Inexpensive Things to Do in New York City

New York City skyline
New York City skyline

New York City is one of the nation's top travel destinations for people all over the world. The Big Apple truly has something for everyone, from fine food, opera, ballet and theater to underground hipster shows. Visiting this city can get quite pricey with soaring hotel prices and expensive food. Tickets to museums can be upwards of $20 and Broadway plays can charge as much as $45 for nosebleed seats. But, there are some ways you can enjoy the city without breaking the bank.

Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge

A completely free adventure, you can walk across the Brooklyn bridge and take in the breathtaking views of Governor's Island, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Bring your walking shoes and a camera.

See a Free Concert

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) hosts free concerts every Sunday in its sculpture garden. The concerts begin at 8 p.m., with doors opening at 7 p.m. Visit for a calendar of events.

SummerStage is a concert series in Central Park's Rumsey Playfield at Fifth Avenue and 69th Street. Throughout the summer, they offer everything from jazz to opera to dance--all for free. Visit for a calendar of events.

The Public Theatre also offers free performances of Shakespeare and other plays and musicals. Featuring world class stars of the stage and screen, this is not to be missed. Located in the middle of Central Park at 80th Street is the open-air Delacorte Theatre, where the performances are held. Line up early for same day tickets (people begin lining up as early as 5 a.m., or even camp out) or you can go to and click on "Shakespeare in the Park" to join "the Virtual Line." You'll be notified by e-mail if you've won tickets for that evening's performance.

Visit a Museum

Several museums offer pay-what-you-can and free admission days. Here are just a few:

Fashion Institute of Technology at 27th Street and 7th Avenue always has free exhibits about fashion throughout the ages. Exhibits also change regularly.

Goethe Institut, located at 1014 Fifth Avenue, provides great information about German heritage and culture. The museum, sponsored by the Republic of Germany, is free and open to the public on weekdays.

American Museum of Natural History (at 86th and Central Park West) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (at 1000 Fifth Avenue) both operate on a suggested donation basis. Basically, you pay what you can, although they give a suggested donation price (around $15-$25 per person).

Bronx Zoo, located at 1040 Grand Concourse in the Bronx has a pay-what-you-can day on Wednesdays. Here you can see animals from all over the world and changing exhibits and habitats.

Go Kayaking at the Downtown Boathouse

Believe it or not, you can kayak in NYC for free. There are three locations: Pier 40 at Houston Street, Pier 96 at 56th Street, and 72nd Street in Riverside Park, all of which are located on the Hudson river (which is west of Manhattan). Visit for up-to-date information on boathouse regulations and/or holidays.

Tour the Federal Building

By signing up at, you can arrange to go on a free tour of the New York City Federal Building. Included on the tour is a stop at the gold vault (and you can actually enter it).

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