Every year millions of people flock to New York to immerse themselves in all the excitement of city life. However, with pricy hotels, expensive restaurants, and high ticket prices, it’s not always the most budget friendly place. But did you know that you don’t need to break the bank to have an amazing time in the Big Apple? In this post I will let you in on my tips and tricks to enjoy some the top free attractions in New York City.
One of the most beautiful and romantic spots in New York is absolutely free! If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of city life for a couple of hours, or simply want to explore one New Yorks most legendary attractions, then Central Park is definitely the place for you. In summer you will find picnickers sitting out in the sun, and children happily running around playing ball games, then in the colder months, the park transforms into a winter wonderland, with snow-capped hills and couples snuggled up to keep warm during their winter walks.
There are a handful of restaurants and bars scattered throughout Central Park, with the most famous being The Boathouse. If you are on a budget trip then you want to avoid these places like the plague. Their stunning surroundings and beautiful views of the lakes make them extremely expensive, where even a couple of beers can set you back $16. I would recommend taking a picnic lunch with you, and finding your own little spot on the grass, or one of the many benches throughout the park, as they also boast the same amazing views.
There are many different opinions on how long it actually takes to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Many people say that it simply takes too much time to really enjoy. I disagree. A walk across the bridge is a must for anyone visiting New York. If not for the rich history and amazing architecture, then for the unbeatable panoramic views of both Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Finding free activities in the Big Apple can be challenging, that’s why so many people come to walk along this iconic landmark, whatever the weather. However, there are ways to avoid the crowds, and get those amazing photographs you see on every New Yorker’s Instagram. Early morning strolls just after sunrise are the best time to enjoy the bridge in peace. The early birds all go to see the sunrise from the bridge, and then there is a small window of time where there are hardly any tourists. By choosing that mid-morning time slot you’ll avoid the the next wave of people coming to enjoy the midday / lunch hour walk.
I believe it takes around 20 minutes to walk across the entire bridge at a leisurely pace. However, if you are stopping to admire the views and take photographs it can take up to 45 minutes to make it all the way across. Once you get to Brooklyn, if you don’t feel like walking all the way back again, there are numerous subway stations near the bridge entrance which will take you straight back to downtown New York.
Statue Of Liberty
One of the most iconic attractions in New York has to be the lady in green herself, the Statue of Liberty. A visit to Liberty island to gaze up at this historical monument should be on every tourists list when visiting New York, and it doesn’t have to cost you a penny!
If you have a tight budget, you can get fairly close views of Lady Liberty from the Staten Island ferry, which is absolutely free. It won’t take you to stop on Liberty island itself, but it will cruise very close by, giving you great panoramic views of the Statue of Liberty, and the financial district of New York. If you have a few dollars hanging around at the bottom of your wallet then you can always spring for a Liberty Island cruise ticket. For only $18 you can get a round trip from the mainland or New Jersey to both Liberty Island and Elis Island, and have access to the Statue of Liberty.
Once you’re on Liberty Island you can take advantage of the free audio and Ranger guided tours available. Both tours will tell you all about the history of the lady in green and the grounds of the island. To make your trip even more budget friendly, you can skip the expensive snack stands, and bring your own picnic lunch to enjoy on the beautiful lawns of the island. Find out how to plan your perfect trip to The Statue of Liberty here.
Washington Square Park
New York is full of beautiful little squares and parks (1,900 to be exact), where you can sit and enjoy a nice cup of coffee, chat with friends or just watch the world go by. But my favourite has to be Washington Square park. The park is best known for its gigantic marble arch, which was built in celebration of George Washington’s inauguration as President in 1789. Many people journey to Washington Square park simply to marvel at the ornate carvings, or to take an iconic picture next to the arch.
However, if you’re not much of a history buff then you are still sure to enjoy some of the other free activities available in Washington Square Park. Maybe a relaxing afternoon lazing under one of the giant oak trees, splashing around next to the beautiful fountain, playing frisbee on the large grass spaces, or playing chess against some of the best minds of the city. In the warmer months there are even free Tai Chi classes offered to anyone who wants to give it a try.
What are your favourite free attractions to enjoy in New York? Let me know in the comments below!
Stay Salty x