Your Complete Guide to New York City's Free Museums

Find out what days and times to visit all of the best museums in the city for almost nothing

Think a New York City museum visit is beyond your budget? Fear not: some of the best are free. And don't overlook those that offer free or pay-as-you-wish admission (even as little as a dollar or a dime). Even some of the paid museums, with admission prices of $25 or higher, offer certain days and hours where that same $1 bill will buy you a ticket. Before you give up on seeing that Picasso or Josef Alber exhibit, check out the list below for the best museums that you can visit for little or no money.

Image courtesy of the American Folk Art Museum

Completely free. All the time.

The big names might ask for at least a donation to get in but you can enjoy several exciting museums around the city for nothing at all, every day. The American Folk Art Museum sits on 65th St. and Columbus Ave., just a few blocks up from Columbus Circle. There, you can see the exhibition "Vestiges & Verse: Notes from the Newfangled Epic," featuring works by self-taught artists from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.

Head north on the D or B train to the Bronx Museum, the borough's free admission museum. Current exhibitions include "Gordon Matta-Clark: Anarchitect" and "Angel Otero: Elegies." They also regularly host Moth StorySLAMs and other events, such as dance performances, film festivals and food events.

BRIC House, located a few blocks north of Barclays Center, is currently focusing on art from the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and their Diasporas, as well as Katie Shima's wall relief sculptures, called "What time is it there?"

American Museum of Natural History. Photo: Ingfbruno

Pay-what-you-wish, when you wish

The American Museum of Natural History, on Central Park West, explores the nature of the world, its life and the whole universe for the almost-free price of your chosen donation (just don't use the electronic kiosks; those will charge you full price). Current exhibitions include Unseen Oceans, Our Senses, a Butterfly Conservatory and more. Dark Universe is a film, narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson in the museum's planet-shaped theater, that explores the monumental scientific discoveries that have created our current model of the universe (it's an upcharge but worth it).

Grey Art Gallery

Downtown at Washington Square Park, NYU's Grey Art Gallery is showing Drawings of Santiago Ramón y Cajal and is preparing the exhibition, Landscapes after Ruskin: Redefining the Sublime, opening on April 17. It's closed in between exhibitions but is always admission by donation.

Across the river at the Eastern Parkway stop of the 2 and 3 trains, the Brooklyn Museum presents another giant collection of fantastic art and a regular schedule of events. Definitely check out David Bowie is, the new exhibit that features handwritten lyrics sheets, original costumes and more until July 15.

The Queens Museum, across from the zoo in Corona Park, also boasts a large and varied collection of art. Opening on April 8 is Mel Chin: All Over the Place, an exploration of four decades of the artist's work that will also display art in Times Square and at the Broadway-Lafayette subway station.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Photo: Upstateherd

Paid museums for (almost) free

Here is your guide to the free or pay-what-you-wish days and hours of the other New York City museums worth visiting.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is probably one of the first names you think of when planning a museum visit in New York City. Its unfortunate new admissions policy means that out-of-state visitors must pay $25 (adult price; valid for 3 consecutive days) to explore its massive collection. New York residents can provide some form of ID to continue to get in for whatever tiny donation you choose to give. Inside, you'll find famous pieces by Van Gogh and Noguchi, in addition to numerous hidden gems. You can spend hours in Visible Storage, alone. And check out Thomas Cole's Journey, a new exhibition marking the two hundredth anniversary of his first Atlantic crossing.

The Noguchi Museum, in Long Island City, is free on the first Friday of every month (10am-5pm). It displays "the world's largest and most extensive collection of Noguchi's sculptures, drawings, models, and designs," including pieces handpicked by the artist.

On 70th St. and Central Park East, the Frick Collection offers pay-what-you-wish admission every Wednesday from 2pm to 6pm and free admission every first Friday from 6pm to 9pm. See Zurbarán's Jacob and His Twelve Sons until April 22.


The building that is the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is worth seeing, in itself. But to get into the museum on a budget, head there on any Saturday evening when the price is up to you from 5:45 (go early, there will be a line) to 7:45pm.

The Museum of Modern Art presents quite a journey into the world of contemporary artists. It's free every Friday, 4-8pm. Its other location, MoMA PS1, is always free for NYC residents and pay-what-you-wish for everyone else.

