Cool (FREE!) Alternative Things to do in NYC

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ew York City, the most popular US destination really needs no introductions it has loads of cool free things to do and see. After a slow decline into Yuppiness and Crime during the 80s , the City has once again revitalized and gained back its title as one of the world’s leading arts and culture hubs and certainly one of the most exciting and vibrant places on the globe. Whether it’s in Williamsburg – the birthplace of hipster culture or good old Manhattan artiness there’s just so much cool alternative free things to do and see.

The Highline

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Photo: Highline.org

Built on an abandoned rail line above Manhattan’s west side, the high line runs from the meatpacking district to 34th street. Its landscaping is pretty unique and the The Hudson river views along it are great.  Make sure to walk along the full length of it to check out all the highlights. During summer especially, there are loads of music performances, food, and drinks. It’s a joy to check out the art and events (Tai chi and stargazing nights being particular highlights). A super cool spot to relax and people watch is on 14th street.  Grab a sunbed and enjoy the NYC show.

Chelsea Galleries and Chelsea Market

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Photo: Chelseamarket.com

If the weather is terrible while you’re checking out the highline, you can always come down to the Chelsea neighborhood galleries. Located between 10th and 11th avenues in the 20s streets, most are open on tuesdays until saturdays and they’re all free with no buying pressure. If you’re near the galleries, Chelsea Market is also just a few blocks away- it’s a good place to grab lunch, shop in NY boutiques, and people-watch when you’re ready to take a break from the NY art scene. Pro tip: Thursday nights are wine and cheese exhibition openings.

Evening time is the best to check out Chelsea market. Full of alternative designer clothing shops restaurants and bars this refurbished warehouse is another cool spot worth checking out. You can also check out the Chelsea Brewing Company (open daily 12pm-1am, call to book a tour)– Manhattan’s largest microbrewery – they offer free tours with a complimentary sample beer – though you need to call in advance to book the tour

Union Square Greenmarket

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Union Square Park  is pretty nice in general, with loads of aspiring artists and musicians (during summer it even has free yoga classes)  but It’s especially great when the farmer’s market is on.  The food is all organic and incredible.  From super fresh fruits and veggies , to award winning meats and cheeses, artisan breads, maple syrup, lowers, wine, awesome plants, and fresh potted herbs you can grown at home. New Yorkers love it, and its been going on since 1976 . At the end of the day the farmers donate the leftover food to City Harvest  , you can help the volunteers picking up food at the trucks on 15th street.  Come hungry!

 

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African Burial Ground National Monument

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Photo: Yelp

An off the beaten path gem. The site contains the remains of more than 400 Africans buried during the late 17th and 18th centuries in a portion of what was the largest colonial-era cemetery for people of African descent. The discovery highlighted the forgotten history of African slaves in colonial and federal New York City, who were integral to its development. By the American Revolutionary War, they constituted nearly a quarter of the population in the city. New York actually had the second-largest number of slaves in the nation after Charleston, South Carolina. The building itself has really tight security since it’s a federal building. Once inside you’ll find It’s a dignified place for contemplation. Start with the video which gets you a good understanding of the tragic history of African slaves were forgotten and then found and sets the tone.

Central Park

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Not really unknown, but it is brilliant. Personal highlights for me are “the pond” where Holden Caulfield kept checking where the ducks go when it’s cold in “The Catcher in the Rye” and Strawberry Fields , where an Imagine mosaic marks the spot John Lennon was murdered.

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

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Photo: Moma.org

MoMA is always a mind and eye-opening experience. Although the 5th floor with the permanent collection is the most famous  it really does deserve a shout out as it’s pretty amazing.  All the  other floors have really fantastic collections and are also extremely enjoyable . The restaurant on the second floor is good value and the museum shop although a bit pricey has some cool unique stuff. Pro tip 1 : Friday entrance is FREE after 4pm but crowds then are pretty brutal. Pro tip 2 The museum is least crowded right after it opens at 10:30am.

Staten Island Ferry

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Manhattan is an island, and has an amazing skyline, calls out for a boat trip right? Well one of NYC best free attractions is the Staten island ferry. Say hello to lady liberty as you cut across the harbor and enjoy the views. It really never gets old.  East end of Battery Park, Lower Manhattan.

 

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New York Public Library

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Photo: Nypl.org

So what’s special about a library you ask? Well, for starters the building is amazing. Right from the entrance where you’re greeted by 2 marble lions named Fortitude and Patience and into the huge inspiring reading room with antique reading lamps, oak tables and giant chandeliers. The exhibits are interesting and include thousands of old maps (which i’m a sucker for) a Gutenberg bible and a copy of the original declaration of independence.Pro tip: Check out the tours at 11am and 2pm  Daily  (closed Sunday in summer).

The Tenement Museum & Essex St. Market

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Photo: tenement.org

The Tenement Museum right  by the Williamsburg Bridge is a real off the beaten path find. Showcasing the early days of NYC and especially of the lower east side, this small musuem provides an insight into how things were like for the immigrants who arrived in the US in the 19th Century. A variety of fun tours are on offer, all well priced and with well educated guides. I really enjoyed the “Then & Now” and the “Foods of the Lower East Side”. Nearby Essex Street Market has great food which is perfect after the Museum.

