My family and I took a trip to New York from California at just the perfect time of year, late October. We had beautiful weather and stunning fall color!! I soon realized that all the attractions are very expensive, especially when you need 4 admissions. We needed to save somewhere!! I have compiled a list of the best free family friendly things that we enjoyed. I came about this by trial and error and some unnecessary steps…our poor feet! We saved money by staying outside of the city and riding the subways, but it is a lot of walking!! I hope this saves your feet and inspires you to see this iconic city!
The highlight for me was Central Park in upper Manhattan, because it is stunning and I love nature and beautiful bridges. I was enthralled with how the New York skyline met the beauty of nature.
It was so romantic with the moon on the horizon and the gondolas floating by.It is also entertaining, as we walked through there was a roller skate dance party complete with a man in a rainbow leotard getting down.
From there we walked to Times Square where the hustle and bustle of the people and city lights is captivating and a destination in itself. There are street performers and lots of little cheap souvenir shops. We had dinner at The Hard Rock Cafe and they had gluten free hamburger buns..SCORE! Definitely not free…but an experience! If you have the time to fit it in…the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a must see!! It is free admission although they advertise a suggested ticket price which is misleading. You give what you are able and after seeing how spectacular it is, you will want to give a nice donation (which is considered to be your admission fee). You can read about that here.
Riding the subway was such an experience and I loved the history of it like this authentic subway tile, which I installed in my kitchen after seeing the real deal!
I also loved just walking and taking in the architecture…some old and timeless Some new and equally impressive like the One World Trade Center building which is a site to see. This is also where you can take in the 9/11 memorial.
From here we made it to the Southern most tip of Manhattan near Battery Park. This is where you grab a FREE ride on the Staten Island Ferry. This was the highlight for my boys, they loved it!! It is a great way to catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty as well as the Manhattan skyline. Next up….walking the Brooklyn Bridge. This was so fun!!! It was quite a distance but we loved it. The bridge has amazing Gothic architecture and just the fact that it was built in 1875 is impressive. From the bridge the views are spectacular as well.So that is my list of the best free and family friendly things to see in New York City, we saw all of this in 2 days and spent nothing on admissions.
- Central Park
- Times Square
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art
- One World Trade Center and 9/11 Memorial
- Staten Island Ferry
- The Brooklyn Bridge
Just a few more tips that I have……
If you are planning a longer trip, upstate New York was spectacular with its fall color and quaint historic towns. Take a drive if you can, it won’t disappoint.
While we were on the east coast we wanted to make the best of it and so from New York we drove to Philadelphia, stayed a night there and saw the Liberty Bell. Then on the way to Washington D.C. we stopped for lunch in Baltimore and had crab cakes on the historic Fells Point waterfront.
We really loved Washington D.C. which is home to the Smithsonian Museums and Zoo which are outstanding and FREE! Here is the lobby of the Natural History MuseumWe were so happy that we fit this in and enjoyed all that D.C. had to offer!
I hope that you have a great trip too and save yourself some money in the process!