New York City is one of the most energetic cities I’ve ever travelled to. There’s a buzz on the streets here. As you walk down the uneven sidewalks, garbage men holler at each other as they hastily grab mountains of plastic bags off of the road, customers of bagel and coffee shops spill out onto the streets anxiously waiting for their breakfast and caffeine boost, while the buildings soar above your head, so high that it hurts your neck to look at them.
This is a fantastic city to visit, but it’s also very expensive. There is so much to do in New York that a couple could easily spend their life savings here, but you don’t have to. Here are 5 things that you can do in New York City without spending a dime!
1. The High Line
My personal favourite part of New York City is the lovely abandoned railway turned pedestrian walkway known as The High Line. This is, without question, the best place to escape the traffic, noise and chaos of the New York City streets.
The 2.3 km walkway stretches on for 3 blocks from 14th Street in the Meat Packing District, through Chelsea and all the way to the northern edge of West Side Yard on 34th Street.
The High Line has beautiful foliage, eclectic benches and art spray painted on the side of the buildings that line the old railroad. The rails still run along the boardwalk and there are some wonderful snack and drink stands as well.
The High Line is a place that has to be seen to be believed and hopefully it will be mimicked in other city centers as an excellent way to transform abandoned railroads into a social meeting place. New York found its inspiration for this urban pedestrian street from a similar project in Paris called Promenade Plantée and hopefully more city planners will follow suit.
2. Free Concerts in Prospect Park
In the summertime, you can head to this lovely city park in Brooklyn for free concerts every single saturday (and even some other days throughout the week). In the summer of 2015, free concerts included Chakka Khan, Pavo Pavo, Jason Walker and many more.
The park is the perfect place to escape the frantic chaos of Brooklyn’s streets and head in for a quiet picnic (or a bumping concert). There’s also a boating lake and a carousel in the park, as well as a zoo.
3. The Brooklyn Bridge
The perfect place to go for a stroll, day or night, this cable-stayed / suspension bridge is one of the oldest of its kind in the U.S. It spans over the East River, connecting the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn and you can walk above the traffic on a lovely boardwalk… for free. The wooden walkway is well-lit with beautiful old lamp posts and there are even a few benches to rest on along the way.
4. Free Museum Days
Like many places in the world, there are a collection of museums in New York City that offer free entry on certain days of the week. This is an excellent way to save money, but you’ll have to plan your trip accordingly. If you’re a big museum lover, you could easily save $100 using this trick.
Head to the Museum of Modern Art and the American Folk Art Museum on Friday, catch the Brooklyn Museum and the Jewish Museum on Saturday, and don’t miss the New York Hall of Science and The National Museum of the American Indian on Sunday.
For a full list of free museum days in New York, click here.
5. A Stroll Through Central Park
Possibly the most iconic metropolitan green space in the world, Central Park is a lovely place to go for a stroll. If you come here on a weekend in the summer, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s just as busy as the streets that line it, but at least you can escape some of the traffic by walking along the park’s elaborate network of paths and avenues.
There is a zoo here, and a lake, and a beautiful fountain, but for me, the best part of Central Park is choosing a place to set up a picnic and just watch New York pass by. If you come here in the fall, when the leaves are changing colour, you won’t want to leave. A picnic in the park is free, and very relaxing.
Making The Most of NYC
Of course, during your stay in New York, you’ll have to enjoy some of the things that cost you money. A free trip to The Big Apple would be great, but you’d definitely miss out on some of the things that make the city so special.
Make sure you buy a delicious street pretzel, head up the Empire State Building for views over the city and try to catch a show on Broadway. No matter how you visit New York, you’ll probably end up just like the other 54 million people who visit each year… wanting to return to see more.