Free Adventures in New York City

HOPE Sculpture in New York City

New York City seems to be on most people’s bucket lists. Between Time’s Square, the Empire State Building, and Central Park, the number of places to see is countless. However, if you have ever been to New York City or looked into planning a trip, you may have realized a sad truth– it isn’t cheap. According to an article from The Wall Street Journal, click here to read said article, New York City is the most expensive city in the world. So if you can manage to get yourself here, using budget airlines such as Spirit (I once flew round trip to Chicago for $80), and find cheap accommodation via friends (everyone knows someone in NYC) or airbnb, this article can help you see top sites without spending a dime.

A lot of museums and other attractions host free days or hours throughout the week. Below I have compiled what I think are the best options when you have limited time in the city:

Where? When? What Time?
9/11 Memorial Museum Tuesdays Starts at 4pm
Brooklyn Botanic Garden Tuesdays All Day
Bronx Zoo Wednesdays All Day
The New Museum Thursdays 7pm to 9pm
Museum of Modern Art Fridays 4pm to 8pm
The New York Aquarium Fridays Summer: 4pm to 5pm
Off season: 3pm to 3:30pm


There are also a lot of other fun free things to do in New York City. One freebie that my coworkers and I all take advantage of is participating in TV show audiences. A lot of shows tape in NYC and some will even pay you to be in the audience, like Beat Bobby Flay.

What Show? Time Commitment When are tickets available? Where can I get tickets?
The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon 3:15 pm arrival time, starts at 5 pm Tickets posted first week of the month for the following month
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Good seats: arrive by 1:30 pm. They will tell you to come back around 4 pm. Taping starts at 5:30 pm.
Late Night with Seth Meyers arrive by 5pm, taping at 6:30pm -Have to register but it is free. (This website also has tickets for shows in California)
Live! With Kelly and Michael arrive by 7:45am about a month in advance
The Chew arrive by 8:00am for 9am taping and 11am for 12:15pm taping
The View arrive by 9:30am, taping at 11am


Other shows that tape in NYC that have free tickets: Last Week Tonight, Full Frontal with Samantha B, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, and America’s Got Talent (in the fall). Most Shows, you could show up day of and try to get Standby Tickets but there is no guarantee of entry and you could be waiting a long time. So if you are just visiting the city, I wouldn’t go this route, try and get tickets in advance if this is something you really want to do.

I have one last list of freebies to share. These are things that are always free and are more options for a good time.

  • Sunset movies at Brooklyn Bridge Park on Thursdays during summer
  • 5pm movies at Bryant Park on Mondays during asummer
  • Head to Coney Island, it’s really close to the aquarium. Walking around and people watching is free, but if you want to go on any of the rides, its going to cost you.
  • Take the Staten Island Ferry from Battery Park, walk all the way to the bottom and the back of the ferry, barely any people go down there and it is a great view of the Statue of Liberty and skyline!

Now of course getting to these places isn’t free but it doesn’t have to cost a lot! The subway/bus system will get you anywhere you need to go at only $2.75 a ride. If you are in New York City for an extended period of time, look into getting an unlimited pass. For example, a 7 day unlimited metrocard is $31 (plus a $1 new card fee) and if you ride the train 12 times or more, you will save money with the unlimited pass.

So, go explore the city that never sleeps and stretch your dollar as far as it can go!

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