Anyone who’s ever been to NYC, and probably even those who know it by reputation only, could tell you that there are plenty of things to see and do in the city. Seasonal events, year-round activities, popular tourist hubs, etc.
But today I want to take a more seasonal approach to things, and talk about free events that you can enjoy in the month of September. And, if by the end of this post, you’re interested in hearing about even more activities in NYC, then be sure to check out my article on the best things to do in NYC in September!
24 Free Things To Do In NYC In September
Brooklyn Flea (Every Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm)Second Hand Store in DumboAdd to myNY added
For almost 10 years, tourists and locals alike have been making the pilgrimage to Brooklyn to visit one of the most famous flea markets in New York. Antique household goods, vintage furniture and clothing, jewelry and all sorts of other knick-knacks are sold by the 60 vendors of the Brooklyn Flea market. Of course, Brooklyn Flea also has food! From Hong Kong Pork Buns to waffles, you’ll find everything here. Here is a little tip from us. Take a few minutes and just chat with the sellers. They often tell their own personal stories, how they put their ideas into practice or why they love New York. You meet a lot of great and creative people at the flea markets in New York!
- When? The Brooklyn Flea is happening every Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm!
Take A Ride On The Staten Island FerryCruise in Staten IslandAdd to myNY added
Probably one of the most iconic free activities in NYC is riding the Staten Island Ferry, which as the name suggests, takes you on a round trip from Manhattan to the island.
From this ride, you can see a lot of popular sites. Such as… the Statue of Liberty, the Manhattan skyline, and even a bit of Brooklyn. Plus, the ferry is operational during all hours of the day, meaning that you can even take a night ride if you prefer.
This activity is perfect for September because it’s no longer the heat of the summer, but there isn’t a winter chill in the air either.
Free KayakingPier in DumboAdd to myNY added
This is a really cool event that can be booked several times a month: discover New York from the water – and even better: from a kayak! You can start at the Manhattan Community Boathouse (Pier 96 at the Hudson River) or at the Brooklyn Bridge Park between Pier 1 and Pier 2 (every Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday until the end of August).
Visit the Uptown Night Market (September 14, 2023)Food Market in Harlem & Washington HeightsAdd to myNY added
New York City’s largest festival of cuisine, culture and community is back for the third time! This year, the Uptown Night Market will take place on the second Thursday of each month in West Harlem from May through October. Celebrating diverse cultures from around the world, the festival will feature a variety of performances and activities for the whole family.
Unique and tasty foods from around the globe are offered by numerous food vendors. This festival is a MUST for all food lovers!
Enjoy the view from the FREE roof terrace of Time Out Food MarketFood Market in DumboAdd to myNY added
The “Food Market” concept proves to be a great success in New York City. In May 2019, the Time Out Market opened in Dumbo: and offers around 20 different vendors, 2 bars, a rooftop with an additional 4 restaurants. The food market in Dumbo on 55 Water Street is expected to be just as successful as its other chains such as the one in Lisbon. The absolute best thing about the location is the view from the balcony. It provides unobstructed views of the Manhattan skyline as well as the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge.
Visit Central ParkPark in Midtown ManhattanOur HighlightAdd to myNY added
Central Park is a popular place to visit in NYC at any time of the year, but in September specifically, a walk through this area can be really enjoyable. This is due to the aforementioned warm, but not hot, weather that September brings.
You could even take some supplies out with you and have a picnic! Or you could simply explore, take some pictures, and even see if there are any events happening that you could take advantage of.
See The Empire State BuildingBuilding in Midtown ManhattanAdd to myNY added
And speaking of iconic sites in NYC, the Empire State Building is definitely a must-see for many tourists. It’s a destination that needs no introduction and can be spotted from many different places in the city, although nothing compares to seeing it up close and personal.
Keep in mind though, that although you can take in the building from up close and explore the first floor for free, you will need a ticket to visit the observation decks that reside higher up.
