Winter in New York City: Lots of Free Things to Do

Nothing slows down the Big Apple… even cold weather.  Better still, there’s lots to do that’s virtually free.  So book some of the great deals to be had on flights and hotels, and come visit.  Or, if you live here, get moving.  Put on your warm clothes and your most comfortable walking shoes, and hit the pavement.  The Big Apple awaits.

Here are some of my favorite winter freebies:

Ride the subways. Yes, seriously.  Underneath the city’s miles and miles of streets lie some of the city’s most interesting art installations courtesy of the MTA’s “Art en Route” program.   Watch this Web site for more specifics, but, in the meantime, chart your own art course with your MetroCard.

Ride the Staten Island ferry (and back) to see the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the southern tip of Manhattan from the water without spending a penny.

Wander Battery Park’s waterfront promenade and enjoy the open spaces and views of Ellis Island and New Jersey; the breeze and passing boats will make you forget you’re in the gritty city, though the view of the Statue of Liberty will remind you that you couldn’t be anywhere but New York.

Bundle up and walk across the Brooklyn Bridge for a spectacular view of the Financial District, Brooklyn, the seaport, and Manhattan.  Then, turn right around, and head back for a totally different view of the city.

Ride the tram to Roosevelt Island for spectacular aerial (and warmer) views of the city in two directions.   ($4 round-trip)

Ice skate free at the Bryant Park rink near the New York Public Library.

Join the crowds in Times Square and watch the world pass by. Buy a hot chocolate or coffee to keep warm, and sit at the chairs and tables on the pedestrian stretch of Broadway or on the stairs behind the TKTS booth at 47th Street.

Climb up to Manhattan’s newest outdoor park, the High Line, which overlooks the Hudson River, the Meatpacking District, and is built on former elevated train tracks.  Bring a blanket with you, and set a spell on the scattered chairs and stairs to absorb the city and river below.

Brace yourself against the chilly ocean breezes and stroll the Coney Island boardwalk for some old-school kitsch.  Then grab a Nathan’s hot dog, at the original stand, loaded with sauerkraut and mustard.

Check out the street performers around the city’s parks and the buskers in the subways: break-dancers in Union Square and by Central Park’s Bethesda Fountain, unicyclists in Washington Square, and Statue of Liberty clones in Battery Park.   Musicians and entertainers in the subway are better than you’d expect—to perform, they must first be vetted by committee.

Attend a storytelling hour at one of the city’s kid-friendly bookstores like Barnes & Noble, Borders or Books of Wonder.

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54 Responses to “Winter in New York City: Lots of Free Things to Do”

  1. [...] Christmas this winter. If you aren't looking to spend money, be sure to check out our list of free things to do in New York City during the winter. var addthis_language = 'en'; window.fbAsyncInit = function() { FB.init({appId: [...]

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