Snippets: 11 Free Activities and Things to do in New York City | Explore the Big Apple at no cost!
We are all fully aware that New York City can be an expensive destination, but do you know that there are also many sights and activities in this metropolitan city which are free? We have been to NYC a couple of times over the past few years, and have seen most of the popular tourist sights such as Times Square, Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty. If you only have limited time and a tight budget, here are some of our top recommendations which we have sussed out if you ever pay a visit to the Big Apple. And yes, you heard it right, the below activities and sights do not cost a single cent or dollar. Sometimes the best things in life are free indeed.
Take a stroll in Central Park
Spanning across and area of approximately 3.4km squares from mid-town Manhattan to upper Manhattan, Central Park is one of the world’s most popular urban parks and attraction in New York City. There is plenty to do here such as cycling, jogging or simply strolling around with quite a number of iconic landmarks such as Alice in Wonderland, the Central Park Zoo and even an ice skating rink in winter.
Catch the Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry service
Possibly one of the most iconic landmark of New York, you can catch a good view of the Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island ferry service between Lower Manhattan and Staten Island. The easiest way is to board the ferry from Manhattan to Staten Island and take the return service, where you can get a close view of the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan skyline as the same time. Yes, the Staten Island free service is free!
Stroll on Brooklyn Bridge
This is one of our favourite activities whenever we are in NYC. There are two ways to go about it – either walk from Manhattan to the Brooklyn side or vice versa. Our recommendation is to walk from Brooklyn as you get to enjoy the spectacular Lower Manhattan skyline view along the way, including views of Staten Island and the Statue of Liberty. Sunset is the most popular time for the stroll.
Catch a view Lower Manhattan from Main Street Park
The refurbished park provides one of the best views of Manhattan in our opinion, located just a short walk from DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). On a good weather, there is a huge grass patch for picnics, a small “beach” (not fit for swimming) for great picture taking moments with the Brooklyn Bridge as a backdrop, and even a carousel where kids can indulge in some fun moments. How about taking a stroll on Brooklyn Bridge right after? Sunset is the most popular timing where the park will be packed with photography enthusiasts.
Soak in the atmosphere at Times Square
You have not been to NYC if you have not seen Times Square. As one of the most famous and possibly brightest junction in the world, this part of Mid-Town Manhattan never fails to enthral us every instance we visit NYC. The best spot here amidst the crazy human traffic is the middle of Times Square where you can find a flight of red steps, right beside the TKTS counter where you can purchase same-day discounted Broadway tickets. Take some time to grab a sit, chill and soak in the amazing energy and atmosphere of the city.
Visit the old dame Grand Central Terminal
As one of the most highly visit attraction in NYC, you do not need to be travelling out to visit the Grand Central Terminal located at 42nd Street. The beautiful interior is always packed with curious tourists who attempt to capture the hectic and haphazard human traffic on their lenses against the picturesque interior. Other than people watching, there is also an Apple Stall, Shack Shack and Irving Farm Coffee within the huge train terminal.
Join the crowds at The High Line
Spanning across 1.45 miles (approx 2.3km), The High Line is a popular park built on a former railway line right above the streets in West Manhattan. There are about ten access points, from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th and 12th Avenues. The most interesting portion for us is the mid-section right above Chelsea Market, where you get a good view of the landmark Standard Hotel, sheltered flea market and sun deck chairs to chill the afternoon away.
Starting Fifth Avenue with the New York Public Library
Located along 5th Ave at 42nd Street, the New York Public Library – Stephen A. Schwarzman Building is quite impressive simply from its architecture. This is the main branch of New York Library, which is also listed as a National Historic Landmark in NYC. There are four stories open to public, counting the Rose Main Reading Room as one of the most famous spot which has an old vintage feel with high ceiling and natural lighting. We will say this is quite a good respite from all the shopping on 5th Avenue, and it certainly helps that admission is free.
Eat at the Smorgasburg Food Flea Market
While not technically free as you need to pay for your food, you are still free to check out one of the most happening food flea market in Brooklyn (excluding winter months) – Smorgasburg Food Flea Market. This weekend only event which runs from mid-day till evening is a popular one stop destination for foodies who want to try some of the iconic NYC food stalls and dishes. Think ramen burger, smoked meats, lobster roll and fries with toppings – you get the drift. The location changes periodically across landmark spots in Brooklyn so be sure to check their website for the latest updates. Our recommendation is to come with an extremely empty stomach.
Walk the grounds of 911 Memorial
This may not be the happiest place to be in, but it would not be advisable to skip this. Pay your respect to the thousands whom have lost their lives over such acts which we should unhesitatingly reject, and take a moment to image the soaring World Trade Centre twin towers which once stood at the very spot. Just steps away, you will find the stunning Westfield World Trade Center, also commonly known as the World Trade Center Transportation Hub. You will be greeted by tall white thin spines, with natural sunlight shinning through the roof, giving the centre promenade an almost heavenly look.
Williamsburg makes you a New York hipster
As Manhattan gets more crowded, and apartments get replaced by even taller office buildings, the hipsters are slowing moving towards Brooklyn. Nothing beats hanging out a day at Williamsburg, with its many cafes, fashion outlets and chill-lax restaurants. Here, you get to experience another side of New York City – minus the crazy traffic. Make your way to Bedford Avenue Station, or take a short stroll from Marcy Avenue Station. We recommend grabbing the Cafe Latte from California’s Blue Bottle Coffee, or visit the picture-worthy cafe alone Grand Street, Devocion. And yes, make sure you visit MAST Chocolate flagship store as well, and take some time off to do their factory tour!
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