Check Out Times Square (by night)Other Attraction in Theatre DistrictOur HighlightAdd to myNY added
If you don’t mind being around crowds, Times Square is a place you need to experience once in your life. After all, there’s a reason why every NYC tourist drops by the area (usually more than once).
And while it may seem like there’s not much to do other than people watch, you’ll probably be surprised with how many places there are to explore when you’re in and around Times Square. Plus, some of them are even completely free!
In fact, there are people who spend days of their vacation just in Times Square. Although, you can of course just drop by for a quick visit if your itinerary is already packed.
Spend Some Time In The New York Public LibraryBuilding in Midtown ManhattanAdd to myNY added
The New York Public Library is perhaps one of the most well known libraries in the world, and should definitely be on your list of places to visit while in NYC.
It’s completely free to go inside, and you can check out books once you’re there just like any other library! And it goes without saying that there are plenty of options to choose from. But even if you just want to snap a few pics of the architecture, it’s still worth a quick visit.
Drop By The Rockefeller Center ...Building in Midtown ManhattanAdd to myNY added
The Rockefeller Center is another well known spot in NYC, and consists of twenty acres worth of commercial buildings! So if you’re looking for a place to hang out for the entire day, this could be a contender.
There are shops, eating establishments, and even a lot of free events that regularly pop up in the center. And all of this makes every time you visit a little bit different!
Plus, even though the iconic Christmas tree won’t be up and running quite yet if you do visit in September, you can take advantage of potential Labor Day activities.
... and then experience Saint Patrick’s CathedralBuilding in Midtown ManhattanAdd to myNY added
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral is a stunning piece of architecture as well as an active church, so it’s a popular site to check out while you’re in the city. Some people choose to not even go inside, and simply take pictures of the building’s impressive exterior.
There are no tours of the building (except for a self guided audio one), but you can go inside for free. Just make sure to properly respect the site, as it is a religious area.
Explore The New York Botanical GardensOther Attraction in BronxAdd to myNY added
Circling back to activities that are great to enjoy when the weather is cool, exploring the New York Botanical Gardens is another free thing to do in NYC in September; since most of the summertime plants are still in bloom, but you don’t have to deal with the summer heat.
It takes about three hours to make your way through the entire garden, but it’s time well spent. And of course, you can gain free admission to these gardens at any time!
Go Inside The Grand Central TerminalOther Attraction in Midtown ManhattanAdd to myNY added
The Grand Central Terminal is yet another popular spot among tourists, either because they’re quite literally using it to travel or just because they want to experience the building in person.
While you’re there, you could grab something to eat, take a tour, or simply enjoy well known sites like the ceiling of the building.
And to make things even better, there are a lot of other activities close by Grand Central! Which makes it easy to pack multiple activities in one day.
Head To Governors Island (ok, almost FREE)Other Attraction in Outside of New York CityAdd to myNY added
Governors Island is a destination that differs from other spots in NYC, because it’s less highly trafficked. So if you aren’t a big fan of crowds, this could very well be one of the best items on this list.
It’s not far from Manhattan, and not only are there tours of the area, but you can also just explore yourself if you think you’d enjoy that more! There are great views and plenty of activities to try out on the island.
Walk Around Greenwich Village and take photos of the Friends-ApartmentOther Attraction in West VillageAdd to myNY added
Greenwich Village is a very special part of NYC, and has been known for many years as a place where artistic and unique people reside and where people can feel free to be themselves.
So it’s a great place to spend a couple of hours, or even all day! There are places to eat and shop, parks to explore, and the iconic Friends apartment exterior is even in the area. Plus many different sites that relate to the beginnings of the LGBTQ movement.
Relax in Bryant Park and enjoy FREE Picnic performances, yoga classes and more!Park in Midtown ManhattanAdd to myNY added
Bryant Park takes up almost 10 acres, and within all that space is a lot for you to explore. Plus a lot of free activities that are going on at any given time. For instance, you could join a yoga class, enjoy some live music or other types of performances, have a picnic with your friends, play some BINGO, go bird watching, or take in a movie night.
