Mar 072013

If New York City is your destination for a family friendly spring break vacation with teens and tweens, make sure to bring your walking shoes and plan time to enjoy the many and varied free activities around New York City.  By the time you get done shopping, taking in a show, eating out and visiting the paid attractions you’ll be glad you added a few freebies to the mix.   Based on several visits by our teens, here’s their top five free things to do when visiting New York City:

1) Take a Walk in Central Park

On our visit we walked the east side of Central Park from the lower entrance of at 6th Avenue and Central Park Drive up to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on 5th Avenue at East 82nd Street.  On a sunny Spring Day the trees and flowers will be in bloom and the remote control sailboats will be out on Conservatory Lake.  The official Central Park site provides a wealth of information about things to see and do in the Park.

Central Park is lovely on a Spring Day

Central Park is lovely on a Spring Day

2)  Visit New York City Museums on the Cheap

Many of New York City’s museums offer specific times when admission is free or is on a pay what you want basis.  Check out those museums listed here by NYC-ARTS to find a deal.  The well known Metropolitan Museum of Art makes the list by offering a pay what you wish policy every day and children under age 12 are fee all the time.  Some New York City Museums have free admission at specific times.  For example, the Museum of Modern Art is free for everyone on Fridays from 4-8 pm and kids, tweens, and teens under age 16 get in free anytime.

The Temple of Dendur at the Met

The Temple of Dendur at the New York City Metropolitan Museum of Art

3) Take a Walk on the High Line

The High Line is a true urban oasis.  This linear park on the lower West Side is located on a former elevated rail spur that runs through the  Meatpacking District between 10th and 11th Avenues.  The first section opened in June 2009 and runs from from Gansevoort Street to West 20th Street. The second section, which runs between West 20th and West 30th Streets, opened June 8, 2011.  The High Line is maintained and operated by the Friends of the High Line non profit group.

Take a walk along New York City's High Line

Take a walk along New York City’s High Line

4) Visit Times Square and Broadway at Night

Nothing represents New York City more than the lights of Times Square and Broadway.  For better or worse, the neon and Times Square street scene should not be missed.  Although still a bit rough around the edges, Times Square becomes more family friendly every year hosting flagship stores for chains such as Toys R Us with an amazing lego zone and a 60-foot high  indoor ferris wheel (ticket required to ride).  In recent years traffic in Time Square has been diverted to create a pedestrian mall that includes tables and chairs and outdoor stages.  There is even a free mini-museum at the visitors center.

We're really in New York City!

The lights of Times Square in New York City!

 5) Take a Walk on The Brooklyn Bridge

Completed in 1883, the 1,595 foot main span of the Brooklyn Bridge  links lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.  It is the oldest suspension bridge in the country.  Today, the bridge carries 135,00 or more cars most days – as well as thousands of pedestrians.

The Brooklyn Bridge is a New York City icon

The Brooklyn Bridge is a New York City icon

Have more time?  Explore the wonderful art deco architecture of Rockerfeller Center and stop in at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.  Also be sure to check out the frequently updated listing of free things to do in New York City hosted by the NYCGO visitors web site.

Finally, don’t forget to check out our list of budget family friendly hotels near Times Square.  Enjoy your visit to the Big Apple

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