40 Cheap Things To Do in NYC Today


Brooklyn Bridge

It is easy to spend a lot of money when visiting NYC.  As New York natives who have been living in one of the most expensive cities all of our lives, we totally know.  No need to fret though… we have put together a guide of 40 cheap things to do in NYC today (and many are FREE).  This guide will help you save some of your hard-earned dollars.   So take notes, go out, and enjoy!

Please note: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting On Travel Mode!

Bronx Zoo

Visit the Lions, Tigers, and Bears!  The Bronx ZooOpens in a new tab. offers FREE general admission on Wednesdays.  Children 2 and under are always free.  This leaves you some money for snacks.  Did you know that the Zoo opened in 1899? It houses 4,000 different animals and 650 species.  Be sure to get there early, dress comfortably, and be prepared to do a lot of walking.

Brooklyn Botanical Garden

Stop and smell the roses at the Brooklyn Botanical GardenOpens in a new tab..  Admission is FREE on weekdays during the Winter December-February.  Feel free to call or visit their website to inquire on which plants have bloomed.  We went for Mother’s Day last year to check out the Cherry Blossom Festival.  To our disappointment, they had not yet fully blossomed.  I’ve read that during Winter the Greenhouses are full of Tropical Plants, offering a nice break from the cold winter months.

Central Park

Enjoy the fresh air by taking a stroll through Central ParkOpens in a new tab..   Grab some blankets and a picnic basket and spend a lazy afternoon laying on the Great Lawn.  During the winter months go ice skating at the Wolman Rink.  This is definitely one of the most romantic things to do in NYC during the winter season.

The kid in me says you are never too old to ride the carousel so be sure to check it out as well.  Check out the website for operating hours.  It usually costs about $3.00 to ride.  Movie buffs may recognize Central Park from movies such as Wall Street, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and When Harry Met Sally.  A visit to Central Park is definitely one of those special things to do in New York City.

Staten Island Ferry

Hop on for free from the Whitehall Ferry Terminal in Manhattan into Staten Island.  What’s cool about the Staten Island FerryOpens in a new tab. is that you get a great view of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.  You will also see the stunning Manhattan Skyline.  Have your camera ready for that money shot!

Coney Island

Coney-Island-Cyclone

Watch a Brooklyn CyclonesOpens in a new tab. game at MCU Park.  The Brooklyn Cyclones are a minor league team affiliated with the New York Mets.  Tickets can be purchased for as little as $10.00 and as high as $19.00.  The Cyclones usually host a post-game fireworks show which is pretty cool.  A FREE thing to catch in Coney Island is the fireworks show hosted by Luna Park every Friday night at 9:30 P.M. during the summer months.

Also free for the taking is a stroll on the historic Boardwalk where you can enjoy the sea breeze and people watch.  The boardwalk stretches from the New York Aquarium to the neighborhood of Brighton Beach.  You can check out the historic Parachute Jump which is an iconic steel frame structure and the Cyclone Rollercoaster.  Lastly, don’t forget to stop by Famous Nathan’s for a hot dog or two!

Visit the non-profit organization Coney Island USAOpens in a new tab. for a list of current events.

Brooklyn Brewery

If you enjoy drinking beer and are near Williamsburg, Brooklyn I recommend you visit the Brooklyn BreweryOpens in a new tab..  They are open to the public Mondays through Thursdays from 6-9:30 P.M.  On Fridays they are open to the public from 6-11 P.M, Saturdays 12-8 p.m, and Sundays 12-6 P.M.  The Brewery offers Private tours but reservations are required and each ticket costs $15.00.  You will learn the history of the Brooklyn Brewery, sample some beer, and take home a cool Beer glass.  Check out their website for more info.

