Few cities in the world are as exhilarating and vibrant as New York City. From the bright lights of Times Square to the soaring heights of the Empire State Building, the Big Apple never disappoints tourists and travelers.
And best of all, you don't have to spend a fortune to enjoy yourself. There are plenty of budget-friendly, fun things to do in NYC.
Eleven Fun Things to Do in NYC on a Budget
The city has it all, whether you're in the mood to visit famous landmarks, walk the city streets, or explore NYC's performing arts scene. These activities will make you feel like a New Yorker in no time.
1. Times Square
Soak up the sights and sounds of Times Square. The legendary New York landmark is free to enjoy, and there's always something going on.
You can wander the streets and discover this bustling area. It's home to some of the city's best shopping, dining, and entertainment, including Broadway Show.
Even if you don't spend money, there's plenty to see and do. Take a walk down Broadway, watch people passing by, and feel the city's energy.
2. Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met)
The Met is a must-visit if you're looking for a bit of culture. With over two million works of art on display, it's one of the world's largest art museums. You need to pay for an entry ticket, but it's free for members and children under 12.
Credit: George Hodan / Public Domain Pictures
However, many world-class museums in NYC are pay-what-you-wish or free, including the Museum of the City of New York, American Museum of Natural History, Brooklyn Museum, and many others.
Some other notable places are the Whitney Museum of American Art, Madame Tussauds New York, and the New York Historical Society.
3. Central Park
No trip to NYC is complete without a walk through Central Park . This oasis in the heart of the city is the perfect place to relax, take in the scenery, and enjoy nature up close.
And there are so many things to do, with attractions like the zoo, the boathouse, Conservatory Garden, the Belvedere Castle, and plenty of other things.
If you love watching animals, visit the famous Bronx Zoo, the biggest zoo in the USA. It will take a 46-minute bus tour from the park.
4. Rock Observation Deck
Head to the top of the observation deck at Rockefeller Center for stunning city views. Admission is $40 for adults, and you'll see NYC from 850 feet up. From the Observation Deck, the 360° view of the New York skyline is something to remember for life.
One World Observatory in the One World Trade Center is another place to catch the breathtaking views of New York City.
5. Brooklyn Botanic Garden
A visit to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a must for any nature lover. With over 52 acres of gardens and greenhouses, it's one of the largest botanical gardens in the country.
The garden displays incredible variations of plants and flowers. You can join various events and workshops to learn something interesting.
6. Staten Island Ferry Ride
One of the best ways to explore New York Harbor is to take a ferry ride between Staten Island and Manhattan. The ride takes you past Upper New York Bay, offering views of historic landmarks, including Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island.
The ferry ride is one of the best ways to see Lady Liberty up close and enjoy breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline. And the ride is completely free.
7. Attend a Free Concert
New York City is home to some of the best parks in the world, and they often host free concerts and events in the summertime.
Credit: Noralanning / Wikimedia Commons
If you're looking for a fun and affordable way to spend an afternoon or evening, check the schedule of the parks nearby to see if any free concerts are coming up. Bryant Park, Battery Park, and Brooklyn Bridge Park are among some popular spots for these events.
8. Admire the Art in SoHo
The classic, experimental, and modern art exhibitions are one of the best things about New York City. And you don't have to spend a fortune to enjoy it. Take a walking tour through SoHo and admire all the amazing street art. All art lovers will be amazed at how much talent is on display.
And it's also home to some of the best art galleries in the city. Whether you're a fan of contemporary art or more traditional fare, you will find a gallery that piques your interest.
You can also visit the performing-arts institutions on the Upper West Side. New Yorkers often visit the places with families to watch various interactive exhibits and the luxury apartments of Central Park West.
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9. Sample the Food in Little Italy
If strolling on the roads in SoHo and watching all the artwork makes you hungry, head toward the east side to go to Little Italy.
Credit: ajay_suresh / Wikimedia Commons
No trip to NYC would be complete without a food tour in this Lower Manhattan neighborhood. The historic area is renowned for its delicious food, and you can sample some of the best of it without spending a fortune.
Stop by one of the many bakeries for a fresh-baked pastry or grab a pizza slice from any legendary pizzerias. Don't forget to go to Mulberry Street to explore the nostalgia of authentic Italian-American culture.
10. Yankee Stadium
The Yankee Stadium in the Bronx is home to the New York Yankees, one of the most successful baseball teams in history.
Credit: Brianjh59 / Wikimedia Commons
Even if you’re not a huge baseball fan, the stadium is a fun place to explore. You can walk around the field, check out the souvenir shop, and get a bite to eat at one of the concession stands.
11. Manhattan Bridge
This bridge offers stunning views of the city skyline and the East River. Best of all, walking or biking across the bridge is free.
Some other NYC bridges to bike over are George Washington Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge, and Ward's Island Bridge.
If you're looking for more things to do in NYC, be sure to check out the list below! There's something for everyone, so you're sure to find something that interests you.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many days in New York is enough?
A trip to New York City is best enjoyed over 4-5 days to comfortably see the main attractions without feeling rushed.
That said, you can still hit the highlights in as little as 3 days.
Two days would be a very quick tour, but still possible if you prioritize your must-see spots and plan well.
Is making friends in NYC easy?
Making friends in New York City can be a challenge despite its social atmosphere.
The city is fast-paced, and people often have established social circles.
However, with the city's wide array of events, clubs, and gatherings, opportunities to meet new people abound.
Some find it easier to adapt and make connections, while others may need more time to acclimate.
What is the cheapest month to visit New York?
The cheapest months to visit New York City are from early January to early March.
This is when you'll find the best combination of low prices for flights, hotels, and Broadway shows.
The city is less crowded during this period, making it a budget-friendly time to explore NYC's attractions.