All the great cities of the world come with a very expensive price tag. New York is no exception. She’s never a cheap date. With few Airbnb options, hotels are astronomical most of the year. And you can only take so many hotdogs and knish.
However, with a little planning, you can see much of what makes New York, New York, for next to nothing.
Take a stroll
The subway is cheap and usually the quickest way to get around but if you have time walk. Don’t miss a single New York minute – so many are free. In Spring through to fall spend time in your closest park. People watching is one of New York’s greatest pleasures.
Street art is always free and New York is chock a block with amazing public art and street artist’s works. With a landscape that constantly changes there is breathtaking art to view across all five boroughs.
The High Line is a great vantage point to view street art and the whimsical permanent installations along the former rail line.
Walking the Brooklyn Bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan near sunset is exhilarating. A spectacular engineering marvel in itself, it allows you to take in that most famous skyline for free.
A walk through Central Park any time of year is compulsory. From John Lennon’s memorial ‘Strawberry Fields’ to the Central Park Lake, you can spend all day here and barely scratch the surface. Take a picnic and watch the world go by.
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Saint Patrick’s Cathedral
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral’s cornerstone was laid in 1858, but the church itself has been a cornerstone of the city’s history since opening in 1879. At that time it was considered folly as it was in the wilderness – a few miles from the then city’s centre.
Directly across from Midtown’s other architectural masterpiece the Rockefeller Center, the Cathedral has never looked more beautiful after a $75-million restoration. Taking up an entire city block, the American Gothic Revival church is glorious to behold.
Like Paris’ Sacre Coeur the church can seem more tourist attraction than a place of worship and prayer. Despite the crowds, the hundreds of twinkling candles – each one a prayer – add serenity to this magnificent cathedral.
To learn more, public tours are held at 10 am regularly throughout each month with a suggested donation of $5.
The ‘city within a city’, the landmark skyscraper is familiar the world over as home to the Tonight Show, the most spectacular of Christmas trees and Radio City Music Hall.
A monument to wealth, the original fourteen Art Deco buildings house some of the 20th century’s most splendid art from the Prometheus statue to the handsome friezes and of course the Atlas statue on Fifth Avenue. In 1931 Diego Rivera’s fresco ‘Man at the Crossroads’ was demolished after being seen as too controversial by Nelson Rockefeller. There are tours, but you can wander here for hours taking in the art, the spectacle and the wonderful people watching.
Grand Central Station
Grand Central Terminal, the Beaux Arts treasure is more than a commuter hub. With 750,000 visitors each day and timeless architecture it was built in an age when train travel was an event.
Threatened by demolition in the ‘70’s, the Committee to Save Grand Central Station (led by starchitect Philip Johnson and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis) the subsequent landmark status saved this masterpiece from the wrecking ball.
The Grand Central Partnership offers free, 90-minute walking tours of the Grand Central Neighborhood including the Chrysler Building every Friday at 12.30pm.
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Staten Island Ferry
You can take in the world’s most unforgettable skyline for free 7 days a week, 24-hours a day on the Staten Island Ferry. Since July 4, 1997, the ferry was free to all.
Perhaps New York’s best freebie the ferry shuttles back and forth with priceless views of Lady Liberty and Lower Manhattan.
American Museum of Natural History
You’ve seen the movies but have you seen the museum? More than legendary life-like dioramas, The Koch Dinosaur Wing is home to 100 mostly fossil specimens with Triceratops and Stegosaurus taking the starring roles.
Don’t miss the awesome Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda with a representation of a prehistoric battle for the ages: You can stroll between a fearsome Allosaurus as it takes on a towering Barosaurus.
Other major museums have regular scheduled free hours each week including MoMa 4-8pm Fridays, The 9/11 Memorial & Museum is free on Tuesdays from 5 pm to close, The Staten Island Zoo 2-4.45pm Wednesdays and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is free Saturdays from 5.45 to 7.45pm.
For more on the very best of New York go to www.nyc.go