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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10 Free or Cheap Ways to Enjoy New York City