Manhattan New York – My Top Free Activities on Our To-Do List

Manhattan - BuildingsWhile planning our trip to New York for October of 2015, I was trying to find some cheaper things to see and do since NYC can be very expensive. With this in mind, I decided to look up some free Manhattan activities and events. Surprisingly I found quite a bit, but decided to only list the top ten things we are going to try to do depending on time. Enjoy, and let me know if you have a favorite.

Times Square

Manhattan - Times SquareThis is one of those places you hear about your whole life, and I can’t image visiting New York and not seeing it at least once during the day and once at night. I love lights and I can’t wait to see it all lit up. I heard that the skating rink at Rockefeller Center should be up too, so that will be incredible to see. During the day I had looked forward to seeing it when we go to see the taping of the Today Show! I hoped to get to see Al and Matt. Well it didn’t happen, but I hope to on a future visit. It is still a great place to stroll and look around. Make sure to check out the M & M’s Store while in the area.

Battery Park

Manhattan - Battery-ParkNamed after the cannons it once housed, Battery Park is now filled with monuments, memorials, gardens, sculptures and a farm-to-table café. I hear it’s a great place to relax and it has awesome waterfront views from the promenade. Gene is really looking forward to seeing it when we are running around lower Manhattan. Many say this is one of their favorite free Manhattan activities, with the best views.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Manhattan - St PatricksPresidents, movie stars, and business moguls are among past and present attendees of this legendary house of worship. Its intricate marble towers and building are a marvel of Gothic Revival architecture and a source of spiritual inspiration. Make sure to check out St. Patricks Cathedral while in the Rockefeller Center area.

Central Park

Manhattan - Central-ParkThis 843 acres park in central Manhattan is filled with free events, statues, people-watching, and sites like Strawberry Fields, an Imagine mosaic near the Dakota where John Lennon was killed in 1980 and the pond at the southeastern corner where Holden Caulfield kept turning to in The Catcher in the Rye. There is a lot of history in this park, and we plan to see as much of it as we can while there. Check their site for free tours of the park – Central Park Tours .

Manhattan Bridge

Manhattan - Manhattan-BridgeA suspension bridge that crosses the East River in New York City, connecting Lower Manhattan at Canal Street with Downtown Brooklyn at the Flatbush Avenue Extension. I heard it is a great bridge to walk as it is less crowded than the Brooklyn Bridge, and if you start on the Brooklyn side, it drops you off in Chinatown. Sounds like a great reward for walking the amazing Manhattan Bridge. p.s. it is one of my favorite bridges in NYC. 🙂 We didn’t have time to do it while in the city, but it’s still on our to-do list!

Grand Central Station

Manhattan - Grand Central StationThis Beaux-Arts train station is the city’s most spectacular point of arrival into Manhattan. It was built in 1913 and played an important role in the nation’s historic preservation movement. A couple of interesting facts: the station has 44 platforms, which is more than any other railroad station in the world, and the constellations on the Main Concourse ceiling are drawn in reverse as if seen from heaven. Apparently they have free tours every Friday at 12:30. It sounds like there is a lot of history in this place, so it is on our to-do list.

Brooklyn Bridge

Manhattan - Brooklyn-BridgeAn amazing icon of New York City, this bridge was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964. Can’t wait to see this bridge, and definitely look forward to walking from Brooklyn into Manhattan. After doing a lot of reading, I found out it is best to do it this way so you can see the amazing views of Manhattan as you come into the city, which includes a view of the Manhattan Bridge. This is high on my list as one of the best free Manhattan activities.

New York Public library 

Manhattan - New-York-Public-LibraryAt this century-old main branch of the NYPL, the  Stephen A Schwarzman Branch, you will find two massive Tennessee-marble lions, dubbed Patience and Fortitude which flank the main portal and have become the institution’s mascots. Once you enter the main building you will find a reading room fit for 500 patrons, a copy of the original Declaration of Independence, a Gutenburg Bible, and 431,000 old maps. We are lucky enough to be staying a couple of nights at the Hyatt Andaz hotel which is directly across from the library. I plan on taking one of the free tours they offer daily at 11 am and 2 pm Monday to Saturday & 2 pm Sunday.

September 11th Memorial

Manhattan - September 11 MemorialSadly, a trip to NYC now often includes a visit to The National September 11 Memorial. The Memorial’s twin reflecting pools are each nearly an acre in size and sit within the footprints where the Twin Towers once stood.  The memorial features the largest man-made waterfalls in North America and contains the name of every person who died in the 2001 and 1993 attacks. While there, make sure to see the “Survivor Tree”. They state that The Survivor Tree embodies our nation’s spirit of hope and healing, strength and resilience in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. This is something I really don’t want to see, but really want to go and pay respect to all those that lost their lives on that tragic and horrible day.

Staten Island Ferry

Manhattan - Staten Island FerryThis 24-hour ferry is considered by many New Yorkers as a lifeline for making their way from NYC’s southernmost borough, but it also has some of the finest views in the world. From the ferry, you can see the Governors Island to the east and Ellis Island and Lady Liberty to the west, as the Manhattan skyline recedes in the vessel’s wake. Sounds like something that is definitely worth the price of admission, lol  We did see the ferry going back and forth while in the area it looks like an adventure in itself, lol.

Manhattan SkylineHope you enjoyed reading about these free Manhattan activities and events. Let me know your favorites, as well as any suggestions I have missed. I will be happy to add them to our list the next time we are in the area. It is always fun to explore something new while traveling. Happy travels.


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