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Free Things in New York
New York has a reputation for being expensive, but there are actually many free things to do in the city. You'll find many free tours of interesting places like the library, the Federal Reserve, and even a brewery, activities like ice skating, and even holiday events. None of these things will cost you a dime.
Brooklyn Brewery Tours
There are many free activities in New York, and Brooklyn Brewery tours are among the most popular. Although there are some tours that require a fee during the week, you can take free tours on Saturday and Sunday in this fun Brooklyn spot. The Saturday tours leave hourly from 1 to 5 p.m., while on Sunday they run hourly from 1 to 4 p.m. Even thought the tour itself is free, you may want to indulge in a beverage or two. You can buy reasonably priced beer tokens if you wish to drink. Children can come on these tours if you're seeing New York with a family.
Federal Reserve Bank of New York
There's a branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and it welcomes visitors for free guided tours. It's a great family activity in New York if you're looking for something with an educational twist that won't impact your wallet. You do have to sign up for the tours in advance. They run several times each day, Monday through Friday, except on bank holidays. Each tour accommodates up to 25 people and lasts about 45 minutes.
If you want a less structured experience, you can go on a free self-guided tour of the museum at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. These tours also require you to register in advance, and there are several times to which visitors are assigned daily. You don't get to visit the gold vault if you choose this option, so go on a guided tour if that's something you want to see.
The New York Public Library
A library might not sound like an exciting place to visit, but the New York Public Library is actually quite popular among New York tourist sights. The library offers two different kinds of free tours. The first is a tour of the library's Stephen A. Schwarzman building itself, and the second takes you through whatever exhibit is going on in the Gottesman Exhibition Hall when you visit. Building tours take about an hour, while the amount of time needed to see a particular exhibition varies. You can tour the library seven days a week for most of the year, although it's closed on Sundays during the summer.
Ice Skating in Bryant Park
If you're checking out winter events in New York, you may want to go ice skating in Bryant Park as a fun, free way to spend a few hours. The park's ice rink is typically open from late October to late February. There's no cost if you bring your own ice skates, but if you don't want to take up that much space in your luggage, low cost rental skates are available. You might even luck into seeing a skating show or some other free event, since special activities take place throughout the winter.
If you've got children in your party and are willing to spend a modest amount of money, you can let them ride the carousel in Bryant Park. It's a French-style carousel, down to its design and the French cabaret music that accompanies its rounds.
There are many free holiday events in New York if you come to the city at the right time of year. For example, there's a huge Fourth of July fireworks display over the Hudson River that won't cost you a penny to watch if you're willing to brave the crowds and stake out a good spot. The fireworks show is one of the most highly attended summer events in New York.
Perhaps the two most popular free holiday happenings in New York are the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting and Times Square New Years Eve. Huge crowds come out for these winter events in New York. You can see the Rockefeller Center tree any night after the big lighting event, since it stays lit through early January. You need to go to Times Square on December 31 to be part of that gala celebration. Even though people are packed wall to wall, it's breathtaking to watch the giant ball drop as the crowd counts down the final seconds of the year.