Free attractions and days out in New York City

Check out our roundup of free attractions and spend an afternoon exploring classic NYC landmarks on the cheap.

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Free attractions and days out in New York City: Central Park

Free attractions and days out in New York City: Central Park Photograph: Edward Yourdon

Even the most seasoned New Yorker should revisit those essential NYC landmarks. (Tourists flock to them for a reason.) Discover the free attractions—including the High Line, Brooklyn Bridge and Central Park—in our guide.


RECOMMENDED: Full list of free things to do in NYC 


The High Line

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  • Free

RECOMMENDED: 50 best New York attractions There’s something uniquely New York about this aerie. Built on an abandoned railway track, the space is ingenious in its use of reclaimed industrial detritus, a necessity in footage-starved Manhattan. But what we like best is how the pathway takes you above the city while keeping you rooted in urban

  1. Washington St at Gansevoort St, to Tenth Ave at 30th St
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Brooklyn Bridge Park

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  • Free

RECOMMENDED: 50 best New York attractions Some city parks—Central and Prospect, most obviously—were built to replicate rustic fields and preserve serene woodland. Brooklyn Bridge Park, however, was not—and that’s precisely why it has become so popular in the almost three years since it debuted. The project has transformed a chunk of the

  1. Main St, at Fulton Ferry Landing, 11201
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5 Pointz Aerosol Art Center (CLOSED)

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  • Free

RECOMMENDED: 50 best New York attractions This Long Island City warehouse, treated as a 200,000-square-foot canvas, is one of the world’s best places to see the full spectrum of spray-paint art. Ride a Queens-bound 7 train past the Hunters Point Ave stop for an elevated, panoramic view of the names of NYC’s graffiti forebears—like Iz the

  1. 45-46 Davis St, at Jackson Ave
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Chrysler Building

  • Free

RECOMMENDED: 50 best New York attractions We won’t argue if you want to call this glimmering pinnacle of Art Deco architecture NYC’s most eye-popping skyscraper. Triangle-shaped windows in its crown are lined with lights, creating a beautiful effect come nighttime. Oozing a moneyed sophistication oft identified with old New York, the structure

  1. 405 Lexington Ave, at 44th St
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Central Park

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  • Free

For your stroll, head to the 38-acre wilderness area on the west side of the park known as the Ramble. The area has a storied history (as a gay cruising spot dating back to the turn of the last century, among other things), and it was even proposed as a recreational area in the mid-'50s. Thankfully, the winding trails, rocks and streams seemingly

  1. 59th St to 110th St, between Fifth and Eighth Aves
Book online

Brooklyn Heights and Brooklyn Promenade

  • Free

RECOMMENDED: 50 best New York attractions It’s easy to forget that you’re standing atop the hectic Brooklyn-Queens Expressway while strolling along this esplanade, which opened in 1950. But the thoroughfare is inextricably linked to the Promenade’s existence: Community opposition to the BQE—which was originally intended to cut through

  1. Columbia Heights, between Middagh and Montague Sts
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Staten Island Ferry

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  • Free

RECOMMENDED: 50 best New York attractions The price of a harbor crossing between Staten Island and lower Manhattan may be the only activity in New York City that’s cheaper today than it was in 1817. Back then, it was 25 cents; today, it’s free. This 24-hour ferry is a lifeline for commuters making their way from NYC’s southernmost borough,

  1. South St, at Whitehall St
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Central Park, Conservatory Garden

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  • Free

This serene garden is a quiet zone, so if you bring your kids, be sure they abstain from biking, running, playing sports and making noise. Visitors flock here in the spring to see gorgeous tulip displays, and in autum to see chrysanthemums.

  1. Fifth Ave, at 105th St
More info

Flushing Meadows–Corona Park

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  • Free

RECOMMENDED: 50 best New York attractions Give the city’s second-biggest park a day and it’ll show you the world: Its most enduring icon is the Unisphere, the mammoth steel globe created for the 1964 World’s Fair. But there’s also first-rate culture and sports at the New York Hall of Science, Arthur Ashe Stadium and Citi Field (depending

  1. 111th St to Van Wyck Expwy, between Flushing Bay and Grand Central Pkwy
More info

Union Square

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  • Free

RECOMMENDED: 50 best New York attractions This park is named after neither the Union of the Civil War nor the labor rallies that once took place here, but simply for the union of Broadway and Bowery Lane (now Fourth Avenue). Even so, it does have its radical roots: From the 1920s until the early ’60s, it was a favorite spot for tub-thumping

  1. 14th St to 17th St, between Broadway and Park Ave South
More info
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Can't wait to check out what's free for the winter in NYC