Welcome to New York, New York...the city so nice they named it twice! It's where dreams come true and possibilities are endless. New York City has something for every type of traveler. Despite its pricey reputation, you don't have to break the bank to have an incredible adventure here. Check out our list of free things to do in NYC. It's the best way to take a bite out of the Big Apple without leaving a dent in your bank account.

New York City is one of the most vibrant and bustling places in the world, so get ready to dive into this exciting place without emptying your wallet! But before you do , learn more about HomeExchange and how it's a great way to keep your travel budget in check starting with accommodations.

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Free Things To Do in NYC for Everyone

free things to do in nyc

Wether you're a solo traveler, couple, friends, or family there is so much for everyone to do in New York City to keep you busy! These free things to do in NYC can be enjoyed by all, year round, for an iconic New York Experience that doesn't even require you to bring your wallet!

Walk the High Line

Experience a unique urban park by strolling along the High Line. This elevated park was transformed from an old railway track, offering stunning views of the city skyline, art installations, and beautifully landscaped gardens. Take a leisurely walk, enjoy a picnic, or sit and people-watch as you soak up the vibrant energy of this elevated green space.

Stroll Through Central Park

Is there anything more iconically New York than Central Park? Escape the concrete jungle and discover the natural oasis that is Central Park. This sprawling green haven is perfect for a leisurely walk, picnic, or bike ride. Marvel at the iconic landmarks like Belvedere Castle, Bethesda Terrace, and the picturesque Bow Bridge. Immerse yourself in the park's vibrant atmosphere, and don't forget to explore the hidden gems tucked away within its lush landscapes.

Explore the Brooklyn Bridge

Embark on a memorable walk across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn. As you make your way across this architectural marvel, enjoy panoramic views of the city, the East River, and the Statue of Liberty. Capture that perfect Instagram-worthy shot and embrace the sense of grandeur that the bridge exudes.

Discover Museum Mile

Visit the Museum of the City of New York and the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum during their designated free hours. These museums offer fascinating insights into the history, art, and culture of the city. Explore the diverse exhibitions, learn about New York's rich heritage, and expand your horizons without spending a dime.

Free Things To Do in NYC With Kids

free things to do nyc with kids

New York City never fails to ignite the imagination of young explorers! There are tons of free activities that will leave kids wide-eyed with excitement and provide your children with unforgettable experiences while staying within your budget.

Visit the Staten Island Children's Museum

Hop on the Staten Island Ferry and make your way to the Staten Island Children's Museum. Admission is free for children under 1. Let your kids explore the imaginative play areas, engage in science experiments, and discover the wonders of nature through interactive exhibits. With a range of activities designed for children of all ages, this museum guarantees hours of fun-filled exploration.

Create at the Children's Museum of Manhattan

Let your little ones unleash their creativity at the Children's Museum of Manhattan. Admission is free for families receiving public assistance. Engage in interactive exhibits, explore art workshops, and dive into hands-on sensory experiences that will inspire their young minds and ignite their imaginations.

Play at Brooklyn Bridge Park

Head over to Brooklyn Bridge Park, where your kids can enjoy a day filled with outdoor adventures. Unleash their energy at the playgrounds, splash around in the water features of Pier 6, and take in breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline. Don't forget to snap a family photo with the iconic Brooklyn Bridge as your backdrop.

Play in the Imagination Playground

Unleash your kids' creativity at the Imagination Playground in lower Manhattan. This unique playground is designed to encourage imaginative play, allowing children to build and create with oversized foam blocks. Watch their imaginations come to life as they construct castles, forts, and cities of their own design.

Enjoy Storytime at the New York Public Library

Introduce your little ones to the magic of books by attending a free storytime session at the New York Public Library. Let them get lost in the tales, engage in interactive storytelling, and cultivate a love for reading in one of the city's most iconic institutions.

Free Things To Do in NYC at Night

free things to do nyc night

Enjoy the magic of New York City nights with so many free things to do in NYC after the sun goes down. When night falls, the city that never sleeps takes on a whole new dimension. Here's how to take it all in after dark without spending a cent.

