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Top 10 Free Things to Do in NYC

Destination(s): New York City

Hotels, Broadway shows, restaurant meals...just walking out the door in New York can cost you a small fortune. But with a little energy and (in some cases) advance planning, there are a number of things you can do in the city that don't cost a cent, from theater in Central Park, to outdoor movies in the shadow of the majestic New York Public Library, to a breezy ride on the Staten Island Ferry (a great view of the Statue of Liberty is a bonus). Close your wallet and open your mind to enjoy the best of free New York City. read more about Top 10 Free Things to Do in NYC

Central Park

Central Park

  • 14 East 60th Street
  • The Central Park Conservancy
  • tel:+1 212 310 6600
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10022

The idea for Central Park was born in 1858, which a competition was held to choose a design for what would be the first public park built in America. The winners were Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, whose Greensward plan proposed an entirely man-made park that would be intended only for public use, as a refuge from the relentless rhythms of New York City's already overcrowded streets. It took more than 15 years and $14 million (the equivalent of about $200 million today) to build the Park, with its 843 acres and six-mile perimeter extending from Central Park West to Fifth Avenue and from 59th Street to 110th Street. Those 843 acres include 136 acres of woodlands, 250 acres of lawns, and 7 different bodies of water totaling some 150 acres.

Starting in 1980, a public-private partnership between New York City and the Central Park Conservancy restored and preserved Central Park, and attendance has only been rising in recent years. Now, more than 25 million visitors per year stroll its 58 miles of pedestrian paths, go horseback riding on 4.5 miles of bridle paths, bike or jog on its 6.5 miles of winding roads, or simply relax on the grass or on the nearly 9,000 benches provided. The famous Tavern on the Green restaurant - the location of the finish line for the New York City Marathon - was originally a sheepfold, housing the shepherd and the flock that grazed Sheeps Meadow until 1934. In nice weather, the still lush meadow now welcomes hordes of sunbathers, picnickers, and people-watchers, all of whom enjoy lounging underneath some of the only sky in Manhattan unmarked by tall buildings. Other special features of the park include the Central Park Carousel, the Marionette Theater, the Central Park Wildlife Center, the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, the Delacorte Theater, the Great Lawn, the Central Park Zoo, the Henry Luce Nature Observatory, Wollman Rink, Lasker Rink, the Loeb Boathouse, and the North Meadow. read more about Central Park

Shakespeare in the Park

Shakespeare in the Park

  • 81 Central Park West
  • Delacorte Theater
  • tel:+1 212 260 2400 (Box Office)
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10023
Staten Island Ferry

Staten Island Ferry

  • 1 Bay Street
  • Departs from the Whitehall Ferry Terminal at the southern tip of Manhattan
  • tel:+1 718 390 5253
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10301
Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

  • Off South Street Viaduct
  • Park Row, near Municipal Building
  • tel:212 484 1200 (Tourist information)
  • Visit website
  • New York, 11201

Opened in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States. It stretches 5,989 feet (1825 meters) across the East River and connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. At the time of its construction, it was the largest suspension bridge in the world and the first steel-wire suspension bridge. The bridge was designed by the New Jersey architect John Augustus Roebling, who died before construction began after he contracted tetanus from a wound sustained in a ferry accident during surveys for the bridge project. Built from limestone, granite, and cement, the Brooklyn Bridge is an example of Gothic-style architecture, with its characteristic pointed arches topping twin passageways through huge stone towers. Because Roebling designed a bridge and truss system six times stronger than he thought it needed to be, the Brooklyn Bridge is still standing, while many other bridges built around the same time have had to be replaced.

In the past, the inside lanes of traffic on the bridge carried the elevated trains of the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transport (BMT) Corporation from stations in Brooklyn to a terminal at Manhattan's Park Row. Streetcars shared the other lanes with other traffic until the elevated trains stopped using the bridge in 1944 and the streetcars moved to the center lanes. Six years later, the streetcars also stopped running, and the bridge was rebuilt to its present configuration, with six lanes of automobile traffic. A separate walkway runs along the centerline for pedestrians and bicyclists, and boasts some of the best views of the Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines. read more about Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Heights Promenade

Brooklyn Heights Promenade

  • Brooklyn Heights
  • Between Montague Street and Middagh Street
  • tel:+1 718 965 8900
  • Visit website
  • New York, 11201
Lower East Side Tenement Museum

Lower East Side Tenement Museum

  • 90 Orchard Street
  • (at Delancey Street)
  • tel:+1 212 431 0233 / +1 212 431 0714
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10002
New York Public Library

New York Public Library

  • Fifth Avenue
  • (between 40th and 42nd streets)
  • tel:+1 212 930 0800
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10016
Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal

  • 82 East 42nd Street
  • 42nd St. at Park Ave
  • tel:+1 212 340 3404
  • Visit website
  • New York, 99723

Often called Grand Central Station, this major transportation hub located on the corner of Park Avenue and 42nd Street serves commuters on the New York City subway as well as the Metro-North Railroad, which travels to Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess Counties in New York and Fairfield and New Haven counties in Connecticut. Aside from its importance as a transportation center, Grand Central Terminal is also one of New York's most durable landmarks, and a dramatic symbol of the hustle and bustle of the city. The decision to electrify New York's trains around 1900 meant that rail yard operations were moved underground and centered in a new, breathtaking Beaux-Arts terminal building, completed in 1913. Later, Grand Central was almost destroyed (the fate of the original Pennsylvania Station across town), but preservationists including Jacqueline Kennedy had it declared landmark in the mid-1960s.

Those approaching Grand Central Terminal from the south are rewarded with views of the building's impressive fašade, topped by a 13-foot clock. The clock features the world's largest example of Tiffany glass and is surrounded by huge sculptures of the Roman gods Hercules, Minerva, and Mercury. The interior of the terminal's main concourse is 120 feet wide, 375 feet long, and 125 feet high, and is covered with an impressive vaulted ceiling, painted like an evening sky, with gilded stars and constellations (part of a recent four-year-long renovation). Some 125,000 commuters pass through the terminal every day, in addition to some 500,000 visitors. read more about Grand Central Terminal

Bryant Park

Bryant Park

  • 42nd Street
  • Behind the New York Public Library, at Sixth Ave. btwn 40th and 42nd sts
  • tel:+1 212 768 4242
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10110
Battery Park

Battery Park

  • State Street
  • Battery Place
  • tel:+1 212 344 3491
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10280