New York: My Top Three for Free in NYC

Statue of Liberty

New York, New York!

One of the best things about New York is that there’s always something to do no matter how deep your pockets are.

And if you have barely any cash to flash, some of the best attractions are still within your reach. Good news for all of us who like value for money, or value for no money at all!

Here are my top three things to do or see for free in the city that never sleeps:

Look up in Grand Central Station

Grand Central Main Concourse

The main concourse of Grand Central Terminal

One of the world’s grandest train terminals, Grand Central Station has undergone something of a facelift in recent years. As a result, you can see the beautiful sky-like ceiling of the main concourse in all its glory (and if you look closely you can spot the small patch that was left to show just how dirty the ceiling had become over years of being smothered in tobacco smoke). The terminal positively shines now, and the dining concourse is perfect for taking in the timeless glamour of passenger rail travel’s glorious heyday.

There’s also a hidden feature not to be missed – just outside the oyster bar you may see people huddling around the columns of the archways. Known as the whispering gallery, you can stand at the opposite corner to your travelling companion (or maybe convince an attractive stranger by giving them your best glad eye? Worth a shot) and whisper sweet (or other) sentiments into the corner. Through acoustic trickery, they’ll hear you, and you’ll hear them as if you were both standing right next to each other. Magic.

The Whispering Gallery

A little girl whispers into the wall of the whispering gallery

Ride the Staten Island Ferry

Staten Island Ferry

The Staten Island Ferry

When I think of this ferry I always picture Melanie Griffith’s character in the film Working Girl; travelling over the water to the big city, off to make some waves of her own. But the truth is that this commuter ferry offers so much more than a journey to work – the views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty are outstanding. And with no need to buy a ticket or enter through any kind of turnstile, you can just do a spin on Staten Island and hop right back on.

The journey will take you about 20 minutes each way and the ferries run pretty much non-stop every half hour, day and night. If I return to New York, I’ll be sure to take the ferry both during daylight hours and under the cloak of darkness, for completely different views of the same unbelievable skyline.

The view of Manhattan from the ferry

The view of Manhattan from the ferry

Walk the High Line

The High Line

The High Line

I’d heard about the High Line before I went to New York and I was determined I’d make it to this relatively new and completely unique New York park. Something told me this was a sight I shouldn’t miss. Mr Holiday Addict knew nothing about it beyond what I’d mentioned to him prior to our trip, and when we made our way up there for a pre-dinner stroll on our final night in the city, we were both in awe at what we found.

This park is what can only be described as an urban masterpiece, but I don’t want to give too much away because this is one New York landmark that was much more than a “see” or a “do” for me – it made me really feel something, so please come back to find out why. I’ll be writing a complete post on the High Line soon.

Sun Terrace on the High Line

Imagine this on a hot, sunny day!

What’s your favourite free thing to do in New York? I’d love to know in the comments.

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11 Comments

  • Lula Belle says:

    Grand Central is one of my favourite places in NYC. Riding the Staten Island ferry reminded me of so many movies and of course SATC. I’d not heard of the HighLine, so something to add to my list for my next NYC trip.

    Look forward to hearing more about your NYC trip.

    • Clare says:

      The High Line is amazing – really do make sure you add it to your list for next time. And I am completely with you when it comes to Grand Central. I loved it!

  • The High Line has become my favorite free thing to do in NYC also! I’m so glad you made it there. I make multiple trips a year to NYC to visit friends and I always try to squeeze in a walk through there. It is packed in the summer though – looks like you found it nice and empty at night. I’m going to have to try that!

    • Clare says:

      Thanks for commenting, Bridget! The High Line was lovely in the evening. It was about 7pm when we went walking and it was so serene. Such a treat to find such peace cutting right through the buzz of the city. Definitely give a night time stroll a try!

  • Naomi says:

    I just loved walking around NYC, it is such an exciting, vibrant city and the best place to people watch!

    • Clare says:

      People watching is probably my favourite activity (even better when combined with good food and good wine)! New York is great for it! We did so much walking it was almost ridiculous, but there’s something to see everywhere you look so the sore feet were completely worth it!

  • Nat says:

    Ohh, you brought back so many memories! I adored the High Line too. I also loved spending time in Bryant Park where there was always an astounding parade of characters to watch, plus free wifi, free books, free movies and plenty of places to just sit and watch. New York is such a great city!

  • Great post! I’ve heard so many good things about the High Line. I can’t wait to return to NYC and try it out. Thanks for sharing!

    Happy travels 🙂

  • Agness says:

    Grand Central Station is massive, much bigger than in movies I’ve seen. It reminds me of China where most of stations are overloaded with people.

  • Kadri says:

    Nice post! I went there first time in September, last year, I totally fell in love in this city. I don’t know why, but it just impressed me that much, it’s one bug vibrant city. Definitely want to go back, and why not even move in there.

  • Thanks for the tips. I hope 2015 will be a year when I take my family to New York City. It’s only a five hour ride on the bus, but the kids have never been there. I’m pinning it to my “New York City” board.

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