11 Free NYC Attractions: Discover Hidden Gems on a Budget

foreign [Music] New York City the city that never sleeps ...

New York City the city that never sleeps
is one of the most trending and popular
tourist destinations in the world join
wonderfully lost as we explore the Big
Apple showing you the sights as well as
famous settings from your favorite
movies and TV shows watch until the end
to learn whether restaurants from
Seinfeld and friends are be sure to
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trending travel guides in less than 10
minutes what to do in New York City it
can be hard to know where to begin when
you visit New York because there is so
much to see and do luckily you'll find
the city easy to navigate with its
Street grid system so whether you come
with a plan in mind or just want to
wander around you'll be sure to see a
lot go to the top of the Empire State
Building where you can take in stunning
views of the skyline for movie fans
you'll recognize this iconic building as
the scene where Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan
met in Sleepless in Seattle and where
King Kong had his big fall next head to
Central Park where you can stroll
through the Lush Greenery while enjoying
an ice cream cone Central Park is at the
heart of Manhattan and you will see
incredible views of the city while
wandering through the park it is
beautiful year round Walk The High Line
and elevated Park built on a former
railroad track that offers a unique
perspective of the city or walk across
the iconic Brooklyn Bridge which offers
panoramic views of the city and the East
River you can't come to New York without
visiting Times Square a vibrant
commercial and entertainment Hub with
bright lights Billboards and street
performers while here taking a Broadway
show and sit on the famous red steps New
York City has some incredible museums as
well from the 911 Memorial Museum to the
Metropolitan Museum of Art which is home
to over 2 million Works many visitors
enjoyed taking the ferry out to see
Alice Island and the Statue of Liberty
where millions of immigrants pass
through on their way to America finally
you can't go wrong with the New York
City food tour the city is known for its
diverse food scene and this is a great
way to sample the best of the best that
the city has to offer where to stay in
New York City one of the biggest
questions when planning a trip to New
York City is where should I stay the
city is massive with close to 1 000
hotels in Manhattan alone not to worry
we'll narrow down the options for you
many tourists choose to stay in Midtown
Manhattan which is a central location in
the Heart of the City offering easy
access to popular tourist destinations
such as Times Square the Empire State
Building and Central Park you'll also be
right near 30 Rockefeller Center where
you can go ice skating in the winter
fans of the TV sitcom 30 Rock you'll
recognize this area as Tina Fey's
stomping grounds you can also stay in
lower Manhattan which is known as the
financial district Lower Manhattan is
where you'll find tourist attractions
like one World Trade Center and the
ferry to get to the Statue of Liberty if
you aren't tied specifically to
Manhattan you can also stay in the
boroughs Brooklyn is a trendy
neighborhood that offers a more relaxed
atmosphere compared to the bustling City
Center it is also home to the Brooklyn
Bridge Park Brooklyn Zoo and the
Brooklyn Museum it's chock full of shops
restaurants and bars to enjoy you can
also check out Queens a diverse
neighborhood with a variety of cultural
attractions such as Moma PS1 and the
naguchi museum if you've ever seen the
show King of Queens you'll recognize
this Borough as Doug and Carrie
hefferman's when choosing a hotel
consider your budget Midtown Manhattan
and Lower Manhattan have a range of
luxury hotels while Brooklyn and Queens
offer more affordable options regardless
of where you stay you'll be sure to have
an amazing time but more importantly
what will you eat while in New York keep
watching to find out what to eat in New
York City New York City is a food lovers
Paradise offering a diverse range of
Cuisines and dining experiences to suit
every taste and budget while here you
must try some famous New York style
pizza which has a thin crust and comes
in oversized slices some of the city's
most popular pizzerias include
lombardies difara and Patsy's bagels are
another popular New York staple you can
find bagels of all flavors and styles
typically served with cream cheese locks
or other toppings try a bagel from Essa
Bagel Russ and Daughters or H H bagels
or visit Bantam bagels for their famous
mini stuffed Bagels if you're looking
for fine dining New York City is home to
a range of high-end restaurants offering
all types of international cuisine some
of of the city's most famous restaurants
include per se Le bernadin and 11
Madison Park finally you can't visit New
York City without having Chinese food
the city has some of the best in the
country with a range of options from
Sichuan to Cantonese try a traditional
dim sum brunch at jingfong or golden
unicorn New York City is famous for its
street food offering a range of options
such as hot dogs pretzels and street
vendor Specialties like Falafel and
kebabs you'll also find plenty of delis
offering a range of classic sandwiches
such as pastrami corned beef and BLTs
some of the city's most famous delis
include Katz's Delicatessen Carnegie
Deli and 2nd Avenue Delhi for any
Seinfeld fans out there you can visit
the deli from the show it's called Tom's
Restaurant and it's located on the upper
west side if you're a fan of the show
Friends you'll also want to head to
Greenwich Village to eat at The Little
Owl this is the restaurant Central Perk
was in the show make sure to hit that
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foreign foreign

Welcome back to Wanderfully Lost, the ultimate family travel planning community for families that love wandering as much as we do! For today’s blog, we’ll dive into the heart of the Concrete Jungle, New York City. And that too, on a short budget.

