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Free Things to do in New York City

Don’t let a tight budget keep your family from enjoying a trip to New York City. Try these eight free activities to keep your trip costs down.

1. Stroll around Central Park- Experience New York City like a local. Let your kids run on the playground or play Frisbee on the grass to let off some steam. There are many free sightseeing options in the park including the popular Alice in Wonderland Sculpture, the Nature Observatory’s displays about nature in the park, and Shakespeare’s Garden. Also stop by the Delacorte Music Clock, especially if you have younger kids. Instead of just striking the time, the clock plays a nursery rhyme each hour and half hour while toy animals circle the base.

2. Window shop- The shops of Fifth Avenue are a must-see, even if you stick to window-shopping (with children this will be much more relaxing than actually going into the store!). The shop windows will really captivate the kids if you’re here during the holidays, when many shops go all out to decorate.

3. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge-It used to be the longest suspension bridge in the world and has been featured in many movies and television shows. There’s no charge for walking across this majestic span and enjoying the views of the East River and New York City’s skyscrapers.

4. Take the kids to Grand Central Station- Even if you don’t have train tickets, go just to enjoy the bustle of the city and the gorgeous star-studded ceiling in the biggest railway station in the world. Go at rush hour if you want to fully experience the crowds.

5. Float by the Statue of Liberty- If you’re not interested in climbing the famous lady, take the free Staten Island Ferry from the Whitehall Terminal to Staten Island. The ferries leave approximately every half-hour, trip time is about 25 minutes. You’ll get great views of the Statue of Liberty and the New York skyline.

6. Visit the Bronx zoo- You can get in free on Wednesdays (donation is suggested) to see the gorilla forest, snow leopards, Tiger Mountain, Monkey House, Butterfly Zone and more.

7. Enjoy a free concert in the park- If you’re visiting the city in summer, you can catch a free concert by the New York Philharmonic or Metropolitan Opera. See the NYC tourism website (link below) for event listings.

8. Stroll around the grounds of the New York Botanic Garden- Admission (to the grounds only) is free all day Wednesday, as well as Saturday from 10 a.m.-noon. Depending on the season, you’ll see roses, tulips, chrysanthemums, azaleas, flowering cherries, and more. Also here are 50 acres of native forest, the Bronx River, and a waterfall.

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