BY DEVIN GANNON
Despite being one of the most expensive cities to live in, New York City offers many free activities, events and attractions all year round, letting you pinch pennies when the rent check is due. From free lectures at the Met to free group meditation classes, there are tons of activities that don’t cost a dime. To help New York visitors and natives alike, we’ve put together a guide of the 100 best wallet-friendly things to do in the Big Apple.
Museums & Monuments
Whether it’s your first time in New York, or you have lived here all of your life, exploring one of the many museums is a must. However, it’s not cheap to visit these incredible institutions, with admission costing upwards of $25 at many of them. Thankfully, a lot of museums offer discounted or completely free days once per week or month. And, even better, some offer free admission every day.
1. African Burial Ground National Monument
290 Broadway between Duane and Elk Street, Lower Manhattan
The monument, which is the first of its kind dedicated to Africans of early New York, contains the remains of more than 419 Africans buried during the late 17th and 18th centuries in NYC. The indoor center and outdoor memorial are always free Tuesday-Saturday.
2. General Ulysses S Grant National Memorial
Riverside Drive at 122nd Street, Morningside Heights, Manhattan
Known as Grant’s Tomb, the memorial is the final resting place of the 18th President of the U.S. and his wife Julia Dent Grant. The visitor center and memorial are free every day it’s open–Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
3. Green-Wood Cemetery
500 25th Street, Sunset Park, Brooklyn
The 478-acre park is a Revolutionary War historic site and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2006. Admission to the cemetery, which operates seasonally seven days a week, is free at all times.
4. The New Museum
235 Bowery, Lower East Side, Manhattan
A home for contemporary art and ideas, the New Museum offers pay-what-you-wish admission on Thursday nights between 7-9pm.
5. National Museum of the American Indian
One Bowling Green, Bowling Green, Manhattan
A part of the Smithsonian Institution, the museum aims to advance the knowledge and understanding of Native cultures of the Western Hemisphere. Admission is always free, open 10 am to 5 pm daily and Thursdays to 8 pm.
6. Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn
The Brooklyn Museum is the city’s third-largest at 560,000 square feet and contains over 1.5 million pieces of art. Free on the first Saturday of the month only from 5-11pm with a 5-7pm happy hour.
7. Bronx Museum of the Arts
1040 Grand Concourse, Bronx
The Bronx Museum of the Arts is an internationally recognized contemporary art museum that connects diverse audiences to the urban experience. It is always free, with operating hours 11 am- 6 pm, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and to 8 pm on Thursday.
8. Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd Street, Midtown West, Manhattan
At one of the world’s preeminent modern art museums, admission is free every Friday from 4-8pm.
9. Museum of the Moving Image
36-01 35 Avenue, Astoria, Queens
This Queens museum remains the only in the U.S. dedicated to the art, history, and technology of the moving image. Admission is free from 4-8pm every Friday.
10. Queens County Farm Museum
73-50 Little Neck Parkway, Floral Park, Queens
Dating back to 1697, the farm museum occupies New York City’s largest remaining piece of undisturbed farmland. The farm grounds are open daily, year-round from 10 am- 5 pm and are always free, except during public events.
11. Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
26 Wooster Street, Soho, Manhattan
The museum is the first dedicated LGBTQ art museum in the world. It’s open 12-6pm Wednesday- Sunday and 12-8pm on Thursday. Admission is free, but there’s a suggested donation of $8 per person.
12. BRIC House
647 Fulton Street, Fort Greene, Brooklyn
Daily admission BRIC House, Brooklyn’s leading presenter of free cultural programming, is free.
13. Museum of Jewish Heritage
Edmond J. Safra Plaza, 36 Battery Place, Battery Park City, Manhattan
In memorial of those who died in the Holocaust, the museum features more than 25,000 items related to Jewish history. Admission to the museum is free on Wednesday and Thursday from 4-8pm.
14. Federal Hall National Memorial
26 Wall Street, Financial District, Manhattan
At this spot on Wall Street, George Washington took the oath of office and was the site of the first Congress, Supreme Court, and Executive Branch offices. The memorial is open all year from Monday-Friday, 9 am-5 pm and admission is free.
15. Onassis Cultural Center
Olympic Tower, 645 Fifth Avenue, Midtown, Manhattan
The cultural center promotes Greek culture through art exhibitions and events. Its operating hours vary for events, but the Olympic Tower Atrium remains open daily and admission is free.
16. Tibet House US Cultural Center
22 West 15th Street, Union Square, Manhattan
Created at the request of the Dalai Lama, the cultural center aims to preserve the unique culture of Tibet. Admission to the cultural center is free and open Monday-Friday 10am-6pm.