Having been born and raised in New York City there were so many places I visited as a child, with my parents and especially on school trips. You see my Mama was a New York City taxi cab driver and it was her job to know and suggest attractions and places for families to visit while in town. Mama always kept lists handy with free museum entry times and suggestions on other free things to do in New York City. Here are some of my favorite free things to do in NYC!
Free Things To Do In New York City
Roam around Central Park. This super famous 843 acre park takes you back to basics and away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Free welcome tours of certain areas in the park are offered. Look for the northern, southern, and heart of the park welcome tours. You’ll see Alice in Wonderland statues, the Shakespeare Garden, and more. One of the best free things you will do in New York City!
Children’s Museum of Manhattan: Free admission on the first Friday of every month, from 5PM til 8PM. This Upper West Side museum is perfect for little ones of all ages! Exhibits cover everything from diversity to health. You can feed letters to a talking dragon, explore with Dora and Diego, and be a rock star in the Tot Spot (reserved for kids 5 and under)!
Grand Central Terminal Tour: Free 90 minute walking tour every Friday at 12:30PM. This tour makes stops at the Whispering Gallery, Lincoln Memorial, and the Chrysler Building. There’s tons of history, and it’s great for all ages, but especially educational for the older kids.
Museum of Moving Image: Always free for kids under 3, the museum offers free admission on Fridays from 4PM til 8PM. Here, you’ll see the country’s biggest collection of moving image artifacts.
New York Hall of Science: Free admission on Fridays 2PM til 5PM, and Sundays 10AM til 11AM, September through June. Hands-on science and technology exhibits are the reason to visit this museum year round. More than 450 exhibitions fill the New York Hall of Science, so plan to spend a few hours checking everything out. Some things at the New York Hall of Science do cost money, like the Rocket Park Mini Golf, so keep that in mind when planning your visit but there are tons of free things to do while there.
Take a stroll down The High Line! When I moved out of NYC The High Line was not yet built. Built on an abandoned railway track using reclaimed industrial detritus. Walk down the pathway above the city while still entrenched in city life. Fields of wildflowers and beautiful lawns line The High Line. Picnic in peace as the wildness of NYC zooms beneath.
Waterfront Museum and Showboat Barge: Free on Thursdays from 4PM til 8PM, and Saturdays from 1PM til 5PM, this large wooden barge is not far from the Fairway Market. Visiting the Waterfront Museum is a great history lesson for the family.
Bronx Zoo: Admission is not technically free, it’s a “suggested donation”, on Wednesdays. Plan to spend the entire day here, checking out everything from the Mouse House, to the Children’s Zoo, to Tiger Mountain. Even if your donation is $10 for the family, it’s totally worth it – regular admission is much more. Keep in mind that you will need to pay for parking.
Staten Island Zoo: Admission is free on Wednesdays after 2PM, so you might want to break your zoo trips up into two weeks instead of trying to rush to both of them. Regular admission is $8 for adults, $5 for kids. Parking is free. Visit the Amur Leopard Habitat, the ostriches, and don’t forget to say hi to the otters!