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New York City is LIKE A THRILLING MOVIE! We want to experience every action and not miss a moment. Though it can seem to be very expensive since the tickets and bills can easily add up when you want to experience all the touristic sites and indulge in all glitz and glamorous experiences. 


I was very pleasantly surprised to discover an array of free and affordable attractions and things to do and experience in New York City. In fact over ¾ of my favourite memories were created by being open to new discoveries and indulging in these cheap/affordable activities and experiences. 


So based on my personal experience, I have compiled a ton exhausting list of 22 free & low-cost attractions and experiences to indulge in New York City:


  1. Take a ferry to Staten Island :

The Staten Island Ferry costs you absolutely nothing! The Island is the southernmost of New York City’s 5 boroughs. It is connected to Lower Manhattan via the Staten Island Ferry, which runs every 30 mins from the financial district in Manhattan across the New York Harbor; giving you a full close view of the Statue of Liberty. 


You can take the ferry in the day time and explore the island for hours; although it is recommended to take the ferry about half an hour before sunset, standing on the outside area at the back of the ferry for best views. The Staten Island houses a Zoo, the Snug Harbor Cultural Center, the Sept 11 memorial, a Botanical Garden featuring flower beds, Greek revival buildings, Staten Island Children’s Museum and art galleries. For more ideas on what to do in Staten Island, refer to 15 things you can do in Staten Island as written on Trip advisor website. 


  1. On your way back around the Battery: 

Walk inside the park left of the Ferry terminal to see the East Coast memorial, Giovanni Da Verrazano, Salvation Army and Visit the Castle Clinton National Monument and while heading out to Bowling Green you will see the Netherland Memorial and walk into the 1st public garden in NYC. If you’d like to explore a little bit deeper into the history of the battery, click here 


  1. Stop by for a picture catching the horn or boobs of the Charging Bull at Bowling Green, on Broadway avenue


  1. If you are into finance, definitely head toward the financial district and make a stop on Wall Street

Take a photo by the brave girl facing the New York Stock Exchange and simply observe the heart of the worlds largest financial centre. In this article, you will discover 10 things to do and see around wall street 


  1. Experience Time Square by foot and see all Iconic buildings:

I am sure you have seen this place in the movies; so live your movie scene by experiencing its iconic wonders by foot. From a glimpse into the bustle of the city to people hailing a cab; in fact, you can attempt to do one and pose for a picture with the NYC Yellow cap. Take a walk to the Ripley Museum, across the street is the broadway theatre, you may even see Brad Pitt across the street or take a photo with his dummy at Madame Tussauds. Live a moment in the mystical theme of Harry Potter, steer at gigantic ads on the TVs, sight famous street art masterpieces and see the ee from the Empire state building 

Looking for more idea on what to, check out these  17 things to do in Time Square written by Vacation idea


  1. Watch free step dance performances across NYC:

Street dance and musical performance are everywhere from the subways to the financial district: the rhyme of music and dance comes alive in NYC. Just be careful you don’t lose yourself in the moment and lose your purse. 


  1. Catch a free magical show in front of Ripley Believe or Not Museum 


  1. Visit the New York Public Library

Are you looking for a majestic and serene space to work or study from? Look no further than the New York Public library is the place to go; You don’t need any card to enter the library, get materials from shelves, sit down and read. You can also listen to free talks or even get some of your personal work done here. Cards are only required when you need to take books out and also to request an interlibrary loan. 


The library has the largest book collection in the United States you can also visit the original Winnie the Pooh. It has many interesting pieces including the hair of famous writers like Walt Whitman as a part of the collection in NYPL. 


For more information, visit https://www.nypl.org/


  1. Have a $1 Pizza 

Eating in New York does have to be expensive. I was heading to the Subway from Time Square when I saw a signage that advertised $1 PIZZA! I was curious and did not have any expectations for it; but to my surprise, it was pretty good, although the $1 pizza only has cheese on it you can add some toppings for less than $5. There are many places where you can find this $1 Pizza mostly close to many subway stations.


  1. Visit Iconic St Patrick Cathedral & Rockefeller Centre 

Have a thing for gothic architectural masterpieces?? Head to the largest decorated gothic-style Catholic cathedral in the United States which according to just fun facts mirrors the history of the city itself. 

Right across the Cathedral is a bonus Rockefeller centre which is the historic landmark for dining and shopping in the heart of Manhattan. For an extra $38 you can go on Top of the Rock, 70 floors into the sky and take in sweeping 360 degrees NYC view from their third indoor and outdoor viewing decks. 


