No matter if it is your first trip to NYC or an experienced visitor, there are countless exciting and free non touristy activities in New York City to fill your time.
One of the most unique experiences available to New Yorkers is visiting the Museum of the Moving Image (Mmuseumm). Nestled inside an elevator shaft, this hidden art space will leave you speechless!
1. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
One of the best things to do in New York City is walk across the Brooklyn Bridge – an unforgettable way to view its best landmarks and stunning skyline views!
As with other things to do in New York City, traversing the Brooklyn Bridge may prove challenging (and frustrating!). Therefore, it’s essential that you plan your day carefully and take measures to make the experience simpler for all involved.
Avoid traveling to the bridge during busy hours!
If you want a less hectic crossing experience on the Brooklyn Bridge, try coming on a rainy day or when crowds are sparse.
As this walk covers 1.3 miles, allow yourself plenty of time to experience it at your own leisurely pace and stop frequently to take pictures or admire the sights. You will want to allow for time for photography as well as taking time to soak in all the views.
2. Visit Governors Island
Governors Island is a car-free oasis in New York Harbor that attracts both residents and visitors, drawing crowds to its 43-acre public park, art, cultural exhibits, breathtaking views of Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge Parks, and breathtaking panoramic vistas of the city. Visitors can access Governors Island by ferry from either Battery Park or Brooklyn Bridge Parks.
Learn the history of Governors Island by taking a walking tour or one of many bike tours available there. Or for something a bit more active and engaging, why not give one of the numerous Governors Island bike tours a try!
The Hills section of Central Park soars 70 feet above sea level, offering breathtaking views of Lower Manhattan. Explore artist Rachel Whiteread’s permanent installation Cabin at Discovery Hill; walk up Outlook Hill for views of Liberty; or relax in Hammock Grove.
Blazing Saddles provides bicycle and surrey rentals that are perfect for groups of people or families with young children looking to explore more of the park while providing plenty of options for picnics!
3. Have a picnic
New Yorkers know to make the most of every good weather day by hosting a picnic – an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon and an engaging activity for families.
Clove Lakes Park on Staten Island offers one of the best underrated places for picnicking in NYC, boasting three lakes, woodlands and plenty of grassy spots ideal for enjoying an enjoyable outdoor meal or beverage.
Gantry Plaza State Park in Queens offers unrivaled views of Manhattan from its vantage point. Bring a picnic basket for an unforgettable view and treat yourself to an enjoyable meal while taking in these breathtaking sights.
Bryant Park is an ideal setting for picnics due to its central location. Offering open lawn space, a carousel, and ongoing programming – Bryant Park makes an idyllic picnic spot!
4. Encounter the Dark
If you want to experience the city at night, there are various options available to you. Perhaps try an evening scavenger hunt around town or participate in a live mystery theater performance?
One great idea would be to organize a picnic. Picnics allow people to eat outdoors while simultaneously appreciating the weather.
Experience New York without being so overtly touristy by walking across a stunning suspension bridge that spans the East River. This 1.3 mile pedestrian walkway offers amazing views of Manhattan skyline as well as Brooklyn Bridge and Lower Manhattan in a non-touristy way – it’s definitely a must do when visiting NYC; you’ll love getting to experience its beauty from an entirely new angle!
5. Try a Ghost Tour
The Big Apple may be known for its bright lights, but underneath that neon lies a darker side filled with ghosts and gangsters who have left their mark on its history.
Next time you visit New York, take a ghost tour to experience an entirely different side of its rich culture. Your guide will lead you past haunted sites and old crime scenes while sharing tales about its infamous gangsters and haunted past.
If you’re seeking something truly eerie, Greenwich Village could provide the perfect spooktacular experience. As one of New York City’s oldest neighborhoods and full of fascinating stories about ghostly encounters, this tour promises an immersive adventure!
6. Go on a Paranormal Investigation
If you want an experience that goes beyond the ordinary, why not go on a paranormal investigation? These investigators use scientific methods to examine locations alleged to be haunted by ghosts.
Becoming a paranormal investigator requires having an interest in ghosts and an open mindset, along with taking courses specific to this field to get training in it.
Paranormal investigators may work either as independent contractors or for private organizations, collecting evidence and interviewing witnesses in order to assess if a haunting is real or not.
Ghost hunters work in teams to investigate haunted locations. They collect evidence and conduct research in order to gain more information about the area’s history and any inhabitants that may have resided there in the past.
7. Go on a Graffiti Tour
Whoever appreciates street art should make time to go on a graffiti tour. These tours provide the opportunity to view some of the most notable pieces, while learning about their history as well.
Learn the various techniques and styles of graffiti while also getting hands-on experience. Many Graff tours also include workshops where you can create your own masterpiece with assistance from professional artists.
Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood offers one of the best places to witness street art, thanks to its immense warehouses that allow street artists to express themselves freely.
8. See an Off-Broadway Show
If you enjoy theater, attending an off-Broadway performance is an ideal way to spend an evening in New York City. These shows tend to be smaller and more budget friendly than their Broadway counterparts.
Off-Broadway shows are usually created and produced by emerging playwrights or actors and tend to be more experimental or avant-garde than their Broadway counterparts.
Playwrights Horizons in Manhattan is dedicated to producing plays by contemporary American playwrights, located on 42nd street.
Visit one of NYC’s comedy clubs to catch an entertaining comedy performance – there are numerous renowned and up-and-coming comedians performing, making for a fun time out!
9. Take a Subway Ride
New York’s subway is one of the most beloved transportation methods, boasting one of the world’s largest networks with over 700 miles of tracks and 472 stations.
Subway rides offer an ideal way to discover the city while feeling like a local. The system runs 24/7 and starts from only $2.75 (the Pay-Per-Ride rate applies when using MetroCard).
Though navigating New York City subway can seem difficult at first, there are steps you can take to maximize your trip and ensure a successful experience. First off, use a map when planning your route through the subway system.
Before traveling by train, be sure to know which line and train type are required; choose either local or express trains accordingly. Failing this could result in being on an unexpected subway car and heading in an entirely different direction than intended.