Monday 29 January 2024

The best FREE things we did in NYC (January 2024)

We recently got back from New York City, where we spent 4 days having a blast and cramming as much in as possible. And a lot of what we did was actually completely FREE! We genuinely didn't spend a lot of money at all in NYC, so if you're looking for free things to do in New York then keep on reading...

The first *thing* we did was visit Times Square at night, just after we arrived. It was -8 and FREEEEZING but of course, an iconic place to visit with all the lights and billboards. We also went back during the day on our last day, when we managed to spot the famous Naked Cowboy! As it was January, the quietest time to visit apparently, we were really lucky that there were zero crowds here.

Times Square

On our first full day, we kicked things off with a visit to the Rockerfeller and NBC studios to see them record the Kelly Clarkson Show - wow, what an experience. I had requested tickets in advance online through and was over the moon to be successful. I believe you can get them on the day as well, but I didn't want to risk it... honestly this was amazing, seeing the behind the scenes of how a talk show is filmed, and of course seeing Kelly Clarkson up close. What a babe she is.

The Rockerfeller Center & Kelly Clarkson Show

New York Public Library is somewhere I've always wanted to visit, and they currently have a Treasures exhibition on which includes things like an original copy of Shakespeare's First Folio (and you know how much I love Shakespeare...) as well as Christopher Robin's actual teddies AND the Declaration of Independence, which if course I wanted to see thanks to my obsession with National Treasure. This was truly fantastic and I'd definitely recommend if you're looking for free NYC activities.

The free Treasures exhibit at the library

Following on in terms of National Treasure, we also visited Trinity Church - this is the church where they find the treasure in the film, and I was thrilled to see it IRL and head inside to pretend to be Ben Gates. It's in the Wall Street area, and the graveyard attached is where Alexander Hamilton is buried. Unfortunately we couldn't see it because of all the snow, but I believe you're allowed into the area when the weather is better.

Trinity Church and the 9/11 Memorial

The 9/11 memorial is completely free, but it's worth noting that it was mostly cordoned off when we were there due to bad weather. This is definitely something to bear in mind, as we could only access a small portion of it. But it's of course very worth seeing!

We visited two parks - Bryant Park, and of course Central Park. Bryant Park was underwhelming because it was mostly covered by the Winter Village and ice rink, but I loved it when I visited in the Spring with my family. Central Park, however, was wonderful because it was snowinggg. We had a lovely long walk and saw both the Friends fountain and the John Lennon 'Imagine' mosaic, as well as the lake and some other beautiful landmarks.

Central Park and Bryant Park

Of course we wanted to see the Statue of Liberty, and we opted for the FREE Staten Island Ferry - you don't need to book in advance, just turn up and avoid the people in blue jackets trying to sell you a sightseeing cruise who will tell you that you can't see the statue from the ferry. You absolutely can, with great views, and there's plenty of indoor seating. Hands down this is one of the best free things to do in New York City, as it's so famous.

The FREE Staten Island Ferry

We also went to Brooklyn on our last day, by which point our subway rides were free (the cost is capped at $34 in a 7 day period and we definitely got our money's worth!!) - we didn't walk across the bridge but instead went to Dumbo for that iconic view, and a wander 'round the Time Out Market.

Dumbo & Grand Central Terminal

Macy's Wooden Elevator and the Roosevelt Island Tram

Some other free highlights included Macy's and the wooden elevator, mooching around Target, Grand Central Terminal and the Roosevelt Island tram, which again is included in your subway rides so is kind of free but only $2.90 otherwise! You really don't have to spend a lot, as there so many free things to do in New York.

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