Before we begin, here are over 100 free activities in NYC.  Now let’s dive in to 11 of them.

The dirty little secret about NYC is that you can actually get away with doing a ton of awesome things without spending a dime! Pinching pennies doesn’t have to be boring. You just need to know how to do it right.

1.) Go out. Nightlife in NYC is expensive, to say the least. But if you think all the hottest spots require bottle service or cover, you’ll be happy to note that there are quite a few places that offer free admission. Joonbug.com lists some top lounges and clubs with no cover. Alternatively, get your free tickets to some great live music shows and performances with just a couple of clicks.

2.) Drink up. What’s even better than free cover? Free drinks. You heard us right. A lot of stores and bars in the city offer free tastings. NYC Whisky lists a lot of whisky tastings and a surprising number of them are free. Bars like Barramundi in the LES, Bar 13 in Greenwich Village and Blue Ruin in Hell’s Kitchen do buy one, get one free drinks during happy hour. And the Chelsea Brewing Company offers free tours of their microbrewery on Saturdays – beer samples included!

3.) Eat. No such thing as a free lunch? Well Rudy’s Bar in Hell’s Kitchen at serves up free hot dogs to anyone who buys a drink, and their beer is super cheap. Spring Lounge offers free beer-cooked hot dogs to patrons on Wednesdays after 5:00 pm. Crocodile Lounge gives you free pizza with your drink every evening. Sotto 13 does free Italian tapas with the purchase of half-priced drinks during their happy hour, Monday-Friday from 5:00 – 7:30 pm. Or take a free food tour of the Lower East Side or Chinatown!

4.) Get some culture. The Museum of Modern Art offers free admission every Friday evening from 4:00 to 8:00 pm. There is usually a bit of a line, but it’s well worth it to see all that MoMA art for free! Speaking of the MoMA, they also open their outdoor sculpture garden to the public from 9:00-10:30 am – talk about a great way to start the day. And the MoMA isn’t the only museum you can visit for free.

5.) Earn your sea legs. We admit this may not sound like the most glamorous nautical excursion available, but the Staten Island Ferry is a free 5 mile, 25 minute ride across New York Harbor with unique views of the Statue of Liberty and the downtown Manhattan skyline! You can also kayak for free at The Downtown Boathouse in the Summer.

6.) Music. Get your groove on for free! You can get some laughs in with a free Intro to Musical Improv class or find out about musical culture in Harlem with this free Harlem Tour. And when the Summer rolls around again, you’ll have even more options like the indie, eclectic South Street Seaport free concert series or the pop-tastic Good Morning America concert series in Central Park!

7.) Become a TV star. Well, almost. A lot of your favorite T.V. shows are taped in NYC, and many of them open up audience slots for free. From The Daily Show to The Colbert Report to The Rachael Ray show, here’s how to score a free spot in the audience during the taping of T.V. shows.

 8.) Street fairs. On any given weekend, it’s likely that you will be able to find a New York street fair or festival. They’re free to enjoy and often have free perks like live music or entertainment. To locate them, try a list of street fairs and festivals by weekend, like this one from SocialEyesNYC.

9.) Get outdoorsy. We might take New York City public parks for granted, but they truly are treasures! From the massive 840-acre Central Park with waterfalls, lakes and the best meadows to lay out in to Union Square Park with its super fresh Greenmarket to Madison Square Park, home to one of the best burgers in the city, there’s something for everyone. You can even find cool free walking tours of Central Park.

10.) Take a tour. Big Apple Greeter tour guides are very knowledgeable and welcome visitors with a variety of New York tours. You can always pretend you’re a tourist if you’re not! Free Tours By Foot give you another way to explore the city for free. the Brooklyn Brewery offers free tours on Saturdays. In fact, you can find a free walking tour of almost any neighborhood for almost any taste!

11.) Take classes, learn new things and make new friends. The truth is that there are a ton of awesome activities and classes on our site that are completely free, from martial arts to live music to improv!

Now go share this with all your friends who wouldn’t mind saving a few bucks in New York!

  • catherine

    love it!! always looking for free stuff to do in the city

  • Melanie

    What about the holiday markets like at Union Square and Bryant Park? And ice skating at Bryant Park!

  • kevin

    def taking a brewery tour this weekend

  • Ray

    I love Rudy’s. I live on 9th ave nearby. It’s always crowded and it’s pretty small plus the air always smells like hot dogs. But it’s one of the cheapest places to drink in midtown. With free hot dogs.

  • Jenny

    I didn’t know Vimbly had free live music shows!! I really want to check out the Cafe Wha? Band!

  • Stephanie Smith

    This is a really informative post. I got a lot of great ideas for free activities to do in the city. I have friends in from out of town this weekend and I’m definitely going to take them on the free walking tours.

  • Rivington10002

    Good lord, it’s obvious that the majority of these comments are written by the person who wrote this article. Pathetic. Sloppy writing and research followed up by embarrassingly fake self praise.