Highline

The Highline is a public park created from an abandoned stretch of elevated railroad track.  It’ stretches 1.45 miles long and offers a different view of NYC.  The landscaping stands 30 feet in the air and connects the Meatpacking District with Chelsea’s galleries.  It runs on the West Side from 34th to Ganesvoort Streets.  The views of the Hudson River are outstanding!  You can check out many FREE events such as movies and garden tours. Visit Friends of the High LineOpens in a new tab. for a listing of special events.

Street Fairs and Festivals

There are too many to list here but you can definitely find a street fair or festival happening throughout NYC during the Spring, Summer, and Fall seasons.  Some of our favorite street fairs are the 5th Avenue, 7th Avenue, and Atlantic Antic in our old neighborhood in Brooklyn.  They are free to attend but you should budget some money for food.  Hey, all that walking is going to make you hungry right?  And who doesn’t love traditional street fair food?  Thoughts of sausage and peppers and Mozzarepas make me salivate as I sit here writing this blog post!  To find the dates of all fairs and festivals happening throughout NYC you can visit NYCGO for up to date information.

New York Public Library

When’s the last time you stepped into a library?  Remember the Dewey Decimal System?  Research is so much easier nowadays.  You can take a FREE tour of one of the world’s most famous libraries and re-live the days of long research papers.  Did you know this library has over 53 million items?  The library houses many exhibits, including the original Declaration of Independence.  Hourly tours take place at 11 A.M and 2 P.M Monday through Saturdays.  On Sunday,s the tours are at 2 P.M. except in July and August.

Brooklyn Bridge

Take a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.  Feel free to jog, run, or bike it as well.  Local’s Tip:  please stay on the correct path.  If not, you may get the evil side-eye from a New Yorker.  It is one of my favorite bridges to walk in the Summer.

Here are a few Brooklyn Bridge Facts:

  • The length of the Brooklyn Bridge is a little over 1.1 miles
  • At least 20 to 30 people died during its construction in 1869
  • It took about 14 years to build and cost approximately $15 million

Check out this Brooklyn Bridge 3D Metal Model Kit on Amazon hereOpens in a new tab..

Brooklyn Bridge Park

The views of Downtown Manhattan from these Six Piers are to die for!  FREE movies and concerts can be enjoyed during the Summer months.  Take a ride on Jane’s Carousel for only $2.00.  Children 3 years old and younger ride FREE.   Click hereOpens in a new tab. for visitor information.

Times Square

Check out the glitz and glamorous lights by strolling this part of the city any night of the week.  Native’s Tip: Try to avoid posing with the costumed characters walking around Times Square.  If you pose with them, they will expect a tip.   They tend to be pretty aggressive and annoying.  NYC has been cracking down on them over the last couple of years because of this.   If you want to save money on Broadway show tickets click hereOpens in a new tab.

Washington Square Park

This Park is named for George Washington (1732-1799),  who was inaugurated in New York City as the first President of the United States on April 30, 1789.  This park near New York University (NYU) is a nice spot to relax and catch some rays on a summer day.   Here you will find a dog run and a children’s playground.

Long Island City Piers/ Hunter’s Point Park

This Pier in Long Island City, Queens offers killer views and a nice place to relax.  My wife and a couple of friends brought me here to continue my birthday festivities last year.  The cityscape view at night is insane.

Brooklyn Museum

FREE entrance to the Brooklyn Museum is available on the first Saturday of every month (except in September).  Doors open from 5 to 11 P.M.  You can choose from family activities, live music, and gallery talks.  The museum is right next door to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden so you can plan to fit both in on the same day.

Prospect Park

The Celebrate Brooklyn! Music Festival has been taking place at the Prospect Park Bandshell every Summer since 1979.  FREE events take place on a weekly basis from May through September!  Past performers include Bob Dylan, The Neville Brothers, and Norah Jones.  The event calendar is usually published every May by BRIC.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Regardless of religious affiliation, I’m sure you can appreciate the history and architecture of this beautiful Cathedral.  Public tours are available for a suggested donation of $5.00.  Check out the websiteOpens in a new tab. for dates and tour times.

