Seeing New York City's biggest attractions can mean spending a hefty chunk of your trip budget on entry tickets. But there's a vacation-load of fun to be had without ever handing over a cent.Less
It may technically be a public park, but the expanding High Line project has the impact and feel of a real-life tourist attraction, complete with its own opening hours of 7am to 7pm. Created from an abandoned stretch of elevated railroad track, the landscaping of this park (which stands 30 feet in the air) connects the Meatpacking District with Chelsea's galleries, ending at the Javits Center on the south side of Hell's Kitchen.
Curated by Bushwick native Joe Ficalora, the Brooklyn Collective is the unofficial graffiti museum that brings together top street artists from all around the world. Spanning multiple buildings and several blocks, the art is all temporary, legal and rivals anything you’ll see in a museum.
Once the nation's most visited tourist attraction outside Niagara Falls, the gorgeous Green-Wood Cemetery was founded in 1838 and is the eternal home to some 600,000 people (or about 530 miles of bodies, head to toe). It's leafy and lovely, features Brooklyn's highest point at Battle Hill – a site from the Revolutionary War now marked with a seven-foot statue of the Roman goddess of wisdom, Minerva.
It doesn't take brilliant travel minds to tell you that a park is free to visit – most parks are. But most parks aren't Central Park, Manhattan's famed claim to thinking ahead (even if it was designed in the 1860s to boost real-estate value uptown). It's filled with free events, statues, people-watching and sites like Strawberry Fields, an “Imagine” mosaic near the Dakota, where John Lennon was killed in 1980.
The Bronx Museum of the Arts' mission is to promote cross-cultural dialogue and make art accessible for eclectic urban audiences. Founded in 1971, its thousands of pieces of contemporary and 20th-century art span all mediums. A universal free admission policy was implemented to celebrate its 40th anniversary.
With mediums from photography to quilting to weather vanes in its collection, the American Folk Art Museum is devoted to the appreciation and expressions of self-taught artists, spanning all time and place.
The Statue of Liberty is a must-see, but the ferry tours there start at $18 for adults. Enter the Staten Island Ferry, which cuts across the New York Harbor 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, offering a stellar view of Lady Liberty, for absolutely free (and bonus: there’s food and drinks for sale on board). Having been in service since 1905, the ferry carries 19 million people across the harbor each year.
It's always Fashion Week in the FIT Museum, which features rotating exhibits by students and a surprisingly interesting and detailed collection of the country's first gallery of fashion, picked from a collection of 50,000 garments dating from the 18th century to present.
New York's most famous library, also known as the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, is situated in a grand Beaux-Arts icon east of Times Square. Fronted by marble lions named “Patience” and “Fortitude,” it’s a jaw-dropper to walk through – particularly the reading room fit for 500 patrons poring over tomes under the library's original Carrère and Hastings lamps. There are exhibits too, including a copy of the original Declaration of Independence, a Gutenberg Bible, plus 431,000 old maps.
Now for something completely different. The Earth Room, Walter De Maria's 1977 art installation, is a single room filled with 280,000 pounds of dirt, combining the framework of an ordinary office with the scent of a wet forest.