New York City has a reputation for being a busy place with lots to do — but it also has a reputation for being very expensive.  However, with some planning, you can save a lot of money when visiting the Big Apple. There are many places in the city that are free, family friendly, educational, and a lot of fun! Here are some of my favorites:



1. Bronx Zoo

The Bronx Zoo is considered one of the best zoos in the world. Save money by going on a Wednesday, which is their ‘suggested donation’ day. You can pay as much as your budget allows for as many people as are in your family. With a regular ticket price of almost $17 per adult and $12 per child, you can really save a lot of money with this deal!

2. New York Botanical Garden

The New York Botanical Garden claims to have some of the world’s best variety of plants. There are fifty gardens, a greenhouse, and a native forest that you can visit with your family. There’s a garden maze, and even a garden your children can dig in! Admission is free every Wednesday, and also on Saturdays from 10-11 a.m.

3. Children’s Museum of Manhattan

CMOM is a great place to visit with preschool-aged children. There are many interactive play exhibits where children can learn about letters or engage in dramatic play. Admission is free on the first Friday of every month from 5-8 p.m. This would be a great place to finish out a day of fun in the city, since it’s free later in the day.

4. Metropolitan Museum of Art

You can visit the Met at any time for any price. While there is a pricey recommended adult entrance ticket of $25 per person, it is a suggested amount. You can give a donation that matches your family’s budget and spend as much time as you like in this museum. Before you go, you can download and print a family map that suggests kid-friendly exhibits.

5. American Museum of Natural History

Just like the Met, the Museum of Natural History will also accept any donation as an entrance into the museum (though IMAX admission is not included). But, there are plenty of things to see here, including a butterfly conservatory, dinosaur fossils, ocean life, and more! If you stay late enough, you might find out if everything comes to life at night…just like in the movie Night in the Museum!

6. The Jewish Museum

The Jewish Museum offers free admission on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. You certainly don’t need to be Jewish to enjoy this museum — everyone is welcome to come and learn about Jewish heritage throughout history. However, be aware that since Saturday is during the Sabbath, parts of the museum, such as the interactive exhibits and cafe, will be closed.

7. Concerts

If you love music, be sure to check here to find free concerts and festivals at Central Park, Lincoln Center, and other venues around the city.

8. Fairs and Festivals

For a listing of tons of fun free things to do in the city, visit Club freeTime. My favorite section is for fairs and festivals, but there are also listings under different categories like workshops or walking tours. You’re sure to find something that matches your family’s interests here.

9. New York Public Library

Of course public libraries are free — but the New York Public Library also holds the Declaration of Independence, Gutenberg Bible, and more. You can have a free guided tour of the library if you go to the information desk in Astor Hall at certain times throughout the day. Check out not only the great books and historical documents, but also the largest marble structure ever built in the United States!

10. Ride the Staten Island Ferry

Although the Staten Island Ferry cost you 25 cents in 1817…it is now free in 2013! There are currently three different ferries that will take you from Staten Island to Lower Manhattan. Enjoy the (free) ride and the view of the city!

This is a guest post by Renee from Scranton, PA
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11 thoughts on “10 Free or Cheap Ways to Enjoy New York City”

The Central Park guided walking tours are free with a donation at the end of each tour. There are several different ones offered during the week. The volunteers that conduct the tours are very informative and the walks are very enjoyable. Lots of history,


Thank you so much for this informative article! Absolutely
will plan our May trip to New-York using this!


Where can I buy this metro card when in New York?


You can purchase them at any subway station. You can get them directly from the token booth attendant or self-service machines. They offer a variety of packages…7-day…30-day…etc, etc, etc. You can also ‘reload’ them.


Are you able to help with finding a good deal for a stay in NYC with this free/inexpensive to do list?


I have to agree with Pizzaz, the metro card is the best deal in NYC. Next best deal is for food, Gray’s Papaya Recession Special, 2 hot dogs and 1 drink for $4.50 (used to be cheaper) still a good deal though and a must when In NYC.


Gray’s Papaya (72nd St. & Broadway) is AWESOME!!
Your order is ready before you can get your money out!


really…..yo quierooooooooooooooooooooooooo…..


Taco Bell?


Pizzaz will now share with you the best tip for seeing New York City…BUY A 7-DAY UNLIMITED METRO CARD!!!

The fare for just one subway or local bus ride is $2.50. However, for $30.00, you can get a pass which entitles you to unlimited amounts of subway and bus rides! That means you can get on & off as many times as you like in Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn. You can go into Brooklyn by train and walk back into Manhattan across the Brooklyn Bridge and spend a few hours in Chinatown or Little Italy and then hop on a bus to Lincoln Center and take another bus a few stops to the Central Park Zoo and from there have a drink in the famous Plaza Hotel or the Waldorf-Astoria (where the President stays) and go a few blocks to Tiffany’s on 57th Street & 5th Avenue where you can envy the filthy rich. Then you can take a stroll through Rockerfeller Center and take another bus to 34th Street where the Empire State Building is or take a train to Coney Island and ride a roller coaster and visit the NYC Aquarium. The list goes on and on if you have an unlimited Metro Card!!!


The fare is now $2.75, and the 7 day card is $31.00, not including the $1 fee. Still a great deal, even if you are only there for say, 3 days. The fares rack up pretty quick, and that unlimited amount is a real money saver. However, if you are staying in just one borough, such as Manhattan, walking is another great option if you have the energy. Plus, it is free!
Oh, and another great FREE thing to do is walk the High Line, an old railroad line turned into a park. It runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District, all the way to 34th Street between 10 and 12 Ave. You can get on at either end, and there are various stops at which to get off. It is a great way to see the city from above, and avoid the traffic below.