my favorite free things to do in nyc
Sure. New York is expensive. You don’t need me to tell you that.
And considering we’re in the midst of an ongoing apartment hunt, this city seems to get more and more expensive by the day (and sometimes by the minute). But at the same time, it’s also full of so many amazing buildings, historic sites and just stupidly beautiful views — most costing little to nothing to visit or see — that make you stop and think: wait, how can this be FREE?
Case in point: the other day, Grant and I were shooting this very Longchamp outfit you see here and I decided the Staten Island Ferry would make for the perfect setting for my Bonnie (sans) Clyde outfit — a girl on the run, out on the open water. Of course, as I was researching the ferry departure schedule, I kept digging around for the ticket prices, only to see the following:
“Ferry rides are free. 24/7.”
I texted Grant this bit of information. His response was:
“Wait, what’s the catch?”
To which, I had no answer — the 25 minute ride departing White Hall Terminal in Battery Park to Staten Island was apparently free. Free.99. With a free return, too. And you know what? It was a lovely ride! We hopped on around 3:30 in the afternoon just in time for a golden sunset over the water, with Manhattan in the background and Lady Liberty to our right. While I can’t say the ship itself wasn’t crowded at this time, it was still an enjoyable littler excursion for the afternoon. It felt very old world and romantic and well, I couldn’t stop smiling.
So in the spirit of Valentine’s Day tomorrow, I figured I would share a handful of unique and fun things to do in New York that won’t cost you a single penny. You all seemed to really enjoy my West Village restaurant round up, so let me know in the comments below if you find these kinds of posts helpful for your next NYC visit. I love working on them because it gives me great ideas for what to do on the weekends. 🙂
- Morgan Library on Fridays: This spot is at the top of my list because, well, yours truly is such a sucker for a good library. I could spend hours in libraries — I love their architecture, the smell of the old books and how nostalgic they make me feel, for summer afternoons I would spend with my mom when I was young at our local library. And just look at this beauty! What’s not to love?! The library itself was a gift from J.P. Morgan Jr. to the city of New York in 1924A, as he wanted to share his father’s library of rare books and artifacts with the public. Admission is normally $22 for adults, but it’s free on Fridays from 7 to 9pm.
- NYC Public Library: Surprise, surprise! Another library. You all are probably very familiar with this gem — but don’t just snap your photos on the front steps! Head inside — you won’t regret it! Grab a book and a seat in the Rose Main Reading Room and just lose track of time. Or perhaps schedule one of their free docent-led tours of the building — the architecture and history will take your breath away.
- City Hall: The New York City Hall is one of the oldest continuously used city halls in the country and it’s very rotunda is considered an interior landmark. Aiming to take a tour sometime next month — I’ll try to snap some photos, if I can! Tours are free — you just need to make a reservation in advance.
- Highline: This one probably goes without saying, but sometimes it gets overlooked by New Yorkers, myself included. If you’re unfamiliar with the Highline, think of it as an elevated linear park that follows the former New York Central Railroad spur and as of next month, you can continue the walk all the way up to the new Vessel sculpture at Hudson Yards.
- Museum circuit: No visit to NYC is complete without swinging by a few museums. Just keep in mind, many are on a “pay-as-you-wish” if you can provide a New York state resident ID or student ID meaning you can pay the recommended full $25 (which is what I normally do) or you can pay nothing. (Personally, I’d err on the side of at least a few bucks as a donation.) My favorite museums that offer a pay as you wish program: American Museum of Natural History, Museum at FIT, MoMa PS1 and of course, The Met. Don’t forget to head up to The Cloisters, too!
- Saint Patrick’s Cathedral: I love visiting churches — of all denominations — because they’re a great reprieve from the city. I love swinging into Saint Patrick’s, sometimes for no other reason than to sit and clear my head. You can also sign up for a free tour!
- Federal Reserve Bank of New York: Perhaps this is my inner nerd showing through here, but I think a tour of the Federal Reserve and Gold Vault just sounds so incredible! Gold custody is one of the several financial services of The Federal Reserve Bank of New York and much of its gold contents arrived during and right after WWII. It’s currently the world’s largest known depository of monetary gold. Tours are free but you need to make a reservation.
OUTFIT DETAILS: Longchamp coat, sweater, skirt, bag and scarf (borrowed) // Michael Kors boots (sold out, similar style here)
Photos by Grant Legan