It’s no exaggeration to say that you could spend all day at the park and not get bored. And the September weather will make the outdoor activities even better!
My tip: Here you find all Bryant Park Events in September.
Walk the High Line with the FREE guided walking tour!Walking Tour in West VillageAdd to myNY added
The High Line is a unique park in NYC that’s literally elevated from the ground, which allows you to see a panoramic view of the city. And it also features an old rail trail that was built in 1934, so there’s a historical aspect to the site as well.
There are tours of this area for the public that you can take for free, but this also means that if you want to take the free tours then you’ll need to arrive at the park early so that you’re first in line!
Tour of the Brooklyn BridgeBuilding in DumboOur HighlightAdd to myNY added
This tour is about three hours long and runs all year, but keep in mind that it does start pretty early in the morning.
Throughout this free walking tour, you’ll get to experience the following iconic sites of NYC… the Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn Heights, and DUMBO (which is a ferry landing area that lies under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). Just remember that because these are popular sites and the tour is free, it might be quite busy at times.
Free Walking Tour of New YorkOther Attraction in Financial DistrictAdd to myNY added
Lastly, we have the free walking tour of NYC, which takes about two and a half hours to complete. Throughout this tour you’ll get to see Wall Street, the 9/11 Memorial, and Battery Park (a place that has great views of none other than… the Statue of Liberty).
You do need to book this tour two days ahead of time, because the spots fill up fast and without a reservation you won’t be able to take the tour.
Free Tours To Take In NYC In September
Free Events In NYC In September
Hot 97 Labor Day Shutdown (September 4, 2023)Other Events in Outside of New York CityAdd to myNY added
For those of you that enjoy music festivals, the Hot 97 Labor Day Shutdown is a great free event to check out in NYC during early September. It’s described as a Caribbean party experience, and features the following types of music… Afrobeats, Amapaino, Kompa, Reggae, Soca, and hip hop. So if any of that sounds like your jam (pun intended) then plan to visit on Labor Day weekend.
And although you can pay for upgraded service, as long as you RSVP by a certain time, you’ll have no problem getting into the event for free.
Attend the FREE Curtain Up Broadway Festival (September 8 - 10, 2023)Other Events in Theatre District
Table of Silence Project 9/11 at Lincoln Center (September 11, 2023 at 8:10 am)Building in Upper West SideAdd to myNY added
Join the crowd at the iconic Lincoln Center as they team up with Buglisi Dance Theatre to bring you the poignant “Table of Silence Project 9/11”, an initiative of the Arnhold Dance Innovation Fund. Every year, this powerful performance stands as both a moving tribute and a resounding call for peace. Created by visionary choreographer Jacqulyn Buglisi in 2011, it serves to remember those we lost and celebrate the indomitable spirit of those affected by acts of terror, war, and assaults on freedom.
This year, expect an unforgettable showcase featuring the artistic prowess of Buglisi Dance Theatre’s Co-Founder and Principal Dancer, Terese Capucilli. The soundscape will be elevated by Composer and Violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain, alongside the enchanting notes of Conch/Flute by John Ragusa. All of this will be captured and streamed by the acclaimed Nel Shelby and her production team. Don’t miss it!
Movie Night McCarren Park (September 6 + 13, 2023)Park in WilliamsburgAdd to myNY added
Nestled in the heart of Brooklyn, McCarren Park is a vibrant urban oasis offering a refreshing blend of leisure and recreation. For film aficionados, the Free Paramount+ Movie Nights are a highlight, bringing a cinematic experience to the heart of Brooklyn on warm summer evenings – so don’t miss these to free events in September:
- September 6: “Everything Everywhere All at Once”
- September 13: “The Big Lebowski”
Free Summer Movie + Watercolors on the Waterfront at Gantry Plaza State ParkPark in Long Island CityOur HighlightAdd to myNY added
There are several free events at Gantry Plaza State Park that you won’t want to miss. HPPC’s CinemaLIC Returns film series has its final screening of the year on September 9, 2023 – Aladdin will be shown (8:30 pm).