Wander Around Times Square

Immerse yourself in the electric energy of Times Square, the heart of Manhattan. Marvel at the dazzling billboards, soak in the vibrant atmosphere, and watch the world go by. Be sure to visit at night when the neon lights illuminate the streets, creating a spectacle that is truly awe-inspiring.

Catch a Free Outdoor Movie

During the summer months, several parks in New York City offer free outdoor movie screenings. Grab a blanket, some snacks, and gather with fellow movie enthusiasts at locations like Bryant Park, Hudson River Park, or the Socrates Sculpture Park. Sit back, relax, and enjoy a cinematic experience under the stars.

Wander through Chinatown and Little Italy

Experience the vibrant cultures of Chinatown and Little Italy as the sun sets. Take a leisurely walk through the bustling streets, marvel at the colorful storefronts, and indulge in the tantalizing aromas of Chinese and Italian cuisine. Immerse yourself in the lively ambiance of these historic neighborhoods.

Stargaze at the High Line's Diller-Von Furstenberg Sundeck

Head to the High Line's Diller-Von Furstenberg Sundeck, where you can stargaze in the heart of the city. Equipped with telescopes, this elevated platform offers a unique opportunity to observe the night sky and explore the wonders of the universe. Marvel at the constellations and let your imagination run wild.

Discover the Gantry Plaza State Park

Make your way to Long Island City and visit the Gantry Plaza State Park. Located along the East River, this park offers stunning views of the Manhattan skyline. As night falls, watch as the city lights up, creating a captivating backdrop for an evening stroll or a picnic with loved ones.

Free Things To Do in NYC at Christmas

free things to do nyc christmas

The holiday season in New York City is a time of enchantment, where the bustling streets transform into a winter wonderland filled with festive cheer, allowing you to create cherished holiday memories on a budget while enjoying the comfort and convenience of a home exchange. 

Admire the Spectacular Holiday Window Displays

Embark on a self-guided tour of the city's famous holiday window displays. From iconic department stores like Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue to charming boutiques, these enchanting displays are a feast for the eyes. Marvel at the elaborate decorations, intricate scenes, and imaginative designs that bring the magic of Christmas to life.

Attend the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting at Washington Square Park

Join in the merriment at the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in Washington Square Park. Experience the joyous gathering, listen to live music, and witness the lighting of the tree, illuminating the park with a warm, magical glow. It's a wonderful event for the whole family to enjoy.

Enjoy the Holiday Train Show at Grand Central Terminal

Step into a miniature world of wonder at the Holiday Train Show in Grand Central Terminal. Marvel at the intricate train sets as they traverse through a whimsical, handcrafted landscape featuring iconic New York City landmarks. Let your imagination run wild as you watch the trains chug along, spreading holiday magic.

Experience the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

Venture to Brooklyn's Dyker Heights neighborhood, where the Christmas lights display is nothing short of spectacular. Stroll through the streets and be dazzled by the extravagant decorations adorning the houses. From towering inflatables to shimmering light displays, this neighborhood is a true holiday spectacle.

Marvel at the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

Last but not least, a Christmas classic! No visit to New York City during the holidays is complete without gazing upon the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Towering above the bustling plaza, adorned with thousands of sparkling lights, this symbol of holiday spirit is a must-see. Take a stroll around the tree, snap some photos, and revel in the magical atmosphere.

Stay (almost) For Free with HomeExchange in NYC

free things to do new york city

We bet you didn't think staying in NYC is among one of the free things possible in New York City? With HomeExchange it is. Setting up a home exchange is not only a cheap way to stay in New York City, it's also one of the best ways to experience the city with a more local's experience. A home exchange itself is free, all you have to pay is an annual fee of $220 a year, allowing you to organize as many exchanges as you like during the year.

HomeExchange is the largest and most renowned home exchange network, and with so many wonderful homes in the city to choose from and all the free things to do in NYC, you'll be planning a trip in no time with any budget. So see you soon in the city that never sleeps!

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