New recipes

20 Most Iconic Tourist Attractions in New York City (Slideshow)

20 Most Iconic Tourist Attractions in New York City (Slideshow)

New York City is full of famous locations and landmarks, but the following 20 are easily the most iconic

Shutterstock/ Marco Prati

American Museum of Natural History

Shutterstock/ Marco Prati

Broadway

They say the neon lights are bright on Broadway and they say there’s always magic in the air… and they’re right! Well, we can’t guarantee the magic part, but the neon lights are totally a thing. While the average tourist might not be impressed by the endless entertainment options on the most famous street for plays and musicals in the world, theater enthusiasts will always remember the overwhelming feeling of their first trip. Looking to see a show? Whether you see Wicked, The Lion King, Aladdin, Jersey Boys, Cats, Chicago, The Phantom of the Opera, The Book of Mormon, or Hamilton (good luck with that!), you really can’t go wrong.

Click here for details on the new Hamilton-inspired beer from New York’s Gun Hill Brewing Company.

Brooklyn Bridge

Carnegie Hall

New York City is also home to Carnegie Hall, one of the most famous concert venues in the world. Built in 1891 by architect William Burnet Tuthill and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, some of the most iconic performers in history — from Tchaikovsky to Louis Armstrong to the Beatles — have played there.

Music can apparently make your beer taste better. Click here for the story.

The theater is located on 7th Avenue between 56th and 57th streets. Want to know the best way to get to Carnegie Hall, according to an old adage? Practice.

Central Park

Central Park is more than just the home of the creepy pigeon lady from Home Alone 2 that ended up being integral to Kevin McCallister’s escape from the Sticky Bandits — there are also a few places inside worth seeing. Beatles fan? You’ll want to check out Strawberry Fields, a “Garden of Peace” funded by Yoko Ono, the widow of John Lennon, who was murdered outside of the nearby Dakota building in 1980.

Click here for 15 Beatles-inspired restaurants across America.

Like literature? The famous Strand bookstore has a kiosk in Central Park at 60th Street and 5th Avenue, and there are Alice in Wonderland and Hans Christian Andersen sculptures on the east side of the park between 72nd and 75th streets. For more active pursuits, boats are available for rent at the famous Loeb Boathouse or you can stroll around the Central Park Zoo at a rate of $12 for adults and $7 for children.

Chrysler Building

Situated on the East Side of Manhattan at the intersection of 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue, the 1,046-foot-tall Chrysler building was once the world’s tallest building. Although it only held the title for 11 months before getting passed by another member of this list in 1931, the iconic Art Deco-style skyscraper is still regarded as one of the finest buildings in New York City and the entire country. Interestingly, although it was once the headquarters of the Chrysler Corporation, the company never owned the building, as Walter P. Chrysler paid for it himself in order to pass it on to his children. Unfortunately, tourists can no longer ascend to the top, and will have to settle for visiting the lobby or viewing the building from afar.

For the best view, grab a drink at Bar 54 on the rooftop of the Hyatt Times Square.

Coney Island

Coney Island is a peninsular neighborhood located in the southwestern part of Brooklyn, most famous for its amusement park (Luna Park, home of the 89-year-old Cyclone roller coaster), boardwalk, and being the home of the original Nathan’s Famous hot dog joint, which was established in 1916 and is the site of the annual hot dog eating competition.

Click here for more about Nathan’s and 74 more of the best hot dogs in America for 2016.

To the surprise of many, Coney Island has survived numerous financial ups and downs, as well as attempts of developers to get rid of the amusement park rides throughout the years — including efforts by Fred Trump (Donald Trump’s father), who, in the 1960s and 1970s, tried to bulldoze the rides and replace them with condominiums. (Ruining everyone’s lives is clearly in the Trump DNA.) Hurricane Sandy also destroyed much of the region in 2012, forcing massive renovations to take place. Take the D, F, N, or Q subway lines to the end to see and enjoy Coney Island while you can, before it washes away or President Trump decides to complete his dad’s unfinished business.

Ellis Island

If your ancestors arrived in America between 1892 and 1954, they likely passed through Ellis Island. During that time, the island was the country’s busiest immigrant inspection station and it admitted more than 12 million people.

Click here to read about a couple of restaurant customers who left an anti-immigrant message in lieu of a tip.

Interestingly, after more than 100 years of being thought of as part of New York State, a 1998 United States Supreme Court decision found that most of the island is actually located in New Jersey. Although most of Ellis Island had to be closed for repairs following the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, it has since been renovated and reopened. You’ll have to fork over $18 for the ferry ride over ($9 for children 4–12), but this fee also includes complimentary audio and ranger-guided tours, as well as transportation and access to the Statue of Liberty and its pedestal.

Grand Central Terminal

With all the hustle and bustle of the transit hub known as Grand Central Terminal (or Grand Central Station), it’s easy to forget about the location’s history and significance. Grand Central was built way back in 1871 and now covers a whopping 48 acres of space — including 44 train platforms, more than 100 tracks, and a basement dining concourse — and sees more than 20 million visitors every year.

Click here for more information about the Grand Central Dining Concourse and 49 more of the best food halls in America for 2016.

Although you’ll likely be in the way of many commuters, be sure to take time to look up during your visit. On the outside, there’s the famous Glory of Commerce statue featuring Hercules, Minerva, and Mercury, and a 13-foot-tall clock containing the largest example of Tiffany glass. On the inside, be sure to check out the four-faced brass clock on top of the information booth and the astronomical ceiling conceived by French portrait artist Paul César Helleu and executed by James Monroe Hewlett and Charles Basing.

Katz’s Delicatessen

We felt the need to include at least one iconic food spot in this list, and they don’t get much more famous than Katz’s Delicatessen on East Houston in the Lower East Side (home of the famous “I’ll have what she’s having” restaurant scene from When Harry Met Sally).

Is Katz’s planning to open a location in Brooklyn? Click here for the answer.

Established in 1888, the deli features an extensive menu, but you won’t need it. Order a sandwich of either pastrami or corned beef, and that’s all you really need to know. Oh, and don’t lose your meal ticket. That’s important, too.

New York Stock Exchange

Shutterstock/ Stuart Monk

Located on the corner of Wall Street and Broad Street, the New York Stock Exchange is the world’s largest stock exchange by market capitalization of its listed companies. Founded in 1792, the building has been affected by numerous historical events in its 224 years. In 1920, a bomb exploded on Wall Street that killed 33 people and injured 400; the crash of Oct. 24, 1929 ushered in the Great Depression of the 1930s; the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks closed the NYSE for four days; and flooding from Hurricane Sandy closed it for two in 2012.

Did you know Krispy Kreme was founded in the middle of the Great Depression? Click here for 14 more facts about this doughnut dynasty.

Tours are no longer conducted inside the building, but there are plenty of good photo opportunities outside. If you’re in the area, be sure to check out the adjacent Federal Hall National Memorial, where George Washington took the Oath of Office as our first president in 1789.

One World Trade Center

After the tragedies of Sept. 11, New York promised to bounce back stronger than ever — and it delivered. In addition to continuing to be the center of commerce and culture in the world, the city constructed a 1,776-foot-tall tower that opened in 2013 and is not only taller than the original Twin Towers, but is now the tallest building in the entire Western Hemisphere. The One World Observatory is now open to tourists for a cost of $34 for adults, $28 for children. While around the WTC complex, consider a visit to the 9/11 Memorial Museum as well ($24 for adults, $15 for kids).

Click here to read the controversial 9/11 joke posted by a server who waited on George W. Bush.

Radio City Music Hall

Shutterstock/ Sean Pavone

The enormous neon marquees of Radio City Music Hall are worth checking out, even if you don’t have tickets to see the famous Rockettes of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.

Click here to see the Radio City Santa Claus’ guide to Christmas in NYC.

After all, the venue on Sixth Avenue between 50th and 51st streets was once the leading tourist destination in the city. The 6,015-seat theater opened in 1932 and in addition to countless performances, it has also played host to events such as the Grammy Awards, Tony Awards, Daytime Emmy Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, and the NFL Draft.

Rockefeller Plaza

Shutterstock/ Kamira

Since you’re already at Radio City, duck around the corner and see the rest of Rockefeller Center, including the famous ice skating rink, the famous gold sculpture and Statue of Atlas, the iconic Christmas tree (if your visit around the holidays), and, if you’re not afraid of heights, the Top of the Rock observation deck ($32 for adults, $26 for children).

Click here for the best restaurants near Rockefeller Center.

If you’re really lucky, you might also get the opportunity to see a taping of shows such as Today, Saturday Night Live, or The Tonight Show.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Statue of Liberty

As we previously mentioned, you can visit the Statue of Liberty (and ascend the pedestal) with the purchase of an Ellis Island ferry ticket, so seeing both is quite easy. If you want to climb further up the 130-year-old statue and visit the crown, it will only cost an additional $3 per adult or child.

Click here for a list of the most patriotic destinations in every state.

Just be sure to set aside a couple hours, as it will take a while to hit all 354 stairs in cramped conditions. If you want to save some time and money, opt for a free ride around the bay on the Staten Island Ferry instead, which will provide plenty of photo-snapping opportunities.

The Empire State Building

Standing 102 stories and 1,454 feet high, the Empire State Building is one of the most famous skyscrapers in the entire world.

Click here for a list of the 10 most iconic skylines in the world.

This is likely due to the fact that it was the tallest building for nearly 40 years, in the time between its completion in early 1931 and the topping out of the original World Trade Center’s North Tower in late 1970. Like the Chrysler Building, the ESB also features distinctive Art Deco-style architecture. Unlike the Chrysler Building, tourists can still go all the way to the top — if they’re willing to part with $52! The ticket includes an audio tour and access to the open-air deck and all exhibits. The skyscraper is located on 5th Avenue between West 33rd and 34th streets.

Times Square

Also known as The Crossroads of the World (officially Broadway between 42nd and 47th streets), Times Square is a major commercial intersection and neighborhood in Midtown Manhattan. Of course, you probably already know this, as TS is arguably the most popular tourist destination in the entire city. Formerly a bit of a seedy area filled with go-go bars, sex shops, and peep shows, Times Square is now family-friendly (save for the Naked Cowboy and the topless “desnudas” ladies posing for photos with tourists) and includes attractions like Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, the Disney Store, M&M’s World, and chain restaurants such as Planet Hollywood, The Hard Rock Cafe, and Bubba Gump Shrimp Company.

Click here for 9 things you didn’t know about Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

United Nations

Yankee Stadium

Shutterstock/ eddtoro

It may not be the original House That Ruth Built, but that doesn’t change the iconic status of Yankee Stadium.

Who serves better food: Yankee Stadium or Citi Field? Click here for our answer.

In fact, the new venue (built in 2009 after the demolition of the original) is a clear tribute to the old, with the iconic white frieze façade still lining the upper deck and the limestone exterior mirroring that was used back in 1923. We’d definitely recommend trying to catch a baseball game during your visit, but the stadium also hosts regular soccer matches and occasional concerts, football games, and hockey games from time to time too, and even has NYY Steak and Hard Rock Cafe locations that are open year-round.


Forty free attractions in New York City

There is a lifetime of fun to be had without ever handing over a cent.

Seeing the bulk of New York City's biggest attractions can mean spending a hefty chunk of a trip's budget on tickets. Empire State Building? $20. The Met? $20. The Guggenheim and Whitney go for $18 each. Even the Frick is $15. But there is a lifetime of fun to be had without ever handing over a cent, and not just by taking on park trails, bike paths or window browsing. (Plus some ticket-admission spots have free times too – see the end of the story.)

Free New York travellers, get busy!

1. African Burial Ground
One of Lower Manhattan's most fascinating, and controversial, stories of recent years circulates around the new African Burial Ground National Monument site. It began when a construction project in 1991 uncovered a burial ground of slaves - more than 400 caskets were found - from an age when New York had more slaves than any American city outside Charleston, South Carolina. Outside you can see part of the site now enveloped by buildings, and the compact visitors centre does a masterful job at retelling African-American history in the city. See Lonely Planet's 76-Second Travel Show episode on the museum's opening.

2. Brooklyn Brewery tours
Free Saturday tours of Williamsburg's Brooklyn Brewery run half an hour from 1 pm to 4pm.

3. Central Park
It does not take brilliant travel minds to tell you that a park is free to visit - most parks are. But most parks are not Central Park, Manhattan's famed claim to thinking ahead (even if it was designed in the 1860s to boost real-estate value uptown). It 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. Another site is "the Pond", at the southeastern corner, where Holden Caulfield kept turning to in "The Catcher in the Rye", wondering where those ducks go when it is cold. (For the answer, watch this video.)

4. Chelsea galleries
New York's most concentrated area for a gallery crawl is in Chelsea, mostly in the 20s streets between 10th and 11th avenues. Check Gallery Guide or westchelseaarts.com for listings. All are free, no pressure to buy. And try timing for wine-and-cheese openings on Thursday evenings.

5. City Hall
Home to New York City's government since 1812, City Hall tours take in its cupola-topped marble hall, the governor's room as well as the spot where Abraham Lincoln's coffin lay in state briefly in 1865. Tours must be reserved in advance.

6. Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) Museum
It is always Fashion Week in the FIT Museum, which features rotating exhibits by students and a surprisingly interesting and detailed collection of the country's first gallery of fashion, picked from a collection of 50,000 garments dating from the 18th Century to present.

7. Federal Hall
Two presidents were inaugurated in New York City, beginning with the first "Dubya", George Washington, who took the oath in Federal Hall in 1789, back when New York was the first capital. (Chester A Arthur was the second.) There is a nice statue outside, overlooking the New York Stock Exchange across Wall Street, and a small, recently renovated museum on post-colonial New York inside.

8. Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Reserve at least a week ahead (sometimes a month!) to visit the Federal Reserve Bank. It is most rewarding just to ogle the facility's high-security vault - useful considering more than 10,000 tons of gold reserves reside here, 80 feet below ground. There are also exhibits on counterfeit currency as well as a serious coin collection of the American Numismatic Society. A tour is the only way to get in.

9. Forbes Collection
The lobby galleries of Forbes magazine have some various curios from the late Malcolm Forbes' collection, most notably early versions of Monopoly boards. (Or watch Lonely Planet's tour of Monopoly sites around the properties' namesakes at Atlantic City, New Jersey.)

10. General Ulysses S Grant National Memorial
Also called "Grant's Tomb", the $600,000 granite structure that holds the remains of the Civil War hero and 18th president (and his wife Julia) is the largest mausoleum in the US, and is patterned after Mausolus' tomb at Halicarnassus, making it a plagiarized version of one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

11. Governor's Island
The ferry to Governor's Island is free, as is access to the 172-acre island which opened to the public only in 2003. There is a 2.2-mile bike path, mini golf, a picnic area, plus military sites such as Admiral's House and a "ghost town" of sorts at Nolan Park.

12. Grand Central Partnership Walking Tours
Two historians lead free 90-minute walking tours at 12:30 pm every Friday, hitting places like Grand Central Terminal's "whispering gallery" and the Chrysler Building.

13. Green-Wood Cemetery
Once the nation's most visited tourist attraction outside Niagara Falls, the gorgeous Green-Wood Cemetery was founded in 1838 and is the eternal home to some 600,000 people (or about 530 miles of bodies, head to toe). It is leafy and lovely, features Brooklyn's highest point at Battle Hill, a site from the Revolutionary War, now marked with a seven-foot statue of the Roman goddess of wisdom, Minerva. Watch for the squawking green parakeets at the cemetery's Gothic entry -- these are runaways from a JFK mishap in 1980 and have lived here since.

14. Hamilton Grange
You know you are important when you get a grange. This one, Hamilton Grange, to reopen in 2011 after renovation, is the Federal-style country retreat where Alexander Hamilton spent quieter, pre-death-by-duel New York days.

15. High Line
It is a park, so it should be free, but the expanding High Line project has the impact and feel of a real-live attraction, complete with its own opening hours. Created from an abandoned stretch of elevated railroad track, the native-inspired landscaping of this park 30 feet in the air connects the Meatpacking District with Chelsea's galleries (another great free institution). There are wonderful Hudson River views, or of pedestrians on the sidewalks below. Watch for public-art installations and events.

16. Hispanic Society of America Museum and Library
The largest collection of Spanish art outside Spain fills the ornate Beaux Arts space of the Hispanic Society of America Museum and Library on the serene Audobon Terrace in far north Manhattan.

17. Japan Society
The films and lectures usually involve a ticket, but the gallery exhibits at the Japan Society (focusing on Japanese art) are always free.

18. National Museum of the American Indian
This Smithsonian ex-pat, just off the historic Bowling Green and Battery Park, often gets missed by the frenetic commuters and tourists heading to the Statue of Liberty. Situated in the spectacular former US Customs House (1907), the National Museum of the American Indian is actually one of the country's finest collections of Native American art. The focus is on culture, not history, and does so with many of its million-plus items.

19. New York Earth Room
Now for something completely different: the Earth Room, Walter De Maria's 1977 art installation, a single room filled with 280,000 pounds of dirt, combines the framework of an ordinary office with the scent of a wet forest.

20. New York Public Library
Remember the Dewey Decimal System? The New York Public Library, New York's most famous library (aka the Stephen A Schwarzman Building), which turns 100 in 2011, is situated in a grand Beaux Arts icon east of Times Square. It is fronted by marble lions named "Patience" and "Fortitude", and is just a jaw-dropper to walk through, particularly the reading room fit for 500 patrons reading with the aid of the library's original Carre-and-Hastings lamps. There are exhibits too, including a copy of the original Declaration of Independence, a Gutenburg Bible, plus 431,000 old maps. There are free tours at 11 am and 2 pm Monday to Saturday, 2 pm Sunday.

21. Old Stone House
A Breuckelen legacy from Brooklyn's Dutch origins, and a survivor from the ill-fated Battle of Brooklyn, this Old Stone House features a small exhibit on the battle. Its upstairs is sometimes rented out for the likes of sample sales.

22. Public boathouse kayaking
Kayak for free from public boathouses such as the Downtown Boathouse and Long Island Community Boathouse in Queens.

23. Rockefeller Center Public Art
Built in the 1930s Great Depression, the 22-acre Rockefeller Center is more than the setting for NBC's Today Shows (lines often appear by 6 am) and a giant Christmas tree in December (not to mention to $19 NBC tours or $21 trips to the observatory deck). But do pop by to see the slew of art commissioned under the theme of "Man at the Crossroads Looks Uncertainly But Hopefully at the Future". A bit wordy, but the pieces pack a big punch, such as the statue of Promethus overlooking the skating rink, or Atlas holding the world at 630 Fifth Ave. Jose Maria Sert's murals in the (main) GE Building used the likes of Abe Lincoln to replace the original "communist imagery" (eg Vladimir Lenin) by a snubbed, outraged Diego Rivera.

24. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Part of the city's library system, the country's largest collection of documents, books, recordings and photographs related to the African-American experience, the Schomburg Center also hosts free exhibits.

25. Socrates Sculpture Park
On the East River, overlooking Roosevelt Island and the Upper East Side, the Socrates Sculpture Park, a former dump site, now has interesting art installations, light shows and movies on Wednesdays in summer.

26. Staten Island Ferry
Everyone wants to see the Statue of Liberty. Ferry tours there start at $12. But the Staten Island Ferry for commuters, cutting across the New York Harbour, is absolutely free and has long held the distinction as the single greatest free attraction on the Eastern Seaboard. Around since 1905, the ferry carries 19 million across the harbour each year. Technically for transport in between Staten Island and Manhattan, most visitors simply hop back on to get back to New York. It never gets old.

Free attractions at scheduled times

28. Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Free Tuesday, and 10 am to noon Saturday.

29. Brooklyn Museum
Free first Saturday of the month, when there is a big wine tasting and DJ parties that draw half the neighbourhood.

30. Bronx Zoo
Pay what you wish on Wednesday.

31. El Museo del Barrio
Free the third Saturday of the month.

32. Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum
Pay what you wish, first Friday of the month.

33. Museum of Modern Art
Entry is free 4pm to 8pm on Friday. Gets busy.

35. Neue Galerie
Free 6 pm to - 8 pm the first Friday of the month.

36. New York Botanical Garden
Free Wednesday, 10 am to noon Saturday.

37. New York Historical Society
Pay what you wish, 6 pm to 8 pm Friday.

38. South Street Seaport Museum
Free the third Friday of every month.


Forty free attractions in New York City

There is a lifetime of fun to be had without ever handing over a cent.

Seeing the bulk of New York City's biggest attractions can mean spending a hefty chunk of a trip's budget on tickets. Empire State Building? $20. The Met? $20. The Guggenheim and Whitney go for $18 each. Even the Frick is $15. But there is a lifetime of fun to be had without ever handing over a cent, and not just by taking on park trails, bike paths or window browsing. (Plus some ticket-admission spots have free times too – see the end of the story.)

Free New York travellers, get busy!

1. African Burial Ground
One of Lower Manhattan's most fascinating, and controversial, stories of recent years circulates around the new African Burial Ground National Monument site. It began when a construction project in 1991 uncovered a burial ground of slaves - more than 400 caskets were found - from an age when New York had more slaves than any American city outside Charleston, South Carolina. Outside you can see part of the site now enveloped by buildings, and the compact visitors centre does a masterful job at retelling African-American history in the city. See Lonely Planet's 76-Second Travel Show episode on the museum's opening.

2. Brooklyn Brewery tours
Free Saturday tours of Williamsburg's Brooklyn Brewery run half an hour from 1 pm to 4pm.

3. Central Park
It does not take brilliant travel minds to tell you that a park is free to visit - most parks are. But most parks are not Central Park, Manhattan's famed claim to thinking ahead (even if it was designed in the 1860s to boost real-estate value uptown). It 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. Another site is "the Pond", at the southeastern corner, where Holden Caulfield kept turning to in "The Catcher in the Rye", wondering where those ducks go when it is cold. (For the answer, watch this video.)

4. Chelsea galleries
New York's most concentrated area for a gallery crawl is in Chelsea, mostly in the 20s streets between 10th and 11th avenues. Check Gallery Guide or westchelseaarts.com for listings. All are free, no pressure to buy. And try timing for wine-and-cheese openings on Thursday evenings.

5. City Hall
Home to New York City's government since 1812, City Hall tours take in its cupola-topped marble hall, the governor's room as well as the spot where Abraham Lincoln's coffin lay in state briefly in 1865. Tours must be reserved in advance.

6. Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) Museum
It is always Fashion Week in the FIT Museum, which features rotating exhibits by students and a surprisingly interesting and detailed collection of the country's first gallery of fashion, picked from a collection of 50,000 garments dating from the 18th Century to present.

7. Federal Hall
Two presidents were inaugurated in New York City, beginning with the first "Dubya", George Washington, who took the oath in Federal Hall in 1789, back when New York was the first capital. (Chester A Arthur was the second.) There is a nice statue outside, overlooking the New York Stock Exchange across Wall Street, and a small, recently renovated museum on post-colonial New York inside.

8. Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Reserve at least a week ahead (sometimes a month!) to visit the Federal Reserve Bank. It is most rewarding just to ogle the facility's high-security vault - useful considering more than 10,000 tons of gold reserves reside here, 80 feet below ground. There are also exhibits on counterfeit currency as well as a serious coin collection of the American Numismatic Society. A tour is the only way to get in.

9. Forbes Collection
The lobby galleries of Forbes magazine have some various curios from the late Malcolm Forbes' collection, most notably early versions of Monopoly boards. (Or watch Lonely Planet's tour of Monopoly sites around the properties' namesakes at Atlantic City, New Jersey.)

10. General Ulysses S Grant National Memorial
Also called "Grant's Tomb", the $600,000 granite structure that holds the remains of the Civil War hero and 18th president (and his wife Julia) is the largest mausoleum in the US, and is patterned after Mausolus' tomb at Halicarnassus, making it a plagiarized version of one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

11. Governor's Island
The ferry to Governor's Island is free, as is access to the 172-acre island which opened to the public only in 2003. There is a 2.2-mile bike path, mini golf, a picnic area, plus military sites such as Admiral's House and a "ghost town" of sorts at Nolan Park.

12. Grand Central Partnership Walking Tours
Two historians lead free 90-minute walking tours at 12:30 pm every Friday, hitting places like Grand Central Terminal's "whispering gallery" and the Chrysler Building.

13. Green-Wood Cemetery
Once the nation's most visited tourist attraction outside Niagara Falls, the gorgeous Green-Wood Cemetery was founded in 1838 and is the eternal home to some 600,000 people (or about 530 miles of bodies, head to toe). It is leafy and lovely, features Brooklyn's highest point at Battle Hill, a site from the Revolutionary War, now marked with a seven-foot statue of the Roman goddess of wisdom, Minerva. Watch for the squawking green parakeets at the cemetery's Gothic entry -- these are runaways from a JFK mishap in 1980 and have lived here since.

14. Hamilton Grange
You know you are important when you get a grange. This one, Hamilton Grange, to reopen in 2011 after renovation, is the Federal-style country retreat where Alexander Hamilton spent quieter, pre-death-by-duel New York days.

15. High Line
It is a park, so it should be free, but the expanding High Line project has the impact and feel of a real-live attraction, complete with its own opening hours. Created from an abandoned stretch of elevated railroad track, the native-inspired landscaping of this park 30 feet in the air connects the Meatpacking District with Chelsea's galleries (another great free institution). There are wonderful Hudson River views, or of pedestrians on the sidewalks below. Watch for public-art installations and events.

16. Hispanic Society of America Museum and Library
The largest collection of Spanish art outside Spain fills the ornate Beaux Arts space of the Hispanic Society of America Museum and Library on the serene Audobon Terrace in far north Manhattan.

17. Japan Society
The films and lectures usually involve a ticket, but the gallery exhibits at the Japan Society (focusing on Japanese art) are always free.

18. National Museum of the American Indian
This Smithsonian ex-pat, just off the historic Bowling Green and Battery Park, often gets missed by the frenetic commuters and tourists heading to the Statue of Liberty. Situated in the spectacular former US Customs House (1907), the National Museum of the American Indian is actually one of the country's finest collections of Native American art. The focus is on culture, not history, and does so with many of its million-plus items.

