The best free attractions 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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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: See all free things to do in NYC


The High Line

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

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

  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

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

  1. Main St, (at Fulton Ferry Landing), 11201
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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

  1. 59th St to 110th St, (between Fifth and Eighth Aves)
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Brooklyn Heights and Brooklyn Promenade

  • Free

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

  1. Columbia Heights, (between Middagh and Montague Sts)
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Chrysler Building

  • Free

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

  1. 405 Lexington Ave, (at 44th St)
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Times Square

  • Free

Manhattan’s heart was once a hub for vice, teeming with sex shops and drug dealers. Over time that notorious reputation has eroded, and now the area can feel like a tourist-clogged shopping mall. Still, changes such as the stairs above the TKTS

  1. Broadway, (between 42nd and 47th Sts)
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Prospect Park

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

Urban visionaries Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who most famously designed Central Park, also put their stamp on bucolic Prospect Park. Amenities like the Long Meadow and Nethermead offer plenty of space to pull up on a patch of grass and

  1. Prospect Park West to Flatbush Ave, (between Prospect Park Southwest and Ocean Ave)
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St. Patrick's Cathedral

  • Free

This legendary house of worship counts Presidents, movie stars and business moguls among past and present attendees. While its intricate marble towers are a marvel of Gothic Revival architecture, St. Pat’s interior—including the Louis

  1. 14 E 51st St, (between Fifth and Madison Aves)
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Flushing Meadows–Corona Park

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

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

  1. 111th St to Van Wyck Expwy, (between Flushing Bay and Grand Central Pkwy)
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Washington Square Park

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

The hippies who famously turned up and tuned out in Washington Square Park are still there in spirit, and indeed often in person. In warmer months the park—which was once a potter’s field—is one of the best people-watching spots in the city,

  1. W 4th St to Waverly Pl, (between MacDougal St and University Pl)
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Grand Central Terminal, Main Concourse

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

The 1913 Beaux Arts train station is the city’s most spectacular point of arrival. The station played an important role in the nation’s historic preservation movement, after a series of legal battles that culminated in the 1978 Supreme Court

  1. 42nd St to 44th St, (between Vanderbilt and Lexington Aves)
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Union Square

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

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

  1. 14th St to 17th St, (between Broadway and Park Ave South)
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Battery Park

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

This 25-acre green space is like Manhattan’s delicate fingernail, neatly plotted with monuments, memorials, gardens, sculptures and a farm-to-table café, plus killer waterfront views from the promenade. Though the area was named for the battery

  1. Battery Pl , (at State St)
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Staten Island Ferry

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

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

  1. South St, (at Whitehall St)
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New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Free

The century-old main branch of the NYPL is about as regal a setting for reading—either on your laptop or those old dusty things called books—as you’ll find in the city. Two massive Tennessee-marble lions, dubbed Patience and Fortitude, flank

  1. Fifth Ave, (at 42nd St), 10036
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Queens County Farm Museum

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

The oldest continually farmed land in NYC, the now-47-acre stretch offers a petting zoo for the kids and school groups, who do most of the visiting. But a 2008 expansion of the growing fields means everyone can benefit from the vegetables, wine and

  1. 73-50 Little Neck Pkwy, (between 73rd Rd and 74th Ave)
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Socrates Sculpture Park

  • Free

Taken over by Mark DiSuvero in 1986, this is one of the few locations in the city specifically designated for artists to create outdoor works. The splendid Queens space looks out over the Manhattan skyline and is open 365 days a year.

  1. 32-01 Vernon Blvd, (at Broadway)
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Bronx Museum of the Arts

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Founded in 1971 and featuring more than 800 works, this multicultural art museum shines a spotlight on 20th- and 21st-century artists who are either Bronx-based or of African, Asian or Latino ancestry. The museum sporadically offers family

  1. 1040 Grand Concourse, (at 165th St)
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Coney Island Boardwalk

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Coney Island has had its ups and downs, but one thing has been constant for years: a series of dance parties on the boardwalk, with local veterans spinning soulful house, disco, reggae, Afrobeat, Latin rhythms and more.

  1. Boardwalk, (at 10th St)
More info
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Tee
Tee

Can't wait to check out what's free for the winter in NYC