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The Best Things in Life are Free Museums and Attractions in New York City

Published: June 27th, 2014

New York City is the most amazing city in the world, but taking advantage of all it has to offer can really take a bite out of your travel budget. The Library Hotel Collection and its staff love to help our guests get the maximum enjoyment out of their time as well as travel budget. Some of the most fascinating museums and cultural attractions in the world are in New York City and it need not cost a lot to visit them if you know the best times to go. Here,  our concierge team has put together a list of a few of the most popular museums in NYC that offer a day each week with a free or “pay what you wish” donation.  If you plan your time in NYC correctly you can enjoy a different exhibit (or even two) each day, free of charge!


MuseumsForFREEThe Museum at Eldridge Street offers free tours from 10am to Noon. This museum showcases the fully restored Eldridge Street Synagogue.  The Eldridge Street Synagogue was originally opened in 1887. It was one of the first synagogues opened in the United States. The museum showcases the immense craftsmanship that went into this structure and also gives you a bit of history of what it was like for the millions of European Jews who immigrated to a strange land and found solace in this incredible building.  The museum is located on the Lower East Side at 12 Eldridge Street, Between Canal and Division Streets.

The Brooklyn Botanical Garden offers one of the most unique collections of horticulture in the area. The gardens are open all year long and showcase different plants for each season. Whether you like to promenade around the beautifully landscaped fifty-two acre garden on your own or take a walking educational tour, there is something for everyone here.  Located in Brooklyn at 990 Washington Ave inside of Prospect Park.


If you want to feel at one with nature, there is no place better than at the Bronx Zoo. This zoo was built in 1899 and has become one of the largest Zoo’s in the USA. They house over six thousand animals! While the zoo does recommend donations on Wednesday’s no one will bat an eyelash if you decline to. It is just for grounds access. The Zoo is located at 2300 Southern Boulevard Bronx, NY.

Later, in the early evening from 4 to 8pm, The Museum of Jewish Heritage offers a free visit to their museum. This museum is a moving remembrance of the holocaust and the millions who died and suffered, as well as those who survived and those who risked their lives to save others. Located in downtown Manhattan at 36 Battery Place.

From 4 to 8pm, visit the Museum of Art and Design (MAD). This museum offers a large collection of which ranges from beautifully crafted handmade Jewelry to delicate hand blown glass masterpieces. The museum itself is very contemporary and also has a unique gift shop. The museum is located on Central Park West and 59th Street.
Another Museum worthy of a visit is The Museum of Chinese in America. The museum shows us the history, heritage and culture of the Chinese Empire to Modern China and also a history of Chinese Americans. It is located at 215 Centre Street.


The Museum of Modern Art is one of the most popular museums in NYC. It features art work from the likes of Frida Kahlo and Paul Gauguin. The museum has ever-changing exhibits. On Fridays from 4pm to 8pm entrance is free.  They are located on 53rd Street between 5th and 6th Avenue. The Dining Room at the Modern is well known for offering amazing food as well as well as a stunning view of the museum’s unique sculpture garden. Once you are done exploring MoMA, we suggest that you venture up to the Whitney Museum of American Art which offers ‘pay what you wish’ evening from 6pm to 9pm. You will see works of famous American artists such as Georgia O’ Keefe and Joseph Stella. The museum offers all forms of art from impressionism to cubism as well.


If you have no plans for the theatre on Saturday evening, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum offers a “pay what you wish” donation from 5:45pm to 7:45pm.  The Guggenheim’s architecture should be enough of a reason for you to visit this amazing collection of anything from impressionism to surrealism. There are over eight private collections that will remain at the Guggenheim. They are located on 5th avenue and 89th Street. Also, be sure to stroll up three blocks to 92nd street and 5th avenue to visit the Jewish Museum.  The museum is open to the public at no cost for the entire day! This museum is dedicated to art and the Jewish culture. Be sure to visit their Museum Café, Lox’s. It has excellent food and is kosher to boot!  Both of these museums are located on Museum Mile.


Morgan LibraryOf course, a trip to NYC would not be complete without visiting a world-renowned library and where better than The Morgan Library and Museum.  This museum is over one hundred years old and has recently been extensively refurbished. The exquisite beauty of this masterpiece is just the icing on the cake. The museum is home to not only an amazing selection of extremely rare books, but it also features signed letters from Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson.  From 4 to 6pm every Sunday take advantage of access to the McKim rooms that house these relics. The Morgan Library and Museum is located at Madison Avenue and 36th Street.

The New York Hall of Science
also offers free entry on Sundays from September to June from 10am to 11am. They offer amazing tours and a look into the science world. The sheer intelligence that goes into some of these exhibits will leave you in awe. They are located in Corona, Queens which is about a 30-minute train ride from Manhattan.

Please keep in mind on these days there will be a high volume of visitors so we always recommend arriving early to avoid standing in long queues.

Looking for more FREE or low cost activities to enjoy in New York City this summer? If you want to use your vacation to enhance your fitness and well being, explore the city by sail, or enjoy the rich cultural opportunities in New York City, you’ll find great advice here and by speaking to your Library Hotel Collection Concierge team.  If you need any help at all planning your days or would like more information on any of these exhibits, Our front desk staff would be happy to assist you planning your stay in NYC.  Please feel free to contact our concierge team at the Hotel ElyseeLibrary HotelCasablanca Hotel, or Hotel Giraffe!