New York’s Port Authority Bus Station might not be anybody’s idea of a great place to spend some time. But as the city’s main bus terminal, it is a gateway to the Big Apple for millions of people every year. And thanks to its central location, you won’t have far to go from the station itself to find some great free things to do.
Drop off your bags at a Port Authority Bus Station luggage storage, and you can start exploring New York for yourself right away. Check out some of these free things to do to make your vacation budget stretch further.
High Line Park
High Line Park is a public park built on an abandoned elevated railway on the west side of Manhattan. The park stretches from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to 34th Street, passing through the neighborhoods of Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen. The park offers breathtaking views of the city and the Hudson River and features beautiful landscaping, art installations, and seating areas. Take a walk or a bike ride in the park to get some exercise, and if you like to get a little info while you explore, there are also guided tours available. The park is open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and is free to the public.
Everyone knows Central Park, right? The area is world-famous, and you’ll find it smack dab in the center of Manhattan. The park covers over 843 acres and is home to many iconic landmarks, such as Bethesda Fountain, Strawberry Fields, and the Belvedere Castle. Central Park is a great place to relax and enjoy the outdoors, with activities such as picnicking, birdwatching, and boating available.
If you time your visit right, the park is also the site of many events and performances, including concerts, theater, and dance. Central Park is open daily from 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. and doesn’t charge an entrance fee.
Times Square, as many already know, is a bustling commercial and entertainment district located in the heart of Manhattan. The area is known for its bright neon lights, giant billboards, and bustling crowds. In town at the end of the year? Watch the famous New Year’s Eve ball drop that you’ve probably only ever seen on tv. You can also see a Broadway show or just people-watch from one of the many seating areas.
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Because this area is so popular, you’ll have your choice of countless amazing restaurants, shops, and attractions, such as Madame Tussauds wax museum and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium. You can hit this spot any time of day and won’t have to spend a penny as long as you’re just wandering around.
Spanning the East River, the Brooklyn Bridge is an iconic suspension bridge that connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. As you cross the bridge on foot, you’ll pass other tourists out enjoying the day and locals going about their business. The views are lovely from any point on the bridge, so feel free to stop (when it’s safe) for a photo or two. If possible, it’s best to start in Brooklyn and head into Manhattan. That way, you’ll have Manhattan views the whole time.
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
The Museum of Modern Art, also known as MoMA, is a world-renowned museum of modern and contemporary art located in Midtown Manhattan. The museum has a diverse collection of art, ranging from paintings and sculptures to photographs and multimedia installations. The MoMA also hosts special exhibitions, lectures, and performances. To see this fascinating museum for free, you’ll have to time your visit right. MoMa offers Free Fridays from 5:30 pm to 9 pm. Just make sure you prepare for the inevitable crowds.
New York Public Library
The New York Public Library is a world-famous research library also located in Midtown Manhattan, so it’s ideally paired with a trip to MoMA. The library has a vast collection of books, manuscripts, and other materials and is popular with tourists due to its beautiful architecture and iconic Rose Main Reading Room. The library also hosts events, lectures, and exhibitions and is a great place to relax and take in the city’s history and culture.
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Head to the west side of Manhattan, and you can check out the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. This spot is dedicated to the history of military and naval aviation and is actually housed in the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, which served in World War II, the Vietnam War, and the Cold War. The museum features exhibits on the history of the Intrepid and other military aircraft, as well as interactive displays and simulators. Like MoMa, there is an admission fee, but they also do Free Fridays on select days throughout the year. Check their website for specifics.
Greenwich Village is another worthwhile itinerary addition on the West Side. This historic neighborhood, with its distinctive bohemian culture and vibrant nightlife, boasts many independent shops, restaurants, and bars, as well as iconic landmarks such as Washington Square Park and the Stonewall Inn. Visitors can explore the neighborhood’s interesting streets and take in the rich history and culture of Greenwich Village without impacting their travel budget at all.
South Street Seaport
South Street Seaport is a historic district located on the east side of Manhattan that was once a major port and is now a popular tourist destination. The area is home to many shops, restaurants, and attractions, such as the South Street Seaport Museum and the Brooklyn Bridge. Take a stroll along the cobblestone streets, enjoy the views of the East River, and learn about the area’s rich maritime history, all free of charge.
Governor’s Island is a 172-acre island located in New York Harbor that is accessible by ferry from the Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan. The island offers many parks, playgrounds, and other attractions and has breathtaking views of the city and the harbor. Visitors can take a leisurely walk or bike ride around the island, participate in one of the many events and activities held on the island, or just relax and take in the views. Governor’s Island is open daily from May to October and is free to the public.
Port Authority has such a great location in the heart of New York City that you can begin exploring almost from the moment you step off the bus. Along with these nearby attractions, you’ll find plenty of other iconic locations to keep you entertained while you explore New York. Leave your bags behind and check out some of these top attractions to see what the city is all about.