Another event is Watercolors on the Waterfront that will take place on September 7 and September 21, 2023. Find out more here.
Met Opera Opening Night 2023: Dead Man Walking (September 26, 2023)Other Art & Culture in Upper West SideAdd to myNY added
For 17 years now, there has been a tradition popular among New Yorkers: the Metropolitan Opera shows its opening opera on the big screens of Times Square – live and free! This year, Jake Heggie’s “Dead Man Walking” will be shown. The pre-show begins 6:00 pm, and the performance begins 6:30 pm.
Attendance is free and no tickets are required. Free seating is available in Duffy Square and the Broadway Plazas between 43rd and 44th Streets and 46th and 47th Streets, respectively.
More information can be found on the Times Square Alliance website.
Visit Hip Hop Til Infinity for FREE on September 14, 2023Other Events in Civic CenterAdd to myNY added
Hip Hop Til Infinity is an immersive digital installation that takes its guests through the different realms and eras of hip hop. In collaboration with innovative partners, Hall des Lumières’ state-of-the-art audiovisual technology illuminates the fascinating history of hip hop. The exhibition will also feature an interactive program with virtual concerts, listening parties and much more. Hip Hop Til Infinity will take place at Hall des Lumières from August 2 to September 17, 2023.
On September 14 from 10 am to 10 pm, the Hip Hop Til Infinity exhibit is FREE to the public.
Exclusively for Mastercard holders, there will be unique after-hours events on four dates where visitors can explore the exhibition while enjoying free food & drinks.
- Tuesday, August 22
- Wednesday, August 30
- Wednesday, September 6
- Wednesday, September 13
Brooklyn Museum Free Admission SaturdayMuseum in Park SlopeAdd to myNY added
The Brooklyn Museum contains a lot of historical art that relates to various cultures, such as: African, Egyptian, etc. And all in all, it contains over a million different art pieces!!
Unfortunately, you usually have to pay to enter, but on September 2nd… the Brooklyn Museum will have a day of free admission. So if you’re already in NYC and have always wanted to go, then is your chance!
My tip: Here I have the complete list of free museums in NYC.
Museum of Chinese In America Free AdmissionMuseum in ChinatownAdd to myNY added
The Museum of Chinese in America is a beautiful museum that highlights the history of Chinese individuals in America, talking about their culture and experiences in order to raise awareness.
And according to their site, they’re currently allowing free admissions in honor of a donation to their museum. This runs until late September, so if you’re visiting around that time then you don’t have to worry about making reservations before a visit.
West Side Fest (September 30, 2023)Other Events in ChelseaAdd to myNY added
West Side Fest is an all-day, free event taking place in NYC for the first time this year. The festival is hosted by the West Side Cultural Network, a collaboration of more than 19 museums, parks, and performing arts & cultural facilities centers, all located within a mile of historic New York.
Visitors can explore participating museums and cultural institutions with free admission and participate in numerous free activities.
- Atlantic Theater Company
- Center for Art
- Research and Alliances
- Chelsea Factory
- Dia Chelsea
- High Line
- Hudson River Park
- Joyce Theater
- The Kitchen
- Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center
- Little Island
- NYC AIDS Memorial
- Poster House
- Print Center New York
- Rubin Museum of Art
- The Shed
- West Village Rehearsal Co-Op
- White Columns
- Whitney Museum of American Art
I'm a true New York fan! Not only have I visited the city over 20 times but also have I spent several months here at a time. On my blog I show you the best and most beautiful spots of the city, so that you have a really good time! You can also find lots of insider tips in our New York travel guide. Also check out my hotel finder for New York!