IF YOU are traveling to New York City from Southeast Asia this autumn, the airfare (and jetlag) will be worth it. After all, New York City Tourism + Conventions, the official destination marketing organization and convention and visitors bureau for NYC’s five boroughs, has put together a list of iconic experiences that cost just US$10 or are free of charge. 

“Autumn in New York City is idyllic. With cooler temperatures upon us, we invite local and domestic travelers to make the most of the season and enjoy beautiful foliage and outdoor activities across all five boroughs,” said Fred Dixon, President and CEO of New York City Tourism + Conventions. “One in four visitors goes to a museum or art exhibit while in NYC, and we’re delighted to share a selection of just some of the many affordable cultural experiences on offer.”

Suggested US$10-and-under activities can be found below:
NYC is home to more than 29,000 acres of parks and open spaces across all five boroughs where visitors can watch the leaves turn to shades of orange and red.

Central Park is undoubtedly one of the world’s most iconic parks. Spanning 843 acres from Manhattan’s 59th Street to 110th Street, the park features open fields, woodlands, a zoo, ice-skating, boat rentals, a concert venue, ponds and more. If you’ve already been there, consider Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, which was also designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux.

Flushing Meadows Corona Park has just successfully hosted the 143rd US Open Tennis Championships. In addition to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the park is also home to green spaces, Citi Field, the Queens Museum and more, as well as the famous Unisphere sculpture unveiled at the 1964 World’s Fair. 

Built on a former elevated rail line, The High Line offers unparalleled views of Manhattan’s far west side. The park has several different gardens and green spaces, with other free offerings including wellness programming and public art.

Queens County Farm Museum is free and open to the public. The 47-acre site, which dates to 1697, features historic farm buildings, gardens, an orchard, a farm store and more, and offers a variety of seasonal activities including pumpkin picking, hayrides and more (pricing varies). 

In Staten Island, Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden is set on a former home for retired sailors. The campus features beautiful grounds, which are free to visit, the Chinese Scholar’s Garden, museums including the Staten Island Museum, The Noble Maritime Collection and more, and seasonal events (pricing varies). 

Wave Hill is a public garden and cultural center in the Bronx’s Riverdale neighborhood. Featuring 28 acres of gardens and woodland, Wave Hill overlooks the Hudson River and New Jersey Palisades. Admission is free on Thursdays and US$10 during the rest of the week, with free tours on Sundays at 2pm.

The American Folk Art Museum celebrates folk and self-taught artists with its collection spanning the 18th century through present day. Admission is always free; reservations are encouraged.  

The South Bronx is home to two premier cultural institutions: the free Bronx Museum of the Arts, which focuses on contemporary art from diverse cultural backgrounds, and the Bronx Children’s Museum (US$8), which recently opened in a brand-new space near Yankee Stadium. 

Located in Manhattan’s Chinatown, the China Institute & Gallery is dedicated to traditional and contemporary Chinese art with exhibits, lectures, film, language courses and more. Free admission is offered on Thursdays from 5–8pm. 

El Museo del Barrio (US$9) is the leading Latino and Latin American cultural institution in the United States. The museum is currently presenting more than 500 artworks in the Something Beautiful: Reframing La Colección exhibit.

Visit one of Gagosian Gallery’s several NYC locations for a chance to view works by some of the world’s most famous artists. Through December 22, Roy Lichtenstein’s Bauhaus Stairway Mural is on view at the gallery’s West 24th Street location. 

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts offers a selection of free events, films, musical performances, installations, workshops and more. Check out the calendar for additional information.  

As part of its inaugural season, the new Perelman Performing Arts Center (PAC NYC) is offering free programming and pay-as-you-wish days for some performances. On the Lobby Stage, PAC NYC presents an ongoing series of free entertainment and family programs including bands, DJs and dance events. 

Pioneer Works in Red Hook, Brooklyn, is continuing its free Second Sundays event series featuring live music, food, artists’ open studios and more. The next session will take place November 12.

Long Island City, Queens, is a cultural hub, home to several free and mostly-free locations including SculptureCenter, a museum housed in a former trolley repair shop; Socrates Sculpture Park, a park and open studio and exhibit space for artists on an old landfill; and Culture Lab LIC, a converted warehouse where local, domestic and international art of all genres is presented.

The Shed, which opened in Hudson Yards in 2019, offers US$10 gallery exhibition tickets for all visitors and free gallery admission for ages 18 and under. The 2023 Open Call exhibition opens November 4, displaying new works by emerging NYC artists – admission to these events is free.

Walter de Maria’s New York Earth Room has been free to the public since 1980, thanks to the Dia Art Foundation. The meditative room features a 3,600-square-foot space covered with 280,000 pounds of earth.

Perfect for History Buffs:
The Alice Austen House Museum (US$6) preserves the life and legacy of early American photographer Alice Austen. Set in Austen’s Victorian Gothic cottage on Staten Island, the museum is a nationally designated site of LGBTQ+ history that presents a permanent collection of her work as well as rotating exhibits.  

The Center for Brooklyn History (CBH) in Brooklyn Heights recently reopened to the public following extensive renovations. CBH, which is dedicated to preserving and encouraging the study of Brooklyn’s 400-year history, offers free entry and a selection of public programs. 

Dyckman Farmhouse Museum (US$3), located in the Upper Manhattan neighborhood of Inwood, is set in a 1784 Dutch Colonial–style farmhouse. The museum is offering a series of free seasonal events, with their Fall Festival on October 21, Jack-O-Lantern Jubilee on October 25 and Dyckman After Dark on October 26. 

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, in partnership with Native peoples and their allies, is committed to fostering a richer shared human experience through a more informed understanding of Native peoples. See the Shelley Niro: 500 Year Itch exhibit before it closes January 1. Admission is free.

Weeksville Heritage Center in Brooklyn is the premier cultural institution dedicated to documenting, preserving and interpreting the history of Weeksville, one of the largest free Black communities in pre–Civil War America, and beyond. The Center is free to enter, with guided tours of the historic homes on offer for US$8.    

Explore with a Local:
Big Apple Greeter is a uniquely-NYC service that pairs visitors with locals for free unscripted walks around their favorite neighborhoods across all five boroughs. 

Free Tours by Foot offers pay-what-you-wish walking and biking tours with licensed tour guides in Brooklyn and Manhattan, as well as free audio and self-guided walks.

At Staten Island’s Historic Richmond Town, visitors can join a guided tour exploring the living history village with Historical Interpreters. These US$10 tours also include access to the village’s Historical Museum. 

At the New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, guests can attend a one-hour guided tour or join for 15 minutes in the Rose Main Reading Room. Self-guided audio tours are also available. 

The Village Alliance offers free self-guided tours of Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, covering architecture, LGBTQ+ landmarks, history, local retailers and more. 

Another fun way to meet New Yorkers is through local running groups, which gather regularly in neighborhoods across the City—most are free to participate in. And don’t forget to cheer on the 50,000 runners participating in this year’s TCS New York City Marathon on November 5. 

New York City welcomed 56.7 million travelers in 2022 and remains on track to welcome more than 63 million visitors this year.  Check out NYC Tourism’s new resource about enjoying NYC arts and entertainment on a budget and visit for more on all there is to see and do in New York City.  [sources/photo special]