Having a New York City family reunion can be an expensive venture with notoriously high restaurant and hotel rates (even for groups). In order to keep a lid on costs, we have compiled a list of free things you can do when you plan a family reunion. With numerous cultural attractions and a large city parks system, there are plenty of things to do that won’t cost a penny.
Additional resources for family reunion planning
- How To Plan A Family Reunion
- New York City Group Hotel Rates
- Planning A Reunion? Here are some tips
- Family Reunion Activities, Things To Do In New York City (NYC)
Staten Island Ferry
Want a view of the Statue of Liberty without the crowd or the cost. The ferry runs between the boroughs of Manhattan and Staten Island and is a major mode of transportation for commuters. The twenty five minute ride is great as you can hang out in the open air at the front or the back of the boat. The ride provides some great photo opportunities (With the Manhattan Skyline) for your family reunion as well.
Take a walk along one of the oldest suspension bridges in the US. Much like the Staten Island Ferry, this walk will provide some great photo opportunities of lower Manhattan’s skyline and will give you a taste of one of Brooklyn’s most eclectic neighborhoods, Brooklyn Heights. There are quite a few nice restaurants, and art galleries here and is another great place to just walk around and explore.
Part of lower Manhattans permanent fixture, this shopping area has plenty to offer in terms of food and the great views of Brooklyn from its pier. The museum offers a great historical perspective of New York City’s nautical past. Family reunion members will enjoy all the great pictures and artifacts of a bygone era. The Seaport is also close to Wall Street so it’s probably best to combine both these attractions into one day’s worth of sightseeing.
If you’ve never been to the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Guggenheim Museum, Saturday is as good a time as any. At 5:45pm, the museum hosts a Pay what you wish admission night with live music.
Hop on the train and get off at 42nd street, Times Square. Just walking around here will show you why New York is one the most diverse cities in the world. There is something for everyone here including Virgin Megastore, Toys R Us, Grand Central Station, And Bryant Park.
Free Juilliard Concert
Attend a free concert at Lincoln Center during Juilliard’s school year. Students at this prestigious performing arts school put on some great performances. To see a schedule of events, click here.
Free Movie (Summer only): Catch a free classic movie in Bryant Park every Monday night. If you are going with a large group, then plan to get there early as it can get crowded. For dinner, give one of the street cart vendors a try. The sheesh kebab ones have gotten quite popular and are reasonably priced too.
Grand Central Terminal
This is the largest commuter rail station in New York City located inside a gorgeous building between Lexington and Park Avenue. They have a free 90 minute guided walking tour of the teminal and its surrounding area. If a guided tour is not of interest, then take a self guided one. The view from the four sided clock offers the best vantage point of the main concourse. While in the main concourse, look up and you’ll see a great astronomical mural by the French painter Paul Helleu, painted in gold leaf. Also, don’t miss the two elegant marble staircases on the eastern and western portions of the station.
Family reunion members can spend a whole day in this park and still wonder where the day went. From local musicians to a boat ride, from ice skating to the central park zoo, there is something for everyone to do in the park. Performing groups of all types appear during the summer months on Central Park Stage for (mostly) free performances. Sit on the lawn and enjoy the show. Check their website for a list of events in NYC. Or you can try to get tickets to Shakespeare in the park. Theatre buffs start lining up early for tickets at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. Tickets are free and are distributed at 1pm but lines start as early as 6am.
Brooklyn Botanical Gardens
Celebrate the seasons with a spectacular tour at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, considered “the premier horticultural attraction in the region,” by the New York Times. Free guided tours are offered at 1 p.m. on weekends. Meet at the Visitor Center. There are no reservations are needed.