New York City evokes both high-rise luxury and savvy deals. But the best offer in town? The number of free attractions the Big Apple has to enjoy.
You could spend a lifetime here ticking off the best things to do – but have you seen the rental prices? Much better to squeeze in our favorite concerts, museums and tours that are always (rather than only occasionally) free.
Once the nation’s most visited tourist attraction outside Niagara Falls, gorgeous Green-Wood Cemetery was built in 1838 and today is the eternal home to some 600,000 souls. The 478-acre cemetery is leafy and lovely and features Brooklyn’s highest point, Battle Hill – named after a skirmish during the Revolutionary War and now marked with a seven-foot statue of the Roman goddess of wisdom, Minerva.
Planning tip: Watch for the squawking green parakeets at the cemetery’s Gothic-style entrance pavilion; according to local legend, these non-native birds arrived after a mishap at JFK Airport in the 1980s and have called the cemetery home ever since.
In 1991, construction workers uncovered a burial ground filled with more than 400 caskets containing the bodies of enslaved Africans from the 17th and 18th centuries – an age when New York had more people in bondage than any American city outside Charleston, South Carolina. Today, tucked among downtown skyscrapers, the African Burial Ground National Monument offers a space for visitors to contemplate the past and learn about the history of the African American community in early New York City.
With objects ranging from photographs and quilts to weather vanes in its collection, the American Folk Art Museum is devoted to the appreciation and expressions of self-taught artists, spanning all eras. And perhaps appropriately for an institution devoted to the work of creators from outside the canon, admission is always free.
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. Iconic venues like the Village Vanguard and the Blue Note may be way out of your price range but head across the bridge to Barbès in Brooklyn, and you can enjoy stellar nightly performances for free (tips for the band are always greatly appreciated).
This imposing granite structure holds the remains of the Civil War hero and 18th president and his wife Julia. Built after a major fundraising campaign in the late 19th century, the General Ulysses S Grant National Memorial is the largest mausoleum in the USA and was inspired by Mausolus’ tomb at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
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New York is one of 23 states where recreational marijuana is now legal. Travelers aged 21 and older may possess up to three ounces of cannabis (24 grams of concentrated cannabis) and consumption is permitted in most public spaces where smoking and vaping are allowed. Limitations still apply and you might feel more comfortable saving your dispensary haul for the end of the day – nodding off on the subway isn’t going to do you any favors. Get a bite of the Big Apple high life and revel in some post-hike hashish at these cannabis-friendly Airbnbs in New York State.
A-list stars including Olivia Ponton, Martha Stewart, and Kate Bock attribute their stunning complexions to NYC based dermatologist Dr. Dhaval Bhanusali. His non-celebrity patients, meanwhile, fly into town from all over the world for the sole purpose of an appointment with him and to experience his newest innovation: Aesthetica Skin Lab - at his Hudson Dermatology and Laser Surgery practice.
Born in California, Alex Brightman is a two-time Tony nominee and writer living in New York City. He loves watching baseball and basketball when he's not on stage. Right now you can see him as Richard Dreyfuss in “The Shark is Broken” on Broadway.
In my latest column where I profile creatives and highlight their travel style, I had the pleasure of interviewing Yulia Ziskel, who is a violinist for the New York Philharmonic and has been a member of the first violin section since 2001.
A recent visit to Governors Island came a few days after a conversation I’d had with my father in which he’d instructed me to act like a tourist in my own city. He’d started by asking simply how I was filling my summer weekends, and I answered honestly that most of my free time was spent reading in one park or another and going to bars in my Brooklyn neighborhood. “New York City,” he reminded me (with earnest intention to inspire, no righteousness detected), “has more things to do in it than you’ll be able to see in a lifetime.”
When you're after a beach in New York State, the glitz and glamor of the Hamptons and the old-school appeal of Coney Island – both in the vicinity of New York City – tend to steal the spotlight. But there are plenty more sandy havens to be found across the Empire State.
After 18 years of living in New York State, I’ve learned quite a bit about the country’s fourth-most populous state. From where to go and what to do, to what to eat and how to get around, here are some tips from a local on how to make the most of your visit to the Empire State.
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