What To Do In New York City For Free
This post lists hundreds of free things to do in NYC, including nighttime activities, things to do with kids, and museums and attractions.
Due to the ever-changing restrictions, entry times, etc. resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, we have not updated each location or activity.
And before we get started, consider joining our NYC Travel Tips + Hacks Facebook group and get ideas from our guides and travelers who have visited NYC.
Things To Do In Nyc: Classic Harbor Line
Classic Harbor Line offers a unique way to see the sights and landmarks of New York City aboard a fleet of five classic yachts and sailboats. Excursions traverse the city’s waterways aboard the company’s Schooner Adirondack, Schooner America 2.0, and Manhattan, Manhattan II, and Kingston luxury motorized yachts. Sightseeing tours highlight area attractions such as the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, the United Nations complex, and Battery Park, perfect for visitors with limited time to take in the city’s top sights. 90-minute and three-hour cruises are offered throughout the daytime and evening hours, offering unique perspectives on the city’s skyline. Tours are available for private special groups throughout the year with advance reservation, including dinner cruises.
62 Chelsea Piers, New York, NY 10011, Phone: 212-627-1825
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Lefrak Center At Lakeside Prospect Park Brooklyn
171 East DrBrooklyn, NY 11225 462-0010
From winter ice skating or summer roller skating, the LeFrak Center at Lakeside Prospect Park in Brooklyn is a great destination for a fun day with the family.
It is on 75,000 square feet of property and has recreational activities lined up throughout the year. Theres a splash pad with over 40 sprinklers for the hotter days. You can bring your own skates or rent out a pair.
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Where To Go In New York City
In a city with a population of more than 8 million over 305 square miles, it can be hard to decide where to go and what to do in NYC with kids. New York City is comprised of 5 boroughs, each a little city in itself: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island.
When most people talk about visiting New York City, they usually mean Manhattan, an island surrounded by the East, Hudson and Harlem Rivers. Manhattan, locally referred to as the city is the financial and historical center of New York City and the most densely populated borough, containing the majority of the major landmarks such as Time Square, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, The Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, Broadway and of course the Statue of Liberty.
The most popular places to visit in New York will all be in Manhattan. So iff youre visiting New York City to see the major sites, staying in Manhattan will be the most practical choice. Just to make matters a little more confusing, there are about 60 districts or neighborhoods inside the island of Manhattan! Dont worry, thanks to the Big Apples fantastic public transportation system, you will be able to see everything within a quick and easy subway journey!
Holiday Pop Up Brooklyn
The Miracle holiday pop-up phenomenon is back this year with Miracle on Union, taking over Williamsburg cocktail bar Thief. Look for over-the-top holiday decor and the seasonal cheer that goes with it. Specialty drinks will be served and bespoke Miracle glassware will be for sale to knock a couple of names off your gift-giving list.
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Things To Do With Kids In New York City
The Capital of the World. The City that Never Sleeps. With so many nicknames, personalities, and reasons to visit, theres nowhere in the world quite like New York City. The most densely populated city in America, New York City is home to some of Americas most recognizable cultural, political and economic landmarks as well as some of its finest restaurants, stores and attractions. Discover the greatest things to do with kids in NYC as you explore the one and only Big Apple.
South Street Seaport Lower Manhattan
If you want to feel like youve stepped into colonial New York, theres no better spot to visit than this cobblestone-lined street neighborhood, which teems with small shops, a maritime museum, family-friendly activities, and plenty of art. We also love the spectacular Imagination Playground nearby.
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Things To Do In Nyc: The Toy Museum
The Toy Museum of New York is a theater and performance-based museum that houses a large collection of toys dating back to the 1880s. The museum is dedicated to the citys history in toy manufacturing and showcases many varieties of classic toys, including rare dolls and teddy bears, model trains, the original Frisbee pie pan, and more.
Toys from the museums collection are used in theatrical performances and plays for kids that are educational and teach children many important social skills in a toy-filled, fun, and interactive environment. The theaters plays for kids are designed for children from pre-K through 4th grade.
Columbia Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231, Phone: 718-243-0820
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Channel Your Inner Flower Child At The Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Spend your morning surrounded by roses and water-lilies at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, a quiet escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Located on the northeastern edge of Prospect Park, the garden sits on 52 acres of land and is free to visit every Friday before noon or on weekdays from December through February.
