Even though it's one of the most expensive cities in the world, New York offers plenty of free activities. I've learned that first-hand during my two-month long "cash diet," which allots me only $60 in spending money a week.
The past eight weeks, I've swapped pricey bars and restaurants for cash diet-friendly activities, many of which I've highlighted below.
Keep in mind that this is far from a comprehensive list. If you put in a bit of effort, there are lots of other exciting ways to experience New York City on the cheap.
Do a Chelsea gallery crawl
Lots of New York City neighborhoods host art galleries, but the greatest concentration is in Chelsea, where there are hundreds to wander through between 10th and 11th Avenue and 18th and 28th street.
Pro tip: Plan your gallery crawl for a Thursday night for free wine.
Cross the Brooklyn Bridge
The views from the Brooklyn Bridge, which links the two boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn, are unmatched.
Plus, there's plenty to see and do on both shores. On the Manhattan side, you'll find yourself close to St. Paul's Chapel, City Hall and Wall Street. On the Brooklyn side, you're at DUMBO's spectacular Brooklyn Bridge Park, a renovated waterfront area with cafes, playgrounds, promenades and a one-of-a-kind view of the Manhattan skyline.
Stroll through the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
The garden has more than 200 cherry trees, a rose garden, a Japanese hill-and-pond garden and more. Admission typically costs $15, but is free on Saturday mornings (10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon) and Tuesdays.
Admission is also free during winter weekdays (December through February), but fewer plants are in bloom then.
Walk the High Line
Another great walking adventure is the High Line, an out-of-use railroad trestle converted into a 1.5-mile-long linear park above the hubbub of the city.
You can walk the High Line at your leisure, or you can take a free 75-minute tour on Tuesdays and Saturdays between May 3 and October 29.
Check out the Guggenheim Museum on a Saturday evening
Tickets to the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Guggenheim Museum normally costs $25, but admission is "pay as you wish" on Saturdays from 5:45 to 7:45 p.m.
The line starts to form at 5:15 p.m. and you may want to plan on arriving around then to avoid a long wait.
Tour the Brooklyn Brewery
The Brooklyn Brewery in Williamsburg offers free, 30-minute tours on the weekends (7:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Fridays, 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays, and 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Sundays), which take you behind the scenes and clues you in on the history of the place.
Tours are first come, first served. If you have to wait, pass the time by walking along the waterfront close by or grab a beer in the Brewery.
Samples aren't included in the tour — but if you pay $15 for the "Small Batch" tour, it comes with a guided tasting of four Brooklyn Brewery beers and a souvenir glass.
Go ice skating at Bryant Park
While skating at Rockefeller Center is iconic, it'll set you back $32 during peak season, plus another $12 to rent skates. You can find a much better deal half a mile south at Bryant Park, where admission is free (though skate rental is $20).
If you plan on storing your things in a locker, make sure you bring your own lock, as it'll cost $10 to buy one at the rink.
Get standby tickets to see a taping of "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon"
You can see Jimmy Fallon live completely free if you're willing to wait in line for standby tickets. People who have done it recommend arriving between 6:00 and 6:30 a.m. at the NBC marquee on 49th street, where the tickets are distributed the day of each show starting at 9:00 a.m.
Check out the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Many people don't realize that the $25 admission price to the largest art museum in the U.S. is only a suggestion. It actually costs as little as a penny to enter the Met. If you're there between May and October, check out the roof garden bar with views of Central Park and the Manhattan skyline.
Visit the Museum of Modern Art on a Friday night
Admission on a typical day will cost you $25, but on Friday from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m., you can pay whatever you wish to see the latest and greatest modern art exhibits.
Ride the Staten Island Ferry
Ferry tours to see the Statue of Liberty will cost you $18.50, but the Staten Island Ferry, which runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is absolutely free and provides a sweet view of Lady Liberty, Ellis Island and the skyscrapers of lower Manhattan.