Grand Central Terminal

The above pic was taken during the Blizzard in 2015.  I have never seen it this empty.  The Grand Central PartnershipOpens in a new tab. offers a FREE 90-minute walking tour of this iconic landmark and its surrounding area.

9/11 Memorial

This Memorial honors the lives lost on 9/11.  It is FREE and open to all.  It is open daily from 7:30 A.M. to 9 P.M.

Tours by Foot

This tour company offers FREE walking tours throughout American and European cities.  You pay Tours by Foot whatever you wish.  For more information on these tours visit them hereOpens in a new tab..

Tour Greenwich Village

Historically, this neighborhood in NYC has been a place for artists and the LGBTQ movement.  This was the home of Edgar Allan Poe, Bob Dylan, and Jimi Hendrix.  Use Tours by Foot mentioned above.

Miniature Golf Course @ Pier 25 Hudson River Park

If you’re into miniature golf check out this spot.  This 18 hole Golf course is 13,000 square feet and is the only course of its kind in NYC.  This place opens on April 15 and hours are extended as the weather warms up. Visit their websiteOpens in a new tab. for ticket prices and hours of operation.

Brooklyn Children’s Museum

This was the first Museum created for children in 1899.  Tickets cost $11 per person.  Children under 12 months enter free.  Click hereOpens in a new tab. for address and hours of operation.

Union Square

Nice place to hang out at when the weather is warm.  You can shop at the year-round GreenMarket (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays).  Union Square is also well known for its Holiday Market.  Bring your “A” game if you want to go up against the Chess players.

MOMA

This museum no longer accepts suggested donations.  The price to enter is $25.00 per adult and $14.00 per student with a valid I.D. Their is FREE entrance every Friday from 4-8 P.M.  Plan to arrive an hour earlier.  Once it fills up no one else is allowed in.

Flatiron Building

This building built in 1902 is not one of the tallest in NYC but it is one of the most dramatic-looking. It is popular with Artists and Photographers.  Unfortunately, there are no tours inside the building.

Battery Park

This is a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of NYC.  Enjoy a walk along the waterfront and hop on the ferry to the Statue of Liberty.

Brooklyn Heights Promenade

Take your partner for a walk along the Promenade and take in the spectacular views of Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn Bridge, and the NYC Harbor.

Chrysler Building

No tickets are necessary to visit this Art-Deco Landmark.  It is FREE but you can only visit the lobby of the building since it mainly occupies several private businesses.

East River State Park

This 11 Acre Park is located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  Take a stroll and enjoy views of the Manhattan Skyline.

Flushing Meadows Corona Park

The largest park in Queens was the site of two 20th Centuries World Fairs which was attended by millions of people.  There is a wide array of recreational activities to choose from such as playing baseball, cricket, and soccer.  You can also check out the zoo, botanical garden, and the Queens MuseumOpens in a new tab..  If you are in NYC April 28-29, 2018 you can make your way to Citifield for a recreation of the World’s Fair.  This time around it is being called “The World’s Fare” and will feature over 100 food vendors, street art, a beer garden, and live music.  Ticket prices range from $19.00 to $199.00 and can be purchased hereOpens in a new tab..

Socrates Sculpture Park

This park was founded in 1986 as a place for the community to engage and have an accessible art space.  Visitors can witness thought-provoking art installations, light shows, and FREE movies in the Summer.

Governor’s Island

This former military outpost played a major role in the Revolutionary War and War of 1812.  The island is about 800 yards away from Lower Manhattan.  A ferry ride departs from Battery Maritime Bldg, Slip 7, Lower Manhattan.  It costs $2.00 for Adults, $1.00 for Seniors, and is FREE for Children under 13.  The island is about 172 acres.  Visitors can cycle, picnic, and enjoy FREE events.  Read more about this beautiful oasis on my post titled “Is Governor’s Island Worth A Family Visit?”