Holographic Studios Inc.

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Photo: holographer.com

Ney York’s only holography gallery and laser lab is in the basement of building in Located in a former blacksmith’s forge in the basement of a Gramercy building on 26th Streth street. et is NYC’s only holography gallery and laser laboratory where the . Started in the early by  by Jason Sapan in the early seventies, the gallery has cool floating images, celebrity holograms and computer generated designs. If you’ve ever wanted a selfie with bob marley you could get the next best thing. Located at 240 East 26th St, open Monday – Friday, 2 pm – 6 pm

Grand Central Station Walking Tours

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Informative and fun, this 90 minute walking tour is an interesting option for fridays. Two historians lead free 90-minute walking tours at 12:30pm every Friday, hitting places in and around  the terminal like the ‘whispering gallery’ and the Chrysler Building.

Mmuseumm

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Photo: mmuseum.com

It has a capacity of 3, and is located in a freight elevator in down an alley in chinatown. You don’t get much more quirky than that. They  exhibitions focusing on the overlooked, dismissed, or ignored” . If it’s open, then you’ll see some people standing around,  Otherwise, look for a steel door with a small “peep holes”to  peek through and you can call the number or log on to the website to get an audio guide and explanations about wonderful exhibits like isis currency, personal objects of immigration and  fake US Fast food franchises in Iran and Objects Designed for the Blind. Mmuseumm is pay as you wish with a $5 suggested donation for regular admission.Saturdays and Sundays noon-6pm,  4 Cortlandt Alley, New York, NY 10013, United States

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Williamsburg and Brooklyn Flea Markets

Cool (FREE!) Alternative Things to do in NYC

Hipster heaven, full of second hand record shops , pop up shops , designer fashion shops and lot of fair trade coffee shops. An epic melting pot with 2 generations of gentrification.  A good bet for a great atmosphere is Brooklyn flea and smorgasbord (not so much for good prices) where you can get great food,  antiques and vintage clothes galore. Open every weekend and it’s indoors when the weather is too cold. The Brooklyn Museum is well worth checking out on the first Saturday of the month -its Free and there’s a DJ and loads of all people from all around the area that come for the great music and vibe. http://brooklynflea.com/ Pearl Plaza in Dumbo, just beneath the Manhattan Bridge .Skylight One Hanson (Smorgasburg winter)

Brooklyn Brewery and the Mini Mall

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Photo: brooklynbrewery.com

Living in Berlin , you realize just how awful most american beers are. Fortunately the micro brewery revolution has taken over america , and Brooklyn brewery are a pretty solid choice ( you can even find them in Berlin). They run free tours on Saturdays and Sundays , and the tasting room is always fun and full of interesting people and beers at 5$ a token or 5 for 20$. Do yourself a favor and get as many as possible, it’s even nicer exploring  Williamson AFTER  visiting the brewery. Free tours on the hour:  1-5pm Saturday, 1-4pm Sunday.

Down by the waterfront , and close to the East river ferry station the mini mall is home to a variety of cool alternative mini shops. The place feels like a community marketplace and is the perfect place to explore the vintage boutiques , handmade jewelry stands and to get those non touristy souvenirs you’re craving.  218 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn

Bushwick Graffiti and Street Art Tour

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Photo: Yelp

The highlight of the neighborhood is the Bushwick collective, Started by  Joe Ficalora in 2011. The entire area  area is consists of several blocks of a vibrant open air gallery featuring some of the most talented street artists around. Its hipster heaven basically,  with new cool vintage shops and restaurants (NorthEast Kingdom which is a cool little place  farm to table restaurant and roberta’s pizzeria is also a solid bet)  popping up around all around helping to regenerate the area.  International artists have come from all over the globe to this hotbed of art , community and tolerance. Guided tours (which meet outside of the romantic Raw and Fine Chocolate Shop) require a reservation, but you can also make your own self guided tour (freetoursbyfoot.com).

Jazz Hostels

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Photo: Yelp

My go-to hostels in New York are Jazz Hostels. 2 Great locations – Jazz on the Park  and Jazz on Columbus Circle Hostels. You’re always in a great central location, and you can expect super friendly staff, impeccably clean rooms, great facilities and the pub crawl is always fun. AND since I’ve partnered with Travels of Adam, you can enter this exclusive competition to win a FREE trip to NYC HERE.

Greenwood Cemetary

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Photo: Yelp

A huge cemetery that was founded in 1838 – it’s basically an outdoor museum of obelisks, statues, mausoleums and tombs designed by leading architects. Just take a book , find a cool spot , like by the Bg Roman god of wisdom Minerva, on Battle Hill and read in the relaxing quietness. It’s a super chill walk in all seasons, not an easy thing to find in New York. Have I mentioned how big it is?’About 500 miles of body head to toe. Don’t get lost!

 WANT TO WIN A FREE TRIP TO NYC?

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