5 FREE Places You MUST Check Out in New York City

The Oculus New York City

Every year we travel to New York to visit family and explore this cultural mecca.  I could talk for days about all of the amazing places that one must check out when visiting the Big Apple.  Here are 5 free places you should check out when you go!


It was a typical, quiet morning at work until someone yelled out that a plane hit one of the Trade Center towers.   Then the second tower was hit.  Then the Pentagon.  And in Pennsylvania.  Frazzled, we all took the interwebs to find out what was going on.  I remember helping coworkers try to call their family and friends that lived and/or worked in the city – dialing and redialing until we eventually got through.  I went home that night and was numb – it was unfathomable that our strong nation could be attacked like this.  The lives lost, the families – it was devastating.

The nearly 3,000 people that were killed during the horrific events are memorialized in the 9/11 memorial – a two acre area of reflecting pools and manmade waterfalls.  Bronze panels outline the pools, each carrying a name of a person that died in 1993 during the World Trade Center bombing and on 9/11.

911 Memorial World Trade Center New York City

As we walked the perimeter of the reflecting pools, it allows us to talk about what happened with the boys, answering any questions they had.  You can also visit the museum for free from 5pm until closing on Tuesdays.


If you are an architecture lover, you have to check out the Oculus.  Operating as the centerpiece of the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, this architectural beauty offers amazing shopping and dining.  Connecting the New Jersey PATH trains and NYC’s subway system, this $3.9 billion structure is breathtaking.

We walked through the Oculus, checking out all of the shops along the way.  The boys were truly impressed with the structure!

The Oculus New York City

The Oculus New York City


My husband and I are HUGE street art fans and New York City is filled with some of the coolest installations I’ve ever seen!  The pieces are sprinkled throughout the many sections of the city, which makes it a fun scavenger hunt for the family.  Here are some of the cool pieces we found this time around.

My husband did a lot of research on Instagram to try to locate most of the pieces.  To see the different pieces of work in an Instagram photo is very impressive, but to see them in person brings them to a totally different level.

street art new york city nyc

street art new york city nyc

street art new york city nyc


You could spend days in Central Park with all of the fun and free things available for families.  I counted 20 playgrounds in total that the kids could have a blast at (and burn some pent up energy).  Pack a lunch and blanket and enjoy the expansive Great Lawn, located mid-park from 79th to 85th Street or Sheep Meadow, located on the west side of the park from 66th to 69th Street.

central park new york city nyc

My boys love to climb the immense rocks, especially Summit Rock.  The bedrock outcrop is over 140 feet tall – the highest elevation in all of Central Park.  The boys could spend all day climbing up and down the rock, playing


The Brooklyn Bridge, opened to the public in 1883, has inspired more art than any other manmade structure – think Andy Warhol and Georgia O’Keefe to name a few.  Last year we decided to walk the 1.1 miles across the bridge to the Brooklyn side. I was a bit scared at first, as I am afraid of heights, but once we started walking (and I looked straight ahead), I was fine!  The views were beautiful, so definitely make sure you get a family photo!

Brooklyn Bridge New York City NYC

Super cool story about the photo above!  So we wanted to get a family photo, and were looking for someone with a camera to take the photo.  We came across this one guy with high-end camera equipment and asked if he could take the photo for us.  Kindly, he obliged.  We thanked him for taking the amazing shot, of which he replied with, “I’m a National Geographic photographer.”  Score!


Have you been to any of the spots above?  Do you have any other fun and FREE spots that you’d like to share in the comments below?


  1. It’s so amazing!! Thank you for sharing the places! I hope someday I could visit them all! The street arts are great!


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