The New-York Historical Society is New York City's oldest museum and holds the history of the city within its walls. It's also filled with treasures like Thomas Cole's Course of Empire and the Gallery of Tiffany Lamps. It's pay-what-you-wish every Friday from 6pm to 8pm.

The New Museum displays a variety of contemporary art at its location just a block north of Houston Street. Check out Songs for Sabotage, a multimedia exploration of the connections between images and cultures. The museum is pay-what-you-wish every Thursday, 7-9pm.

Rubin Museum

At the Rubin Museum, the theme of 2018 is "The Future." The museum is exploring many different perspectives and visions of the future throughout the year. Every Friday, from 6pm to 10pm, admission is free.

At the top of Bleecker Street, the gorgeous Whitney Museum of Art features exhibitions such as Between the Waters and An Incomplete History of Protest. Pay what you wish on Fridays from 7pm to 10pm, unless you're under 18, in which case you're always free (that is, until you turn 18).

Finally, head to Queens on a Friday between 4pm and 8pm for free admission to the Museum of the Moving Image. There, you can enjoy the Jim Henson Exhibition, A Decade of Game Design, The GIF Elevator and more.

Tom Twardzik is a travel writer for the Journiest. He also covers music, film, TV and gaming for Popdust and contributes financial tips to Paypath. Read more on his page and follow him on Twitter.

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It's no secret that the restaurant scene in New York City is one of the most impressive in the world.

Whatever you could want to eat, you can find it in New York—meaning that even if you have a slightly restrictive diet, like veganism, there's plenty of options for you. Local fast-casual chains like By Chloe and Superiority Burger are making New York one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the world, but the deliciousness doesn't stop there.

Between Manhattan and Brooklyn, there's been a boom of vegan restaurants that'll satisfy any craving. Here are just a few of our favorites.

Blossom(Upper West Side + Greenwich Village)

vegan restaurant

With two locations serving both Uptown and Downtown, Blossom is a go-to for local and tourist vegans alike. They offer an elevated dining experience (and a wide-spanning takeout radius) that puts a cruelty-free spin on classic main dishes like chicken piccata, rigatoni, and grilled salmon. Complete your dinner with a fresh, fruity cocktail and tiramisu—but reservations are strongly recommended beforehand.

Jajaja (West Village + Lower East Side)

vegan Jajaja

Jajaja is the ultimate heaven for Mexican food addicts. Get your fix of south of the border staples like burritos, street tacos, and enchiladas that'll make you second guess whether or not it's actually vegan (pro tip: The nacho portion is large enough to be a meal for one person). They also have a small but mighty menu of tequila and mezcal cocktails to kick off a night of LES bar-hopping. It gets crowded here quickly, though, so try to schedule your dinner early.

Urban Vegan Kitchen(West Village)

Urban Vegan Kitchen

We get it—eating vegan can get kind of bland sometimes. But that's not an issue at Urban Vegan Kitchen, the type of restaurant that'll have you wanting to order one of everything on the menu (but we recommend the "chicken" and waffles). Co-owned by the founder of Blossom, they boast a menu that's just as edgy and exciting as their decor. Their space is large too, making it a crowd-pleasing option for a slightly larger group.

Champs Diner (Williamsburg)

Champs Diner vegan

Located near the border of hip neighborhoods Williamsburg and Bushwick, Champs is a favorite of many young Brooklynites. Their menu is full of vegan alternatives to classic diner fare like breakfast plates, cheeseburgers, and even milkshakes that taste mysteriously like the real deal, while the decor puts a quintessential Brooklyn edge on '50s digs. Who said going plant-based had to be healthy all the time, anyway?

Peacefood (Greenwich Village)

vegan Peacefood

Conveniently located just a stone's throw from Union Square—near both NYU and the New School—Peacefood is a hotspot for college students, but vegans of any age are guaranteed to enjoy their menu. They specialize in comfort food items like quiche, chicken parmesan, and chili with corn bread—all plant-based, of course. While their "chicken" tender basket is to die for, make sure to save room for dessert here, too; Peacefood's lengthy pastry menu is a dream come true.

