the same price as the Subway ($2.75)
- Biking Central Park… I did this a few weeks ago and will 100% be doing it again soon (it’s around $15)
- The Central Park Boats – I love doing this. It’s a great way to spend part of a day and it’s only $15
- Smorgasborg – Kinda free, but you pay for the food. It’s the largest weekly open-air food market in America and has been described as “The Woodstock of Eating” – LOL! It’s in Williamsburg on Saturday & Prospect Park on Sunday.
- Governors Island (in summer) – An island just south of Manhattan with fab views of Downtown. You just pay for the ferry
- The Beach (in summer) – You have to pay to get there, but that’s about it. Rockaway, Coney Island, Brighton Beach & Long Beach (you pay to get on this beach but it’s fab!) are the easy to get to from the city, and I need to go this summer.
One of my top recommendations is to walk the bridge to Dumbo, wander around for a bit, grab a drink at The One Hotel rooftop and get the East River Ferry back to Manhattan (best time is a sunset IMO!). Or you could do the opposite and get the ferry to Dumbo and walk the bridge back (sunset is the prettiest).
Hope this helps if you’re planning a trip,