If you’re short on cash, where can you go for free fun in New York City? Fortunately, you have a lot of choices. From inspiring your children at the Museum of Modern Art to taking a ride across the East River on the Roosevelt Island Tram, there is a world at your fingertips and none of it will break the bank. Here is our top 10 list of fun things to do in New York City with the kids—all for free (or as close to it as you can get in Manhattan). Enjoy!
1. Your kids will love talking to each other in the Whispering Gallery at Grand Central Station. You can find the gallery just outside the Grand Central Oyster Bar.
2. Visit the Museum of Modern Art on Friday evenings between 4 and 8 p.m. when admission is free on Target Free Friday Nights, and have your children witness one of the world’s most prestigious modern and contemporary art collections.
3. Take a ride on the Roosevelt Island Tram for the price of a subway ride. It carries 125 people in its cabin every 15 minutes 250 feet above the East River. You and your children will gawk at the views of midtown Manhattan.
4. Sony Wonder Technology Lab is a four-story interactive technology and entertainment experience in the Sony Building on 56th and Madison. Your kids will love the video games, musical gadgetry, software, and interactive experiences.
5. Stroll The High Line, one of the newest and best sites in NYC, and completely free. Located near the meat packing district and Chelsea market, it’s a 1.45-mile (2.33 km) New York City park with gardens, lounge chairs, hosts nature walks, dance performances, art installations and more for children to explore.
6. Walk across Brooklyn Heights Promenade running from Orange Street to Remsen Street, where you can find the most dazzling view of downtown Manhattan. Kids can sketch drawings of the skyline, and look out and dream big.
7. If your children are old enough, wake up early and visit the “Today Show” or “Good Morning America” where you can stand outside for concerts and peek inside the windows as they tape. You can also sign up for tapings of “Live with Kelly and Michael,” “The View,” “Jon Stewart,” “Rachel Ray,” or game shows filmed in New York.
8. Head to Rockefeller Center to the Nintendo store to try out all the new games and then make your way over to the LEGO store for building fun.
9. No visit to New York is complete without a trip to Chinatown. Head to a restaurant on Mott Street for delicious noodles and wonton soup, and explore the area, introducing your children to a new culture along the way.
10. Enjoy the sights of the Big Apple. No admission required—just look around and look up for some of the best (and most photographed) views in the world.
– Holly Rosen Fink
Holly Rosen Fink is a mother, marketing consultant, writer and blogger for a number of sites, as well as her own, The Culture Mom.