New York City is known as one of the most expensive cities in the world, but that doesn’t mean you and your dog have to spend a fortune to enjoy it. There are plenty of things to do with your furry friend that won’t cost you a dime.
Plus, not going broke means you’ll have more money saved for treats, travel, and vet costs! Here are the best free things to do in NYC with your dog.
We have lots more dog-friendly NYC info for you to read, if you’re interested!
1. Explore Central Park
Central Park is heaven for dogs. It’s 843 acres of urban park that runs right down Manhattan. It’s the most visited urban park in the United States, with over 37.5 million visitors annually.
The park has everything, from rocks to climb, to ponds, to a carousel and even a castle. There are free events held nearly every day, with free guided tours and walks through various parts of the park.
Official off-leash hours are between 9PM and 9AM, during which time the park belongs to the dogs, who are free to run and play to their hearts’ content.
Check out dog group Central Park Paws, who run an annual My Dog Loves Central Park event, meets monthly for coffee and bagels (Bagel Bark!), and organize hound hikes.
Location: Central Park stretches from 110th Street to 59th Street, and from 8th Avenue to 5th Ave.
2. Visit Brooklyn Brewery
Nothing’s better than pups and pints. Brooklyn Brewery allows leashed dogs in their tasting room, so you can sample Brooklyn beer on tap with your pup at your side.
There’s no cover, no reservations, and plenty of tables to sit back and enjoy a free sample. Bring some water for your pooch because the beer is for humans only.
Location: 79 N 11th St, Brooklyn, NY
Related: Dog-Friendly Breweries In NYC
3. Play at the dog park
Dog parks are large, fenced-in areas for dogs to exercise and socialize while off leash. They’re a great way for your dog to play and make friends.
Thankfully, there are dog parks in all five boroughs for the estimated 500,000+ pet dogs living there.
There are over 65 dog parks in New York City, and many include special features, like sprinklers, bathing areas, benches, and rocks to climb on.
For smaller and/or older pups, check out specialty small dog parks for pups 25lbs and under. Find the dog park closest to you and head over for some playtime.
4. See the Statue of Liberty on the Staten Island Ferry
When the Staten Island Ferry first opened, it cost 25 cents a ride, but today it’s free! The ferry shuttles back and forth from lower Manhattan to St. George Terminal in Staten Island, and runs 24/7 with views of Governors Island, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty.
The five mile, 25 minute ride allows leashed dogs that are caged and/or muzzled, however, we’ve noticed that if you ask a ferry worker politely, they might let you remove the muzzle or get out of the cage.
Hop on the ferry, feel the breeze and check out the NYC skyline – it’s a must.
Location: Whitehall Terminal in Lower Manhattan (4 South Street) and St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island (1 Bay Street, Staten Island).
5. Enjoy off-leash hours
Off leash hours are opportunities for your pup to run and play off leash in one of NYC’s parks. They’re typically from open until 9AM, and from 9PM until close. There are 75 parks that have off leash hours in NYC, and they’re found in all five boroughs. Let your dog stretch their legs and meet some of the dog packs that frequent each park for daily socials.
6. Go to Coney Island
Coney Island is the city’s playground. It has an amusement park, the beach, and a vibrant boardwalk full of fun. Leashed dogs are allowed on the boardwalk at Coney Island year round, and allowed on the beach from September 30 – April 30.
Visit Nathan’s hot dogs for a bite, buy a ticket to a Brooklyn Cyclones Bark in the Park game, or check out Coney Island Walls, an “Outdoor Museum of Street Art.” You can even catch a free movie at Coney Island Flicks on the Beach. Don’t forget the sunblock!
Get there on the D, Q, N, or F subway line to Stillwell Avenue.
Location: 1208 Surf Avenue.
7. Take a hike
Inwood Hill Park is the only forest left on Manhattan Island. It has three trails, various rock formations, and a view of the Hudson River and the Palisades. It’s also home to tulip trees, oaks, and maples, as well as Manhattan’s last salt marsh.
Be sure to check out Shorakkopoch Rock while there, the alleged place where the “selling” of Manhattan, between Peter Minuit and Native Americans, took place.
The best part? It’s only a subway ride away! Take the 1 train to 215th Street.
If you want more hiking options, check out 5 Dog-Friendly Hikes in NYC.
