Free Things to do in New York City: Gardens, Art, Bright Lights & More

people on grass in Central Park with New York City skyline

The Big Apple is one of those amazing cities you can enjoy year-round as there are so many free and fun things to do. From rooftops and parks in the summer to dramatic white winters, New York City buzzes whatever the weather.

Given its iconic status and the countless locations from many a movie set you can spot, there's so much you can do without spending a penny. Here's a look at five free things to do in New York City.

Free things to do in New York City

Free Activities in New York City

Walk the High Line

The High Line is a beautiful stretch of public park with a fascinating history and is one of our favorite free activities in New York City. It started in 1933 as an elevated railway line, but it gradually became disused and neglected. It wasn't until 2009 that it was transformed into the High Line, a 1.45 mile-long park with over 500 species of trees and plants. You can wander through the gardens, view the artwork on display, and enjoy some quality time in nature.

Also read: Why You Should Get Travel Insurance for a Trip within the U.S.

Cross the Brooklyn Bridge

Opened in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge is one of New York City’s most iconic landmarks, having been featured in countless movies from Spiderman to Godzilla. You can stroll across in about 30 minutes and the best time to enjoy the Bridge is at sunset when you can get spectacular views over the NYC skyline. But at any time of day, you'll get a brilliant 360-degree view of New York Harbor, Manhattan and Brooklyn, as well as the Statue of Liberty in the distance.

Also read: The Top 11 Famous Landmarks Americans Want to Visit

Bask in the Bright Lights of Times Square

You shouldn’t visit New York City without seeing Times Square, one of the world's busiest pedestrian areas and a major entertainment hub near Broadway. It's everything you expect—from flashing neon lights to giant digital billboards, the square is bold, bright and unforgettable. For the best view of the square, walk to the top of the red steps. Of all the things to do for free in the Big Apple, Times Square is a must.

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Stroll Through Central Park

No trip to New York City is complete without a visit to Central Park. One of the best places to visit in the city, Central Park has plenty of attractions, from the Alice in Wonderland sculpture to the iconic Chess and Checkers House. The park hosts several events throughout the year, including Shakespeare in the Park in the summer, an incredible free outdoor theatre that can't be missed. Whenever you decide to go, make sure you grab a map or use an audio guide so you don't miss anything.

Also read: Do You Really Need Travel Insurance?

Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal first opened in 1913 and while it still serves as a commuter station, it's also a cultural destination, with shops, restaurants, and events throughout the year. Don't miss the Grand Central Market, which is open daily, as well as the Tiffany Clock, the Information Booth Clock in the main concourse, and the Whispering Gallery. And don't forget to look-up—the ceiling is magnificent, featuring the twelve Zodiac constellations!

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There are so many things to do for free in New York City. The city is a buzzing metropolis and a feast for your senses so one of the best ways to really immerse yourself in all it has to offer is with a free audio guide. Check-out this walking tour app and the free Celebrity Audio Guide for Central Park, that will have you strolling to the voice of Anne Hathaway or Alec Baldwin!

Travel Insurance for Your NYC Trip

Remember that you can get travel insurance for your trip even if you’re not leaving the U.S. Domestic travelers regularly encounter many of the same problems the globetrotters have to deal with – trip cancellations, delays, interruptions or medical emergencies. The peace of mind that can come with travel insurance could cost much less than expected, in line with less-expensive domestic travel.

Compare our plans or get a quote to get started with travel protection for your trip.

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