GhostbustersLogo

Ghostbusters Firehouse (Tribeca, NYC)

This is definitely one of my favorite things to check out in NYC.  Here are a couple of things to know prior to your visit:

  •  FDNY Hook and Ladder #8 opened in 1903 and is located at 14 North Moore Street, Tribeca, NYC 10013
  • The Firefighters of this firehouse were among the First Responders in the 9/11 terrorist attacks
  • This fire station was selected as the base for the Ghostbusters by Actor Dan Akroyd in 1984 because he knew the area and liked the building.
  • Has appeared in the Movie Hitch and an episode of Seinfeld.
  • Hook and Ladder #8 was slated for closure in 2011 but was saved by the community and is currently undergoing renovation.

Fun Fact

In January 2016 Lego released a playset based on the “Ghostbusters Headquarters Location”.  Check it out on Amazon hereOpens in a new tab.

Roosevelt Island Tram

The Tram connects the Upper East Side of Manhattan to Roosevelt Island.  The trip across the East River only takes about 3 to 4 minutes.  Cost for the amazing NYC views is $2.25 each way ($4 for a roundtrip).  The Tram is not operated by the MTA but uses the same MetroCard System.

Broadway in Bryant Park

Take your lunch to the park and listen to Broadway cast members play songs from famous musicals.  Bring your own chair or have a seat on the lawn.

Chelsea Galleries

Go for a gallery crawl.  Why not?  Entrance to these galleries is FREE and there is no pressure to buy.  Time your visits to Thursdays and you can enjoy some FREE Wine and Cheese.  Check the Gallery GuideOpens in a new tab. for listings.

New York Botanical Garden

Admission is FREE for all on Wednesdays and 9-10 A.M. on Saturdays.  The garden is located on Bronx River Pkwy & Fordham Rd, The Bronx.  Visit the NYBC websiteOpens in a new tab. for more information.

Studio Museum in Harlem

The suggested donation for entrance is $7.00 and is FREE on Sundays.  For more information, click hereOpens in a new tab..

Wall Street

Check out the Wall Street Bull.  It is located on Broadway and Morris Street New York, NY 10004.  The Bronze piece of art was created by Arturo Di Modica in 1989.  The Bull is a symbol of passion, transformation, virility, strength, and fulfillment.  In Astrology the Bull is one-in-the-same with the Taurus (and the word Taurus means bull in Latin).  I just had to share another one of my favorite movies below.

There you have it!  Some cheap things to do in NYC from a native.  If you enjoyed this article please leave a comment, like, and Share the Love!  Follow us on FacebookOpens in a new tab., InstagramOpens in a new tab., and TwitterOpens in a new tab. !

87 thoughts on “40 Cheap Things To Do in NYC Today

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by my little blog. I am glad that you enjoyed reading the article. Have an awesome day!

  1. This is such an exhaustive list! Living in NYC is expensive as is and we often forget about how easy it is to enjoy places that are free. Just waiting for summer to start and then I am going to explore these places one weekend at a time 🙂 Thank you!

    1. Who are you telling? Lol. NYC gets more and more expensive by the second. Exaggerating I know. We have to take advantage of the freebies lol. Thanks for stopping by and I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Have an awesome day!

  2. Great suggestions! I would also add The American Museum of Natural History and The Metropolitan which both accept donations so you can pay as much or as little as you want!

    1. Thanks for taking time to read my article. Yes! Both Museums should be added to the list. Enjoy your day!

  3. I’ve done about a third of these things. New York is such a fun thing. I can’t wait to go back and explore some more. Definitely want to visit the Botanical Gardens this next time.

    1. Thanks for stopping by. The Botanical Gardens is beautiful. However, I do suggest calling before you go. They can tell you what’s bloomed. I mentioned in the post that unfortunately when we went for Mother’s Day last year many of the flowers had not yet blossomed. Just a small tip. If you come back to visit feel free to reach out and I can provide a few more tips. Have a great day!