19. New York Earth Room
Now for something completely different: the Earth Room, Walter De Maria's 1977 art installation, a single room filled with 280,000 pounds of dirt, combines the framework of an ordinary office with the scent of a wet forest.

20. New York Public Library
Remember the Dewey Decimal System? The New York Public Library, New York's most famous library (aka the Stephen A Schwarzman Building), which turns 100 in 2011, is situated in a grand Beaux Arts icon east of Times Square. It is fronted by marble lions named "Patience" and "Fortitude", and is just a jaw-dropper to walk through, particularly the reading room fit for 500 patrons reading with the aid of the library's original Carre-and-Hastings lamps. There are exhibits too, including a copy of the original Declaration of Independence, a Gutenburg Bible, plus 431,000 old maps. There are free tours at 11 am and 2 pm Monday to Saturday, 2 pm Sunday.

21. Old Stone House
A Breuckelen legacy from Brooklyn's Dutch origins, and a survivor from the ill-fated Battle of Brooklyn, this Old Stone House features a small exhibit on the battle. Its upstairs is sometimes rented out for the likes of sample sales.

22. Public boathouse kayaking
Kayak for free from public boathouses such as the Downtown Boathouse and Long Island Community Boathouse in Queens.

23. Rockefeller Center Public Art
Built in the 1930s Great Depression, the 22-acre Rockefeller Center is more than the setting for NBC's Today Shows (lines often appear by 6 am) and a giant Christmas tree in December (not to mention to $19 NBC tours or $21 trips to the observatory deck). But do pop by to see the slew of art commissioned under the theme of "Man at the Crossroads Looks Uncertainly But Hopefully at the Future". A bit wordy, but the pieces pack a big punch, such as the statue of Promethus overlooking the skating rink, or Atlas holding the world at 630 Fifth Ave. Jose Maria Sert's murals in the (main) GE Building used the likes of Abe Lincoln to replace the original "communist imagery" (eg Vladimir Lenin) by a snubbed, outraged Diego Rivera.

24. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Part of the city's library system, the country's largest collection of documents, books, recordings and photographs related to the African-American experience, the Schomburg Center also hosts free exhibits.

25. Socrates Sculpture Park
On the East River, overlooking Roosevelt Island and the Upper East Side, the Socrates Sculpture Park, a former dump site, now has interesting art installations, light shows and movies on Wednesdays in summer.

26. Staten Island Ferry
Everyone wants to see the Statue of Liberty. Ferry tours there start at $12. But the Staten Island Ferry for commuters, cutting across the New York Harbour, is absolutely free and has long held the distinction as the single greatest free attraction on the Eastern Seaboard. Around since 1905, the ferry carries 19 million across the harbour each year. Technically for transport in between Staten Island and Manhattan, most visitors simply hop back on to get back to New York. It never gets old.

Free attractions at scheduled times

28. Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Free Tuesday, and 10 am to noon Saturday.

29. Brooklyn Museum
Free first Saturday of the month, when there is a big wine tasting and DJ parties that draw half the neighbourhood.

30. Bronx Zoo
Pay what you wish on Wednesday.

31. El Museo del Barrio
Free the third Saturday of the month.

32. Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum
Pay what you wish, first Friday of the month.

33. Museum of Modern Art
Entry is free 4pm to 8pm on Friday. Gets busy.

35. Neue Galerie
Free 6 pm to - 8 pm the first Friday of the month.

36. New York Botanical Garden
Free Wednesday, 10 am to noon Saturday.

37. New York Historical Society
Pay what you wish, 6 pm to 8 pm Friday.

38. South Street Seaport Museum
Free the third Friday of every month.


Forty free attractions in New York City

There is a lifetime of fun to be had without ever handing over a cent.

Seeing the bulk of New York City's biggest attractions can mean spending a hefty chunk of a trip's budget on tickets. Empire State Building? $20. The Met? $20. The Guggenheim and Whitney go for $18 each. Even the Frick is $15. But there is a lifetime of fun to be had without ever handing over a cent, and not just by taking on park trails, bike paths or window browsing. (Plus some ticket-admission spots have free times too – see the end of the story.)

Free New York travellers, get busy!

1. African Burial Ground
One of Lower Manhattan's most fascinating, and controversial, stories of recent years circulates around the new African Burial Ground National Monument site. It began when a construction project in 1991 uncovered a burial ground of slaves - more than 400 caskets were found - from an age when New York had more slaves than any American city outside Charleston, South Carolina. Outside you can see part of the site now enveloped by buildings, and the compact visitors centre does a masterful job at retelling African-American history in the city. See Lonely Planet's 76-Second Travel Show episode on the museum's opening.

2. Brooklyn Brewery tours
Free Saturday tours of Williamsburg's Brooklyn Brewery run half an hour from 1 pm to 4pm.

3. Central Park
It does not take brilliant travel minds to tell you that a park is free to visit - most parks are. But most parks are not Central Park, Manhattan's famed claim to thinking ahead (even if it was designed in the 1860s to boost real-estate value uptown). It 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. Another site is "the Pond", at the southeastern corner, where Holden Caulfield kept turning to in "The Catcher in the Rye", wondering where those ducks go when it is cold. (For the answer, watch this video.)

4. Chelsea galleries
New York's most concentrated area for a gallery crawl is in Chelsea, mostly in the 20s streets between 10th and 11th avenues. Check Gallery Guide or westchelseaarts.com for listings. All are free, no pressure to buy. And try timing for wine-and-cheese openings on Thursday evenings.

5. City Hall
Home to New York City's government since 1812, City Hall tours take in its cupola-topped marble hall, the governor's room as well as the spot where Abraham Lincoln's coffin lay in state briefly in 1865. Tours must be reserved in advance.

6. Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) Museum
It is always Fashion Week in the FIT Museum, which features rotating exhibits by students and a surprisingly interesting and detailed collection of the country's first gallery of fashion, picked from a collection of 50,000 garments dating from the 18th Century to present.

7. Federal Hall
Two presidents were inaugurated in New York City, beginning with the first "Dubya", George Washington, who took the oath in Federal Hall in 1789, back when New York was the first capital. (Chester A Arthur was the second.) There is a nice statue outside, overlooking the New York Stock Exchange across Wall Street, and a small, recently renovated museum on post-colonial New York inside.

8. Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Reserve at least a week ahead (sometimes a month!) to visit the Federal Reserve Bank. It is most rewarding just to ogle the facility's high-security vault - useful considering more than 10,000 tons of gold reserves reside here, 80 feet below ground. There are also exhibits on counterfeit currency as well as a serious coin collection of the American Numismatic Society. A tour is the only way to get in.

9. Forbes Collection
The lobby galleries of Forbes magazine have some various curios from the late Malcolm Forbes' collection, most notably early versions of Monopoly boards. (Or watch Lonely Planet's tour of Monopoly sites around the properties' namesakes at Atlantic City, New Jersey.)

10. General Ulysses S Grant National Memorial
Also called "Grant's Tomb", the $600,000 granite structure that holds the remains of the Civil War hero and 18th president (and his wife Julia) is the largest mausoleum in the US, and is patterned after Mausolus' tomb at Halicarnassus, making it a plagiarized version of one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

11. Governor's Island
The ferry to Governor's Island is free, as is access to the 172-acre island which opened to the public only in 2003. There is a 2.2-mile bike path, mini golf, a picnic area, plus military sites such as Admiral's House and a "ghost town" of sorts at Nolan Park.

12. Grand Central Partnership Walking Tours
Two historians lead free 90-minute walking tours at 12:30 pm every Friday, hitting places like Grand Central Terminal's "whispering gallery" and the Chrysler Building.

13. Green-Wood Cemetery
Once the nation's most visited tourist attraction outside Niagara Falls, the gorgeous Green-Wood Cemetery was founded in 1838 and is the eternal home to some 600,000 people (or about 530 miles of bodies, head to toe). It is leafy and lovely, features Brooklyn's highest point at Battle Hill, a site from the Revolutionary War, now marked with a seven-foot statue of the Roman goddess of wisdom, Minerva. Watch for the squawking green parakeets at the cemetery's Gothic entry -- these are runaways from a JFK mishap in 1980 and have lived here since.

14. Hamilton Grange
You know you are important when you get a grange. This one, Hamilton Grange, to reopen in 2011 after renovation, is the Federal-style country retreat where Alexander Hamilton spent quieter, pre-death-by-duel New York days.

15. High Line
It is a park, so it should be free, but the expanding High Line project has the impact and feel of a real-live attraction, complete with its own opening hours. Created from an abandoned stretch of elevated railroad track, the native-inspired landscaping of this park 30 feet in the air connects the Meatpacking District with Chelsea's galleries (another great free institution). There are wonderful Hudson River views, or of pedestrians on the sidewalks below. Watch for public-art installations and events.

16. Hispanic Society of America Museum and Library
The largest collection of Spanish art outside Spain fills the ornate Beaux Arts space of the Hispanic Society of America Museum and Library on the serene Audobon Terrace in far north Manhattan.

17. Japan Society
The films and lectures usually involve a ticket, but the gallery exhibits at the Japan Society (focusing on Japanese art) are always free.

18. National Museum of the American Indian
This Smithsonian ex-pat, just off the historic Bowling Green and Battery Park, often gets missed by the frenetic commuters and tourists heading to the Statue of Liberty. Situated in the spectacular former US Customs House (1907), the National Museum of the American Indian is actually one of the country's finest collections of Native American art. The focus is on culture, not history, and does so with many of its million-plus items.

19. New York Earth Room
Now for something completely different: the Earth Room, Walter De Maria's 1977 art installation, a single room filled with 280,000 pounds of dirt, combines the framework of an ordinary office with the scent of a wet forest.

20. New York Public Library
Remember the Dewey Decimal System? The New York Public Library, New York's most famous library (aka the Stephen A Schwarzman Building), which turns 100 in 2011, is situated in a grand Beaux Arts icon east of Times Square. It is fronted by marble lions named "Patience" and "Fortitude", and is just a jaw-dropper to walk through, particularly the reading room fit for 500 patrons reading with the aid of the library's original Carre-and-Hastings lamps. There are exhibits too, including a copy of the original Declaration of Independence, a Gutenburg Bible, plus 431,000 old maps. There are free tours at 11 am and 2 pm Monday to Saturday, 2 pm Sunday.

21. Old Stone House
A Breuckelen legacy from Brooklyn's Dutch origins, and a survivor from the ill-fated Battle of Brooklyn, this Old Stone House features a small exhibit on the battle. Its upstairs is sometimes rented out for the likes of sample sales.

22. Public boathouse kayaking
Kayak for free from public boathouses such as the Downtown Boathouse and Long Island Community Boathouse in Queens.

23. Rockefeller Center Public Art
Built in the 1930s Great Depression, the 22-acre Rockefeller Center is more than the setting for NBC's Today Shows (lines often appear by 6 am) and a giant Christmas tree in December (not to mention to $19 NBC tours or $21 trips to the observatory deck). But do pop by to see the slew of art commissioned under the theme of "Man at the Crossroads Looks Uncertainly But Hopefully at the Future". A bit wordy, but the pieces pack a big punch, such as the statue of Promethus overlooking the skating rink, or Atlas holding the world at 630 Fifth Ave. Jose Maria Sert's murals in the (main) GE Building used the likes of Abe Lincoln to replace the original "communist imagery" (eg Vladimir Lenin) by a snubbed, outraged Diego Rivera.

24. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Part of the city's library system, the country's largest collection of documents, books, recordings and photographs related to the African-American experience, the Schomburg Center also hosts free exhibits.

25. Socrates Sculpture Park
On the East River, overlooking Roosevelt Island and the Upper East Side, the Socrates Sculpture Park, a former dump site, now has interesting art installations, light shows and movies on Wednesdays in summer.

26. Staten Island Ferry
Everyone wants to see the Statue of Liberty. Ferry tours there start at $12. But the Staten Island Ferry for commuters, cutting across the New York Harbour, is absolutely free and has long held the distinction as the single greatest free attraction on the Eastern Seaboard. Around since 1905, the ferry carries 19 million across the harbour each year. Technically for transport in between Staten Island and Manhattan, most visitors simply hop back on to get back to New York. It never gets old.

Free attractions at scheduled times

28. Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Free Tuesday, and 10 am to noon Saturday.

29. Brooklyn Museum
Free first Saturday of the month, when there is a big wine tasting and DJ parties that draw half the neighbourhood.

30. Bronx Zoo
Pay what you wish on Wednesday.

31. El Museo del Barrio
Free the third Saturday of the month.

32. Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum
Pay what you wish, first Friday of the month.

33. Museum of Modern Art
Entry is free 4pm to 8pm on Friday. Gets busy.

35. Neue Galerie
Free 6 pm to - 8 pm the first Friday of the month.

36. New York Botanical Garden
Free Wednesday, 10 am to noon Saturday.

37. New York Historical Society
Pay what you wish, 6 pm to 8 pm Friday.

38. South Street Seaport Museum
Free the third Friday of every month.


Forty free attractions in New York City

There is a lifetime of fun to be had without ever handing over a cent.

