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Free Activities in NYC's 5 Boroughs

by erin 28. September 2009 10:48

When one thinks of a trip to New York, a few things instantly come to mind - exclusive restaurants, high-end shopping and pricey four-star hotels. Sure, the city that never sleeps is in fact also one of the most expensive in the world, but the “Big Apple” also can provide travelers with a plethora of free things to see and do around the five boroughs (yes, there is more to New York than just Times Square people!). So you can in fact have the vacation of your dreams, without also going deep in debt in the process.

From a lesser known park in Brooklyn, to a quiet beach in Queens, New York indeed has something for every type of traveler. So here are some tips from a lifelong “Noo Yawka”, enjoy:


Brooklyn, New York - The Brooklyn Bridge

Recently celebrating its 126th birthday, the world famous Brooklyn Bridge is by far one of the most visited destinations in all of New York. But unlike other over commercialized “tourist traps” around the city, this iconic structure stands strong as both historic and downright architecturally beautiful. This oldest suspension bridge in the United States is vital to New York, as it connects it’s two most populated boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan.

A walk across this engineering marvel is a must for any bridge enthusiast. The views of the city, as well as the Manhattan Bridge and Willamsburg Bridge, are simply breathtaking and picture worthy. Be sure to stop along the way and just take in that quintessential New York moment. After you have trekked from Manhattan to Brooklyn, be sure to feed your appetite with a pie at Grimaldi’s pizza (under the bridge on Old Fulton Street), which is considered by many locals as the best slice in all of New York -- trust me it is worth the journey!

Queens - Rockaway Beach

It does not have the star power of the Hamptons, and there are no wooden coasters like Coney Island, but the historic town of Rockaway Beach still lures in locals and travelers to it’s miles and miles of sand and waves. Best of all the beach is free - unlike others in Long Island and New Jersey. Once nicknamed the “Irish Riviera,” due to the large population of Irish immigrants living on the peninsula, Rockaway Beach is a basic “down for the day” kind of town. In other words, do not expect to book a 4-star hotel or even a bed and breakfast for the night.

This peninsula has no lodging and is just a neighborhood of locals and summer residents. Try to steer clear of the most crowded area Beach 116 street. Although it is where you will wind up eating and stocking up on beach supplies, it is just a mess of oiled up people. Stroll down the boardwalk to about Beach 119-125 street for a much quieter locale.

Manhattan - Metropolitan Museum of Art

Located between 81st and 82nd street on 5th Avenue, The Metropolitan Museum of Art offers travelers searching for that “culturally fulfilling” attraction a place to get away from the overly commercialized and loud streets of the Big Apple. From ancient to modern, all types of art are found within this impressive structure. Check out other great areas of this museum, like the musical section, which hosts an array of instruments that have had both historical and social importance. Best of all, like most of the great New York area museums, admission is absolutely free, but of course donations are highly suggested and welcomed.

The Bronx - The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG)

A quick train ride will find you in the only one of the five boroughs that is attached to the United States mainland (the other four are on islands) and is known for big baseball. Of course I am talking about the Bronx. This area of New York is home to one of the premiere botanical gardens in the entire country. The New York Botanical Garden spans 250 acres and is visited by nearly 1 million people each year. Upon visiting “NYBG”, you will see why so many people continue to flock to this breathtakingly stunning location that has been honored as a “U.S. National Historic Landmark” and placed on the prestigious list of “U.S. National Register of Historic Places.” Admission is free but donations are welcomed.

Staten Island - The Staten Island Ferry

One of the best views of Manhattan is actually off the island and on the waters of the Upper New York Bay. Best of all it is absolutely free! Hop aboard the 25-minute ride on the famed Staten Island Ferry and you will be snapping more pictures of the awesome NYC skyline than a paparazzi outside of Britney Spears’ home. The ferry departs from Manhattan’s South Ferry and arrives in Staten Island’s St. George’s Ferry Terminal. The five-mile journey is often called the “best bargain in all of New York City.”

Check out a short video on the Staten Island Ferry on the CheapOair Cheap Travel Deals Blog today!


Thank you to guest blogger Andrew from Brooklyn Nomad!

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