  4. I didnt realise the zoo was free on Wednesdays, thats good to know. Last time we went we opted out of the zoo because of the price. I love your other suggestions too.

    1. I love the Bronx Zoo too but it’s hard to take off work during the week. So it’s tough to take advantage of the Free Wednesdays. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  5. I think that New York City always has a reputation of being an expensive city but I think that your post has proved that you can have a good time in New York without the hefty price tag. I like the sound of the botanic garden as my background is Portuguese and we love our botanical gardens.

    1. Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. Yes it is an expensive city but their are so many cheap/free things to do. I love that it can be really helpful if you are visiting with a large family.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it. I could have gone with more things but it was getting quite lengthy already. Feel free to reach out if you need some more tips. Thanks for visiting my blog.

    2. Thank you. I am glad it was helpful. Feel free to touch base if I can provide more tips to you.

  6. so good! I’m travelling to NY in July, this is going to be very handy. Especially in a big city like NY everything can feel overwhelming and expensive.

    1. Glad you found it useful. Have a great trip in July and don’t hesitate to reach if I can help in any way!

  7. WOW ! what a complete post! I love that you include all different things, museums and libraries as well as the bridges and more “attraction-y” type things! So useful and some amazing pics!

    1. Glad you found the list helpful. Thanks for passing through and taking time to leave a thoughtful comment!

  8. New York City is absolutely beautiful!It is no wonder so many people always dream of visiting the place. And much better is the fact that visiting such beautiful places as these is so affordable. Anyway, I am in love with the Botanical Gardens woow!

  9. OH I love this! New York has always been somewhere I’ve wanted to go but I never realised just how much it has to offer! Now I just need to get saving!

  10. This is an epic list! Ever since I watched friends as a teen when it first came out I’ve always wanted to go haha. Great info for budget travelers ?

    1. Glad you enjoyed the list. I hope you make it to NYC soon and get to visit the FRIENDS site. Thanks for passing by!

    1. You cannot go wrong with any of those 2 choices. I’m glad you found it useful. Thanks for visiting us!

  11. Wowww… I never knew NYC has so many things to do for the budget travellers. Loved the list, would be pinning it for my future reference. Keep writing such useful things.

    1. I’m glad you found this list helpful and that your are pinning for future reference. I will keep writing these type of articles. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

  12. I have never been to NYC. However, I do intend to get there some day, and when I do, your list will help plan my itinerary. I definitely want to visit Times Square, Brooklyn Bridge, and ride on the Staten Island Ferry.

    1. Sweet!! I hope that someday comes very soon lol. The view of the Statute of Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry is killer. You will love it!

  13. New York has such a special place in my heart ♥. I got the chance to visit during my Work & Travel program but I promised to come back. I would definitely go to flea markets and to as many thrift shops as possible.

  14. New York is in my travel list since ever, I always wanted to visit it and this post will help me so much when I’ll do it. So thank you for sharing your knowledge, I loved it!

  15. These are some really great ideas of things to do in NYC. It is my dream to visit NYC one day in the not too distant future. I’ll be sure to check out many of these destinations as they sound fab! What a helpful list.

  16. I am going to visit NYC for the first with my family this summer and I’ve been wondering how to fit sight-seeing in such a short schedule! I am glad I came across this article, it is very detailed! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Glad you will be visiting us soon and that you enjoyed this article. Feel free to touch base if I can answer any questions and/or provide any more tips.

  17. i always considered new york to be very expensive country but you have covered some really nice area to make the most out of it and still do it on budget..have bookmarked this post.

  18. I’ve tried most of these but I discovered quite a few more to try. Thanks, looking forward to doing alot this spring

    1. Thanks so much for visiting our little piece of the internet lol. Looking forward to the sun making an appearance in NYC soon, so we can make our way through the city and check off the sites from this list!

