New York City is not exactly known as a budget travel destination. Hotels, meals and attractions are not cheap -- just riding an elevator to the top of the Empire State Building will set you back more than $20.
But for savvy travelers there are still plenty of bargains to be found in the Big Apple. From museums to walking tours, New York has plenty of activities that won't cost you a dime.
"What people forget is that you don't have to pay money to experience some of the great wonders of the world," said Justin Ferate, who offers walking tours of the city, including one weekly free tour of the Grand Central Terminal area. (It, like many other free tours, is paid for by the local business improvement district.)
So save your money for a nice meal or a Broadway show and check out these free New York City activities.
#1: Roam a Random Neighborhood
Part of the joy of New York is the energy, unique feel and character of each neighborhood.
"Wandering though Greenwich Village is always fun," Ferate said. But these days, "You're not going to find any struggling artists in Greenwich Village."
Instead -- or in addition -- he suggests taking a stroll through nearby NoLita (for North of Little Italy.)
"It's younger, it's hipper. I think it's got more vitality," Ferate said.
For those willing to venture outside of Manhattan, hop on the L train and go to the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, getting off a the Bedford Avenue stop. Pop into galleries, unique stores and just enjoy the vibe of a different neighborhood. It's right across the river from Manhattan, but feels miles away.
"Walking along Bedford Avenue is just a treat unto itself," Ferate said.
#2: Free Museums
Admission to New York's museums can cost up to $20 a person. But most intuitions offer free days or nights.
The Museum of Modern Art offers free admission every Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The Brooklyn Museum is free on the first Saturday of every month from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
But a warning: Get there early. These free days aren't so secret anymore and lines are often lengthy.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art and American Museum of Natural History both just have "suggested admissions" -- $20 and $15 respectively -- which means you can pay whatever you feel is appropriate, even if that is nothing.
Then there are simply free museums. Don't let their price dissuade you … these are some amazing collections.
The National Museum of the American Indian is part of the Smithsonian Institution and always free.
The Sony Wonder Technology Lab brings technology and creativity together to make learning experiential, entertaining and fun.
The New York Transit Museum operates a gallery annex in Grand Central Terminal that presents changing exhibitions. The gallery annex is located just off the main concourse, next to the station master's office.
#3: Be Part of a Television Studio Audience
Countless TV shows are shot in New York, many before live studio audiences. Tickets go fast for these shows, but if you plan well in advance you are likely to get free tickets to see your favorite stars.