metropolitan museum of art 620x348 Guide To The Best Free Places In New York

New York City is one of the most expensive cities in the world, but the fact that it’s an international cultural capital also means it’s not without its high-quality freebies. Following is a quick guide to some of the best free and nearly-free places in New York.

Admission by donation

Some of the greatest museums in the world ask you pay what you can (but remember every little bit helps!):

Free days

  • It’s worth standing on line to get into the Museum of Modern Art – on “Target” Fridays it’s really worth it: it’s free from 4 to 8 p.m.;
  • You can tour the beautiful grounds of the New York Botanical Garden all day Wednesday and on Saturday from 10 to noon;
  • A little gem is the Asia Society and it’s free Friday 6 to 9 PM;

Three other quintessential New York places that you can visit for free include:

Grand Central Terminal

Start with a walking tour of the historic train station on E. 42nd Street and Park Avenue in Manhattan. Free tours of this breathtaking 1903 terminal are given every Wednesday and Friday at 12:30 p.m. Do not miss Paul Helleu’s restored astrological mural gracing the arched ceiling of the main concourse, and the creepy and mysterious Whispering Gallery. Grand Central is a museum unto itself and a terrific break from the summer heat.

New York Public Library, Main Branch

While you’re in the neighborhood, stroll a few blocks west on 42nd Street to Fifth Avenue and visit the main branch of the New York Public Library. You’ll recognize the lions, Patience and Fortitude as well as the staircase which appeared in the movie Ghostbusters. Free one-hour tours begin at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Highlights include various temporary installations such as the Declaration of Independence and a Gutenberg Bible along with permanent exhibits in the Rose Gallery.

West Chelsea art galleries

Head uptown to the West Chelsea neighborhood (W. 17th to W. 27th streets between 10th and 11th avenues) to take in loads of free modern art by going gallery hopping with the hipsters. The new center of Manhattan’s art scene, Chelsea is home to many galleries that are open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and are very welcoming to appreciative visitors. Score some free wine and cheese by going on a gallery crawl Thursday nights around 7 p.m., when many galleries stay open late to host openings of new shows.


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