Grand Central Station lives up to its name. Opened in 1913, the station’s grandeur comes from its impressive Beaux-Arts design, which has seen it registered as a National Historic Landmark. And its location in Manhattan makes it central to the city of New York.
Grand Central Station is the gateway to the Big Apple for millions of visitors every year. However, unusually for rail stations, this one is almost fascinating enough to warrant a visit even if you don’t need to travel through the station itself.
Plus, the central location of the station means there’s plenty to do in the area. And while New York isn’t always known as the most affordable city in the world, you’ll find there are some great activities around the station that won’t cost you a penny.
Drop off your unneeded bags at a Grand Central Station luggage storage and check out some of these free activities. Who said you have to spend a fortune to have fun in New York?
Visit Times Square
No trip to New York is complete without visiting Times Square. The iconic destination is located just a short walk from Grand Central Station and is home to some of the most famous billboards and lights in the world.
You can’t come to Times Square and not take a picture with the giant Coca-Cola sign or with the Naked Cowboy, who has been serenading tourists since 1998.
And if you want to get a better view of all the action, head to One Times Square, also known as the ball drop building on New Year’s Eve. You can’t go inside, but you can see the famous LED ticker tape display that runs around the building’s perimeter.
It doesn’t cost anything just to take a walk around Times Square and soak up the vibrant energy. However, it can be difficult not to spend some money while you’re there, with so many interesting shops and attractions to choose from.
Explore Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central Station may be best known as a train station, but it’s also a shopping destination in its own right.
The Grand Central Market is the perfect place to grab a quick bite or do some people-watching. The market has been around since the early 1900s and is now home to over 35 vendors selling everything from fresh produce to artisanal cheese.
If you’re looking for something sweet, stop by Li-Lac Chocolates, which has been making handmade confections since 1923.
Or, if you need a caffeine fix, head to one of the many coffee shops in the terminal, including Irving Farm Coffee Roasters and Blue Bottle Coffee.
You could easily spend an entire day exploring Grand Central Station and all it has to offer. But best of all, it won’t cost you a cent.
Visit the New York Public Library
The New York Public Library is one of the most iconic libraries in the world, and it’s just a short walk from Grand Central Station.
Founded in 1895, the library has since become home to over 53 million items, including books, manuscripts, maps, photographs, and more.
You can explore the vast collection on your own or take a guided tour of the library. Either way, it’s an enriching experience that won’t cost you a dime.
And if you’re a Harry Potter fan, be sure to check out the library’s famous Rose Reading Room, which was used as a filming location in the movies.
Stroll through Central Park
Central Park is one of the most famous parks in the world, and it’s located just a short walk from Grand Central Station.
The park is huge, spanning 843 acres, so you could easily spend an entire day exploring all it offers.
There are plenty of things to do in the park, including taking a rowboat out on the lake, renting a bicycle, or simply strolling through the grounds.
And if you’re visiting in the winter, don’t miss the opportunity to go ice skating at Wollman Rink.
Admission to Central Park is free, although there may be a fee for some activities.
Take a free Walking Tour
There are plenty of free walking tours available in New York City, and many of them start near Grand Central Station.
These tours are a great way to learn about the history and culture of the city, as well as to see some of the most famous sights.
Just be sure to tip your guide at the end of the tour. After all, they work hard for their money. And while that means the tour isn’t technically free, it’s definitely worth it for the amount of information you get and the glimpse of life in New York you’ll be given.
See a Broadway Show
You don’t have to spend a fortune to see a Broadway show in New York City. There are plenty of ways to get discounted or even free tickets to shows.
One popular option is to line up for same-day tickets at the TKTS booth in Times Square. You can also try your luck with lottery tickets or standing-room-only tickets.
Or you can take advantage of free shows and events that are often held in Times Square.
No matter how you do it, seeing a Broadway show is an unforgettable experience. And it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg.
As you can see, there are plenty of things to do near Grand Central Station without spending any money. So the next time you find yourself in the area, be sure to check out some of these great attractions.