Seeing the bulk of New York City's biggest attractions can mean spending a hefty chunk of a trip's budget on tickets. Empire State Building? $20. The Met? $20. The Guggenheim and Whitney go for $18 each. Even the Frick is $15. But there is a lifetime of fun to be had without ever handing over a cent, and not just by taking on park trails, bike paths or window browsing. (Plus some ticket-admission spots have free times too – see the end of the story.)

Free New York travellers, get busy!

1. African Burial Ground
One of Lower Manhattan's most fascinating, and controversial, stories of recent years circulates around the new African Burial Ground National Monument site. It began when a construction project in 1991 uncovered a burial ground of slaves - more than 400 caskets were found - from an age when New York had more slaves than any American city outside Charleston, South Carolina. Outside you can see part of the site now enveloped by buildings, and the compact visitors centre does a masterful job at retelling African-American history in the city. See Lonely Planet's 76-Second Travel Show episode on the museum's opening.

2. Brooklyn Brewery tours
Free Saturday tours of Williamsburg's Brooklyn Brewery run half an hour from 1 pm to 4pm.

3. Central Park
It does not take brilliant travel minds to tell you that a park is free to visit - most parks are. But most parks are not Central Park, Manhattan's famed claim to thinking ahead (even if it was designed in the 1860s to boost real-estate value uptown). It 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. Another site is "the Pond", at the southeastern corner, where Holden Caulfield kept turning to in "The Catcher in the Rye", wondering where those ducks go when it is cold. (For the answer, watch this video.)

4. Chelsea galleries
New York's most concentrated area for a gallery crawl is in Chelsea, mostly in the 20s streets between 10th and 11th avenues. Check Gallery Guide or westchelseaarts.com for listings. All are free, no pressure to buy. And try timing for wine-and-cheese openings on Thursday evenings.

5. City Hall
Home to New York City's government since 1812, City Hall tours take in its cupola-topped marble hall, the governor's room as well as the spot where Abraham Lincoln's coffin lay in state briefly in 1865. Tours must be reserved in advance.

6. Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) Museum
It is always Fashion Week in the FIT Museum, which features rotating exhibits by students and a surprisingly interesting and detailed collection of the country's first gallery of fashion, picked from a collection of 50,000 garments dating from the 18th Century to present.

7. Federal Hall
Two presidents were inaugurated in New York City, beginning with the first "Dubya", George Washington, who took the oath in Federal Hall in 1789, back when New York was the first capital. (Chester A Arthur was the second.) There is a nice statue outside, overlooking the New York Stock Exchange across Wall Street, and a small, recently renovated museum on post-colonial New York inside.

8. Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Reserve at least a week ahead (sometimes a month!) to visit the Federal Reserve Bank. It is most rewarding just to ogle the facility's high-security vault - useful considering more than 10,000 tons of gold reserves reside here, 80 feet below ground. There are also exhibits on counterfeit currency as well as a serious coin collection of the American Numismatic Society. A tour is the only way to get in.

9. Forbes Collection
The lobby galleries of Forbes magazine have some various curios from the late Malcolm Forbes' collection, most notably early versions of Monopoly boards. (Or watch Lonely Planet's tour of Monopoly sites around the properties' namesakes at Atlantic City, New Jersey.)

10. General Ulysses S Grant National Memorial
Also called "Grant's Tomb", the $600,000 granite structure that holds the remains of the Civil War hero and 18th president (and his wife Julia) is the largest mausoleum in the US, and is patterned after Mausolus' tomb at Halicarnassus, making it a plagiarized version of one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

11. Governor's Island
The ferry to Governor's Island is free, as is access to the 172-acre island which opened to the public only in 2003. There is a 2.2-mile bike path, mini golf, a picnic area, plus military sites such as Admiral's House and a "ghost town" of sorts at Nolan Park.

12. Grand Central Partnership Walking Tours
Two historians lead free 90-minute walking tours at 12:30 pm every Friday, hitting places like Grand Central Terminal's "whispering gallery" and the Chrysler Building.

13. Green-Wood Cemetery
Once the nation's most visited tourist attraction outside Niagara Falls, the gorgeous Green-Wood Cemetery was founded in 1838 and is the eternal home to some 600,000 people (or about 530 miles of bodies, head to toe). It is leafy and lovely, features Brooklyn's highest point at Battle Hill, a site from the Revolutionary War, now marked with a seven-foot statue of the Roman goddess of wisdom, Minerva. Watch for the squawking green parakeets at the cemetery's Gothic entry -- these are runaways from a JFK mishap in 1980 and have lived here since.

14. Hamilton Grange
You know you are important when you get a grange. This one, Hamilton Grange, to reopen in 2011 after renovation, is the Federal-style country retreat where Alexander Hamilton spent quieter, pre-death-by-duel New York days.

15. High Line
It is a park, so it should be free, but the expanding High Line project has the impact and feel of a real-live attraction, complete with its own opening hours. Created from an abandoned stretch of elevated railroad track, the native-inspired landscaping of this park 30 feet in the air connects the Meatpacking District with Chelsea's galleries (another great free institution). There are wonderful Hudson River views, or of pedestrians on the sidewalks below. Watch for public-art installations and events.

16. Hispanic Society of America Museum and Library
The largest collection of Spanish art outside Spain fills the ornate Beaux Arts space of the Hispanic Society of America Museum and Library on the serene Audobon Terrace in far north Manhattan.

17. Japan Society
The films and lectures usually involve a ticket, but the gallery exhibits at the Japan Society (focusing on Japanese art) are always free.

18. National Museum of the American Indian
This Smithsonian ex-pat, just off the historic Bowling Green and Battery Park, often gets missed by the frenetic commuters and tourists heading to the Statue of Liberty. Situated in the spectacular former US Customs House (1907), the National Museum of the American Indian is actually one of the country's finest collections of Native American art. The focus is on culture, not history, and does so with many of its million-plus items.

19. New York Earth Room
Now for something completely different: the Earth Room, Walter De Maria's 1977 art installation, a single room filled with 280,000 pounds of dirt, combines the framework of an ordinary office with the scent of a wet forest.

20. New York Public Library
Remember the Dewey Decimal System? The New York Public Library, New York's most famous library (aka the Stephen A Schwarzman Building), which turns 100 in 2011, is situated in a grand Beaux Arts icon east of Times Square. It is fronted by marble lions named "Patience" and "Fortitude", and is just a jaw-dropper to walk through, particularly the reading room fit for 500 patrons reading with the aid of the library's original Carre-and-Hastings lamps. There are exhibits too, including a copy of the original Declaration of Independence, a Gutenburg Bible, plus 431,000 old maps. There are free tours at 11 am and 2 pm Monday to Saturday, 2 pm Sunday.

21. Old Stone House
A Breuckelen legacy from Brooklyn's Dutch origins, and a survivor from the ill-fated Battle of Brooklyn, this Old Stone House features a small exhibit on the battle. Its upstairs is sometimes rented out for the likes of sample sales.

22. Public boathouse kayaking
Kayak for free from public boathouses such as the Downtown Boathouse and Long Island Community Boathouse in Queens.

23. Rockefeller Center Public Art
Built in the 1930s Great Depression, the 22-acre Rockefeller Center is more than the setting for NBC's Today Shows (lines often appear by 6 am) and a giant Christmas tree in December (not to mention to $19 NBC tours or $21 trips to the observatory deck). But do pop by to see the slew of art commissioned under the theme of "Man at the Crossroads Looks Uncertainly But Hopefully at the Future". A bit wordy, but the pieces pack a big punch, such as the statue of Promethus overlooking the skating rink, or Atlas holding the world at 630 Fifth Ave. Jose Maria Sert's murals in the (main) GE Building used the likes of Abe Lincoln to replace the original "communist imagery" (eg Vladimir Lenin) by a snubbed, outraged Diego Rivera.

24. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Part of the city's library system, the country's largest collection of documents, books, recordings and photographs related to the African-American experience, the Schomburg Center also hosts free exhibits.

25. Socrates Sculpture Park
On the East River, overlooking Roosevelt Island and the Upper East Side, the Socrates Sculpture Park, a former dump site, now has interesting art installations, light shows and movies on Wednesdays in summer.

26. Staten Island Ferry
Everyone wants to see the Statue of Liberty. Ferry tours there start at $12. But the Staten Island Ferry for commuters, cutting across the New York Harbour, is absolutely free and has long held the distinction as the single greatest free attraction on the Eastern Seaboard. Around since 1905, the ferry carries 19 million across the harbour each year. Technically for transport in between Staten Island and Manhattan, most visitors simply hop back on to get back to New York. It never gets old.

Free attractions at scheduled times

28. Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Free Tuesday, and 10 am to noon Saturday.

29. Brooklyn Museum
Free first Saturday of the month, when there is a big wine tasting and DJ parties that draw half the neighbourhood.

30. Bronx Zoo
Pay what you wish on Wednesday.

31. El Museo del Barrio
Free the third Saturday of the month.

32. Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum
Pay what you wish, first Friday of the month.

33. Museum of Modern Art
Entry is free 4pm to 8pm on Friday. Gets busy.

35. Neue Galerie
Free 6 pm to - 8 pm the first Friday of the month.

36. New York Botanical Garden
Free Wednesday, 10 am to noon Saturday.

37. New York Historical Society
Pay what you wish, 6 pm to 8 pm Friday.

38. South Street Seaport Museum
Free the third Friday of every month.


Forty free attractions in New York City

There is a lifetime of fun to be had without ever handing over a cent.

Seeing the bulk of New York City's biggest attractions can mean spending a hefty chunk of a trip's budget on tickets. Empire State Building? $20. The Met? $20. The Guggenheim and Whitney go for $18 each. Even the Frick is $15. But there is a lifetime of fun to be had without ever handing over a cent, and not just by taking on park trails, bike paths or window browsing. (Plus some ticket-admission spots have free times too – see the end of the story.)

Free New York travellers, get busy!

1. African Burial Ground
One of Lower Manhattan's most fascinating, and controversial, stories of recent years circulates around the new African Burial Ground National Monument site. It began when a construction project in 1991 uncovered a burial ground of slaves - more than 400 caskets were found - from an age when New York had more slaves than any American city outside Charleston, South Carolina. Outside you can see part of the site now enveloped by buildings, and the compact visitors centre does a masterful job at retelling African-American history in the city. See Lonely Planet's 76-Second Travel Show episode on the museum's opening.

2. Brooklyn Brewery tours
Free Saturday tours of Williamsburg's Brooklyn Brewery run half an hour from 1 pm to 4pm.

3. Central Park
It does not take brilliant travel minds to tell you that a park is free to visit - most parks are. But most parks are not Central Park, Manhattan's famed claim to thinking ahead (even if it was designed in the 1860s to boost real-estate value uptown). It 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. Another site is "the Pond", at the southeastern corner, where Holden Caulfield kept turning to in "The Catcher in the Rye", wondering where those ducks go when it is cold. (For the answer, watch this video.)

4. Chelsea galleries
New York's most concentrated area for a gallery crawl is in Chelsea, mostly in the 20s streets between 10th and 11th avenues. Check Gallery Guide or westchelseaarts.com for listings. All are free, no pressure to buy. And try timing for wine-and-cheese openings on Thursday evenings.

5. City Hall
Home to New York City's government since 1812, City Hall tours take in its cupola-topped marble hall, the governor's room as well as the spot where Abraham Lincoln's coffin lay in state briefly in 1865. Tours must be reserved in advance.

6. Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) Museum
It is always Fashion Week in the FIT Museum, which features rotating exhibits by students and a surprisingly interesting and detailed collection of the country's first gallery of fashion, picked from a collection of 50,000 garments dating from the 18th Century to present.

7. Federal Hall
Two presidents were inaugurated in New York City, beginning with the first "Dubya", George Washington, who took the oath in Federal Hall in 1789, back when New York was the first capital. (Chester A Arthur was the second.) There is a nice statue outside, overlooking the New York Stock Exchange across Wall Street, and a small, recently renovated museum on post-colonial New York inside.

8. Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Reserve at least a week ahead (sometimes a month!) to visit the Federal Reserve Bank. It is most rewarding just to ogle the facility's high-security vault - useful considering more than 10,000 tons of gold reserves reside here, 80 feet below ground. There are also exhibits on counterfeit currency as well as a serious coin collection of the American Numismatic Society. A tour is the only way to get in.

9. Forbes Collection
The lobby galleries of Forbes magazine have some various curios from the late Malcolm Forbes' collection, most notably early versions of Monopoly boards. (Or watch Lonely Planet's tour of Monopoly sites around the properties' namesakes at Atlantic City, New Jersey.)

10. General Ulysses S Grant National Memorial
Also called "Grant's Tomb", the $600,000 granite structure that holds the remains of the Civil War hero and 18th president (and his wife Julia) is the largest mausoleum in the US, and is patterned after Mausolus' tomb at Halicarnassus, making it a plagiarized version of one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

11. Governor's Island
The ferry to Governor's Island is free, as is access to the 172-acre island which opened to the public only in 2003. There is a 2.2-mile bike path, mini golf, a picnic area, plus military sites such as Admiral's House and a "ghost town" of sorts at Nolan Park.

