Give your weary wallet a rest. and enjoy free NYC
By Lucy Walters
The options are numerous and you could spend all day, all week, all month walking about in New York and still not get bored, seeing only a fraction of what the city has to offer. This list will guide you through some of the locations that can be easily overlooked such as Green-Wood Cemetery, Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, and the Manhattan Bridge. Each of these treasured spots tells a different, fascinating NYC story.
The list will also take you to must-see staples such as Central Park, African Burial Ground and the Staten Island Ferry. These locations are vital parts of New York history that will amaze and educate the inquisitive visitor. The architecture alone is mind boggling.
Hopefully this will also help you cover some solid ground on your trip, it's easy to get distracted by the big lights of Manhattan and forget the spectacular outer boroughs, each one is bursting with activity, culture and community presenting its own unique point of view.
A great resource for a first time visitor is "Free Tours by Foot". The tours offered cover numerous landmarks, interest points and neighborhoods with options by foot, bus or bike.
In fact, with so much great stuff to see for free you might as well leave your wallet at home...unless you fancy a jaunt to Madison Avenue where you can really do some damage to your bank account.
10 Free Tours By Foot
Free Tours by Foot is a group of sassy New Yorkers offering a wide range of tours for free! Dedicated to showing as many visitors as possible complimentary slices of the Big Apple, Free Tours by Foot is a great way to explore numerous neighborhoods. The variety is fantastic and you can take your tour by foot, bus or bike, they even offer a food tour. One of the highly recommended routes is the SoHo, Little Italy and Chinatown Tour, this will take you to some of Manhattans oldest districts. Also of note is the Manhattan Night Tour which highlights the incredible and unique Manhattan skyline, ((646) 450-6831)
9 Manhattan Bridge
For the best views in the city for free, scoot on down to the Manhattan Bridge, you can get on the bridge in Lower Manhattan at Canal Street. Walk across to the center of the bridge and take a gander at downtown, the Brooklyn Bridge, Freedom Tower and the Financial District. The Manhattan Bridge is seldom crowded, adding to the beauty of the experience. People go in droves to the Brooklyn Bridge, standing shoulder to shoulder, straining to see the views. On the Manhattan Bridge, opened in 1910, you will experience the breathtaking compositions you crave and have space around you to breath. This marvel of a structure is often overlooked but never fails to thrill. (n/a)
8 Central Park
This famed 843-acre rectangular park offers a variety of beautiful recreational opportunities amid the bustle of Gotham. Joggers, nature lovers and bikers use the park daily. Kids young and old enjoy riding the Friedsam Memorial Carousel (near 65th Street), and the Belvedere Castle (near 79th Street) affords great views of the city. The two and a half-acre Strawberry Field contains the black-and-white "Imagine" mosaic, a tribute to John Lennon, donated by the city of Naples, Italy. TRAIN: A, B, C, D to 59th St, 66th St-Lincoln Center, 72nd St, 81st St-Museum of Natural History, 86th St, 96th St, 103rd St, 110th St-Cathedral Pkwy; 2,3 to 110th St; N, R to 5th Ave (212-360-3456)
7 Staten Island Ferry
The best boat ride in the world! Leaving Manhattan, you gaze at the most enduring symbol of the city, the Statue of Liberty, ahead on the right, with the sleek Verrazano-Narrows Bridge dominating the left. Then you realize that skyscrapers are assuming postcard dimensions of grandeur behind you. It is New York, even America, at its best, a truly thrilling experience.The magnificence of the Brooklyn Bridge soon completes the view behind you on the right. And it's free! Once at the terminal on the Staten Island side, just grab a departing boat and enjoy the dramatic view in reverse. Hint: avoid the newer, faster craft with no outside deck. The Ferry Terminal on Peter Minuit Plaza is at the end of South and State Streets. TRAIN: 1 or 9 to South Ferry; N or R to Whitehall St/South Ferry.
