The Best Free Things to do in NYC Today

Wondering what free events are happening in NYC today? Amidst the skyscrapers and flashing lights, New York’s vibrant soul offers countless opportunities that won’t cost you a dime. These are my favorite free activities and events that are happening right now!

My tip: This is my curated list of the best free things to do in NYC.

Free things to do in NYC Today

Now, I understand that living or just visiting here can often feel like being in a never-ending bidding war on a one-bedroom closet. But don’t despair! Because amidst this concrete jungle of overpriced avocado toasts and mysteriously expensive bottled water, lies a treasure trove of experiences that, believe it or not, won’t cost you a single dime. Yes, freebies, in New York City! So, grab a seat (preferably not on the subway during rush hour) as I reveal the best FREE things to do in NYC.

  1. 01

    Bryant Park Winter Village

    Christmas Market in Midtown Manhattan
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    Starting in October (and running through March), it is time once again for the best winter market in New York City to open its doors. The Winter Village in Bryant Park is not only the largest Christmas market in the city but also by far the nicest on account of its adjacent ice rink and places to shop and eat. This along with its amazing location among all the skyscrapers makes for an amazing Christmas experience. 

  2. 02

    The Staten Island Ferry gives you a FREE boat ride with skyline views

    Cruise in Staten Island
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    One of New York’s most popular tourist attractions is the Staten Island Ferry, which commutes between the southern tip of Manhattan and Staten Island. The crossing is free of charge! The 5 mile journey takes about 20-25 minutes and offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the skyscrapers and the Statue of Liberty.

  3. 03

    Visit the Brooklyn Bridge Park...

    Park in Dumbo
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    You will find the beginning of Brooklyn Bridge Park just below Brooklyn Bridge. With amazing views of the skyline across the water and some great places to sit and enjoy the view, this park is a must-visit! For those of you who like running, this is an amazing place to do so, especially with the amazing Manhattan skyline view. There are also tons of green spaces, basketball, volleyball courts, and soccer fields.

  4. 04

    ..and then cross the Brooklyn Bridge back to Manhattan

    Building in Dumbo
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    The Brooklyn Bridge is used by over 120,000 vehicles across its 6 lanes, 4000 pedestrians, and 3000 bikes, per day. The views of NYC from the Brooklyn Bridge are spectacular and it is an absolute necessity that you walk across the bridge during your trip to NYC. Especially at sunrise and sunset this is one of NYC’s most photogenic spots. Just be prepared to be surrounded by a bunch of people.

  5. 05

    Take a walk through the Greenwich Village...

    Walking Tour in Greenwich Village
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    Greenwich Village has a reputation as a magnet for Bohemians and intellectuals. Generations of artists and writers have given the neighborhood its free-spirited identity. From Bleecker St. to MacDougal St. and Sheridan Square, this tour will show you some of the best sights in Greenwich Village and tell you the story behind them.

  6. 06

    ...and take a picture of the Friends Building

    Other Attraction in West Village
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    Everyone is familiar with the TV sitcom “Friends.” It’s considered one of the greatest sitcoms of all-time. Lucky for you, the Friends apartment is located right here in Greenwich Village. The exterior of the apartment was shot in NYC, but the rest of the show was shot in a studio in Los Angeles. 

    The apartment is located on the corner of Bedford and Grove St. You’ll always see a flock of people taking pictures, so you can’t miss it. If you’re a true Friends fan, you definitely won’t miss it.

  7. 07

    Stroll through Central Park

    Park in Midtown Manhattan
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    Central Park spans from Midtown Manhattan all the way up to Harlem. There are about 340 hectares of land and is a popular meeting place for New Yorkers. With about 35 million visitors per year, the man-made park is an attraction not only for tourists. New Yorkers love Central Park and its tranquility. Many events are held here such as the NYC Marathon. There are also tons of green spaces, walking lanes, and bike lanes. Central Park is home to Sheep’s Meadow, Bow Bridge, Bethesda Terrace, Central Park Zoo, and many other things as well.

  8. 08

    Take a picture of the Vessel...

    Building in Hudson Yards
    The Vessel
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    The Vessel is an attraction in the Hudson Yards – and it’s free! Designed by British Thomas Heatherwick (designer of the “Rolling Bridge and UK Pavilion at Expo 2010), “The Vessel” offers around 2,500 steps to climb up and down. The symmetrical steel structure, connected by 154 interwoven stair segments, attracts tourists from all over the world to climb the vertical distance of about one mile!