  1. Experience art at the MOMO & visit the Socrates Sculpture Park

Every Friday all visitors can visit the Iconic Museum of Modern Art NYC from 5:30 – 9:00pm during UNIQLO Free Friday Nights. Your admission includes access to all galleries and exhibitions, other times it may include a specific film screening, but often that comes at an extra cost. Get in line on time at the Museums 54th Street entrance for a night of artistic ingenuity. I did not go to the museum during my stay however if you love art and are heading to NYC anytime soon; I highly recommend you make a worthy visit to the MOMA. 

For more information, visit the MOMA website; https://www.moma.org/


  1. Take the Subway from Grand Central Terminal and buy a drink  

Awkwardly cliche but do it anyway! 


  1. Read a book, grab some lunch, take a run or a run at Central park 


  1. Go shopping in Chinatown 

No -laces like this one in NYC, You’ve got to experience it by foot. The energy, the hustle, the culture and the vibe is just unique. Looking for a bargain? You will find it here; whatever you are looking for from groceries to unique ornaments, from pieces of jewellery to house furniture, from clothes to musical instruments; you will find an array of merchants inviting you in for a bargain. I even got some new pieces of mandarin inscribed earrings here. Plus its totally free to visit this commercial and residential centre of mostly Chinese and Asian descendants in the United States. 

  1. Experience bourgeois euphoria walking across Little Italy

Little Italy is just a walk from ChinaTown, don’t say I didn’t warn you, the smell of freshly cooked Italian pasta would draw you in to savour its taste in one of the many restaurants. If you don’t fall for the pasta, trust me you will for the gelato especially on a sunny day! So don’t walk around with an empty wallet. 


  1. Take a walk to Columbus park:Experience Chinese ancient musical performance and watch some pro poker and card players. This place is located close to Chinatown and it is about 15 mins walk to the Brooklyn bridge. 


  1. Walk on the famous Brooklyn Bridge

Can you say your trip to New York is complete if you haven’t been on the Brooklyn Bridge? I doubt! Lol just kidding but seriously it’s a timeless attraction that you must see at least once whenever you are in NYC. 

The bridge itself is beautiful and has magnificent views of the East River, the Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines. And the best part is that at the end of the bridge if you were coming from Manhattan, you will reach Brooklyn! This is where it’s all happening! You can explore Dumbo, one of the most vibrant and scenic neighbourhoods of Brooklyn.


  1. and afterwards, you should definitely grab a Brooklyn pizza or pack your own lunch and eat it at the Brooklyn bridge park. 


  1. Visit the Brooklyn heights is a coveted historic and charming neighbourhood. You will get to see brownstones and mansions, tree-lined streets and one the most beautiful NYC skylines from there.


  1. Get Fascinated by Architectural genius at the Westfield World Trade Centre

I have no words to describe this place. You simply need to make your way here to experience it. Just beside this architectural wonder is a long street full of Graffiti and street art with food trucks along the road making it a perfect place to grab a handy lunch! 


Across the Westfield World Trade Centre, you can see the 9 11 memorial and skip the line the expensive and long queue to go inside the memorial. But don’t forget to say a word of prayer to all the deceased victims. 


  1. Catch the Subway to unwind at the Coney Island


Since 1830 Coney Island has been attracting visitors from within and outside NYC as an attractive getaway that’s just the longest subway ride away. I must say I kept asking, are we not there yet? As it took over 1hr to arrive there from Manhattan. However, it was surely worth the long ride as it feels like different states all together! With its famous long walkway, hot dogs which you must try, several amusement parks, coney island cyclone, deno wonder wheel, Brooklyn Miniature Gold, there is so much to do in this place that will make you forget all the hustle of NYC. Grap early dinner and sit along with you to the beach as you watch the gorgeous sunset. 


  1. Experience VR at SAMSUNG 837 


I didn’t learn about this place until I left New York! But it would be selfish to keep the information to myself. So here it is ; 


How about taking a journey across the world and engaging in your favourite activity right in NYC? Located in the heart of the Meatpacking district, Samsung 837 is home to free virtual reality experiences for anyone to just show up and do without a reservation! You should check their site out for more details as I learnt that sometimes they screen movies on their 3 story screen which require a reservation but again cost $000. 


Have you been or lived in NYC? Have any more lists of awesome free attractions and activities in New York City? Share them in the comment below. Do you know anyone who has NYC on their bucket list? Send them this article!


Happy Travel! Or let’s say at this time, Happy daydreaming of Travels! Feed your wanderlust.

Africans Living Fully

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