Top 10 Free Things to Visit in the Big Apple
1. Grand Central Terminal
One of the few train stations in the city not owned by the MTA, “Grand Central” (as it’s called) has 44 platforms, more than any other railroad in the world. It serves commuters by bringing them to Westchester, Putnam, or Dutchess County upstate; it can also be used to visit Fairfield and New Haven in Connecticut. The terminal is a popular tourist destination for both its elaborate architecture (including a sculpture of the Roman god Mercury) and grand concourses that are home to ticket booths, shops, and dining spots.
2. St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Located along stylish 5th Avenue and conveniently near Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church is characterized by the “Decorated Neo-Gothic” style of architecture. The Diocese of New York began in 1808, and it was then that Archbishop John Hughes announced plans for the new cathedral. After its construction was stopped during the Civil War, it was completed in 1878 and officially dedicated a year later. Today, the building is frequently open for tourists, but it also holds Sunday Masses and operates as any house of worship would.
3. Staten Island Ferry
Staten Island may be colloquially known as “the forgotten borough,” but it’s hard to forget a place that was once only reachable by boat! You can still get a little taste of those days by hitching a ride on the well-known Staten Island Ferry. The ferry, which operates several orange boats, departs from downtown Manhattan and docks in the St. George terminal on Staten Island. A round trip will cost you zero dollars, but sitting on the outer docks and feeling a sea breeze as you pass the Statue of Liberty? Priceless.
4. The Metropolitan Museum of Art
This is one giant place in New York City that virtually guarantees a second visit. There is almost no way to see everything “the Met” has to offer in only one trip. The museum opened in February of 1872, with railroad executive John Taylor Johnston serving as its first president; in fact, Johnston’s personal art collection is what kicked things off. Nowadays, they have wings dedicated to work from Asia, Ancient Greece, Europe, Egypt, Africa, and many more. The building itself is well known for the cascading steps that lead to its front doors.
5. Lincoln Center
Formally known as Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, this 16-acre complex is situated in Manhattan’s Lincoln Square neighborhood. It is the home of world-class performing arts organizations, including the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, and the New York City Ballet. Fordham University also has a campus here. Lincoln Center began life as the brainchild of Robert Moses during his urban renewal movement, and the Rockefeller family subsequently provided funds for its opening in 1962.
6. New York Public Library on 5th Avenue
This enormous library, also known as the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building or the NYPL Main Branch, is full of both books and wonderful architecture. Rising columns, chandeliers, and marble staircases are just some of the things to marvel at. The place is conveniently close to Bryant Park, and it’s also got a lovely gift shop on the ground floor. But perhaps the most Instagram-worthy aspects of this library are the two lions that guard the entrance. Their names are “Patience” and “Fortitude,” two qualities that New Yorkers are believed to possess.
7. The High Line
This aptly named spot is an elevated railway in the Chelsea neighborhood that has been transformed into a beautiful park. Not only will you see amazing horticulture here, but you’ll also get to take in more traditional works of art as well as community events and the odd seasonal snack seller. Furthermore, the place provides a special viewpoint for the Hudson River and famed New York skyline. Some even swear by sitting on a bench with their snack and watching the traffic pass below; it’s surprisingly tranquil!
8. Times Square
“Give my regards to Broadway, remember me to Herald Square.” And it all begins right here, in the heart of Manhattan! Times Square is one of those places where there are enough lights to make nighttime look like midday. It is a central tourist hub, and with good reason- most of the 40 Broadway theatres are located very close by, and there’s no shortage of mega stores and restaurants, each with its own flair.
9. Rockefeller Center
In 1928, some 75,000 men were put to work building one of the great architectural achievements of the 20th century- Rockefeller Center. This “city within the city” was named after oil baron John D. Rockefeller, who contributed millions of dollars toward its construction. Today, this place is chock-full of shops and sights as well as the home base of NBC. However, its crowning aspect is “the showplace of the nation,” Radio City Music Hall. That legendary venue welcomes millions of visitors every year with its abundance of phenomenal live shows.
10. Central Park
The most well known park in Manhattan was established in 1857 on city property. Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux expanded it the following year before an official opening in the winter. Today, the green space has some 36 bridges connecting several “parks within the park,” including Sheep Meadow and the Ramble. Central Park also functions as a mini-museum of sorts, containing a plethora of sculptures such as Alice in Wonderland, Cleopatra’s Needle, and even Balto. Tourists can do everything from visiting the internal zoo to riding boats in a lake.