12. Grand Central Partnership Walking Tours
Two historians lead free 90-minute walking tours at 12:30 pm every Friday, hitting places like Grand Central Terminal's "whispering gallery" and the Chrysler Building.

13. Green-Wood Cemetery
Once the nation's most visited tourist attraction outside Niagara Falls, the gorgeous Green-Wood Cemetery was founded in 1838 and is the eternal home to some 600,000 people (or about 530 miles of bodies, head to toe). It is leafy and lovely, features Brooklyn's highest point at Battle Hill, a site from the Revolutionary War, now marked with a seven-foot statue of the Roman goddess of wisdom, Minerva. Watch for the squawking green parakeets at the cemetery's Gothic entry -- these are runaways from a JFK mishap in 1980 and have lived here since.

14. Hamilton Grange
You know you are important when you get a grange. This one, Hamilton Grange, to reopen in 2011 after renovation, is the Federal-style country retreat where Alexander Hamilton spent quieter, pre-death-by-duel New York days.

15. High Line
It is a park, so it should be free, but the expanding High Line project has the impact and feel of a real-live attraction, complete with its own opening hours. Created from an abandoned stretch of elevated railroad track, the native-inspired landscaping of this park 30 feet in the air connects the Meatpacking District with Chelsea's galleries (another great free institution). There are wonderful Hudson River views, or of pedestrians on the sidewalks below. Watch for public-art installations and events.

16. Hispanic Society of America Museum and Library
The largest collection of Spanish art outside Spain fills the ornate Beaux Arts space of the Hispanic Society of America Museum and Library on the serene Audobon Terrace in far north Manhattan.

17. Japan Society
The films and lectures usually involve a ticket, but the gallery exhibits at the Japan Society (focusing on Japanese art) are always free.

18. National Museum of the American Indian
This Smithsonian ex-pat, just off the historic Bowling Green and Battery Park, often gets missed by the frenetic commuters and tourists heading to the Statue of Liberty. Situated in the spectacular former US Customs House (1907), the National Museum of the American Indian is actually one of the country's finest collections of Native American art. The focus is on culture, not history, and does so with many of its million-plus items.

19. New York Earth Room
Now for something completely different: the Earth Room, Walter De Maria's 1977 art installation, a single room filled with 280,000 pounds of dirt, combines the framework of an ordinary office with the scent of a wet forest.

20. New York Public Library
Remember the Dewey Decimal System? The New York Public Library, New York's most famous library (aka the Stephen A Schwarzman Building), which turns 100 in 2011, is situated in a grand Beaux Arts icon east of Times Square. It is fronted by marble lions named "Patience" and "Fortitude", and is just a jaw-dropper to walk through, particularly the reading room fit for 500 patrons reading with the aid of the library's original Carre-and-Hastings lamps. There are exhibits too, including a copy of the original Declaration of Independence, a Gutenburg Bible, plus 431,000 old maps. There are free tours at 11 am and 2 pm Monday to Saturday, 2 pm Sunday.

21. Old Stone House
A Breuckelen legacy from Brooklyn's Dutch origins, and a survivor from the ill-fated Battle of Brooklyn, this Old Stone House features a small exhibit on the battle. Its upstairs is sometimes rented out for the likes of sample sales.

22. Public boathouse kayaking
Kayak for free from public boathouses such as the Downtown Boathouse and Long Island Community Boathouse in Queens.

23. Rockefeller Center Public Art
Built in the 1930s Great Depression, the 22-acre Rockefeller Center is more than the setting for NBC's Today Shows (lines often appear by 6 am) and a giant Christmas tree in December (not to mention to $19 NBC tours or $21 trips to the observatory deck). But do pop by to see the slew of art commissioned under the theme of "Man at the Crossroads Looks Uncertainly But Hopefully at the Future". A bit wordy, but the pieces pack a big punch, such as the statue of Promethus overlooking the skating rink, or Atlas holding the world at 630 Fifth Ave. Jose Maria Sert's murals in the (main) GE Building used the likes of Abe Lincoln to replace the original "communist imagery" (eg Vladimir Lenin) by a snubbed, outraged Diego Rivera.

24. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Part of the city's library system, the country's largest collection of documents, books, recordings and photographs related to the African-American experience, the Schomburg Center also hosts free exhibits.

25. Socrates Sculpture Park
On the East River, overlooking Roosevelt Island and the Upper East Side, the Socrates Sculpture Park, a former dump site, now has interesting art installations, light shows and movies on Wednesdays in summer.

26. Staten Island Ferry
Everyone wants to see the Statue of Liberty. Ferry tours there start at $12. But the Staten Island Ferry for commuters, cutting across the New York Harbour, is absolutely free and has long held the distinction as the single greatest free attraction on the Eastern Seaboard. Around since 1905, the ferry carries 19 million across the harbour each year. Technically for transport in between Staten Island and Manhattan, most visitors simply hop back on to get back to New York. It never gets old.

Free attractions at scheduled times

28. Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Free Tuesday, and 10 am to noon Saturday.

29. Brooklyn Museum
Free first Saturday of the month, when there is a big wine tasting and DJ parties that draw half the neighbourhood.

30. Bronx Zoo
Pay what you wish on Wednesday.

31. El Museo del Barrio
Free the third Saturday of the month.

32. Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum
Pay what you wish, first Friday of the month.

33. Museum of Modern Art
Entry is free 4pm to 8pm on Friday. Gets busy.

35. Neue Galerie
Free 6 pm to - 8 pm the first Friday of the month.

36. New York Botanical Garden
Free Wednesday, 10 am to noon Saturday.

37. New York Historical Society
Pay what you wish, 6 pm to 8 pm Friday.

38. South Street Seaport Museum
Free the third Friday of every month.


Forty free attractions in New York City

There is a lifetime of fun to be had without ever handing over a cent.

Seeing the bulk of New York City's biggest attractions can mean spending a hefty chunk of a trip's budget on tickets. Empire State Building? $20. The Met? $20. The Guggenheim and Whitney go for $18 each. Even the Frick is $15. But there is a lifetime of fun to be had without ever handing over a cent, and not just by taking on park trails, bike paths or window browsing. (Plus some ticket-admission spots have free times too – see the end of the story.)

Free New York travellers, get busy!

1. African Burial Ground
One of Lower Manhattan's most fascinating, and controversial, stories of recent years circulates around the new African Burial Ground National Monument site. It began when a construction project in 1991 uncovered a burial ground of slaves - more than 400 caskets were found - from an age when New York had more slaves than any American city outside Charleston, South Carolina. Outside you can see part of the site now enveloped by buildings, and the compact visitors centre does a masterful job at retelling African-American history in the city. See Lonely Planet's 76-Second Travel Show episode on the museum's opening.

2. Brooklyn Brewery tours
Free Saturday tours of Williamsburg's Brooklyn Brewery run half an hour from 1 pm to 4pm.

3. Central Park
It does not take brilliant travel minds to tell you that a park is free to visit - most parks are. But most parks are not Central Park, Manhattan's famed claim to thinking ahead (even if it was designed in the 1860s to boost real-estate value uptown). It 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. Another site is "the Pond", at the southeastern corner, where Holden Caulfield kept turning to in "The Catcher in the Rye", wondering where those ducks go when it is cold. (For the answer, watch this video.)

4. Chelsea galleries
New York's most concentrated area for a gallery crawl is in Chelsea, mostly in the 20s streets between 10th and 11th avenues. Check Gallery Guide or westchelseaarts.com for listings. All are free, no pressure to buy. And try timing for wine-and-cheese openings on Thursday evenings.

5. City Hall
Home to New York City's government since 1812, City Hall tours take in its cupola-topped marble hall, the governor's room as well as the spot where Abraham Lincoln's coffin lay in state briefly in 1865. Tours must be reserved in advance.

6. Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) Museum
It is always Fashion Week in the FIT Museum, which features rotating exhibits by students and a surprisingly interesting and detailed collection of the country's first gallery of fashion, picked from a collection of 50,000 garments dating from the 18th Century to present.

7. Federal Hall
Two presidents were inaugurated in New York City, beginning with the first "Dubya", George Washington, who took the oath in Federal Hall in 1789, back when New York was the first capital. (Chester A Arthur was the second.) There is a nice statue outside, overlooking the New York Stock Exchange across Wall Street, and a small, recently renovated museum on post-colonial New York inside.

8. Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Reserve at least a week ahead (sometimes a month!) to visit the Federal Reserve Bank. It is most rewarding just to ogle the facility's high-security vault - useful considering more than 10,000 tons of gold reserves reside here, 80 feet below ground. There are also exhibits on counterfeit currency as well as a serious coin collection of the American Numismatic Society. A tour is the only way to get in.

9. Forbes Collection
The lobby galleries of Forbes magazine have some various curios from the late Malcolm Forbes' collection, most notably early versions of Monopoly boards. (Or watch Lonely Planet's tour of Monopoly sites around the properties' namesakes at Atlantic City, New Jersey.)

10. General Ulysses S Grant National Memorial
Also called "Grant's Tomb", the $600,000 granite structure that holds the remains of the Civil War hero and 18th president (and his wife Julia) is the largest mausoleum in the US, and is patterned after Mausolus' tomb at Halicarnassus, making it a plagiarized version of one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

11. Governor's Island
The ferry to Governor's Island is free, as is access to the 172-acre island which opened to the public only in 2003. There is a 2.2-mile bike path, mini golf, a picnic area, plus military sites such as Admiral's House and a "ghost town" of sorts at Nolan Park.

12. Grand Central Partnership Walking Tours
Two historians lead free 90-minute walking tours at 12:30 pm every Friday, hitting places like Grand Central Terminal's "whispering gallery" and the Chrysler Building.

13. Green-Wood Cemetery
Once the nation's most visited tourist attraction outside Niagara Falls, the gorgeous Green-Wood Cemetery was founded in 1838 and is the eternal home to some 600,000 people (or about 530 miles of bodies, head to toe). It is leafy and lovely, features Brooklyn's highest point at Battle Hill, a site from the Revolutionary War, now marked with a seven-foot statue of the Roman goddess of wisdom, Minerva. Watch for the squawking green parakeets at the cemetery's Gothic entry -- these are runaways from a JFK mishap in 1980 and have lived here since.

14. Hamilton Grange
You know you are important when you get a grange. This one, Hamilton Grange, to reopen in 2011 after renovation, is the Federal-style country retreat where Alexander Hamilton spent quieter, pre-death-by-duel New York days.

15. High Line
It is a park, so it should be free, but the expanding High Line project has the impact and feel of a real-live attraction, complete with its own opening hours. Created from an abandoned stretch of elevated railroad track, the native-inspired landscaping of this park 30 feet in the air connects the Meatpacking District with Chelsea's galleries (another great free institution). There are wonderful Hudson River views, or of pedestrians on the sidewalks below. Watch for public-art installations and events.

16. Hispanic Society of America Museum and Library
The largest collection of Spanish art outside Spain fills the ornate Beaux Arts space of the Hispanic Society of America Museum and Library on the serene Audobon Terrace in far north Manhattan.

17. Japan Society
The films and lectures usually involve a ticket, but the gallery exhibits at the Japan Society (focusing on Japanese art) are always free.

18. National Museum of the American Indian
This Smithsonian ex-pat, just off the historic Bowling Green and Battery Park, often gets missed by the frenetic commuters and tourists heading to the Statue of Liberty. Situated in the spectacular former US Customs House (1907), the National Museum of the American Indian is actually one of the country's finest collections of Native American art. The focus is on culture, not history, and does so with many of its million-plus items.

19. New York Earth Room
Now for something completely different: the Earth Room, Walter De Maria's 1977 art installation, a single room filled with 280,000 pounds of dirt, combines the framework of an ordinary office with the scent of a wet forest.

20. New York Public Library
Remember the Dewey Decimal System? The New York Public Library, New York's most famous library (aka the Stephen A Schwarzman Building), which turns 100 in 2011, is situated in a grand Beaux Arts icon east of Times Square. It is fronted by marble lions named "Patience" and "Fortitude", and is just a jaw-dropper to walk through, particularly the reading room fit for 500 patrons reading with the aid of the library's original Carre-and-Hastings lamps. There are exhibits too, including a copy of the original Declaration of Independence, a Gutenburg Bible, plus 431,000 old maps. There are free tours at 11 am and 2 pm Monday to Saturday, 2 pm Sunday.

21. Old Stone House
A Breuckelen legacy from Brooklyn's Dutch origins, and a survivor from the ill-fated Battle of Brooklyn, this Old Stone House features a small exhibit on the battle. Its upstairs is sometimes rented out for the likes of sample sales.

22. Public boathouse kayaking
Kayak for free from public boathouses such as the Downtown Boathouse and Long Island Community Boathouse in Queens.

23. Rockefeller Center Public Art
Built in the 1930s Great Depression, the 22-acre Rockefeller Center is more than the setting for NBC's Today Shows (lines often appear by 6 am) and a giant Christmas tree in December (not to mention to $19 NBC tours or $21 trips to the observatory deck). But do pop by to see the slew of art commissioned under the theme of "Man at the Crossroads Looks Uncertainly But Hopefully at the Future". A bit wordy, but the pieces pack a big punch, such as the statue of Promethus overlooking the skating rink, or Atlas holding the world at 630 Fifth Ave. Jose Maria Sert's murals in the (main) GE Building used the likes of Abe Lincoln to replace the original "communist imagery" (eg Vladimir Lenin) by a snubbed, outraged Diego Rivera.

24. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Part of the city's library system, the country's largest collection of documents, books, recordings and photographs related to the African-American experience, the Schomburg Center also hosts free exhibits.

25. Socrates Sculpture Park
On the East River, overlooking Roosevelt Island and the Upper East Side, the Socrates Sculpture Park, a former dump site, now has interesting art installations, light shows and movies on Wednesdays in summer.

26. Staten Island Ferry
Everyone wants to see the Statue of Liberty. Ferry tours there start at $12. But the Staten Island Ferry for commuters, cutting across the New York Harbour, is absolutely free and has long held the distinction as the single greatest free attraction on the Eastern Seaboard. Around since 1905, the ferry carries 19 million across the harbour each year. Technically for transport in between Staten Island and Manhattan, most visitors simply hop back on to get back to New York. It never gets old.

Free attractions at scheduled times

28. Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Free Tuesday, and 10 am to noon Saturday.

29. Brooklyn Museum
Free first Saturday of the month, when there is a big wine tasting and DJ parties that draw half the neighbourhood.

30. Bronx Zoo
Pay what you wish on Wednesday.

31. El Museo del Barrio
Free the third Saturday of the month.

32. Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum
Pay what you wish, first Friday of the month.

33. Museum of Modern Art
Entry is free 4pm to 8pm on Friday. Gets busy.

35. Neue Galerie
Free 6 pm to - 8 pm the first Friday of the month.

36. New York Botanical Garden
Free Wednesday, 10 am to noon Saturday.

37. New York Historical Society
Pay what you wish, 6 pm to 8 pm Friday.

38. South Street Seaport Museum
Free the third Friday of every month.


Forty free attractions in New York City

There is a lifetime of fun to be had without ever handing over a cent.

Seeing the bulk of New York City's biggest attractions can mean spending a hefty chunk of a trip's budget on tickets. Empire State Building? $20. The Met? $20. The Guggenheim and Whitney go for $18 each. Even the Frick is $15. But there is a lifetime of fun to be had without ever handing over a cent, and not just by taking on park trails, bike paths or window browsing. (Plus some ticket-admission spots have free times too – see the end of the story.)

Free New York travellers, get busy!

1. African Burial Ground
One of Lower Manhattan's most fascinating, and controversial, stories of recent years circulates around the new African Burial Ground National Monument site. It began when a construction project in 1991 uncovered a burial ground of slaves - more than 400 caskets were found - from an age when New York had more slaves than any American city outside Charleston, South Carolina. Outside you can see part of the site now enveloped by buildings, and the compact visitors centre does a masterful job at retelling African-American history in the city. See Lonely Planet's 76-Second Travel Show episode on the museum's opening.

2. Brooklyn Brewery tours
Free Saturday tours of Williamsburg's Brooklyn Brewery run half an hour from 1 pm to 4pm.

3. Central Park
It does not take brilliant travel minds to tell you that a park is free to visit - most parks are. But most parks are not Central Park, Manhattan's famed claim to thinking ahead (even if it was designed in the 1860s to boost real-estate value uptown). It 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. Another site is "the Pond", at the southeastern corner, where Holden Caulfield kept turning to in "The Catcher in the Rye", wondering where those ducks go when it is cold. (For the answer, watch this video.)

4. Chelsea galleries
New York's most concentrated area for a gallery crawl is in Chelsea, mostly in the 20s streets between 10th and 11th avenues. Check Gallery Guide or westchelseaarts.com for listings. All are free, no pressure to buy. And try timing for wine-and-cheese openings on Thursday evenings.

5. City Hall
Home to New York City's government since 1812, City Hall tours take in its cupola-topped marble hall, the governor's room as well as the spot where Abraham Lincoln's coffin lay in state briefly in 1865. Tours must be reserved in advance.

6. Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) Museum
It is always Fashion Week in the FIT Museum, which features rotating exhibits by students and a surprisingly interesting and detailed collection of the country's first gallery of fashion, picked from a collection of 50,000 garments dating from the 18th Century to present.

7. Federal Hall
Two presidents were inaugurated in New York City, beginning with the first "Dubya", George Washington, who took the oath in Federal Hall in 1789, back when New York was the first capital. (Chester A Arthur was the second.) There is a nice statue outside, overlooking the New York Stock Exchange across Wall Street, and a small, recently renovated museum on post-colonial New York inside.

8. Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Reserve at least a week ahead (sometimes a month!) to visit the Federal Reserve Bank. It is most rewarding just to ogle the facility's high-security vault - useful considering more than 10,000 tons of gold reserves reside here, 80 feet below ground. There are also exhibits on counterfeit currency as well as a serious coin collection of the American Numismatic Society. A tour is the only way to get in.

9. Forbes Collection
The lobby galleries of Forbes magazine have some various curios from the late Malcolm Forbes' collection, most notably early versions of Monopoly boards. (Or watch Lonely Planet's tour of Monopoly sites around the properties' namesakes at Atlantic City, New Jersey.)

10. General Ulysses S Grant National Memorial
Also called "Grant's Tomb", the $600,000 granite structure that holds the remains of the Civil War hero and 18th president (and his wife Julia) is the largest mausoleum in the US, and is patterned after Mausolus' tomb at Halicarnassus, making it a plagiarized version of one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

11. Governor's Island
The ferry to Governor's Island is free, as is access to the 172-acre island which opened to the public only in 2003. There is a 2.2-mile bike path, mini golf, a picnic area, plus military sites such as Admiral's House and a "ghost town" of sorts at Nolan Park.

12. Grand Central Partnership Walking Tours
Two historians lead free 90-minute walking tours at 12:30 pm every Friday, hitting places like Grand Central Terminal's "whispering gallery" and the Chrysler Building.

13. Green-Wood Cemetery
Once the nation's most visited tourist attraction outside Niagara Falls, the gorgeous Green-Wood Cemetery was founded in 1838 and is the eternal home to some 600,000 people (or about 530 miles of bodies, head to toe). It is leafy and lovely, features Brooklyn's highest point at Battle Hill, a site from the Revolutionary War, now marked with a seven-foot statue of the Roman goddess of wisdom, Minerva. Watch for the squawking green parakeets at the cemetery's Gothic entry -- these are runaways from a JFK mishap in 1980 and have lived here since.

14. Hamilton Grange
You know you are important when you get a grange. This one, Hamilton Grange, to reopen in 2011 after renovation, is the Federal-style country retreat where Alexander Hamilton spent quieter, pre-death-by-duel New York days.

15. High Line
It is a park, so it should be free, but the expanding High Line project has the impact and feel of a real-live attraction, complete with its own opening hours. Created from an abandoned stretch of elevated railroad track, the native-inspired landscaping of this park 30 feet in the air connects the Meatpacking District with Chelsea's galleries (another great free institution). There are wonderful Hudson River views, or of pedestrians on the sidewalks below. Watch for public-art installations and events.

16. Hispanic Society of America Museum and Library
The largest collection of Spanish art outside Spain fills the ornate Beaux Arts space of the Hispanic Society of America Museum and Library on the serene Audobon Terrace in far north Manhattan.

17. Japan Society
The films and lectures usually involve a ticket, but the gallery exhibits at the Japan Society (focusing on Japanese art) are always free.

18. National Museum of the American Indian
This Smithsonian ex-pat, just off the historic Bowling Green and Battery Park, often gets missed by the frenetic commuters and tourists heading to the Statue of Liberty. Situated in the spectacular former US Customs House (1907), the National Museum of the American Indian is actually one of the country's finest collections of Native American art. The focus is on culture, not history, and does so with many of its million-plus items.

19. New York Earth Room
Now for something completely different: the Earth Room, Walter De Maria's 1977 art installation, a single room filled with 280,000 pounds of dirt, combines the framework of an ordinary office with the scent of a wet forest.

20. New York Public Library
Remember the Dewey Decimal System? The New York Public Library, New York's most famous library (aka the Stephen A Schwarzman Building), which turns 100 in 2011, is situated in a grand Beaux Arts icon east of Times Square. It is fronted by marble lions named "Patience" and "Fortitude", and is just a jaw-dropper to walk through, particularly the reading room fit for 500 patrons reading with the aid of the library's original Carre-and-Hastings lamps. There are exhibits too, including a copy of the original Declaration of Independence, a Gutenburg Bible, plus 431,000 old maps. There are free tours at 11 am and 2 pm Monday to Saturday, 2 pm Sunday.

21. Old Stone House
A Breuckelen legacy from Brooklyn's Dutch origins, and a survivor from the ill-fated Battle of Brooklyn, this Old Stone House features a small exhibit on the battle. Its upstairs is sometimes rented out for the likes of sample sales.

22. Public boathouse kayaking
Kayak for free from public boathouses such as the Downtown Boathouse and Long Island Community Boathouse in Queens.

23. Rockefeller Center Public Art
Built in the 1930s Great Depression, the 22-acre Rockefeller Center is more than the setting for NBC's Today Shows (lines often appear by 6 am) and a giant Christmas tree in December (not to mention to $19 NBC tours or $21 trips to the observatory deck). But do pop by to see the slew of art commissioned under the theme of "Man at the Crossroads Looks Uncertainly But Hopefully at the Future". A bit wordy, but the pieces pack a big punch, such as the statue of Promethus overlooking the skating rink, or Atlas holding the world at 630 Fifth Ave. Jose Maria Sert's murals in the (main) GE Building used the likes of Abe Lincoln to replace the original "communist imagery" (eg Vladimir Lenin) by a snubbed, outraged Diego Rivera.

24. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Part of the city's library system, the country's largest collection of documents, books, recordings and photographs related to the African-American experience, the Schomburg Center also hosts free exhibits.

25. Socrates Sculpture Park
On the East River, overlooking Roosevelt Island and the Upper East Side, the Socrates Sculpture Park, a former dump site, now has interesting art installations, light shows and movies on Wednesdays in summer.

26. Staten Island Ferry
Everyone wants to see the Statue of Liberty. Ferry tours there start at $12. But the Staten Island Ferry for commuters, cutting across the New York Harbour, is absolutely free and has long held the distinction as the single greatest free attraction on the Eastern Seaboard. Around since 1905, the ferry carries 19 million across the harbour each year. Technically for transport in between Staten Island and Manhattan, most visitors simply hop back on to get back to New York. It never gets old.

Free attractions at scheduled times

28. Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Free Tuesday, and 10 am to noon Saturday.

29. Brooklyn Museum
Free first Saturday of the month, when there is a big wine tasting and DJ parties that draw half the neighbourhood.

30. Bronx Zoo
Pay what you wish on Wednesday.

31. El Museo del Barrio
Free the third Saturday of the month.

32. Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum
Pay what you wish, first Friday of the month.

33. Museum of Modern Art
Entry is free 4pm to 8pm on Friday. Gets busy.

35. Neue Galerie
Free 6 pm to - 8 pm the first Friday of the month.

36. New York Botanical Garden
Free Wednesday, 10 am to noon Saturday.

37. New York Historical Society
Pay what you wish, 6 pm to 8 pm Friday.

38. South Street Seaport Museum
Free the third Friday of every month.


Forty free attractions in New York City

There is a lifetime of fun to be had without ever handing over a cent.

Seeing the bulk of New York City's biggest attractions can mean spending a hefty chunk of a trip's budget on tickets. Empire State Building? $20. The Met? $20. The Guggenheim and Whitney go for $18 each. Even the Frick is $15. But there is a lifetime of fun to be had without ever handing over a cent, and not just by taking on park trails, bike paths or window browsing. (Plus some ticket-admission spots have free times too – see the end of the story.)

Free New York travellers, get busy!

1. African Burial Ground
One of Lower Manhattan's most fascinating, and controversial, stories of recent years circulates around the new African Burial Ground National Monument site. It began when a construction project in 1991 uncovered a burial ground of slaves - more than 400 caskets were found - from an age when New York had more slaves than any American city outside Charleston, South Carolina. Outside you can see part of the site now enveloped by buildings, and the compact visitors centre does a masterful job at retelling African-American history in the city. See Lonely Planet's 76-Second Travel Show episode on the museum's opening.

2. Brooklyn Brewery tours
Free Saturday tours of Williamsburg's Brooklyn Brewery run half an hour from 1 pm to 4pm.

3. Central Park
It does not take brilliant travel minds to tell you that a park is free to visit - most parks are. But most parks are not Central Park, Manhattan's famed claim to thinking ahead (even if it was designed in the 1860s to boost real-estate value uptown). It 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. Another site is "the Pond", at the southeastern corner, where Holden Caulfield kept turning to in "The Catcher in the Rye", wondering where those ducks go when it is cold. (For the answer, watch this video.)

4. Chelsea galleries
New York's most concentrated area for a gallery crawl is in Chelsea, mostly in the 20s streets between 10th and 11th avenues. Check Gallery Guide or westchelseaarts.com for listings. All are free, no pressure to buy. And try timing for wine-and-cheese openings on Thursday evenings.

