New York City’s best free experiences

Cheap thrills in the Big Apple

Hear sizzling live jazz at Barbès

Photo: Matt Munro / Lonely Planet

Having helped to launch the careers of legendary jazz artists like Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk, New York City’s club scene is enshrined into the pages of jazz history, and seeing a live show here is an essential NYC experience for music lovers.

If iconic venues like the Village Vanguard and the Blue Note are way out of your price range, head across the bridge to Barbès in Brooklyn to enjoy stellar nightly performances for free.

Admire Brooklyn Collective’s curated street art in Bushwick

Photo: Christian Mueller / Shutterstock

Curated by Bushwick native Joe Ficalora, the Brooklyn Collective is an unofficial graffiti museum that brings together top street artists from all around the world.

Spanning multiple buildings over several blocks, the art you’ll see is all temporary, legal and a worthy rival to anything you’ll see in a museum with four walls.

Savor each of Central Park’s 843 acres

Photo: Tyler Olson / Shutterstock

Even though the real estate surrounding this famous urban oasis is some of the most expensive in the world, access to Central Park is gloriously free for New Yorkers and visitors of all means.

You probably won’t want miss the Imagine mosaic at Strawberry Fields, just steps in from where John Lennon was shot in 1980.

You can also retrace the steps of The Catcher in the Rye protagonist Holden Caulfield by checking out the ducks in the Pond at the park’s southeastern corner.

Admire Lady Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry

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The Statue of Liberty is a must-see, but ferry tours to Liberty Island start at $18 for adults.

Enter the Staten Island Ferry, which plies New York Harbor 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, offering a stellar view of this iconic monument at no cost at all.

Having been in service since 1905, the ferry shuttles some 19 million visitors and commuters back and forth across the harbor each year.

Catch a cool show at BRIC House and Celebrate Brooklyn!

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In a part of Brooklyn humming with cultural activity, BRIC House is a leading presenter of no-cost, multimedia programming, with free admission to two performance spaces and a gallery.

In the summer, the organization curates the Celebrate Brooklyn! series in Prospect Park, with a majority of the concerts and performances – which in the past have sets from Chaka Khan, Janelle Monáe, the dancers of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and many others – free of charge, with no ticket necessary.

Get inspired to put down that phone at the New York Public Library

Exhibitions showcase the institution’s astonishing holdings, which include a copy of the original Declaration of Independence, a Gutenberg Bible and some 431,000 old maps.

Free tours of the building and the Rose Main Reading Room take place throughout the week.

Interact with the art at Socrates Sculpture Park

Photo: LEE SNIDER PHOTO IMAGES / Shutterstock

Overlooking Roosevelt Island and the Upper East Side on the East River, the site of a former landfill now hosts Socrates Sculpture Park, a playful and free outdoor museum and public park with large-scale interactive sculptures and multimedia art installations.

On Wednesdays in the summer, free movie screenings take place, with an emphasis on foreign films, preceded by corresponding music and cultural performances.

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