  19. The Highline is really something special. If you are a tourist or a native New Yorker, you will find this to be a fasinating & unique sight to see. My family loved it! Make an afternoon out of it and the peacefulness of this masterpiece. Thanks for the advice Alex!

    1. Thanks for stopping by Rob! Yes! The HighLine offers those fantastic views. I’m glad your family enjoyed it. Our family is eagerly awaiting the SUN in NYC lol. Thanks again for your comment.

  20. New York City is on my bucket list. I’m a Texas girl and planned to visit there one day. Thank you so much for sharing. Someone told me it’s cheaper to stay in New Jersey and take the ferry over, is this true?

    1. Yes its true. You can also stay in the outer boroughs like Brooklyn or Queens. It is much cheaper and not long of a ride into the city. I hope to visit Texas one day as it is on our bucket list lol. Thanks for visiting and feel free to drop me a line if you ever make it to NYC.

    1. I’m glad you experienced that. My wife is a huge Wicked fan. We hope to return and check it out again soon. Love Bryant Park as their is always something going on there! Thanks for stopping by and checking us out.

  21. Wow, there is so much I missed on my one previous trip to New York but as I am visiting again in a couple of weeks you have given me some great ideas. Time to work out my itinerary so I get every thing in.

  22. Great tips – I visited New York a couple of years ago and I’m desperate to go back! I could happily sit and people watch in Times Square for hours!

    Francesca x
    www.glutenfreehorizons.com

  23. I’ve never been to NY and I’m dying to go. Thanks for sharing these helpful tips of cheap things to do! There’s nothing worse than going broke and spending up all of your money on vacation.

  24. As a former New Yorker who lived in Brooklyn and Queens for seven (of the best years of my life) I totally dig and appreciate your post. Yes!!! We know how to have fun on a budget. It’s a requirement! I’ve done most of these things on your list but see a few I still need to try like visiting Governor’s Island , Roosevelt Island and I had no idea the Bronx Zoo was free on Wednesdays! I also am a Mini Golf fan and always been curious to visit the Highline. Thanks for sharing your wonderful list of ideas. I’ll have to pin for later.

  25. Love the sound of that botanical garden! I’ve only visited NY from the UK once but I absolutely loved it – especially Central Park

  26. Wow! What a fab extensive list of things to do in NYC. When i travel, i always seek out the free or cheap things to do first as there is often so much. I really like to read these types of articles as they provide a great insight. Just wandering the streets of times square and wandering across Brooklyn bridge sounds like a perfect day out to me. Thanks for all of these ideas 🙂

    1. Glad you enjoyed the list. NYC is expensive but it doesn’t have to be when you visit. Thanks for passing through.

  27. From one fellow New Yorker to another, nice free things. Also, Prospect Park in Brooklyn which is much less touristy than Central Park and DUMBO (Brooklyn Bridge Park) too. If you can spare $2.75, take the ferry from Wall St./Pier 11 or DUMBO Pier 1 to Williamsburg, LIC or Greenpoint waterfront stops. Also, South Street Seaport and Pier 17 for the views of Brooklyn Bridge and DUMBO. I have many posts on these lol.

    1. Hi fellow New Yorker! Good points! Absolutely love the less touristy spots like Prospect Park.
      Thanks for your comments!

  28. We managed to see many of these free things to do. I would have never ventured into the library if it weren’t for your advice. The building is stunning. The kids got to see a card catalog, they were so confused! Kinda funny how things have changed.

    1. I am happy that you enjoyed this post! A card catalog LOL. It brings back so many memories.
      Oh how times have changed. Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Happy 2019!

  29. I’m so excited about exploring NY and your post will be fantastic! I didn’t have Governor’s Island on my list, so thank you so much for the inspiration.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post! Not many speak of Governor’s Island but its a cool place.
      Let me know if I can answer any questions about NYC. Happy 2019!

Comments are closed.

Recent Content