Yes there are and those free things are all based around one thing.
So if you don't like walking, you won't like the big free things all the guidebooks say to do in New York:
Walking the Brooklyn Bridge
It's really long and it's really windy but the views are stunning if you're walking from Brooklyn back towards Manhattan. The little police cars on the bridge are funny. People DO NOT LIKE IT if you stray into the bike lane so stay vigilant guys. Just so we are clear, the bike lane is the lane with the bike drawing on it. I think. I don't speak the local language so I can't be sure.
Walking the High Line
It's an old train line that has been converted into a fantastic walkway that ends up in the fabulous Meatpacking District that I was desperate to visit. It's fun to imagine yourself living in one of the apartments you walk past. *sigh*
Walking around Times Square
When you first see Times Square you're like 'oh my god it's Times Square off the films on the TV' you're second thought is 'wow so lighty with all the lights' your third thought is 'too many tourists and weirdos get me out of here now now now'. Worth a visit though.
|My poor phone couldn't handle the LIGHTS|
Now this was my favourite of all the walky bits. I didn't expect to love this as much as I did but we walked in and I loved it instantly. Free to roam around the station. Oh and the toilets are free too downstairs. You're WELCOME.
Walking to 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar
So you want to go to a rooftop bar but you don't want to spend any dollar? No problem man. This rooftop bar is free to visit and to take in the views of the Empire State Building and beyond, then you can just leave. I'm sure this is completely frowned upon but shhhhhhh. And YOLO. Wine isn't actually that expensive here which pleased me.
Walking around Central Park
Oh go on, get yourself to Central Park during your stay in NYC! You can pretend you're in Home Alone (the one where he's Lost In New York of course, not the first one) and look for the scary pigeon lady, but you should also head to The Terrace and fountains to listen to the musicians busking BUT I BET YOU WON'T SEE A BETTER LADY THAN I DID. She was an Opera singer and dressed like a pink butterfly. I think about her all the time.
<Lastly, I didn't take a photo as it didn't seem right to, but we visited St. Paul's Chapel which is right next door to where the World Trade Centers were (and where the new freedom tower stands). It was free to walk in and there are tonnes of things to read and see from 9/11. That was such a powerful place to be and to really try to even imagine what people went through that day and subsequent days. I didn't need to pay $30 to go to the 9/11 museum after visiting here. It felt more raw and real than I think the museum could try to be - but I didn't go to the museum so obviously can't say for sure.>
So to sum up, yes there are free things to do in New York they are walking things but for goodness sake get yourself a pair of comfortable shoes as it's a REALLY BIG CITY.
*Don't even talk to me about museums. I'm not interested in the MOMA, you hear?