Whether you’re going to New York City for the first time or a long time resident, you’ll quickly learn that the city always has something new to experience. There is no lack of things to do and explore, even walking around the city feels magical! 

There’s a misconception that to enjoy New York, you have to spend money. Although the Sawyer team loves Eloise at the Plaza, your family doesn’t need a Plaza-sized budget to experience the best New York has to offer. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite free activities in New York to help you get inspired this winter and many to come.


1. Stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge

Finished in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge became an international icon for setting the world record for longest suspension bridge. An open-air stroll along the Brooklyn Bridge is a wonderful way to take in grand views of lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. If you’re bringing small children, try to go earlier in the day and bundle up because the bridge can get busy! The Brooklyn Bridge is rich in history, so we suggest reading up on fun facts to share with your family before you make the trek. 

2. Ice skate surrounded by skyscrapers

If your family ventures to midtown, don’t miss Bryant Park’s outdoor ice skating rink. Your children will love being surrounded by twinkling skyscrapers that make this experience feel like living in a movie! Skating admission is free, but there is a small charge for skate and locker rentals. 

3. Enjoy public art in DUMBO 

If you catch yourself in New York on a Thursday night, head to DUMBO, Brooklyn. This iconic neighborhood is home to Sawyer’s offices and incredible public art. 

In 2021, art-lovers can head to DUMBO to see LIGHT YEAR, an art installation that promises to light up the Manhattan Bridge with stunning imagery. Shows start at dusk and end at 10 PM — go early to make it home by bedtime. If you can’t make the installation in person, you can view the show online

4. Go sledding in Central Park 

When New York is covered in snow, the city’s magic is undeniable. On festive winter days, grab your sled and bring your family to Central Park for sledding. This totally free activity is guaranteed fun! Once you finish, we suggest grabbing hot chocolates to warm up little hands and explore the park on a snow walk. 


5. Visit the High Line

Little art lovers who love to move will enjoy the High Line — and so will their parents! Enter the highlight near Hudson Yards or start your walk by the Whitney Museum of American Art. Wherever you end up, you’ll enjoy public art, quiet gardens, and views of the city that will take your breath away. 

6. Visit the library

On chilly days where walking around the city just isn’t possible, venture to the New York Public Library. Located on Bryant Park, this library often has public exhibits and a beautifully restored Rose Main Reading Room. Children who love books will enjoy this beautiful spot, just remember to use your inside voices when you visit. If your child misses classes or needs an activity to keep busy, you can book free online classes at the Brooklyn Public Library

7. Take a free class

When winter weather gets frightful, book a free online class for your family. From cooking classes to mindfulness for kids, there are endless options for any interest your child might have.