Location: Payson Ave. &, Seaman Ave, New York, NY .
8. Swim at Dog Beach
Located at Long Meadow in Prospect Park, Dog Beach is a swimming hole for our four-legged friends. It was recently renovated in 2016, with rocks brought down from upstate New York and new fencing. Dogs are able to swim, run, and play freely during off leash hours in the dog days of summer.
Prospect Park is a haven for dogs, offering acres of dog friendly green space in addition to Dog Beach. You can connect with other Prospect Park dog owners through FIDO, New York City’s largest off-leash community.
They host events throughout the year, like Coffee Bark, a monthly get together for dog owners to meet, socialize, and exchange information while enjoying coffee, pastries, and dog biscuits.
Location: 95 Prospect Park West, Brooklyn, NY.
9. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
Soak in views of the Statue of Liberty, enjoy the spectacular skyline of downtown New York, and admire the beautiful architecture as you walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.
The bridge has a 1.3 miles long pedestrian walkway that will keep you and your pup far from vehicles. It’s a great way to burn some energy while sightseeing.
Make sure to go early morning or late at night to avoid huge crowds.
We recommend entering on the Manhattan side, and enjoying Brooklyn Bridge Park when you exit the bridge. The waterfront park has tree lined pathways, a great lawn, and even a carousel. Stop in to check out the various piers and enjoy the gardens. Be sure to check out their list of free events beforehand to see what’s happening.
Want more bridges? You can also walk over the Williamsburg Bridge!
Location: Brooklyn Side – at the intersection of Tillary Street and Boerum Place, or via the underpass on Washington Street. Manhattan Side – Park Row Centre St in Lower Manhattan.
10. See a movie
NYC comes alive in the summertime, when people ditch indoor activities to spend most of their time outdoors. Every summer, movies are shown under the stars – and for free! – all over the city, on lawns, in parks, and even on rooftops.
Check out the following free outdoor cinemas:
- Central Park Film Festival
- Socrates Sculpture Park Outdoor Cinema
- Movies with a View
- Summer Screen
- Summer on the Hudson
Pack a blanket, your pup, and some popcorn, and enjoy a night out.
11. Admire street art
The streets of New York are lined with all kinds of art – murals, graffiti, sculptures, statues, art installations, you name it! Take a walk around colorful neighborhoods and take in the free public art the city has to offer.
If you want a more curated experience, check out the public art spaces in Queens and Brooklyn:
The Welling Court Mural Project, in Astoria, Queens, is one of the longest-running mural projects in the five boroughs of New York City. Definitely do a walk through when you’re in the area.
The community mural project has brought together artists from around the globe to help foster beauty in the neighborhood. Every year, new large-scale murals are painted in the streets, yielding an open air museum of art that is free and open to the public, 24/7.
There’s also the Bushwick Collective, an unofficial graffiti museum that brings together top street artists from all around the world. This Brooklyn gem spans multiple buildings over several blocks, so there is plenty to see. The art is all temporary, ever-changing, and a worthy rival to anything you’ll see in a museum with four walls.
12. Gallery-hop in Chelsea
New York’s most concentrated area for a gallery crawl is in Chelsea, specifically in the West 20s between 10th and 11th Avenues. Many of these galleries, from small start-ups to established institutions, are dog-friendly and free to enter, with no pressure to buy.
Don’t miss the dog-centric gallery the William Secord Gallery, located at 29 West 15th Street on the fourth floor. They specialize in 19th and 20th-century dog and animal paintings.
If you have extra time, head south to visit The Hole on Bowery Street. If you’re lucky, you might bump into resident art dog and Instagram famous model Bert the Pomeranian while there.
13. Socrates Sculpture Park
A dog-friendly and free place to admire art? Count me in! Socrates Sculpture Park was built on the grounds of a former landfill and illegal dumpsite, and has since transformed to host large-scale sculpture exhibits and multimedia art installations year-round.
This 4.5-acre waterfront park is dedicated to supporting artists in the production and presentation of public art. Go for the art, but stay for the views.
The backdrop of the park is framed by the East River and the Manhattan skyline, with epic views of both. With their flat grassy lawns and groves of trees, the park is a great place to exercise your dog and get some steps in.
What free activities in NYC are your favorite?
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