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Free For All: New York City

Full Circle Bar

New York City may be known as the most expensive city in America, but there’s also no shortage of free things to do.

Staten Island

If you want to take a closer look at the Statue of Liberty without paying the $12 ferry tour fee, take the free ferry to Staten Island and you’ll get a look at this iconic symbol of freedom from the water. Once you get to Staten Island, check out the zoo, which is free on Wednesdays from 2:00-4:45pm.


One of the more acclaimed museums in New York City, the Museum of Modern Art celebrates contemporary and modern art from the past and the present. Although admission is typically $25, you can get in for free on Fridays from 4-8:00pm. Additionally, the Guggenheim, which is self-described as a vital cultural center, an educational institution, and the heart of an international network of museums, is pay-what-you-wish (if you wish to pay anything) on Saturdays from 5:45-7:45pm, instead of the regular $22 admission.

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

TV Show Taping

Ever wondered how you could be part of the live studio audience for shows like the Daily Show, the Tonight Show, or Dr. Oz? It’s easy – you just have to request tickets! The father in advance you can plan, the more likely you are to get tickets to the show of your choice, but some shows allow you to wait in line the day of the taping.

Special Events

Every week is different in NYC, but there’s always something new and free to be seen or heard. Bryant Park offers free Tai Chi, movies in the summer, sports screenings, and more. And check here for the most complete listing of free special events across all 5 boroughs.

Chelsea galleries

Check out fine works of art on a gallery crawl through Chelsea, with no pressure to buy. Located predominately in the 20s Streets between 10th and 11th Avenues, all the galleries are free. Check out Art Cards before you head over to see what’s in store. If you’re lucky, you can time your visit with a free wine and cheese opening event on a Thursday evening.

Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) Museum

With more than 50,000 garments in its collection, the FIT Museum displays pieces from the 18th century to the present. Designed to educate and entertain, you’ll find rotating exhibits, student designs, and the works of famous contemporary designers, such as Chanel, Dior, and Balenciaga. The museum is open Tuesday-Friday, 12-8:00pm, and Saturdays 10:00am-5:00pm.

Governor’s Island

Although only 800 yards from Manhattan, you’ll feel far, far away on his 172-acre island. You’ll find space to hike, bike, play mini golf, or picnic, as well as enjoy performances, tours, and other activities. The ferry is free from Manhattan on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:00am, 11:00am, and 11:30am.

Brooklyn Brewery Tour

Explore a wide range of local beers at this neighborhood brewery, featuring a James Beard Award-winning brewmaster. On the weekends take advantage of a free tour every half hour, from 1-5pm on Saturday and 1-4pm on Sunday. Brooklyn is quickly becoming the hangout spot for young New Yorkers, so this makes a great stop before an evening out.

Free Food

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, head to the Full Circle Bar in Brooklyn for free hotdogs, and enjoy free skeeball while you’re there. On Fridays, head to Standings Bar in Manhattan for free pizza from 8:00pm-closing. On Sundays in September through January, Standings Bar also offers a free bagel bar.

Wave Hill

One of the hidden gems of NYC is this 28-acre public garden and cultural center. Not only does it boast spectacular views of the city the Hudson River and the Palisades, but has some of the most beautiful, vibrant landscape you’ll find in the entire city. Avoid the $8 entry fee every Saturday from 9am-noon. depending on the month, Tuesdays at select times may also be free.

Hostel activities

HI New York hosts a range of free activities at the hostel and around town to help you meet your fellow hostellers and get a taste of life as a New Yorker. There’s something every day of the week, with free events that include comedy nights, pub crawls, a Central Park walking tour, and more.

Find more free things to across the country in the HI USA Free For All.

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Responsible Travel Guide: New York City