6 The High Line
The High Line public park on the West Side of New York City is a refreshing stretch of wonderful greenery that makes you feel like you may have walked into some undiscovered, futuristic secret city. Built on a historic freight line, the park is elevated above the streets and designed to preserve its historic structure that was, at one point, set for demolition. Luckily for New Yorkers and visitors alike, the Friends of the High Line stepped in and saved this beautiful relic, transforming it into a gorgeous public space where flowers bloom each week in the summer months and the sundeck gives home to sunbathers eager to soak up the intense city rays. Scattered with unique food and drink vendors, the High Line is enjoyable any month of the year and is definitely worth a wander. ((212) 206-9922)
5 Old Stone House
The Old Stone House, located in popular Park Slope in Brooklyn, is a reconstruction of a Vechte-Cortelyou House that was destroyed in the 1800's. The Old Stone House is located in the recently renovated J.J. Byrne Memorial Park, an important location during the American Revolutionary War and the subsequent Battle of Brooklyn. The Old Stone House, part of the Historic House Trust of New York City, is now a vibrant cultural center offering exhibits, music, dance and theater programming and a whole host of special events. The permanent museum inside the house is open to the public all year round and displays historical artifacts and information that allows visitors to connect with Brooklyn history. The surrounding green space is a collection of native and indigenous plants with swings, climbing frames and sprinklers to endlessly entertain the kids while the adults breathe in the serene environment. Old Stone house is also surrounded by the best of Park Slopes local merchants and is a wonderful destination to visit on your way to an excellent brunch or dinner. (718.768.3195)
4 African Burial Ground
Established approximately in the 1690s and active until the late 1700's the African Burial Ground was the 6.6 acre site for burials of both free and enslaved people of African descent located in Lower Manhattan. Covered up and lost for countless years due to city development, the site was rediscovered in 1991 during construction planning for a Federal Office Building. Historians believe as many as 20,000 people may have been buried at the site and the excavation of the site and subsequent historical study highlighted the often overlooked history of African slaves in New York. The site was made a national historic landmark in 1993 and a memorial was created in 2003 dedicated to Africans of early New York and Americans of African descent. There is a visitor's center at the site which highlights African America history in New York City. ((212) 637-2019)
3 Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church
Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church was founded in 1857 by abolitionist preacher Theodore Ledyard Cuyler and has been a leading hub for community activism ever since. Established as a multi-racial, multi-cultural center for spiritualism, LAPC offers a truly moving piece of Brooklyn history to all of those who walk through its doors. The building itself is a grand, Gothic style structure which provides a stunning exterior but the interior is the real scene stealer. The sanctuary boasts the largest collection of Tiffany stained glass in Brooklyn and features murals added its upper wall 1970's portraying people from the Fort Greene community. The acoustics are also fantastic and LAPC regularly presents a vibrant program of free music including jazz, gospel and chamber ensembles. ((718) 625-7515)
2 American Folk Art Museum
Devoted to American Folk Art, this free museum is a must-see. Located right off Central Park West in the back drop of Lincoln Center, the American Folk Art Museum was founded in 1961 and has been building its formidable collection ever since. Praised for its diverse programming, the museum places emphasis on African American and Latino artworks and is a leader in presenting contemporary work by self-taught artists. In addition to its compelling visual art programming, the museum hosts a regular free music event on Wednesday and Friday afternoons featuring notable musicians across a broad spectrum of genres. On Saturdays the museum provides fun and interactive classes for kids ages 4 -14. (212. 595. 9533)
1 Green-Wood Cemetery
Visit Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. Founded in 1838 this gorgeous historical landmark is spread over 478 acres of undulating hills, secret pathways, valleys and lakes. Boasting around 600,000 permanent residents, Greenwood has the largest collection of 19th and 20th century mausoleums and is the final resting place of many legendary figures throughout history including Leonard Bernstein, Charles Ebbets, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Louis Comfort Tiffany. Make sure you grab a map on your way in, located between Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Borough Park, Kensington and Sunset Park, Green-Wood is vast and an easy place to get lost. The map will help you locate some notable points of the cemetery such as the Revolutionary War monument by Fredrick Ruckstull located at the highest point of the cemetery (also the highest point in Brooklyn) which provides a fantastic view of the New York Harbor and The Statue of Liberty. (718-768-7300)
About Lucy Walters
Lucy landed in New York City in 2002 and has been trying to try, taste and touch as much of it as she can ever since. Never one to shy away from adventure, she can be frequently found in the most opportune places taking part in a variety of activities ranging from cheese making to rock climbing, dancing to target practice. Lucy has an insatiable appetite for great food and a passion for live music making New York the perfect place for this cheeky British import.
Read more about Lucy Walters here.