5. City Hall
Home to New York City's government since 1812, City Hall tours take in its cupola-topped marble hall, the governor's room as well as the spot where Abraham Lincoln's coffin lay in state briefly in 1865. Tours must be reserved in advance.

6. Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) Museum
It is always Fashion Week in the FIT Museum, which features rotating exhibits by students and a surprisingly interesting and detailed collection of the country's first gallery of fashion, picked from a collection of 50,000 garments dating from the 18th Century to present.

7. Federal Hall
Two presidents were inaugurated in New York City, beginning with the first "Dubya", George Washington, who took the oath in Federal Hall in 1789, back when New York was the first capital. (Chester A Arthur was the second.) There is a nice statue outside, overlooking the New York Stock Exchange across Wall Street, and a small, recently renovated museum on post-colonial New York inside.

8. Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Reserve at least a week ahead (sometimes a month!) to visit the Federal Reserve Bank. It is most rewarding just to ogle the facility's high-security vault - useful considering more than 10,000 tons of gold reserves reside here, 80 feet below ground. There are also exhibits on counterfeit currency as well as a serious coin collection of the American Numismatic Society. A tour is the only way to get in.

9. Forbes Collection
The lobby galleries of Forbes magazine have some various curios from the late Malcolm Forbes' collection, most notably early versions of Monopoly boards. (Or watch Lonely Planet's tour of Monopoly sites around the properties' namesakes at Atlantic City, New Jersey.)

10. General Ulysses S Grant National Memorial
Also called "Grant's Tomb", the $600,000 granite structure that holds the remains of the Civil War hero and 18th president (and his wife Julia) is the largest mausoleum in the US, and is patterned after Mausolus' tomb at Halicarnassus, making it a plagiarized version of one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

11. Governor's Island
The ferry to Governor's Island is free, as is access to the 172-acre island which opened to the public only in 2003. There is a 2.2-mile bike path, mini golf, a picnic area, plus military sites such as Admiral's House and a "ghost town" of sorts at Nolan Park.

12. Grand Central Partnership Walking Tours
Two historians lead free 90-minute walking tours at 12:30 pm every Friday, hitting places like Grand Central Terminal's "whispering gallery" and the Chrysler Building.

13. Green-Wood Cemetery
Once the nation's most visited tourist attraction outside Niagara Falls, the gorgeous Green-Wood Cemetery was founded in 1838 and is the eternal home to some 600,000 people (or about 530 miles of bodies, head to toe). It is leafy and lovely, features Brooklyn's highest point at Battle Hill, a site from the Revolutionary War, now marked with a seven-foot statue of the Roman goddess of wisdom, Minerva. Watch for the squawking green parakeets at the cemetery's Gothic entry -- these are runaways from a JFK mishap in 1980 and have lived here since.

14. Hamilton Grange
You know you are important when you get a grange. This one, Hamilton Grange, to reopen in 2011 after renovation, is the Federal-style country retreat where Alexander Hamilton spent quieter, pre-death-by-duel New York days.

15. High Line
It is a park, so it should be free, but the expanding High Line project has the impact and feel of a real-live attraction, complete with its own opening hours. Created from an abandoned stretch of elevated railroad track, the native-inspired landscaping of this park 30 feet in the air connects the Meatpacking District with Chelsea's galleries (another great free institution). There are wonderful Hudson River views, or of pedestrians on the sidewalks below. Watch for public-art installations and events.

16. Hispanic Society of America Museum and Library
The largest collection of Spanish art outside Spain fills the ornate Beaux Arts space of the Hispanic Society of America Museum and Library on the serene Audobon Terrace in far north Manhattan.

17. Japan Society
The films and lectures usually involve a ticket, but the gallery exhibits at the Japan Society (focusing on Japanese art) are always free.

18. National Museum of the American Indian
This Smithsonian ex-pat, just off the historic Bowling Green and Battery Park, often gets missed by the frenetic commuters and tourists heading to the Statue of Liberty. Situated in the spectacular former US Customs House (1907), the National Museum of the American Indian is actually one of the country's finest collections of Native American art. The focus is on culture, not history, and does so with many of its million-plus items.

19. New York Earth Room
Now for something completely different: the Earth Room, Walter De Maria's 1977 art installation, a single room filled with 280,000 pounds of dirt, combines the framework of an ordinary office with the scent of a wet forest.

20. New York Public Library
Remember the Dewey Decimal System? The New York Public Library, New York's most famous library (aka the Stephen A Schwarzman Building), which turns 100 in 2011, is situated in a grand Beaux Arts icon east of Times Square. It is fronted by marble lions named "Patience" and "Fortitude", and is just a jaw-dropper to walk through, particularly the reading room fit for 500 patrons reading with the aid of the library's original Carre-and-Hastings lamps. There are exhibits too, including a copy of the original Declaration of Independence, a Gutenburg Bible, plus 431,000 old maps. There are free tours at 11 am and 2 pm Monday to Saturday, 2 pm Sunday.

21. Old Stone House
A Breuckelen legacy from Brooklyn's Dutch origins, and a survivor from the ill-fated Battle of Brooklyn, this Old Stone House features a small exhibit on the battle. Its upstairs is sometimes rented out for the likes of sample sales.

22. Public boathouse kayaking
Kayak for free from public boathouses such as the Downtown Boathouse and Long Island Community Boathouse in Queens.

23. Rockefeller Center Public Art
Built in the 1930s Great Depression, the 22-acre Rockefeller Center is more than the setting for NBC's Today Shows (lines often appear by 6 am) and a giant Christmas tree in December (not to mention to $19 NBC tours or $21 trips to the observatory deck). But do pop by to see the slew of art commissioned under the theme of "Man at the Crossroads Looks Uncertainly But Hopefully at the Future". A bit wordy, but the pieces pack a big punch, such as the statue of Promethus overlooking the skating rink, or Atlas holding the world at 630 Fifth Ave. Jose Maria Sert's murals in the (main) GE Building used the likes of Abe Lincoln to replace the original "communist imagery" (eg Vladimir Lenin) by a snubbed, outraged Diego Rivera.

24. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Part of the city's library system, the country's largest collection of documents, books, recordings and photographs related to the African-American experience, the Schomburg Center also hosts free exhibits.

25. Socrates Sculpture Park
On the East River, overlooking Roosevelt Island and the Upper East Side, the Socrates Sculpture Park, a former dump site, now has interesting art installations, light shows and movies on Wednesdays in summer.

26. Staten Island Ferry
Everyone wants to see the Statue of Liberty. Ferry tours there start at $12. But the Staten Island Ferry for commuters, cutting across the New York Harbour, is absolutely free and has long held the distinction as the single greatest free attraction on the Eastern Seaboard. Around since 1905, the ferry carries 19 million across the harbour each year. Technically for transport in between Staten Island and Manhattan, most visitors simply hop back on to get back to New York. It never gets old.

Free attractions at scheduled times

28. Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Free Tuesday, and 10 am to noon Saturday.

29. Brooklyn Museum
Free first Saturday of the month, when there is a big wine tasting and DJ parties that draw half the neighbourhood.

30. Bronx Zoo
Pay what you wish on Wednesday.

31. El Museo del Barrio
Free the third Saturday of the month.

32. Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum
Pay what you wish, first Friday of the month.

33. Museum of Modern Art
Entry is free 4pm to 8pm on Friday. Gets busy.

35. Neue Galerie
Free 6 pm to - 8 pm the first Friday of the month.

36. New York Botanical Garden
Free Wednesday, 10 am to noon Saturday.

37. New York Historical Society
Pay what you wish, 6 pm to 8 pm Friday.

38. South Street Seaport Museum
Free the third Friday of every month.


Forty free attractions in New York City

There is a lifetime of fun to be had without ever handing over a cent.

Seeing the bulk of New York City's biggest attractions can mean spending a hefty chunk of a trip's budget on tickets. Empire State Building? $20. The Met? $20. The Guggenheim and Whitney go for $18 each. Even the Frick is $15. But there is a lifetime of fun to be had without ever handing over a cent, and not just by taking on park trails, bike paths or window browsing. (Plus some ticket-admission spots have free times too – see the end of the story.)

Free New York travellers, get busy!

1. African Burial Ground
One of Lower Manhattan's most fascinating, and controversial, stories of recent years circulates around the new African Burial Ground National Monument site. It began when a construction project in 1991 uncovered a burial ground of slaves - more than 400 caskets were found - from an age when New York had more slaves than any American city outside Charleston, South Carolina. Outside you can see part of the site now enveloped by buildings, and the compact visitors centre does a masterful job at retelling African-American history in the city. See Lonely Planet's 76-Second Travel Show episode on the museum's opening.

2. Brooklyn Brewery tours
Free Saturday tours of Williamsburg's Brooklyn Brewery run half an hour from 1 pm to 4pm.

3. Central Park
It does not take brilliant travel minds to tell you that a park is free to visit - most parks are. But most parks are not Central Park, Manhattan's famed claim to thinking ahead (even if it was designed in the 1860s to boost real-estate value uptown). It 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. Another site is "the Pond", at the southeastern corner, where Holden Caulfield kept turning to in "The Catcher in the Rye", wondering where those ducks go when it is cold. (For the answer, watch this video.)

4. Chelsea galleries
New York's most concentrated area for a gallery crawl is in Chelsea, mostly in the 20s streets between 10th and 11th avenues. Check Gallery Guide or westchelseaarts.com for listings. All are free, no pressure to buy. And try timing for wine-and-cheese openings on Thursday evenings.

5. City Hall
Home to New York City's government since 1812, City Hall tours take in its cupola-topped marble hall, the governor's room as well as the spot where Abraham Lincoln's coffin lay in state briefly in 1865. Tours must be reserved in advance.

6. Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) Museum
It is always Fashion Week in the FIT Museum, which features rotating exhibits by students and a surprisingly interesting and detailed collection of the country's first gallery of fashion, picked from a collection of 50,000 garments dating from the 18th Century to present.

7. Federal Hall
Two presidents were inaugurated in New York City, beginning with the first "Dubya", George Washington, who took the oath in Federal Hall in 1789, back when New York was the first capital. (Chester A Arthur was the second.) There is a nice statue outside, overlooking the New York Stock Exchange across Wall Street, and a small, recently renovated museum on post-colonial New York inside.

8. Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Reserve at least a week ahead (sometimes a month!) to visit the Federal Reserve Bank. It is most rewarding just to ogle the facility's high-security vault - useful considering more than 10,000 tons of gold reserves reside here, 80 feet below ground. There are also exhibits on counterfeit currency as well as a serious coin collection of the American Numismatic Society. A tour is the only way to get in.

9. Forbes Collection
The lobby galleries of Forbes magazine have some various curios from the late Malcolm Forbes' collection, most notably early versions of Monopoly boards. (Or watch Lonely Planet's tour of Monopoly sites around the properties' namesakes at Atlantic City, New Jersey.)

10. General Ulysses S Grant National Memorial
Also called "Grant's Tomb", the $600,000 granite structure that holds the remains of the Civil War hero and 18th president (and his wife Julia) is the largest mausoleum in the US, and is patterned after Mausolus' tomb at Halicarnassus, making it a plagiarized version of one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

11. Governor's Island
The ferry to Governor's Island is free, as is access to the 172-acre island which opened to the public only in 2003. There is a 2.2-mile bike path, mini golf, a picnic area, plus military sites such as Admiral's House and a "ghost town" of sorts at Nolan Park.

12. Grand Central Partnership Walking Tours
Two historians lead free 90-minute walking tours at 12:30 pm every Friday, hitting places like Grand Central Terminal's "whispering gallery" and the Chrysler Building.

13. Green-Wood Cemetery
Once the nation's most visited tourist attraction outside Niagara Falls, the gorgeous Green-Wood Cemetery was founded in 1838 and is the eternal home to some 600,000 people (or about 530 miles of bodies, head to toe). It is leafy and lovely, features Brooklyn's highest point at Battle Hill, a site from the Revolutionary War, now marked with a seven-foot statue of the Roman goddess of wisdom, Minerva. Watch for the squawking green parakeets at the cemetery's Gothic entry -- these are runaways from a JFK mishap in 1980 and have lived here since.

14. Hamilton Grange
You know you are important when you get a grange. This one, Hamilton Grange, to reopen in 2011 after renovation, is the Federal-style country retreat where Alexander Hamilton spent quieter, pre-death-by-duel New York days.

15. High Line
It is a park, so it should be free, but the expanding High Line project has the impact and feel of a real-live attraction, complete with its own opening hours. Created from an abandoned stretch of elevated railroad track, the native-inspired landscaping of this park 30 feet in the air connects the Meatpacking District with Chelsea's galleries (another great free institution). There are wonderful Hudson River views, or of pedestrians on the sidewalks below. Watch for public-art installations and events.

16. Hispanic Society of America Museum and Library
The largest collection of Spanish art outside Spain fills the ornate Beaux Arts space of the Hispanic Society of America Museum and Library on the serene Audobon Terrace in far north Manhattan.

17. Japan Society
The films and lectures usually involve a ticket, but the gallery exhibits at the Japan Society (focusing on Japanese art) are always free.

