Things to do in New York

The Best Free Things To Do In NYC – Museums To Memorials

Last Updated:

Home to dozens of iconic sites, including three of the world’s ten most visited tourist attractions, New York City is truly an epicenter of culture and life. However, a visit to the Big Apple can easily put a dent in your bank account. Fortunately, there are plenty of free things to do in NYC! Fashion, entertainment, food, media, business, and art create an irresistible pull, attracting people from all over the globe. And we want you to be able to take it all in- without spending a dime!  From museums and attractions to parks and exhibitions, check out our epic list of free things to do in NYC. And in the case that you don’t mind spending a buck or two on some exceptionally memorable NYC experiences, Headout has the best deals for you. Book directly here and get the biggest bang for your buck.

Free Museums in NYC:

Museum of Modern Art- MoMA

Free things to do in NYC (MoMA)With the opportunity to gaze at Van Gogh’s Starry Night or catch a glimpse of Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignonthe, it’s no wonder thousands of people flock to the MoMA. The museum contains an impressive 200,000 works of modern and contemporary art by over 18,000 artists.
(Take me to the website)

Location: 11 West 53 Street, New York, NY 10019 (Take me to the map)

Public Transport
Subway: 6 to 51st Street- transfer to E or M to 53rd Street and Fifth Avenue
B, D, or F to 47-50 Street Rockefeller Center

Bus: M1, M2, M3, M4, or M5 to 53rd Street
M50 to 50th Street

Saturday- Wednesday: 10:30am- 5:30pm
Thursday: 10:30am- 8:30pm
Friday: 10:30am- 8:00pm

MoMA free Friday!
Admission for MoMA is free for all visitors every Friday evening from 4:00pm to 8:00pm.

During other hours:
Adults- $25
Seniors- $18
Students- $14
Children- Free

Phone Number212-708-9400

Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) Museum

Free things to do in NYC (FIT Museum)

At FIT, Fashion Week is every week. The museum houses over 50,000 garments and accessories from the 18th century to the present. Designed to educate on fashion in an entertaining way, FIT is best known for it’s award winning exhibitions, such as: London Fashion, The Corset: Fashioning the Body, and Madame Grès: The Sphinx of Fashion. The culture of fashion is documented and shared with the public via galleries, a photographic studio, workshops, lectures, and panel discussions with scholars, authors, and curators from around the world. A trip to FIT is definitely one of the best free things to do in NYC.
(Take me to the website)

Location: Seventh Avenue at 27 Street, New York City, 10001 (Take me to the map)

Public Transport
 1, N, or R to the 28th Street Station, A, C, E, F, or M to the 23rd Street Station *M only runs on weekdays

Bus: M20, M23, or M34

Hours: Tuesday- Friday: 12:00pm- 8:00pm, Saturday: 10:00am- 5:00pm, Sunday & Monday: Closed

Phone Number: 212-217-4558

Check out more FREE museums in NYC


Free Attractions in NYC:

Rockefeller Center

Free things to in NYC (Rockefeller Center)At the Rockefeller Center, shows and trips to the observation deck may require you to buy tickets. On the bright side, you can admire the breathtaking architecture without spending a penny! Be sure not to miss the statue of Prometheus overlooking the skating rink, or Atlas holding the world at 630 Fifth Ave.
(Take me to the Website)

Location:45 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10111 (Take me to the map)

Public Transport
B, D, F, or M to 47-50th Street & Rockefeller Center
1 to 50th Street, 6 to 51st Street
N, Q, or R to 49th Street

Bus: From Fifth Avenue (going south) Or Madison Avenue (going north): M1, M2, M3, M4 or M5 bus to 50th Street
From Broadway: M7 to Rockefeller Center
From 49th Street: M50 

Hours: Monday- Sunday: 7am- Midnight

Phone Number: 212-332-6868

Times Square

Free things to do in NYC (Times Square)Any trip to New York is incomplete without a visit to Times Square, the most famous commercial intersection in the world. It lies at the junction of Broadway and Seventh avenue, and is often referred to as the Crossroads of the World. With gigantic flashy billboards, street performers, and dozens of shops, the overwhelming energy is sure to impress you! As far as free things to do in NYC, this one should be your first!

Location: Manhattan, NY 10036 (Take me to the map)

Subway: 1, 2, 3, 7, A, E, N, Q, C, or R

Check out more FREE attractions in NYC


Free Exhibitions in NYC:

BRIC House

Free things to do in NYC (BRIC House)

BRIC is the city’s leading center for free, cultural programs in Brooklyn. The institution is dedicated to providing support for artists and media makers. By providing them with a platform to share their work with others, BRIC nurtures individual expression and gives others the opportunity to enjoy and benefit from amazing cultural experiences. From public talks with elite professionals to community yoga sessions and benefit concerts- the BRIC is constantly offering free things to do in NYC.

Location: 647 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217 (Take me to the map)
Entrance on Rockwell Place

Public Transport
2, 3, 4, 5 to Nevins Street
B, Q, R to Dekalb Avenue
C to Lafayette Avenue
G to Fulton Street

Bus: B25, B26, B38, B52 to Fulton Street and Ashland Place

Facility/ Cafe:
Tue- Sat: 8:00am- 10:00pm
Mon: 8:00am- 6:00pm
Sun: 10:00am- 6:00pm
Tue- Sat: 10:00am- 6:00pm
Sun: 12:00pm- 6:00pm
Mon: Closed
Media Center:
Mon- Fri: 8:00am- 10:00pm
Sat- Sun: 10:00am- 4:00pm

Bonus: Free events/talks weekly- check website for schedule.

