10 Family Fun Things to Do in New York City For FREE

1. Central Park: It is 8000 acres of greenery in the middle of a bustling city. This is my favorite place in NYC, if I happen to be in New York for my Birthday, this is where I always spend the day. There is plenty to see and do at Central Park. You can just stroll, which can be so romantic, almost any season of the year. If you are with the kids, during summer, you can sit at any of the grassy area and have a picnic, or play ball. There are benches all around the park underneath big oak trees, where you can sit and enjoy music from the local musicians, watch people dance on their roller blades, or just simply people watch. There are 2 children’s zoos: Tisch Children’s Zoo, and Central Park Zoo -which is free for kids under 3. If you don’t want t to go inside you can still enjoy watching the Seals and the Sea lions for free, who are visible from the outside. If your kids like to sail toy boats, there is a small pond just for this. For kids 6 and up, who like to bird watch, if you go by the Belvedere Castle they’ll loan you Binoculars, guidebook, map, and sketching pads. In the summer time, if you want to cool off by a fountain, there is a beautiful one. During winter, there are 2 ice skating rinks in the park.

2. Staten Island Ferry: It’s a great way to see the wonderful view of New York Harbor across a 5 mile stretch, in this 25 minute ride, as it goes from Manhattan to Staten Island back and forth. It’s free, you can’t beat that! This is one of the main means of transportation used by Staten Islanders to get to Manhattan, so try to avoid rush hours.

3. Times Square: Yes it is very touristy, but I’m still in awe with all the lights and building high advertising boards every time I see it. If you want to take a break from the glittering lights and go window shopping, you want to visit the multi-story Virgin Store, Toys R Us, Hershey’s, MTV etc. If you wish to go see a Broadway, the tickets can be purchased at a discounted price, up to 50% off, at the ticket booths with big TKTS signs on 42nd Street, on the day of the Show.

4. Rockefeller Center: If you can wake up early enough, the Today Show on NBC is hosted from the Rockefeller Plaza. We went there once with 3 month old Seth, even though it was pretty chilly that morning, I guess it was worth it being on TV for 2 seconds!! To see the view of New York from the observation deck at Top of The Rock, buy the Sunrise Sunset ticket, this allows you to visit the deck twice in the same day. If you still don’t want to spend that money taking the NBC Studio Tour or the Radio City Tour there is plenty to do in and around Rockefeller Center. My favorite thing to do is sit by the food court near a window overlooking the ice skating rink. Or, rather than pay the full $10 to $14 ice skating ticket price, go during lunchtime Monday – Thursday (excluding Holidays) between 11:30am to 1:00pm, and you can get in for just $5! The subway stop is right at Rockefeller Center, few levels down. The St. Patrick’s Cathedral Church is right across the street.

5. St. Patrick’s Cathedral: This 125 year old gothic style Catholic Cathedral built of white Marble has the most amazing architecture, stained glass windows, and marble sculptures. It is very peaceful, and gives you a sense of calm from the hustle and bustle right outside its door. After 9/11 a lot of people took solace visiting this tranquil cathedral.

6. Brooklyn Bridge: You can get an up and close look at one of the oldest suspension bridges in the country. It spans the East River connecting Brooklyn to Lower Manhattan. There is a water taxi you can take from here to Manhattan. You get a spectacular view of Manhattan from this side of the east River. It’s also nice to walk around Brooklyn Heights and look at all the beautiful Brownstone Homes.

7. South Street Seaport: Most recently, the evacuation scene for the Will Smith movie, I am Legend was filmed here. We just happened to be there while the filming was going on with thousands of extras. See, you never know what you will run into in New York! At Pier 17 Pavilion there is plenty of places to Shop and eat. It’s nice to sit by the window in one of the restaurants overlooking the river and Brooklyn. Or you can get this view from one of the decks. You might see and enjoy some street performer’s or live music during summer time. The South Street Seaport Museum comprises of 12 blocks of artifacts and collection of historic fleets. It shows the history of NYC as a port city. It’s quite a sight to see the skyscrapers, tall ships, and the Brooklyn Bridge, all in the same view.

8. Grand Central Station: The inside of the main concourse with high beautiful painted ceiling, tall arched windows, marble floors, is just as impressive as the outside design, with great sculpture of Hercules among others surrounding a 13 foot clock, and large Corinthian columns. It’s amazing how this hub connects all forms of transportation; it is the world’s busiest train station, with 150,000 commuters every day. On Wednesdays, and Fridays, at 12:30pm there is a free tour of the station.

9. Metropolitan Museum of Art: If you love art, and it’s never too early to start exposing your little one to this. The museum is free on 1st weekend of every month if you are a Bank of America customer, and have BOA debit, ATM, or credit card, under the Bank of America, Museum on Us program. We have visited and enjoyed more museums now than ever before, once our son was born.

10. Window Shop: As long as you are willing and enjoy walking, there are plenty of places to window shop in NYC. Take along your husband or boyfriend to 49th street Diamond district, walk on Fifth Avenue, or Upper West Side – By Columbus Avenue and Broadway. Sometimes just being there amongst all that, makes you feel like a million bucks!! Of course during the Christmas season, you want to take Window tour, with beautiful holiday themed displays at stores like Bloomindales, Barney’s, and Saks Fifth Avenue etc.

How has your experience been at some of the places mentioned above?

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