Budget-Friendly Activities in NYC

Written by:

Holly Reznik

The city that never sleeps can be an expensive place to be. While there are many things in New York City that come with a hefty price tag, there are plenty of great options for those visiting on a budget! Here are some of the best free (or almost free) things to do while you’re in the Big Apple. 

Helicopter view of NYC on a sunny day

Roosevelt Island Tramway 

Shenandoah The Roosevelt Island Tramway is an aerial tramway that carries you across the East River to Roosevelt Island, giving you great views of Downtown and Uptown  Manhattan. The best part, it will only cost you $3. Once you’re on the island there’s plenty to see, such as Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, smallpox hospital ruins and a lighthouse. It’s a great choice for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and it’s beautiful during any season of the year!   

Stunning sunset view from Roosevelt Island Tramway

The Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most iconic sights in the city. The bridge has been named a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service. Did you know the bridge cost more to walk across in 1883 than today? When it first opened, it cost a penny to cross by foot and five cents for a horse and rider. Today it is completely free! Walking across the bridge will give you some amazing views of the Manhattan skyline. If you decide to venture all the way across to Brooklyn, spend the day at the Brooklyn Bridge Bridge or Brooklyn Botanic Gardens for free! 

Sunrise view from the Brooklyn Bridge on a warn spring day

The Vessel

The Vessel is one of the city’s newest and free attractions. It is located in Hudson Yards, a location offering diverse shops, dining and cultural experiences. The Vessel is comprised of 54 open-air, interconnecting staircases. There’s approximately 2,500 steps and 80 total landing spaces for you to enjoy. The structure stands at 15 stories tall and if you walk the whole thing in a circular path, you would walk the total of a mile. Don’t worry, if walking isn’t in your agenda, you can talk an elevator to the top! 

A view of the abstract building, The Vessel.

9/11 Memorial 

The 9/11 Memorial is always free to visit and the National September 11 Memorial Museum is free on Monday’s after 3:30 p.m. The memorial consists of two reflecting pools, each mark where the Twin Towers once stood. The names of every person who died are inscribed onto the edge of the memorial pools. There are plenty of benches to sit and listen to the water. There are also several other monuments and popular locations nearby that make this a popular spot to visit. 

A chilling view of the 9/11 Memorial during sunset

Central Park 

As one of the city’s most notable spots, Central Park is a great choice during any season. In the warmer months, there are so many great picnic spots and waterfalls to sit and enjoy the scenery. In the winter, you can watch the ice skaters or kids playing in the snow. The foliage is definitely a must-see if you are visiting in the fall. Did you know that the park even has its own miniature castle, Belvedere Castle. No matter where you go in the 843 acres of the park, there is endless and free fun for everybody! 

Its always a lovely day to take a walk in Central Park, NYC

The High Line 

The High Line is a popular choice among visitors because not only is it completely free, but there is so much to see on this newly transformed elevated railroad line. You can walk through various gardens, admire artwork, see performances and eat food along the way. It's almost 1.5 miles long and it allows you to see New York from up above the streets (no need to worry about any crazy taxi drivers). 

Grab an ice cold lemonade on a hot summer day and walk The High Line in NYC

There’s no need to leave the Big Apple with an empty wallet. These places will give you all the iconic NYC vibes, but without the crazy NYC price.   

Have you had any cheap NYC experiences you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments we would love to hear from you!  

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