18. National Museum of the American Indian
This Smithsonian ex-pat, just off the historic Bowling Green and Battery Park, often gets missed by the frenetic commuters and tourists heading to the Statue of Liberty. Situated in the spectacular former US Customs House (1907), the National Museum of the American Indian is actually one of the country's finest collections of Native American art. The focus is on culture, not history, and does so with many of its million-plus items.

19. New York Earth Room
Now for something completely different: the Earth Room, Walter De Maria's 1977 art installation, a single room filled with 280,000 pounds of dirt, combines the framework of an ordinary office with the scent of a wet forest.

20. New York Public Library
Remember the Dewey Decimal System? The New York Public Library, New York's most famous library (aka the Stephen A Schwarzman Building), which turns 100 in 2011, is situated in a grand Beaux Arts icon east of Times Square. It is fronted by marble lions named "Patience" and "Fortitude", and is just a jaw-dropper to walk through, particularly the reading room fit for 500 patrons reading with the aid of the library's original Carre-and-Hastings lamps. There are exhibits too, including a copy of the original Declaration of Independence, a Gutenburg Bible, plus 431,000 old maps. There are free tours at 11 am and 2 pm Monday to Saturday, 2 pm Sunday.

21. Old Stone House
A Breuckelen legacy from Brooklyn's Dutch origins, and a survivor from the ill-fated Battle of Brooklyn, this Old Stone House features a small exhibit on the battle. Its upstairs is sometimes rented out for the likes of sample sales.

22. Public boathouse kayaking
Kayak for free from public boathouses such as the Downtown Boathouse and Long Island Community Boathouse in Queens.

23. Rockefeller Center Public Art
Built in the 1930s Great Depression, the 22-acre Rockefeller Center is more than the setting for NBC's Today Shows (lines often appear by 6 am) and a giant Christmas tree in December (not to mention to $19 NBC tours or $21 trips to the observatory deck). But do pop by to see the slew of art commissioned under the theme of "Man at the Crossroads Looks Uncertainly But Hopefully at the Future". A bit wordy, but the pieces pack a big punch, such as the statue of Promethus overlooking the skating rink, or Atlas holding the world at 630 Fifth Ave. Jose Maria Sert's murals in the (main) GE Building used the likes of Abe Lincoln to replace the original "communist imagery" (eg Vladimir Lenin) by a snubbed, outraged Diego Rivera.

24. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Part of the city's library system, the country's largest collection of documents, books, recordings and photographs related to the African-American experience, the Schomburg Center also hosts free exhibits.

25. Socrates Sculpture Park
On the East River, overlooking Roosevelt Island and the Upper East Side, the Socrates Sculpture Park, a former dump site, now has interesting art installations, light shows and movies on Wednesdays in summer.

26. Staten Island Ferry
Everyone wants to see the Statue of Liberty. Ferry tours there start at $12. But the Staten Island Ferry for commuters, cutting across the New York Harbour, is absolutely free and has long held the distinction as the single greatest free attraction on the Eastern Seaboard. Around since 1905, the ferry carries 19 million across the harbour each year. Technically for transport in between Staten Island and Manhattan, most visitors simply hop back on to get back to New York. It never gets old.

Free attractions at scheduled times

28. Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Free Tuesday, and 10 am to noon Saturday.

29. Brooklyn Museum
Free first Saturday of the month, when there is a big wine tasting and DJ parties that draw half the neighbourhood.

30. Bronx Zoo
Pay what you wish on Wednesday.

31. El Museo del Barrio
Free the third Saturday of the month.

32. Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum
Pay what you wish, first Friday of the month.

33. Museum of Modern Art
Entry is free 4pm to 8pm on Friday. Gets busy.

35. Neue Galerie
Free 6 pm to - 8 pm the first Friday of the month.

36. New York Botanical Garden
Free Wednesday, 10 am to noon Saturday.

37. New York Historical Society
Pay what you wish, 6 pm to 8 pm Friday.

38. South Street Seaport Museum
Free the third Friday of every month.


Forty free attractions in New York City

There is a lifetime of fun to be had without ever handing over a cent.

Seeing the bulk of New York City's biggest attractions can mean spending a hefty chunk of a trip's budget on tickets. Empire State Building? $20. The Met? $20. The Guggenheim and Whitney go for $18 each. Even the Frick is $15. But there is a lifetime of fun to be had without ever handing over a cent, and not just by taking on park trails, bike paths or window browsing. (Plus some ticket-admission spots have free times too – see the end of the story.)

Free New York travellers, get busy!

1. African Burial Ground
One of Lower Manhattan's most fascinating, and controversial, stories of recent years circulates around the new African Burial Ground National Monument site. It began when a construction project in 1991 uncovered a burial ground of slaves - more than 400 caskets were found - from an age when New York had more slaves than any American city outside Charleston, South Carolina. Outside you can see part of the site now enveloped by buildings, and the compact visitors centre does a masterful job at retelling African-American history in the city. See Lonely Planet's 76-Second Travel Show episode on the museum's opening.

2. Brooklyn Brewery tours
Free Saturday tours of Williamsburg's Brooklyn Brewery run half an hour from 1 pm to 4pm.

3. Central Park
It does not take brilliant travel minds to tell you that a park is free to visit - most parks are. But most parks are not Central Park, Manhattan's famed claim to thinking ahead (even if it was designed in the 1860s to boost real-estate value uptown). It 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. Another site is "the Pond", at the southeastern corner, where Holden Caulfield kept turning to in "The Catcher in the Rye", wondering where those ducks go when it is cold. (For the answer, watch this video.)

4. Chelsea galleries
New York's most concentrated area for a gallery crawl is in Chelsea, mostly in the 20s streets between 10th and 11th avenues. Check Gallery Guide or westchelseaarts.com for listings. All are free, no pressure to buy. And try timing for wine-and-cheese openings on Thursday evenings.

5. City Hall
Home to New York City's government since 1812, City Hall tours take in its cupola-topped marble hall, the governor's room as well as the spot where Abraham Lincoln's coffin lay in state briefly in 1865. Tours must be reserved in advance.

6. Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) Museum
It is always Fashion Week in the FIT Museum, which features rotating exhibits by students and a surprisingly interesting and detailed collection of the country's first gallery of fashion, picked from a collection of 50,000 garments dating from the 18th Century to present.

7. Federal Hall
Two presidents were inaugurated in New York City, beginning with the first "Dubya", George Washington, who took the oath in Federal Hall in 1789, back when New York was the first capital. (Chester A Arthur was the second.) There is a nice statue outside, overlooking the New York Stock Exchange across Wall Street, and a small, recently renovated museum on post-colonial New York inside.

8. Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Reserve at least a week ahead (sometimes a month!) to visit the Federal Reserve Bank. It is most rewarding just to ogle the facility's high-security vault - useful considering more than 10,000 tons of gold reserves reside here, 80 feet below ground. There are also exhibits on counterfeit currency as well as a serious coin collection of the American Numismatic Society. A tour is the only way to get in.

9. Forbes Collection
The lobby galleries of Forbes magazine have some various curios from the late Malcolm Forbes' collection, most notably early versions of Monopoly boards. (Or watch Lonely Planet's tour of Monopoly sites around the properties' namesakes at Atlantic City, New Jersey.)

10. General Ulysses S Grant National Memorial
Also called "Grant's Tomb", the $600,000 granite structure that holds the remains of the Civil War hero and 18th president (and his wife Julia) is the largest mausoleum in the US, and is patterned after Mausolus' tomb at Halicarnassus, making it a plagiarized version of one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

11. Governor's Island
The ferry to Governor's Island is free, as is access to the 172-acre island which opened to the public only in 2003. There is a 2.2-mile bike path, mini golf, a picnic area, plus military sites such as Admiral's House and a "ghost town" of sorts at Nolan Park.

12. Grand Central Partnership Walking Tours
Two historians lead free 90-minute walking tours at 12:30 pm every Friday, hitting places like Grand Central Terminal's "whispering gallery" and the Chrysler Building.

13. Green-Wood Cemetery
Once the nation's most visited tourist attraction outside Niagara Falls, the gorgeous Green-Wood Cemetery was founded in 1838 and is the eternal home to some 600,000 people (or about 530 miles of bodies, head to toe). It is leafy and lovely, features Brooklyn's highest point at Battle Hill, a site from the Revolutionary War, now marked with a seven-foot statue of the Roman goddess of wisdom, Minerva. Watch for the squawking green parakeets at the cemetery's Gothic entry -- these are runaways from a JFK mishap in 1980 and have lived here since.

14. Hamilton Grange
You know you are important when you get a grange. This one, Hamilton Grange, to reopen in 2011 after renovation, is the Federal-style country retreat where Alexander Hamilton spent quieter, pre-death-by-duel New York days.

15. High Line
It is a park, so it should be free, but the expanding High Line project has the impact and feel of a real-live attraction, complete with its own opening hours. Created from an abandoned stretch of elevated railroad track, the native-inspired landscaping of this park 30 feet in the air connects the Meatpacking District with Chelsea's galleries (another great free institution). There are wonderful Hudson River views, or of pedestrians on the sidewalks below. Watch for public-art installations and events.

16. Hispanic Society of America Museum and Library
The largest collection of Spanish art outside Spain fills the ornate Beaux Arts space of the Hispanic Society of America Museum and Library on the serene Audobon Terrace in far north Manhattan.

17. Japan Society
The films and lectures usually involve a ticket, but the gallery exhibits at the Japan Society (focusing on Japanese art) are always free.

18. National Museum of the American Indian
This Smithsonian ex-pat, just off the historic Bowling Green and Battery Park, often gets missed by the frenetic commuters and tourists heading to the Statue of Liberty. Situated in the spectacular former US Customs House (1907), the National Museum of the American Indian is actually one of the country's finest collections of Native American art. The focus is on culture, not history, and does so with many of its million-plus items.

19. New York Earth Room
Now for something completely different: the Earth Room, Walter De Maria's 1977 art installation, a single room filled with 280,000 pounds of dirt, combines the framework of an ordinary office with the scent of a wet forest.

20. New York Public Library
Remember the Dewey Decimal System? The New York Public Library, New York's most famous library (aka the Stephen A Schwarzman Building), which turns 100 in 2011, is situated in a grand Beaux Arts icon east of Times Square. It is fronted by marble lions named "Patience" and "Fortitude", and is just a jaw-dropper to walk through, particularly the reading room fit for 500 patrons reading with the aid of the library's original Carre-and-Hastings lamps. There are exhibits too, including a copy of the original Declaration of Independence, a Gutenburg Bible, plus 431,000 old maps. There are free tours at 11 am and 2 pm Monday to Saturday, 2 pm Sunday.

21. Old Stone House
A Breuckelen legacy from Brooklyn's Dutch origins, and a survivor from the ill-fated Battle of Brooklyn, this Old Stone House features a small exhibit on the battle. Its upstairs is sometimes rented out for the likes of sample sales.

22. Public boathouse kayaking
Kayak for free from public boathouses such as the Downtown Boathouse and Long Island Community Boathouse in Queens.

23. Rockefeller Center Public Art
Built in the 1930s Great Depression, the 22-acre Rockefeller Center is more than the setting for NBC's Today Shows (lines often appear by 6 am) and a giant Christmas tree in December (not to mention to $19 NBC tours or $21 trips to the observatory deck). But do pop by to see the slew of art commissioned under the theme of "Man at the Crossroads Looks Uncertainly But Hopefully at the Future". A bit wordy, but the pieces pack a big punch, such as the statue of Promethus overlooking the skating rink, or Atlas holding the world at 630 Fifth Ave. Jose Maria Sert's murals in the (main) GE Building used the likes of Abe Lincoln to replace the original "communist imagery" (eg Vladimir Lenin) by a snubbed, outraged Diego Rivera.

24. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Part of the city's library system, the country's largest collection of documents, books, recordings and photographs related to the African-American experience, the Schomburg Center also hosts free exhibits.

25. Socrates Sculpture Park
On the East River, overlooking Roosevelt Island and the Upper East Side, the Socrates Sculpture Park, a former dump site, now has interesting art installations, light shows and movies on Wednesdays in summer.

26. Staten Island Ferry
Everyone wants to see the Statue of Liberty. Ferry tours there start at $12. But the Staten Island Ferry for commuters, cutting across the New York Harbour, is absolutely free and has long held the distinction as the single greatest free attraction on the Eastern Seaboard. Around since 1905, the ferry carries 19 million across the harbour each year. Technically for transport in between Staten Island and Manhattan, most visitors simply hop back on to get back to New York. It never gets old.

Free attractions at scheduled times

28. Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Free Tuesday, and 10 am to noon Saturday.

29. Brooklyn Museum
Free first Saturday of the month, when there is a big wine tasting and DJ parties that draw half the neighbourhood.

30. Bronx Zoo
Pay what you wish on Wednesday.

31. El Museo del Barrio
Free the third Saturday of the month.

32. Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum
Pay what you wish, first Friday of the month.

33. Museum of Modern Art
Entry is free 4pm to 8pm on Friday. Gets busy.

35. Neue Galerie
Free 6 pm to - 8 pm the first Friday of the month.

36. New York Botanical Garden
Free Wednesday, 10 am to noon Saturday.

37. New York Historical Society
Pay what you wish, 6 pm to 8 pm Friday.

38. South Street Seaport Museum
Free the third Friday of every month.