back to top

27 Delightfully Free Things To Do In NYC

Open your wallet. Now close it. You're not going to need it today.

Posted on

New York City can bleed your bank account dry in a matter of days. From nights spent painting the town in the Meatpacking District to grabbing a quick lunch in Midtown, it is easy to rack up a painstakingly high tab.

I have embarked on a quest to spend $0 through the month of November. On this journey, I have encountered a number of ways to have a blast in the city on a budget of $0, taking full advantage of samples, freebies, and bonuses with a minimal amount of shame.

Free Food

New York is a mecca for art, fashion, culture, and free samples. From froyo to banana pudding, you can sample to your heart's content at these local hot spots.

1. Free Frozen Yogurt: 16 Handles & YogurtLand

HBO / Via

Ask for a sample cup at 16 Handles and YogurtLand and spend a few moments in sugary bliss. One sample not enough? Go ahead, refill your cup — no one is looking.


3. Free Banana Pudding At Magnolia Bakery

Via @arianna

New Yorkers are familiar with the age old question: “Cupcakes or bread pudding?” Ask a Magnolia Bakery staff member for a bread pudding sample and weigh in on the debate. Head to Magnolia’s Bloomingdales location and ogle the free light display, killing two birds with one free stone.

4. Free Mini Juice Cleanse From Organic Avenue & Juice Press

Partake in a mini-cleanse with free samples at Organic Avenue & Juice Press with locations found all around Manhattan. Each Saturday, Juice Press offers an Instagram promotion for runners. Snap a running photo with the hashtag #willrunforjuice and bring it in for a free juice between 9am and noon.


8. Free Sample-Sized Lunch at Costco

CBS / Via

Spending $0 on food can be tricky. Luckily, a free lunch is always available at Costco if you eat enough samples. Did you know that Costco is German for "free samples"? Okay, maybe not, but it is American for "heaven."


11. Free Eggnog Latte From Starbucks / Via @arianna

Sign up for Starbucks’ loyalty program and receive a free beverage of your choice. Order an eggnog latte and ask the barista not to dilute the eggnog with milk. In one cup, you’ll have enough calories to get you through the week! Don’t forget to ask for extra whipped cream.

14. Free Gourmet Cracker & Bites at Babette's Feast / Via

Babette's Feast, a new frozen food concept just opened in the Upper East Side. Grab a handful of crackers and try a few bites of the daily special in the back.


15. Free Cheese At Zabars

NBC / Via

Gourmet cheese is within your reach at any budget. Zabars samples the best cheeses around. Wander around the store and you'll be pleasantly surprised with other delicious nibbles like French bread and smoked salmon.

Free Attractions & Experiences

Whether you're visiting the Big Apple or are a NYC resident, some of the best experiences in the city are completely free of charge.

Had too many banana pudding samples and cheese cubes? Not to worry, not only is NYC a food lover's oasis, but it is also a fitness lover's paradise.

16. Free Fitness Classes With ShapeUp NYC


Did you know that one 30-minute fitness class will burn off the calories from six pumpkin pies? When you awake from your dream, head to a class with ShapeUp NYC. From pilates to kickboxing, ShapeUp offers a variety of free fitness classes for New Yorkers.

17. Free Ice Skating At Bryant Park

Disney / Via

Baby, it's cold outside. Grab a buddy, your skates and head to the Bryant Park skating rink for free ice skating. An imminent ER visit will also be free if you have good insurance.


18. Free Yoga at Lululemon & Yoga To The People


At $20 a pop, yoga classes can slowly chip away at your bank account. Instead, head to the free classes at Lululemon & Yoga To The People, both offering complimentary classes for the broke and budgeting.

19. Free Running Groups With Nike / Via @smugpug5

Get a workout at one of the many running groups hosted by Nike and The New York Running Company. Run: Free. Exhaustion: Free. New Friends: Priceless.

21. The Staten Island Ferry for Free Breathtaking Views / Via @arshimbo

Grab a date and jump on the Staten Island Ferry for free views of the iconic Statue of Liberty. Don’t have a date? Hop on Tinder for some free romance.


22. Free Culture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Natural History


Need to escape the cold? Get cultured at the free museums found throughout New York. The Met and the Natural History Museum are both donation-based. Though you may receive a quizzical and slightly judgmental brow, you can donate $0 and head right in.

23. Free Central Park Sunset / Via @arshimbo

Head to the reservoir at Central Park for an unforgettable sunset. Thirsty? Take a sweet sip of free water out of a nearby water fountain.

24. Free Dinner At Networking Events


New York City hosts a wide variety of networking events every day of the week. Whether you're into finance or startups, chances are there is a free event with free food. Not only can you network yourself into a new job, but also a free dinner. Checkout resources like Gary's Guide and MyFreeConcert for some of the best gratis events in town.

25. Free Scenic Wonders On The Brooklyn Bridge / Via @arianna

There is no view more marvelous than the Brooklyn Bridge at night. Grab a jacket and stroll down the bridges’s path for unforgettable views of Manhattan.


27. Free Samples & Makeover At Sephora


Some days it's easy to wake up like a beautiful snowflake. For the other days, head to Sephora for free beauty samples. Whether you want to try a dainty new perfume or pink-hued blush, ask for a free sample of whatever your heart desires.

Can You Help?

All of the money I've saved during "No-Spend November" will be donated to Food Bank of New York. Can you help us raise $5,000? Together we can make a big difference.