    Note: The Vessel is unfortunately still closed at the moment. You can only enter at the bottom, the stairs are still closed and it is not known if and when they will be open to the public again.

  9. 09

    ...before you walk down the High Line

    Park in Meatpacking District
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    There are few parks as unique as the High Line. The elevated freight rail line was repurposed as a public green space that opened in 2009 and now offers amazing views of the city, as well as a place to relax and unwind. Its plant life is based directly off what was growing there while it was abandoned, giving this park a unique and interesting atmosphere! The High Line stretches from The Meatpacking District all the way to Hudson Yards-34th Street.

  10. 10

    Delve into Times Square

    Other Attraction in Theatre District
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    Times Square is one of the most famous attractions in New York City. Just like The Statue of Liberty or The Empire State Building, Times Square is an iconic location. When people say “the city that never sleeps”, they’re most likely talking about Times Square because of the numerous lights and action going on 24/7. Standing in the middle of the many bright, flashing billboards ist not comparable to anything else in the city. Times Square is the heart of NYC and is the true embodiment of The Big Apple.

  11. 11

    Go over to Grand Central Terminal

    Other Attraction in Midtown Manhattan
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    Grand Central Station is probably the most famous commuter station in the world. Every single day, thousands of locals and tourists walk through this busy and fast-paced terminal. This New York City commuter rail terminal has been featured in numerous movies and TV shows and is an iconic location within the city. Tourists who visit NYC make sure that Grand Central is part of their itinerary.

    My tip: Go to the Whispering Gallery which is located on the lower level of the Terminal (near the Oyster Bar).

  12. 12

    The view from the rooftop at Pier 57 ins incredible - and FREE!

    Pier in Chelsea
    Pier 57 Rooftop NYC
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    Right next to the beautiful Little Island is the Pier 57 Rooftop NYC. As the name suggests, you can go up to the roof of this huge pier and enjoy a sensational view of the city skyline.

  13. 13

    Spend some time on Little Island

    Other Attraction in Meatpacking District
    Little Island New York
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    Not far from the Meatpacking District and the High Line, Little Island is one of the newest attractions in New York and is something very special: a park on 132 beautiful tulip-shaped concrete stilts in the Hudson River!

  14. 14

    Go window shopping at 5th Avenue

    Other Shopping in Midtown Manhattan
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    5th Avenue is one of the most famous shopping streets in the world and a must-see if you want to go shopping in New York! Fifth Avenue starts right at Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village and goes all the way to 143rd Street in Harlem. The length of 5th Avenue is over 11 kilometers – you will need about 2.5 hours on foot.

  15. 15

    Amble over the Squibb Park Bridge

    Other Attraction in Brooklyn Heights
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    Squibb Park Bridge serves as a remarkable and essential gateway to the park, providing visitors with a convenient and breathtaking route to Brooklyn Bridge Park. As you stroll across this iconic bridge, you’ll be treated to unparalleled views of Lower Manhattan. With its unique design and engineering, the Squibb Bridge offers a captivating journey, meandering from Squibb Park in Brooklyn Heights to the Greenway in Brooklyn Bridge Park at Pier 1.

  16. 16

    Washington Square Park

    Park in Greenwich Village
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    Washington Square Park, centrally located in the Village, extends over almost 4 hectares. Close to New York University with its distinctive Washington Square Arch, a triumphal arch inaugurated in 1895, the park is a popular place to be when the weather is fine. Through the Arch you have a wonderful view along 5th Avenue to the top of the Empire State Building. 

    If you are lucky, you can even enjoy a free jazz concert from the many jazz artists of the Village. Here, friends and family meet to relax, play chess, or just in general have a good time.

  17. 17

    Marvel at the beautiful Manhattan Bridge

    Other Attraction in Dumbo
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    Don’t forget to capture the most famous photo on Washington Street in Dumbo: With the Manhattan Bridge and the tiny Empire State Building in the background, the street is popular with all tourists to take the perfect photo. Manhattan Bridge is the second famous bridge in Dumbo. If you like, you can also cross it on foot and enjoy the great view of the skyline as well as the Brooklyn Bridge from there.

Profilbild Steffen Kneist
About the author

I'm a true New York fan! Not only have I visited the city over 25 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!

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