From expansive urban retreats to jaw-dropping architecture, get ready for 15 wallet-friendly escapades that will etch the Big Apple into your memory.

Before you get lost in our blog, be sure to browse our Wanderful Storefront for all our favorite travel products, gear and must haves!

This post includes affiliate links. It’s super important for us to be transparent with our Wanderers! If you click on one, we may receive a small, but wanderful commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for WANDERING with us!

1. Central Park

Central Park is the beating heart of Manhattan, an oasis of tranquility amidst the city’s constant motion. This sprawling expanse of greenery, stretching across 843 acres, speaks volumes to the iconic landscape of NYC, bustling with nature and urban life.

Come spring time, Central Park offers a delightful escape to enjoy picnics surrounded by delicate cherry blossoms. Fall cloaks the park in all of its russet and gold splendor. Winters are also a sight for sore eyes with everything enveloped in snow. Wander along the long, winding paths, take in the scenic views from Bow Bridge, and find solace beside Bethesda Fountain.

Fancy some Shakespeare while you’re at it? The Delacorte Theater, nestled within the natural splendor of Central Park, plays host to Shakespeare in the Park, an annual theatrical tradition. This beloved event offers free performances of Shakespearean classics and contemporary works. The open-air setting, surrounded by trees and starlit skies, creates a magical ambiance that enhances the theatrical experience. Securing tickets may require some patience, but the opportunity to witness world-class performances in this enchanting setting is well worth the wait.

The Central Park is an urban sanctuary that invites both locals and visitors to escape the clamor of the city.

2. Grand Central Terminal

In the heart of the Big Apple, there’s a marvel that is older than time itself – Grand Central Terminal. More than just a transit hub, it’s a living piece of history, an architectural gem, and a treasure trove of stories waiting to be heard.

Look up, and you’ll be greeted by a celestial masterpiece, the Grand Central Sky Ceiling, is a breathtaking work of art that portrays the constellations in exquisite detail.

For history enthusiasts, the New York Transit Museum Gallery Annex and Store is a must-visit. Located in the terminal’s shuttle passage, this museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the evolution of the city’s transportation system.

Feel like you need a breather in the middle of all that city hustle and bustle? Head over to Vanderbilt Hall. It’s this huge space that keeps changing its art exhibitions. Perfect for folks who love a bit of peace and quiet in the middle of all the action.

And before you dash off, make sure to take a peek at the fancy four-faced brass clock sitting on top of the info booth.

3. The High Line in Chelsea

This one’s an original NYC favorite! The High Line in Chelsea weaves a vibrant tapestry through the cityscape. Transformed from an abandoned railway, this elevated greenway offers an intimate connection to the city.

As you stroll along its path, you’ll encounter art installations, pockets of greenery, and breathtaking views of Chelsea’s architecture. From the High Line, you can gaze upon the city from a unique vantage point, a perfect blend of urban exploration and natural serenity.

Nearby, you can find a host of art galleries. The best art scenes line along 10th and 11th Avenues. Thursday nights are a prime time to explore the numerous galleries that line the streets.

From contemporary works to avant-garde installations, Chelsea’s art spaces offer a diverse range of creative expressions. The district’s industrial-chic ambiance provides a fitting backdrop for these artistic endeavors. Whether you’re a seasoned art aficionado or a curious observer, Chelsea’s galleries promise a rich and engaging experience.

Fun Tip – While the High Line is a well-known elevated park, head to the Greenbelt Native Plant Center in Staten Island for a lesser-known but equally enchanting experience. This green oasis offers walking trails, lush vegetation, and serene views of New York Harbor.

4. Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge is an architectural marvel that spans the East River, connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn. A pedestrian walkway allows visitors to traverse this historic bridge, offering unrivaled views of the Manhattan skyline.

