New York City for Families

How to enjoy New York City on a budget




Winters Chilling Tales # 115

Days 251 to 254

Free Family Fun in New York City

After packing in so much for Autumn’s birthday (day 250), and spending heaps of money, we ventured into New York with our budget back in mind and find free family things to do and see.

We woke early and ate some bagels and donuts, this is our included breakfast, then packed more for the trek into New York. We went straight to the 9/11 memorial, plaza and museum.

Now we were pretty apprehensive about this because of Spring’s reaction to our flight from Paris, so we didn’t spend too much time looking at photos or images of the incident.

World Trade Centre Memorial, New York City.

World Trade Centre Memorial, New York City.

It was sad and quiet and you couldn’t help but have a little tear. The stories on the memorial, tribute centre and local fire station all have the same underlining attitude, that America is great, will rebuild and will not be defeated. The memorial is clever and is a pretty impressive water feature, showing the enormity and depth of the original building foundations.

New York is rebuilding the trade centre towers and they have completed building 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the New World Financial Centre, number 1 is just shorter than the original twin towers. It is an impressive building from the outside probably worth a visit, but we didn’t go up. We just went back to the fire station to read the plaques and pay some respect. Sept 11 has definitely changed the way we think and travel forever.

We then walked from the memorial down to Battery Park. This is the park that looks over to the Statue of Liberty. The park has heaps of memorials, for soldiers who fought in the wars and sailors and civilians that lost their lives in the waters around the park. From here you can catch a ferry to the Statue of Liberty but we just took our time and some photos of the statue from the shore.

Statue of Liberty.

Statue of Liberty.

We then walked our way up to the Financial District and stopped off at the Charging bull statue on Wall Street. As you can see from the clean brass balls lots of people have touched the bulls large balls for good luck. I wished for some good luck and moved on.

Raging bull Wall Street, this is not a good look.

Raging bull Wall Street, this is not a good look.

We jumped on the Subway and then made our way back Uptown. We were all desperate for some Chinese food. We got off at Canal Street and it was really hot both in the subway and on the street. We walked up to the first cart we saw and got fish balls with flat noodles in takeaway dishes and stood in the street eating them. They were dirt cheap and tasted great.

By this time, I realised that my back was not coping with the walking and weight of a backpack and so we headed toward a park. We walked West from Chinatown and then North to SoHo, this stands for South of Houston Street. Within SoHo, we slowly walked through the Cast Iron Historic District. It was really cool and again very familiar. Still no park though and so we keep walking North.

Cast Iron district SoHo.

Cast Iron district SoHo.

We saw there was Washington Square Park on the map and so we walked there. It was in Greenwich Village. My back was killing me so I sat down on a bench and the girls explored the entire park. Spring went into the little kids area and Summer and Autumn sat talking while she played. Sure enough, our little Spring had a celebrity encounter. She ended up making friends with Alec Baldwin’s little daughter. Summer, Spring and Autumn ended up talking with Alec and his wife. All the while I was on a park bench feeling sorry for myself and my sore back wondering where they were.

How sad did I miss Alec Baldwin? Squirrel in Washington Square Park.

Who me? I am not Alec Baldwin! Said the squirrel in Washington Square Park.

We eventually left and made our way, by train luckily, to Times Square. Grabbed a seat and just soaked in the atmosphere. Then I spotted him, the Naked Cowboy. He is a pretty funny guy just walking around in his undies, cowboy hat and just playing his guitar.

He asked for no money but loved to pose. The Naked Cowboy Time Square.

He asked for no money but loved to pose. The Naked Cowboy Time Square.

We then went for another walk into a Disney shop for Spring prior to dinner. I sat down while both the girls explored this huge toy store.

We found another diner but too close to Times Square and so we paid for it. The waiter talked too fast and tried to upsell too much and we all didn’t finish off our huge portions even though we only ordered three meals again.

When we walked back to Times Square a free Opera was being played on every second screen. It was Verdi’s Otello. We walked the red carpet and grabbed a seat. The front row was a neck breaker, but the noise was unbelievable, so loud.

You have to see this youtube video to understand the enormity of what they had set up. While looking for the video footage, we found this site that has a photo of us sitting front row of the outdoor theatre.

This is what we were looking at.

The subtitles helped but we still broke our necks watching Otello in Times Square.

The subtitles helped, but we still broke our necks watching Otello in Times Square.

Pretty impressive then it started to rain so we ran to the subway and caught the train back to our place.



The next day we caught the subway to High ST Brooklyn. We then walked over the Brooklyn Bridge. We were so lucky it was a nice day. Plenty of tourists out doing the walk. You get a pretty good view over to Manhattan Island from the Bridge.

Selfie on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Selfie on the Brooklyn Bridge.

On the Manhattan side, we caught a street show. The guys were a cross between hip-hop and acrobatics. Justice Crew comes to mind. It is the first street show we have watched from start to finish on this trip I think.

We then made our way to Grand Central Station had a good look around. We went underground for some lunch. Again we had to have Asian food and it was Japanese this time. More expensive than yesterday but still very nice.  This is an impressive building and looks like a scene from a movie, Night at the Museum springs to mind. The girls tell me Madagascar.

Grand Central Station with constellations on the ceiling.

Grand Central Station with constellations on the ceiling.

We then went from here to the Rockefeller Centre and walked around the entire place. The girls wanted to go into a massive lego store and decided to make all four of us into lego characters.

You have to read our instagram post to work this out.

You have to read our Instagram post to work this out.

There was one sporting place that I wanted to go in New York, Madison Square Gardens. Caught the subway down to Penn Station. The stadium was pretty impressive from the outside. Summer and the girls stopped for an ice-cream while I went into the foyer to check it out. I didn’t go past the security check point, then went back to the girls. The area around Madison Square Gardens is really cool with heaps of little pop-up bars and street food.

We decided to have a few beers and early dinner before returning for the night. Oh, this time it was cheap Spanish and half priced drinks.




The next day we had a well-deserved sleep in. We ate lunch in our room before heading to Dumbo (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass) for short. What a cool little place, every place you go, every corner you turned just seems so familiar. We then got the classic photo from the old town up to the Manhattan Bridge.

Manhattan Bridge looking up from Dumbo.

Manhattan Bridge looking up from Dumbo.

We spent a couple of hours at Brooklyn Bridge Park just taking in the view. The girls played in a gated playground. We then walked over the Manhattan Bridge to New York City this time, but it was nowhere near as cool as the Brooklyn Bridge. We did get some good photos over to the city.

Brooklyn Bridge and downtown New York City taken from the Manhattan Bridge.

Brooklyn Bridge and downtown New York City taken from the Manhattan Bridge.

We ended up in Chinatown but didn’t want to explore this part of town, so we headed up to the garment district to get to the Port Authority Bus Terminal. We wanted to make sure we could purchase bus tickets for Washington. After walking so much each day we decided to get the first meal that looked good. You wouldn’t believe it, we had Asian food again. This time, we had Thai in a box in a small shop. We then did another predictable thing and headed to Times Square one last time before heading back to our room.




As you can tell we did not spend any money on the activities over the four days here. We only spent money on the subway and food. The weather was just too good to go indoors. We wanted to spend as much time as possible outdoors just watching the people and seeing so many familiar buildings and sites.


The entire city has free family fun everywhere you go. The parks are excellent and outdoor atmosphere is very entertaining for the entire family.

We didn’t think we could do it, but we visited New York City for 5 days on a budget.

Have you visited New York on a budget? Tell us about it in our comments box below.

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