5 things to do in New York on a budget
However, the good news is that some of the best things to do in New York are super cheap, or even free. People-watching in Central Park, crossing the Brooklyn Bridge and wandering the High Line are quintessential New York must-do’s. Plus, most nights you’ll find free events, gigs, talks and comedy nights at venues throughout the city.
But we wanted to share a few lesser-known tips that will keep you busy and your wallets happy.
So check out these five things to do in New York on a budget.
1. Ride the Staten Island ferry
The Staten Island ferry connects Staten Island to Manhattan, offering impressive views of the Statue of Liberty along the free 25-minute journey. Board just before sunset and grab a spot at the front or the back of the boat to get the best views of Lady Liberty and the dazzling skyline. You can even BYO drinks and snacks and have a picnic on the way.
The Staten Island Ferry is located at 4 Whitehall Street, New York and runs 24/7.
2. Attend a live TV show taping
You don’t have to go to Hollywood to get an inside look at American show biz. Popular TV shows such as Saturday Night Live, The View and the Late Show are all recorded live in New York and offer free tickets for audience members.
You can register your details online to see which shows are available each week and sign up for any that take your fancy. Some are easier to get into than others, such as SNL which has a yearly lottery that you can register for here.
3. Movies under the stars
Pack some snacks, a picnic blanket and a jacket and head to Bryant Park in the heart of Midtown to catch a movie under the stars. Every summer, the park fills up with locals and tourists to watch classics, new releases and cult-hits. Gates open at 5pm, and the film starts at 8pm, so we recommend getting there early to get a good spot on the lawn.
New York Parks also hosts outdoor movie nights at local parks in all five boroughs throughout summer. Most showings are free, although some are ticketed. Find a park near you, and check out the program here.
4. Chelsea art gallery crawl
Head over to Chelsea and immerse yourself in the world of art on a gallery crawl. Over 200 galleries are concentrated within a couple blocks on the west side of Manhattan. With no admission fees, take your time browsing works from new and up-and-coming artworks and you might even spot the next Andy Warhol. Many galleries host special opening nights on Thursdays, showcasing new works and offering complimentary wine and cheese to visitors — the ultimate free night out.
If sleuthing for clues and solving riddles is more your style, make sure you put geocaching on your list. Geocaching is a global treasure hunt where people look for hidden objects such as canisters or boxes (known as caches) using GPS directions from an app. Millions of geocaches are hidden all around the world, which makes it a fun activity to do when traveling, and New York City itself has over 2000. The added challenge of trying to be stealthy in a city of 8 million makes it extra fun. You can download the app for free and search for some popular geocaches, or pay to upgrade to see them all. You never know what you might discover along the way.