The Washington Square Arch and fountain on a sunny day.

Hello! My name is Chris and I am currently a junior at NYU’s College of Arts and Science (CAS), studying Computer Science and Economics. I am also one of NYU’s Student Ambassadors, working with our Office of Undergraduate Admissions. When giving tours of our campus, I’m often asked how to take advantage of the fun things to do in New York City while on a student budget.

It’s no secret that New York City entertainment can get real expensive real fast. Besides the hundreds of events NYU hosts each semester, including our Violet 100 Spirit Week and performances at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, how do students explore the New York City beyond NYU’s campus?

The answer is—there are SO many ways! Most NYU students quickly find their go-to inexpensive street food vendors, public parks in the city, and museums with free admission. Below, I have listed 10 of my favorite activities to do or have done around New York City. All of these are free of charge for NYU students and easily accessible from our Manhattan and Brooklyn campuses. Hope you enjoy my recommendations and pictures! 😁

Seeing a Broadway Show

The stage curtain is down before a Broadway performance of American Utopia.

First of all, I’m sure you weren’t expecting me to write Broadway as an inexpensive option! It’s true! I took this picture right before I saw David Byrne’s American Utopia. This was a show I attended for free thanks to NYU Box Office. Every semester NYU puts out a number of options for students to snag free or heavily discounted tickets. These offers often include tickets for Broadway shows, operas, sporting events, and more all across the city.

Walking the Highline

A sunset-view of the Manhattan skyline from the Highline.

Northwest of our Washington Square Park campus is an entrance to the High Line, a public park built on an old rail system elevated from the street. Beginning in Chelsea near the Whitney Museum of American Art, the High Line takes you all of the way up to Hudson Yards. It’s important to note that there are many entrances and exits along the way. Ever since my first year at NYU, the High Line has been a great way to take in beautiful views of the city and enjoy the nice weather!

Kayaking on the Hudson River

Two students kayak in a river in front of the NYC skyline
My friend Emma and I kayaking on the Hudson River

From May to October anyone can kayak for free during the weekends and holidays at Pier 26 at Hudson River Park! I have gone kayaking a number of times now. It’s great way to cool off during hot summer days.

Still, I was a little freaked out at first getting close to the Hudson River, since it’s not the cleanest water. However, I am happy to report the area where you kayak is generally calm so there is not much splashing going on!

Going to the Whitney Museum

A view of the Manhattan skyline during dusk from one of the balconies of the Whitney Museum.

Also important to mention is that NYU offers free museum access for a number of popular locations around New York City. Some of these museums include the Museum of Modern Art, Museum of the Moving Image, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

As you can see, the artwork inside of the Whitney is not the only thing that’s impressive there. The balconies surrounding the museum have amazing views of Manhattan!

Wandering Through Central Park

A water fountain flowing within a lovely green area of Central Park
The Conservatory Gardens in Central Park

A classic, to be sure. Most New Yorkers will direct you to Central Park given its many areas to explore and free public access.

Fun fact: Central Park is the most filmed public park in the world. So, if you are attending NYU as an aspiring movie star, perhaps a walk through Central Park will be your big break!

This picture was taken in the Conservatory Gardens. It’s just one small corner of the whole park and my favorite area to walk around in the spring or summer.

Visiting the Morgan Library and Museum

A highly-ornate historic room filled with books in the Morgan Library.
One of the historic rooms of the Morgan Library.

Maybe you’re a History major at CAS seeking a unique collection. Maybe you’re a Finance major at the NYU Stern School of Business eager to learn more about the banker J.P. Morgan. Either way—the Morgan Library might interest you.

Admission to the historic rooms is free on Tuesdays and Sundays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admittedly, when my first-year roommate suggested we take a visit here, I was skeptical about how much fun we would have. However, I ended up being fascinated by the detailed architecture and vast collection of works.

Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge

A view from the center of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Another staple of the New York City experience? Walking or biking across the Brooklyn Bridge. Especially on a clear day, you can enjoy stunning views of both the Brooklyn and Manhattan skyline. Once you have crossed the bridge, you can eat some of the best pizza New York City has to offer in Brooklyn. Some of my favorite spots are Juliana’s Pizza and Grimaldi’s Pizzeria. Evidently there is debate between New Yorkers about which place has the better slice. Of course, I encourage you to go ahead and decide for yourself!

Going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art

A view of the gallery room at the Met.

All considered, the Met is probably my favorite museum in New York City. It has one of the world’s largest collections and every time I go, I find myself exploring a new wing or area I didn’t know existed. I have actually been sent to the Met a number of times to complete projects for some of my NYU classes.

For example, I took a class, Egypt of the Pharaohs, last semester and had to write an analysis of an ancient Egyptian artifact. Regardless of whether you go for school or leisure, the Met is always great to explore. Admission is pay what you wish as an NY resident, and your NYU student ID counts as proof of your residency.

Take the Tram to Roosevelt Island

A view of the Manhattan skyline from Roosevelt Island.

Roosevelt Island is located in New York’s East River. Here you can discover historic sites, parks, restaurants, and amazing views of the city.

The island is free to enter and accessible by subway or the Roosevelt Island tram which costs $5.50 round trip! If you are not in a rush, I would suggest taking the tram. Then, you can enjoy views of both the skyline and the island as you travel suspended above the East River.

Hanging out in Hudson River Park

A view of downtown Manhattan from Pier 26 in the Hudson River Park.

Hudson River Park runs a few miles along Manhattan’s West Side. Without a doubt, it is one of my favorite places to go for runs, have a picnic, or just explore. There are a number of piers with seating and grassy fields. You’ll often see New Yorkers sunbathing, playing football, or just chilling out with friends.

On the one hand, there is plenty to see in Washington Square Park right on our campus. But, I would suggest for NYU students to travel a little west and enjoy the Hudson River Park too! 😁

Hi everyone! My name is Chris and I am a senior at NYU’s College of Arts and Science majoring in Computer Science and Economics. I am originally from Bucks County, PA, but have loved enjoying New York City as an NYU student for the past three years. In the city, I enjoy running at Hudson River Park on the west side of Manhattan and trying different restaurants around the East Village where I live with two other students. On campus, in addition to working with our admissions center as a Student Ambassador, I am a College Leader at CAS, a member of our Economics Society, and a frequent competitor in our HackNYU hackathons, which I promise are not as nerdy as they sound!