Best FREE Things to Do in New York City
Top choices for first-time visitors to NYC
Staten Island Ferry
Get a close up look at the Statue of Liberty and picture postcard views of the Manhattan skyline.
Please avoid morning and afternoon rush hour, when the ferry is crowded with commuters traveling to and from work between Staten Island and Manhattan.
Note that while the ferry gives you a close-up view of Lady Liberty, the Staten Island Ferry does not dock at Liberty Island.
The only way to visit Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty is to purchase a ticket on Statue Cruises, which also stops at Ellis Island, where millions of immigrants arrived on these shores in the last century, including my own grandparents.
SCAM ALERT – Beware of hustlers selling tickets to “see” the Statue of Liberty. You could wind up on a bus to New Jersey, where you’ll get a long distance view.
- Board the Staten Island Ferry in Lower Manhattan at South Ferry
It’s one of the most extraordinary public sculptures in the world, an intricate honeycomb that you can climb and explore for magnificent views of Midtown, the Hudson River and beyond.
It’s The Vessel, the latest NYC landmark and centerpiece of Hudson Yards, FREE to explore.
- NOTE that The Vessel is currently closed – not because of the Pandemic, but because of recent suicides.
Because it became an instant must-see when it opened in March 2019, tickets are required for FREE timed entry.
Be sure to wear comfortable shoes, since there are 154 intricately interconnecting flights of stairs — almost 2,500 individual steps and 80 landings.
Or, you could wait for the single small elevator that whisks you slowly to the top.
- The Vessel is in the Hudson Yards complex that includes offices and residential buildings, shopping and restaurants, in Midtown West.