Explore and get to know the city that never sleeps on a budget with my tips about fun cheap things to do in NYC. Most people don’t even know much about fun inexpensive things to do in New York City because they have the misconception of NYC being super expensive where ever you go. Don’t get me wrong, it can be. Today you’ll learn how to save some money during your stay in NYC.
Most of the times when my friends are in town, they wanna know everything about the fun cheap things to do in New York City. So over time that I’ve been living here I was able to find out everything to make your vacation in NYC a bit more affordable. In this article I’ll share my local insight with you. Don’t miss my fun things to do in NYC on a budget like a day on Governors Island, a simple walk on the High Line or even being part of a live TV Show filming in Manhattan.
Top 13 Fun Cheap Things To Do In New York City
Climb the Vessel at Hudson Yards
The Vessel at Hudson Yards is New York City’s newest asset to the list of the best attractions you shouldn’t miss. Since Spring 2019 visitors are now able to climb the 2,500 stairs to the 150-foot-tall, honeycomb-shaped public art installation at Hudson Yards.
The best thing about the Vessel is that is totally free. You can get your ticket up to 2 weeks ahead of your desired day of your visit free of charge which makes this attraction on our list of the best fun cheap things to do in NYC.
Walk the High Line
Another fun inexpensive things to do in New York City is taking a walk on the famous High Line. Strolling the High Line is actually free as well, but maybe you want to stop for some ice cream or buy some of the local art that you can find on the High Line?
The High Line Park in NYC also takes you right to Hudson Yards which makes it perfect to combine both fun inexpensive things to do in NYC. Walk the High Line all the way to Hudson Yards and then explore the area and climb the Vessel.
Ride the Staten Island Ferry
Most of my friends who come to the city want to see the Statue of Liberty at least once. A great way to do so is by riding the (free) Staten Island Ferry. It’s on our list of the fun cheap activities in NYC for two reasons. One, you can experience a typical New York commute. With 70,000 passengers a day not including weekend days the Staten Island Ferry is the only non-vehicular mode of transportation between Staten Island and Manhattan.
Another reason why the Staten Island Ferry made it on our list of the fun cheap activities in NYC are the amazing views you’ll get of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline.
Explore Central Park
Central Park in New York City’s back yard and is so popular that over 40 million people visit it annually. It’s not just a tourist magnet, it is one of the favorite places of many locals to relax, catch some sun, or do some physical activity.
The good thing is, Central Park is free which makes it of course one of the best fun things to do in NYC on a budget. I always recommend taking a tour through the park to get the full experience. Most tours are pretty affordable and absolutely worth going.
Get to see History at Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Head north of Central Park to experience some culture. Harlem is probably the best place to do so. Visit the the Schomburg Center which offers the country’s largest collection of documents, books, recordings and photographs related to the African-American experience. And guess what? They host free exhibits and tours.
Make sure to book these tours at least one month in advance. For more highlights in Harlem (the Apollo Theatre, amazing street art and delicious soul food) and more fun inexpensive things to do in NYC and Harlem head over to our neighborhood guide about Harlem.
Tour the Brooklyn Brewery
Did you know that Brooklyn was destined to become a brewing hotspot? When German immigrants brought their very own brewing techniques to New York and opened up the breweries this was the beginning of beer brewing in Brooklyn.
This history is part of the tour of the Brooklyn Brewery which offers free tours every Saturday: between 1 and 5pm (starting on the hour). You have to be 21 or older to join the tour. Learn about the company, their past, their future goals and get to taste original Brooklyn beer and add this idea to your list of fun things to do in New York City on a budget.
Stroll around at Brooklyn Flea
Since you are already in Brooklyn to check out the Brooklyn Brewery make sure to step by Brooklyn Flea which is Brooklyn’s largest flea market for vintage, design, antiques, collectibles, and food, open every Saturday and Sunday.
Over the years Brooklyn Flea has grown into one of New York City’s top attractions and made it on our fun and cheap things to do in NYC for several reasons. With hundreds of top vendors of furniture, vintage clothing, collectibles and antiques, art and crafts plus delicious fresh food.
Watch an Outdoor Movie
Our absolute highlight in the Summer in NYC is to catch a free outdoor movie at one of the many parks that are hosting the free outdoor movie series. Most of the parks have their last showing in late August or early September. Some of the option to enjoy one of the fun inexpensive things to do in NYC are Bryant Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Rockaway Beach, and more.
Spend the day at Governors Island
Governors Island NYC is a great destination to be in during the summer and another highlight on our list of fun cheap activities in NYC. There are activities for all age groups, tons of events happening and beautiful views of the Statue of Liberty.
The Governors Island Ferry will take you across the East River from May 1, 2019, with the Governors Island Ferry until the end of September 2019 for only $ 2. Governors Island does not feel like New York City at all, which is probably one of the reasons why many locals come here. A lot of tourists really don’t know much about this island.
Eat Your Way Through Economy Candy
This is a real insider tip for all candy lovers. On the Lower East Side, there’s one candy store that you should go and check out because the prices are extremely low and the selection is amazing. Remember all the fun candy from your childhood? Yes, this is the place to feel nostalgic.
The Lower East Side’s Economy Candy is not the largest candy store in the city but it is the one with the widest collection and lowest prices which makes this location perfect for our list of fun things to do in New York on a budget
Bronx Zoo on Wednesdays
Do you want to experience the largest metropolitan zoo in the US? Then go check out Bronx Zoo. It’s perfect for families especially kids. On Wednesdays, the zoo is free of charge. So if you’re looking for fun things to do in NYC for cheap, this would be the best day for you to go.
The Bronx Zoo is located within Bronx Park in the Bronx and is comprising 265 acres of park lands and naturalistic habitats separated by the Bronx River. It’s a fun and cheap things to do in New York City when you want to escape from the city for a little bit.
Watch a Taping of the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon
Did you always wanted to be part of a live TV taping? Make it a reality in NYC and enjoy the last tip on my list of fun and inexpensive things to do in NYC. Fans of the “Tonight Show” can watch a taping with Jimmy Fallon at NBC’s studios in Rockefeller Center. All you need to do is plan a little bit in advance because tickets are being released an entire month in advance.
If you’re lucky you can get standby tickets the night of the event but I would try to get the tickets beforehand.
My personal best fun cheap things to do in New York City: Go for a run
If you are looking for fun things to do in NYC for cheap: Speaking of Central Park, this place is actually one of my favorite locations to go for a run. They say “the most beautiful things in life are free”. So is running in New York City. It is for sure my favorite thing to do in New York City that is cheap or even free at all. All you need is a pair of running shoes.
If you’re not feeling comfortable tackling the hills in Central Park, head west to the West Side Highway. You’ll have impressive views of the One World Trade Center and the Hudson River.
More Fun Things to Do in New York City
New York City has so much more to offer than its must-sees. In order to inspire you with not so typical activities, we’ve compiled a list of the top fun things to do in NYC for you. Also, you’ll find the most fun activities in New York City in different categories on this overview page. We made sure there’s more than enough fun stuff to discover for everyone!