Buddha Bodai (Chinatown)

Buddha Bodai vegan

Dim sum restaurants in Chinatown are a dime a dozen, but Buddha Bodai takes the cake for the best veggie-friendly experience in one of New York's most bustling neighborhoods. Bring your family or friends along with you to enjoy this massive menu of buns and dumplings stuffed with any type of mock meat you could want. This is also a great option for gluten-free vegans, too, as much of their menu accommodates a gluten-free diet.

Greedi Kitchen (Crown Heights)

Greedi Kitchen vegan

Crown Heights might not be the first neighborhood people think of when it comes to dining in Brooklyn, but Greedi Kitchen is making the case for delicious restaurants in the area. Inspired by its founder's many years of travel, Greedi Kitchen combines the comforting flavors of southern soul food with the added pizazz of global influences. Try one of their po'boys or the crab cake sliders. Trust us.

Screamer’s Pizzeria (Greenpoint + Crown Heights)

Screamer's Pizza vegan

We know what you're thinking: Pizza without real cheese? Call us crazy, but Screamer's does vegan pizza to perfection. If you're into classic pies like a simple margherita or pepperoni, or you want to branch out with unexpected topping combinations, Screamer's is delicious enough to impress carnivores, too (pro tip: the Greenpoint location is small and serves most pies by the slice, while the Crown Heights location is larger for sitting down).

Learning a second language is one of the coolest and most rewarding things you can do in your spare time.

However, if hopping on a one-way ticket to your country of choice isn't an option for you, it can be difficult to find an immersive experience to learn, especially past high school or college.

The next best thing is language-learning apps.

We wanted to look at the top two: DuoLingo and Rosetta Stone. Duolingo is the new kid on the block; one of the top downloaded, this free app is a favorite. Then, there's the legacy option: Rosetta Stone. For over 20 years, they've been developing their language-learning software, and their app is the most recent innovation.

They're both great options, but keep reading to figure out which one is the best for you.

Key Similarities

  • Both claim you'll expand your vocabulary
  • Both are available as an app for iOS and Android users
  • Both have a clean user interface with appealing graphics
  • Both have offline capabilities (if you pay)

Key Differences

  • DuoLingo has a popular free version along with its paid version, whereas Rosetta Stone only has a paid version
  • DuoLingo offers 35+ languages, and Rosetta Stone offers 24 languages
  • Rosetta Stone has an advanced TruAccent feature to detect and correct your accent
  • DuoLingo offers a breadth of similar vocab-recognizing features, and Rosetta Stone offers a wider variety of learning methods, like Stories

DuoLingo Overview

DuoLingo's app and its iconic owl have definitely found a place in pop culture. One of the most popular free language-learning apps, it offers 35 different languages, including Klingon, that can be learned through a series of vocabulary-matching games.

DuoLingo offers a free version and a version for $9.99 a month without ads and with offline access.

Rosetta Stone Overview

The Rosetta Stone app is a beast. There are 24 different languages to choose from, but more importantly, you get a huge variety of methods for learning. Not only are there simple games, but there are stories where you get to listen, the Seek and Speak feature, where you go on a treasure hunt to photograph images and get the translations, and the TruAccent feature, which will help you refine your accent. Whenever you speak into the app, you'll get a red/yellow/green rating on your pronunciation, so you can fine-tune it to really sound like you have a firm grasp of the language.

Rosetta Stone costs just $5.99 a month for a 24-month subscription, which gives you access to all of their 24 languages!

Final Notes

Overall, these are both excellent apps for increasing your proficiency in a new language! They both feel quite modern and have a fun experience.

When it comes to really committing words to memory and understanding them, Rosetta Stone is king.

DuoLingo definitely will help you learn new words, and the app can be addicting, but users report it as more of a game than a means to an end.

With Rosetta Stone's variety of features, you'll never get bored; there are more passive elements and more active elements to help you activate different parts of your brain, so you're learning in a more dynamic and efficient way.

The folks at Rosetta Stone are extending a special offer to our readers only: Up To 45% Off Rosetta Stone + Unlimited Languages & Free Tutoring Sessions!


So You Want to Try Workaway

Want to travel cheap, meet locals and kindred spirits, live off the land, and possibly change your life? It might be time to try Workaway.

Sitting in a house on a hill in Tuscany, Italy, watching the sun set and listening to the sound of music coming from the house in which I was staying almost rent-free, I wondered how I had gotten this lucky.

