Travel News Top free things to do in New York City

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Top free things to do in New York City

If you're planning a trip to the Big Apple, check out these attractions to avoid breaking the bank.

New York City is called the Big Apple and the City That Never Sleeps. One thing these names overlook? How pricey the city can be. Visiting (or living) in New York City is an amazing experience, but for those on a budget it can put a strain on the wallet. The next time you’re heading to the big city, get a handle on your spending and check out some of these free attractions and events.

1. Admire the view from the High Line

This re-imagined railroad trestle has been one of the hottest destinations in New York City since the opening of its first section in 2009. Now, there are entrances all along the street between Gansevoort Street and West 34th Street. When you climb the stairs, you are instantly transported into a different world – a lush public park hovering above the iconic city with beautiful greenery and unbeatable views.

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2. Get into the holiday spirit at Rockefeller Center

Arguably one of the most famous Big Apple landmarks, Rockefeller Center is a breathtaking sight any time of year. But there’s no better time than during the most wonderful time of the year. If your NYC trip overlaps with the holidays, you’re in luck! The legendary Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is open and free for viewing, as is the ice rink. If you have some cash to spare, rent skates and take a spin around the rink.

3. Catch a show at Central Park’s SummerStage

If you’re hanging out in the city during the summertime, make sure to check out this yearly arts festival. Held at Rumsey Playfield, the festival features music, dance and theater. With the exception of a few benefit concerts, all these events are free and they span for most of the summer months. Even if you’re not there during summer, Central Park is always a great free destination.

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Read more: Insider’s guide to New York City

4. Save your Friday evenings for the Museum of Modern Art

If you’ve dreamed of hitting up this famous artistic landmark but don’t want to shell out the $25 admission fee, wait until Friday between 4 and 8 p.m. for UNIQLO Free Friday Nights. As the name suggests, fees are waived during this time, allowing guests access to the museum’s collections, including exhibits, galleries and films.

5. Browse the Chelsea Galleries

This funky neighborhood boasts some of the coolest art galleries in the city. With blocks packed with galleries, art lovers should plan a trip to Midtown. Check out the map below with a full list of all the galleries so you can plan your art watching strategy.

6. Wander around Socrates Sculpture Park

If you can’t get enough of the art scene, head to Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens. This unique venue displays interesting sculptures and multi-media installations and allows people to come enjoy the art for free. While you’re there, bring a picnic lunch and make a day out of it. Or, bring your dog for a nice stroll—as long as you keep him on a leash!

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7. Release your inner bookworm at the New York Public Library

If you need a break from the City That Never Sleeps, duck into one of the 88 branches of the New York Public Library, or NPL, for a relaxing afternoon with the collections of books, DVDs and more. The most famous of the New York Public Library branches is the one on 42nd Street, so if you’re in the neighborhood, be sure to stop by.

8. Become a fashion expert at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum

You don’t have to spend big bucks to spend your day around couture. This free museum offers three galleries, including one entirely dedicated to exhibits by students and professors. There are more than 50,000 garments and accessories in the permanent collection alone, not to mention the highly praised special exhibitions, ensuring a day of nonstop fashion education.

Read more: Guide to New York Fashion Week

9. Take a stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge

With a path for bikers and pedestrians, the bridge provides a breathtaking view to spectators as they make their way across. Anyone looking for a quirky date option that won’t break the bank, consider taking your significant other for a romantic stroll across this legendary landmark. Plus, when you get to Brooklyn, you can check out Brooklyn Bridge Park, which has fun sites including a carousel.

10. Go for a ride on the Staten Island Ferry

This historic boat ride is meant to provide free passage from lower Manhattan to Staten Island. However, for many, this has become a fun, free way to spend an afternoon enjoying the sights from the New York Harbor without shelling out big bucks for a cruise.

11. Plan a day trip to Governor’s island

After nearly two hundred years as a military base, Governor’s Island is fast becoming a New York City hotspot. Open from May to September, this is the perfect spot to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and reconnect with nature. In 2014, this idyllic location added 30 new acres of public park, making it a great place for a picnic or pleasant stroll.

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