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Cozy Up With A Book At The Queens County Farm Museum
The Queens County Farm Museum brings a little bit of country to the city.
The Queens County Farm Museum brings a little bit of country to the city. The farm invites visitors to check out its new winter reading room, which has been transformed from a summer kitchen. Inside the reading room, adults and kids will find a selection of fiction and non-fiction books on topics like cooking, gardening, animals, farming, science, and local history. To keep its youngest visitors engaged, the room will have an assortment of farm-related toys to play with. At the end of December the farm hosts its annual Holiday Open House from 12-4pm. During the free annual event at the Adriance Farmhouse, kids enjoy holiday-inspired crafts and adults mulled cider throughout the afternoon.
Go Birdwatching In Central Park
There are about 230 different species of birds in Central Park, with many paying a visit to the Big Apple to rest and feed during the spring and fall migrations. Bird watching novices can also borrow a free, kid-friendly discovery kit with binoculars, a guidebook, maps, and sketching materials from a Central Park Conservancy visitor center.
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Indoor Places To Play For Free In Nyc
We’re staring down another long Northeast winter, and entertaining the kids during this extended, chilly season isn’t easy or cheap. We went hunting for cool indoor places to play for free fueled by our desire to escape our cramped New York City apartments. Luckily, some of the best things in life are free if you know where to look.
If your kids are bouncing off the walls and your wallet is screaming for a break after a holiday spending spree, we’ve got you covered. Check out our list of 20 indoor places to play for free in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island for culture, fun, games, or just a much-needed change of scenery.
For more great indoor places to play for free, check out our Free in NYC Guide, which is loaded with more ideas, outings, and parent-tested tips to save a buck.
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Be sure to check with each venue for its COVID guidelines and requirements before heading out, and read more about local public safety protocols here. The current COVID surge has forced many last-minute closures and cancelations, so confirm details before departing. If your family prefers outdoor play destinations, we’ve got plenty of picks in our Guide to Parks and Playgrounds and our Winter Fun Guide.
Walk Along The Brooklyn Bridge
A close-up view of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Perhaps one of the most iconic free things to do in NYC is to take a beyond scenic walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.
And that makes sense since this suspension bridge is a total icon that was first built in1869. Its also open twenty-four hours a day and offers visitors stunning panoramic views of the surrounding area.
Just do yourself a favor and go as early as possible since it quickly becomes packed with absent-minded tourists.
Also, watch out for bikers , wear comfy shoes, and start in Brooklyn and then work your way into Manhattan so that you can nab awesome shots of the NYC skyline.
And since youll be in the DUMBO area anyway , dont forget to experience everything this amazing neighborhood has to offer since its easily one of my all-time favorite places in NYC.
Address: Brooklyn Bridge, New York, NY 10038
Hours: Open all day, every day.
How to Get There: Take the C train to High Street/Brooklyn Bridge station or the 2/3 train to High Street station and walk to the bridge from there.
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The New Victory Theater
209 W 42nd StNew York, NY 10036 223-3010
This is a place of performing arts dedicated to entertaining kids. And its not for profit so youll be doing something good while having a great time. Its like an introductory class in theatre, dance and music for people of all ages.
The New Victory Theaters also has a touch of circuses, which is one of the best kids attractions in any city. You can also catch an autism-friendly show which comes with alerts before loud noises or low lighting.
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Watch A Movie In Bryant Park
Rounding out this list of free things to do in NYC is a summertime favorite. Lay down a blanket and bring some popcorn and candy and settle in for an open-air movie in Bryant Park during the summer. Films include classics like Big, Goodfellas, and The Birdcage, and the program even holds fan votes so people can pick their favorite flicks. Get there early as it gets crowded: the lawn opens at 5 p.m. for blankets and picnicking and the movie starts at sunset.
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See New York From Above
Enjoy a great view of the New York City skyline by visiting Top of the Rock, The Empire State Building, or The One World Observatory. Find skip-the-line ticket options for all of these here.
Want to truly get a birds eye view? See New York City from up in the sky while on a private NYC helicopter tour.
Kids Week At The Intrepid Museum
Should be Feb 1926, 2022
Join the Intrepid Museum for full STEAM ahead Science, technology, engineering, arts, math and FUN take center stage. Enjoy eye-opening shows in our pop-up planetarium, dazzling science presentations, hands-on workshops and live animal demos, all focusing on our universes most extreme climatesthe chilly polar ice caps, the deepest depths of the ocean, distant exoplanets and the fascinating places in between.