Actually, it was really all thanks to one website—

Workaway Workaway

Workaway is a site that sets travelers up with hosts, who provide visitors with room and board in exchange for roughly five hours of work each weekday. The arrangement varies from host to host—some offer money, others require it—but typically, the Workaway experience is a rare bird: a largely anti-capitalist exchange.

I did four Workaways the summer I traveled in Europe, and then one at a monastery near my home in New York the summer after. Each experience, though they lasted around two weeks each, was among the most enriching times of my life—and I'd argue I learned almost as much through those experiences as I did in four years of college.

There's something extremely special about the Workaway experience, though it's certainly not for everyone.

Workaway Isn't for Everyone: What to Know Before You Go

I loved all the Workaways I went on, but the best advice I can give to anyone considering going is: Enter with an open mind. If you're someone who doesn't do well with the unexpected, if you're not willing to be flexible, if you're a picky eater or easily freaked out, then it's likely that you won't have a good experience at a Workaway.

There are exceptions to all of this. At the Workaway I stayed at in Italy, one of the travelers was suffering from stomach bloating, and the host helped cure her with a diet of miso. (I'm not saying you should go Workawaying if you're ill—this traveler's mother also came to oversee everything—but still, you never know what you'll find).


You should also probably be willing and able to actually work at your Workaway. These aren't vacations, and some hosts will be stricter and less forgiving than others regarding your work ethic. If you're someone who has no experience with difficult farm work, for example, it might not be a good idea to do a Workaway on a farm.

How to Choose a Host

The Workaway website boasts a truly overwhelming number of hosts. You can narrow your search down by location, but you can also search key terms that can help guide you in the right direction. You might search "music," for example—that's how I found the Italy location. You'll find hosts in busy cities and in the most remote mountains of India; you'll find opportunities to tutor and explore. You'll find shadiness, too, so trust your instincts.

Take time to actually read the host's entire bio before reaching out. Read all the comments, too, and if you're nervous or a first-timer, only reach out to hosts who have exclusively glowing reviews. I had the best experiences with hosts that had left extremely detailed bios—that showed me they were likely going to be dedicated hosts.

I also chose hosts whose bios gave me a good feeling, something like a spark of electricity or recognition. This instinctual method might not work for everyone, but it certainly led me in the right direction in all of my Workaway experiences. My Workaways gave me some of the best memories and deepest relationships of my life, and that was partly thanks to the fact that I chose places that were good fits for me.

For example, I chose to stay alone with a wizened academic in France. Something about his bio and descriptions resonated with me enough to trust him. (I also read some of his many thousand-page-long treatises on peace and compassion and decided that if someone could write this and be a psychopath, this wasn't a world I wanted to live in anyway). It was the right decision—and the two weeks I spent there were some of the most enlightening of my entire life.

When you reach out to a host, particularly if it's someone you really want to stay with, it's a good idea to frame your initial contact email as a cover letter of sorts—make sure you explain who you are and personalize your letter to fit each host.

Ixcanaan A Workaway painting experienceWorkaway

Travel Safely

Especially if you're traveling alone, it's always a good idea to choose a host whose page has tons of good reviews. Aside from that, a quick Google search and a scan of any social media pages related to your potential host can't hurt.

Ultimately, Workawaying requires a certain amount of trust and faith on both the host and the traveler's parts—you're either trusting someone to stay in your home or trusting a stranger to host and feed you.

But that trust, in my experience, also results in rapid and deep connections unlike anything I've experienced in the "real world." When you go and share a home with someone, you're also sharing yourself with them, and in that exchange there are the seeds of a powerful bond.

Participate Fully

Wherever you go, you'll want to open your mind and participate fully. Adjust yourself to your host's lifestyle, not the other way around, and take time to get to know your host and the others around you.

You might find that you become someone you never knew you were. As a lifelong introvert, I somehow managed to develop close relationships with many of the people I was staying with.

This might be because most people who are at Workaways are seeking something for one reason or another. In my experience, you find lots of people who are at junctures in their lives, seeking connection and meaning. With the right Workaway, you might just find it.

Workaway The Broke Backpacker - WorkawayThe Broke Backpacker