Phone Number: 718-683-5600

Scandinavia House: The Nordic Center in America

Free things to do in NYC (Scandinavia House)The leading center for Nordic culture in the U.S., Scandinavia House offers a wide variety of programs and exhibits to educate visitors on the heritage of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. Film series, concerts, lectures, and language courses are just some of the mediums in which information is shared with the public.

Location: 58 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10016 (Take me to the map)

Public Transport

S, 4, 5, 6, or 7 to 42nd Street and Grand Central Station
6 to 33rd Street

1, 2, 3, or 4 up Madison Avenue
1, 2, 3, or 5 down Fifth Avenue

Tuesday- Saturday: 12:00pm- 6:00 pm
Wednesday: 12:00pm- 7:00pm
The Halldor Laxness Library
Tuesday- Friday: 12:00pm- 5:00pm
The Heimbold Family Children’s Playing and Learning Center
Saturday: 12:00pm- 5:00pm

Phone Number: 212-779-3587

Check out more FREE exhibitions in NYC

Free Parks in NYC:

Brooklyn Bridge Park

Free things to do in NYC (Brooklyn Bridge Park)The Brooklyn Bridge Park provides a spellbinding view of the Lower Manhattan skyline. It is famous for its great waterfront views, as it spans 1.3 miles of the East River. The park offers dozens of free things to do in NYC. From basketball and kayaking to dance and aerobics, this park will keep you active. There’s even a new roller skating rink!

Location:334 Furman Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201 (Take me to the map)

Public Transport
A or C to High Street
F to York Street
2 or 3 to Clark Street
R to Court Street
2, 3, 4, or 5 to Borough Hall

B25 to Fulton Ferry Landing
B63 to Loop Road on Pier 6
B61 to Atlantic Ave. & Hicks St.
B67 to Jay St. & York St.

Pier 2, 5, 6, & Volleyball Courts: 6am- 11pm
99 Plymouth: 8am- 11pm
Playgrounds are open dawn to dusk
The remainder of the park is open 6am- 1am

Phone Number: 718-222-9939

Central Park

Free things to do in NYC (Central Park)Central Park is the most famous NYC park. It is the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. From fishing at the Harlem Meer Pond, to birding, boating, basketball and sunbathing- this park has something for everyone! Offering an array of free things to do in NYC itself, Central Park is a hub for recreational activities. In the winter time, be sure to to indulge in some sledding, cross-country skiing!

Location: 14 East 60th St, New York, NY 10022 (Take me to the map)

Public Transport
N, R, or Q to 57th & 7th
2 or 3 to 59th and Columbus Circle
B or C to 110th street, 103rd Street, 96th Street, 86th Street, 81st Street, and 72nd Street along Central Park West
A, B, C, D, or 1 to 59th Street, Columbus Circle, Broadway, and Central Park West

Bus: M10, M1, M2, M3, or M4 

Hours: Monday- Sunday: 6:00am- 1:00am

Phone Number: 212-310-6600

Check out more FREE parks in NYC

Free Memorials in NYC:

Federal Hall National Memorial

Free things to do in NYC (Federal Hall National Memorial)Birthplace of the American government, this memorial marks the spot where George Washington took the oath of office as America’s first president. Today, the Federal Hall remains a museum dedicated to showcasing the beginnings of the United States of America. A major highlight for visitors is the opportunity to view the bible George Washington used to swear his oath of office. One of the best free things to do in NYC for all those history buffs out there!

Location: 26 Wall Street, New York, NY 10005 (Take me to the map)

Public Transport
J or Z to Broad Street
2, 3, 4,or 5 to Wall Street
1 or R to Rector Street
A or C to Fulton Street

Bus: M5 MTA to Rector Street at Trinity Place or Broadway

Monday – Friday: 9:00am- 5:00pm
Saturday & Sunday: Closed

Phone Number: 212-825-6990

General Grant National Memorial

Free things to do in NYC (General Grant National Memorial)Considered the largest mausoleum in North America, the General Grant Memorial is the final resting place of President Ulysses Simpson Grant and his wife, Julia Grant. Visitors can view Grant’s tomb, take in three large mosaic murals that depict the important scenes from Grant’s military career, admire a series of tile-mosaic benches the surround the mausoleum, and quietly reflect on the significant accomplishments of Grant- including his achievement in ending the American Civil War.

Location: 122nd Street and Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10027 (Take me to the map)

Public Transport
1 to 116th Street- Columbia University station on Broadway
2 or 3 to 96th Street and transfer to 1

M11 to Amsterdam Avenue and West 118th Street
M4, M5, or M104 to 122nd Street and Broadway

Visitor Center:
Wednesday- Sunday: 9:00am- 5:00pm
Wednesday- Sunday: 10:00am- 11:00pm
12:00pm- 1:00pm
2:00pm- 3:00pm
4:00pm- 5:00pm

Free talks are available to the public at the Visitor Center:
Wednesday- Sunday at: 11:15am, 1:15pm, and 3:15
*Call for availability.

Phone Number: 212-666-1640

To further explore NYC, Headout has you covered.