Back to Top of February Things To Do With Kids in New York
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The High Line Chelsea
Speaking of reinvention, its hard not to love this adaptive reuse story, which transformed an old industrial rail line into a stunning urban oasis. Its a lovely spot to wander on a spring afternoon and youll catch cool views along the way. We love starting from the southern end, stopping for snacks at the Chelsea Market, and taking a break to nosh at the 10th Avenue Square, where you get a birds eye view of the traffic below. Another unique park nearby worth adding to your list? The newly opened floating park, dubbed Little Island.
Cocktails & Culture: Day
Celebrate everyone’s favorite decade at the Museum of the City of New York. Day-Glo DecemberA Very 80s Holiday at the Museum takes inspiration from current exhibition New York, New Music: 1980-1986. There are holiday lights, an interactive Santa hologram, an ’80s arcade , and programming like family-friendly scavenger hunts.
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Things To Do In Nyc With Kids
The bright lights of the big city can be overwhelming for anyone, and with so many things to do in NYC with kids, it can be mind-boggling to plan a day or weekend across the Hudson. Do you start with the classics like Empire State Building and Central Park Zoo? Or do you head to the newer attractions in NYC like Little Island or the Edge? And then there are the museumsyou could spend days hopping around, eyeing the iconic T-Rex at the Museum of Natural History to exploring the undercover world of intelligence at Spyscape, to seeing antique firetrucks at the New York City Fire Museum. Yup, its a lot, so thats why weve done the planning for you. Read on for all the awesome things to do in NYC with kids , and if youve been there, done that, check out our unique guide to things to do in NYC with kids too.
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Note: Many attractions require advance tickets, masks and/or proof of vaccination status, and other COVID-19 safety precautions. Be sure to call the venue before you go for the most current guidelines.
Take A Tour Of Brooklyn Brewery
A sampling of four different beers.
Located in the uber-cool Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg is the Brooklyn Brewery. A magical place where all of your alcohol-related dreams can come true. as you enjoy beer, beer, and, oh yeah, more beer.
However, if youre broke like a joke and still want to savor all the alcohol flavor, then take a free tour of the brewery and learn interesting things like the fact that the brands iconic logo was designed by Milton Glaser in exchange for part of the profits and free beer for life.
They typically depart every hour, on the hour from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm on Saturdays and from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm on Sundays. They also last about 45 minutes and sadly, do not include any tastings. Yeah, youll need to head to the on-site bar to actually savor the flavor.
But, for a wicked awesome, very much un-free tour/tasting, visit during the week and enjoy samples of four different beers, as well as some pretty interesting history about the facility.
Spots fill up fast though, so definitely reserve a spot online. Also, just as an FYI, youre not allowed to wear sandals or high-heeled shoes on the tour.
Address: 79 N 11th St, Brooklyn, NY 11249
Hours: The Brewery itself is open Thursday and Friday from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 2:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the L to Bedford Ave station and walk to the brewery from there.
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Sugar Hill Childrens Museum Of Art & Storytelling
898 St Nicholas AveNew York, NY 10032 335-0004
If your kids are fans of art and stories, this one in Harlem will make their day. It is spread over 17,000 square feet on two floors of an affordable housing project. It was designed by British architect David Adjaye and is meant to entertain and educate kids of ages 3-8.
Throughout the year, you can find storytelling series and art exhibitions here. There are many workshops and you can enroll them in an education curriculum if inspiration strikes.
Holiday Trains Are Back
Image courtesy of The New York Botanical Garden.
For the 30th year, The New York Botanical Garden lays out the tracks for its Holiday Train Show. Explore a miniature wonderland of 175 New York landmarksincluding the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, and Rockefeller Centerall made with natural ingredients like acorns, pine cones, and seeds. The scene is cozy inside the historic Enid A. Haupt Conservatory . At night, the garden lights up for GLOW, a mile-and-a-half long light show.
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Visit The 9/11 Memorial
Located in a simple, spacious wide-open plaza in Lower Manhattan, this memorial to the lost lives of 9/11 is an essential feature of New York City. The memorial is free to visit
The museum covers the tragic events of 9/11 through artifacts, documents, film, recordings, and more.