Free Things to Do in New York City with Kids: Save up Later for the Fancations

Kids love baseball, but tickets to Yankee Stadium are sadly very expensive; Citi Field is less pricy but the Mets aren't nearly as exciting. So... I offer an alternative for you as you figure out how to save up for the NYC Fancations that I'll tell you more about later.

If you think everything in New York costs too much, well, you're right—almost. In fact, the city has tons of free attractions and activities; you just need to know where to look for them. Choose from my list of favorite freebies for families.

** Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge (or part of it) for a spectacular view of the Financial District, Brooklyn, the seaport, and Manhattan.Ride the Staten Island ferry (and back) to see the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the southern tip of Manhattan from the water.

** Catch a free outdoor movie screening in Bryant Park (Manhattan) or at the Socrates Sculpture Garden (Queens) in summertime.

** Wander Battery Park City's waterfront promenade; the breeze, fun parks and playgrounds, and passing boats will make you forget you're in the gritty city, though the view of the Statue of Liberty will remind you that you couldn’t be anywhere but New York.

** Watch wannabe trapeze artists swing and soar at the Trapeze School New York along the Hudson River at Pier 40.

** Island Hop to Governors Island by ferry. It’s Manhattan’s newest park setting and you can bike, take a tram ride, and absorb the great views of the city.

** Go catch-and-release fishing at Harlem Meer with free poles and bait to borrow from the Dana Discovery Center.

** Taste the treats at the Union Square greenmarket (Mon., Wed., Fri., Sat.), where farmers offer samples of organically grown produce, hand-pressed ciders, artisanal cheeses, and fresh bread.

** Stroll the Coney Island boardwalk and play on the beach for some old-school kitsch. Annual free events here include the outrageous Mermaid Parade and the Fourth of July hot-dog-eating contest.

** Check out the street performers around New York's parks: break-dancers in Union Square and by Central Park’s Bethesda Fountain, nutty unicyclists in Washington Square, and Statue of Liberty clones in Battery Park Musicians and entertainers in the subway are better than you’d expect—to perform, they must first be vetted by committee.

** Smell the cherry blossoms in spring at the Central Park Conservatory; or visit any other time for gorgeous, gorgeous flowers, and idyllic gardens.

** Attend a storytelling hour at one of the city's kid-friendly bookstores like Barnes & Noble, Borders or Books of Wonder. FAO Schwarz has them, too.

** Visit a Museum for Free – Look online or grab Time Out New York to find your favorites. Many, many, many offer hours, days, or nights when admission is free for all.


  1. Thank you so much for these great ideas. We're always looking for things to do that we don't have to buy tickets for!

  2. Jenna, I'll keep adding more, promise!


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