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7 Free Things to Do in New York City

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New York City has rightfully earned a reputation as an expensive place. But there are great things you can do for free, especially during the holidays. Of course, you can stroll along Fifth Avenue, checking out the outstanding holiday window displays at Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor…and see the ball drop in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. But there’s much more you can do for free…

Take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry (nyc.gov/dot), which operates 24/7 every half hour or so. The free voyage offers great views of Manhattan’s skyscrapers, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Get free admission to museums. Most museums offer free admission (or “pay what you wish”) one afternoon or evening each week. Example: The Museum of Modern Art (11 W. 53rd St.) is free for all visitors during UNIQLO Free Friday Nights, every Friday from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

Wander around the Holiday Fair at Grand Central Terminal (GrandCentralTerminal.com). More than 75 artisans and shops display their wares in Vanderbilt Hall, the former waiting room for this grand train station. Also, on Wednesdays at 12:30 pm, there is a free 90-minute tour of the station offered by the Municipal Art Society.

Tour the city with Big Apple Greeter (BigAppleGreeter.org). Volunteer guides from all five boroughs meet visiting individuals or groups to introduce them to fascinating neighborhoods and hidden treasures. Guides and visitors are matched by language, interests and neighborhoods. Reservations required—tipping is not permitted.

Check out the television shows produced in New York City. These include The ViewLate Show with Stephen ColbertSaturday Night LiveGood Morning America…and the Today show. Go to their Web sites for directions on how to get tickets (plan well in advance) or visit New York TV Show Free Tickets.

Take advantage of the New York Public Library (nypl.org), which hosts free classes, lectures, music events, exhibitions and tours at the more than 40 library locations in Manhattan. There also are free tours of the main branch—the Beaux-Arts landmark building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street—at 11:00 am and 2:00 pm Monday through Saturday.

Enjoy free admission to Bank of America skating rink at Bryant Park (BryantPark.org) from late October to early March. There also is no charge for lockers (bring your own lock) or bag check, but fees apply for skate rental, VIP FastPass and skate sharpening. Bryant Park is situated behind the New York Public Library, between 40th and 42nd streets and Fifth and Sixth avenues.

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Source: Gerry Frank is author and publisher of the best-selling guidebook Gerry Frank’s Where to Find It, Buy It, Eat It in New York 2016–2017, now in its 19th edition. Date: December 1, 2012 Publication: Bottom Line Personal
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