We took a day trip to NYC from Philadelphia when we visited some friends.  It’s been years since I’ve visited (and the last time was with these same friends).  In preparation, I looked up things that were free.  Here are some of the things we did in the Big Apple, that won’t break the bank.

First, we decided to drive instead of take the train in.  The train would have cost $32 a person round trip, but if the four of us drove, we could park our car for $15-$30 a day.  There are plenty of parking garages, so this was cost-effective and meant we had more control over our time table.

So what did we do?

Walk around

Of course walking around is free.  However, people-watching is also free.  People from all different backgrounds and cultures, walking around the streets.  You can’t go wrong with a nice stroll and see the busy streets, the cool buildings.  If you just buzz past everything, you can miss it.

American Museum of Natural History

This museum is free, and it’s amazing.  I mean, they have multiple, large dinosaur skeletons.  Of course, the t-rex is on the fourth floor and we had to BOLT it to get to it before the museum closed, but it was great.  We didn’t pay anything, and we didn’t even have to check in to get a ticket.  You can just walk in and look around.  Plus, Ben Stiller is always there signing autographs!  Just kidding.

Central Park

We walked through here when walking from one site to the next, and it’s beautiful.  It had just snowed, so we got to see lots of families sledding down the hills, and being together.  The snow and ice made it for a really beautiful backdrop.  I loved seeing the buildings with the glow of the sun during sunset, that was a beautiful time to walk through.


St. Patrick’s Cathedral

I’ve been to St. John’s, so I was interested to see a different cathedral this time.  I loved this one.  Huge and beautiful.  People were very respectful of the silence, and I enjoyed seeing travelers from all over in the pews, some with their eyes closed praying.  It was a nice solace from the busy streets of NYC.


Trump Tower

We did not plan to come here, we stumbled here on accident.  We were looking for a Starbucks and following the GPS.  As we approached the building, we saw multiple men with machine guns outside the building, and a roped off area where tourists were snapping pics.  I thought we were approaching some third world country with the looks of the men in all black with guns.  However, we were able to just walk right in and go to the Starbucks.  The building is extremely tacky and outdated.  My first thought was, “Make America 1993 Again.”  I hope that place gets an update, because gaudy is just an understatement.

The MET

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (or the MET) allows you to “pay what you want.”  Their suggestion is $25 a ticket.  Well, that seemed a bit steep, so when she asked “what would you like to pay today?” We said $10 for the four of us.  Not bad.  The museum is so big, we barely scratched the surface, but I highly recommend the Egyptian area.  Some of that stuff is 1,000 older than Abraham and Moses!  Really puts things in perspective.

There are many more things that are free to do that we didn’t get a chance to.  There are a lot of possibilities, and I’ll just have to go back to see! 

Nina Thomas

Travel lover and writer

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