As you journey across its expanse, you’ll witness the urban tapestry from a unique perspective, capturing the essence of the city’s spirit. The Brooklyn Bridge stands as an enduring symbol of unity, resilience, and the enduring spirit of New York.

If you want to explore nearby areas, the options are endless – but one stands out. While it might seem unusual, Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn offers fascinating tours. This historic burial ground is not only the resting place of notable figures but also features beautiful landscapes, sculptures, and a stunning view of Manhattan. It’s a serene escape from the city’s hustle and bustle.

Want to experience authentic New York City? Join the locals in the tradition of “stoop sitting.” In neighborhoods like Brooklyn Heights or Carroll Gardens, many residents gather on their stoops to socialize. It’s a great way to soak in the neighborhood vibe and strike up conversations with friendly locals.

If you are enjoying this, you might also like our guide to Things to Do for Free in Las Vegas.

5. Washington Square Park

Nestled in the heart of Greenwich Village, Washington Square Park pulsates with life and history.

Its iconic arch, reminiscent of the Arc de Triomphe, forms a striking centerpiece for this tourist-favorite location. The park’s vibrant atmosphere is enhanced by the eclectic mix of musicians, artists, and locals who gather here.

Surrounding historic buildings, including the New York University campus, add an air of academic charm. Washington Square Park serves as a hub for cultural gatherings, impromptu performances, and peaceful respites amidst the city’s pace.

6. The Oculus

The Oculus, located within the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, stands as an architectural marvel and a poignant tribute to the events of 9/11.

This transportation hub seamlessly blends modern design with elements of remembrance. The Oculus also houses a shopping center, where visitors can explore a myriad of stores. Within this space, you can reflect on the resilience of the human spirit while being immersed in the energy of a bustling urban center.

7. Little Island NYC

Perched on the Hudson River, Little Island is a contemporary marvel built on 132 pillars, creating the illusion of a floating park. Its unique design offers unparalleled waterfront views, providing a tranquil escape from the city’s hustle and bustle.

The park’s winding pathways, lush greenery, and vibrant amphitheater create a space for artistic expression and communal gatherings. Little Island NYC is a symbol of the city’s dedication to innovative public spaces, inviting visitors to revel in its beauty and serenity.

8. Gantry Plaza State Park

In Long Island City, Queens, Gantry Plaza State Park stands unrivaled in its glory with breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline.

Set against the backdrop of the East River, this park spans 12 acres, offering a tranquil escape from the urban clamor. Its riverside promenade provides a serene setting for leisurely strolls and moments of reflection.

The iconic Long Island sign and the Pepsi-Cola sign add a touch of nostalgia, creating an atmosphere that blends urban charm with natural splendor.

9. Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center is a multifaceted destination that encapsulates the vibrancy of New York City. While it’s renowned for its annual Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony, the center is a year-round hub of activity.

Visitors can explore art installations, indulge in shopping experiences, and revel in the dynamic atmosphere. With its proximity to Radio City Music Hall, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, and a host of dining options, Rockefeller Center stands as a microcosm of the city’s eclectic offerings.

And here’s a fun tip from the locals themselves – Go to the Financial District if you are near the Rockefeller Center. Here, Elevated Acre is a hidden oasis offering spectacular views of the East River and the Brooklyn Bridge. Accessible via a secret entrance on Water Street, it provides a tranquil escape from the city’s commotion, making it a perfect spot for a peaceful afternoon.

10. Staten Island Ferry

For a cost-free voyage that offers stunning views, embark on the Staten Island Ferry. This iconic mode of transportation provides a front-row seat to the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline.

The gentle sway of the ferry and the crisp sea breeze create a sensory experience that’s uniquely New York. Whether at sunset or under the glow of city lights, the ferry journey promises to be a nautical adventure that leaves a lasting impression.

11. The Flatiron Building

The Flatiron Building, with its iconic triangular shape, graces the intersection of Broadway and Fifth Avenue.

While entry into the building is restricted, its presence in the Flatiron District is a sight to behold. The building’s distinctive architecture has made it a beloved landmark in the city. Surrounding Madison Square Park offers a picturesque backdrop, making this area a must-see for architecture enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

Fun Tip – Near Midtown East, Greenacre Park is a pocket-sized oasis featuring a stunning 25-foot waterfall, lush greenery, and seating areas. It’s an ideal spot for a peaceful break or a moment of reflection in the heart of the city.

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Remember, in the city that never sleeps, the best things in life are often free. So, go on, let your adventure in the Big Apple begin! Lace up your walking shoes, soak in the energy, and let the heart of New York City reveal its hidden treasures.

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