New York City is an expensive place to live, no doubt about it, but if you’re smart, and you know where to look, you can find a lot of things to do for free or on the cheap. Here’s a guide. (And be sure to check out our post on free museums too!)
New York City is full of parks you can check out for free including Washington Square, Union Square, Battery Park, the High Line, and many others. Union Square is a great place to see the city come to life. On Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays local vendors set up shop and sell their fresh produce and homemade goods. Even if you don’t have a lot (or any) money to spend, exploring the market is a great way to pass the time. After Thanksgiving, the Holiday Market will open. You can find all kinds of interesting gifts (or souvenirs) and tasty winter treats like gourmet hot chocolate.
There are a ton of quirky shops near NYU. The Strand is a must see for bibliophiles, and Forbidden Planet, right next door, is perfect for nerds of all stripes. If you like nicknacks, then check out Kikkerland–you’ll never find the same thing twice. Antiques? The city’s full of them, and Olde Good Things has multiple locations near NYU. You can find just about anything here–even a store devoted to socks (more than one actually!). If you’re looking for something a bit more… unique, you might enjoy Gothic Renaissance (be sure to stop by Halloween Adventure next door if you’re a fan of all things spooky). If you head further uptown, you can find a wonderland of stores, including famous FAO Schwarz, the LEGO Store, and M&M World. Tiffany’s is nearby, too, for fans of Holly Golightly. This is only the tip of the iceberg! You can find just about anything in New York, and there’s a hidden gem on every corner.
If you want to see some of the sights, there are opportunities to save money. You can get a great view of the Statue of Liberty (and a fun ride) on the Staten Island Ferry, which is free–don’t let anyone talk you into paying for a tour! While you’re in the area, you might want to check out the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. On Tuesdays the Museum is free after 5pm, but tickets are limited.
If you’re brave enough to head out to Brooklyn, there’s a lot to do there as well. On Fridays before noon, you can check out the Botanical Gardens for free. And on weekends, there’s a Flea Market in Williamsburg. If you’re there on Saturday, you might want to check out Smorgasbord–the food isn’t free, but with all the money you’ve been saving, it might just be worth it! Brooklyn also has it’s share of parks, including the beaches, and don’t forget to take a pic on the iconic Brooklyn Bridge.