New York City is one of the most inspiring, photogenic places in the world. Around every corner there are incredible photo ops, but a lot of NYC’s most iconic attractions cost money. Whether it’s your first time visiting NYC or you’re just looking to save some money but still get the best backdrop for your instagram photos, I’ve compiled a list of seven of the best FREE sight-seeing photography spots in New York City.
Central Park is enormous and there are infinite places to take excellent photos throughout the park. You could easily dedicate an entire day to exploring the gorgeous park and entrance is completely free! One of my favorite photo spots is just up the hill from the Victorian Gardens Amusement Park – atop the rocks you get a great view of the buildings through an opening in the trees.
The High Line
The historic rail line turned popular tourist walkway stretches for a mile elevated above the Chelsea neighborhood. From the High Line you get unique views of some of NYC’s most popular streets, surrounded by a juxtaposition of gardens and buildings. On a clear day, you can even see peaks of the Empire State Building!
An obvious choice and one of the most iconic places in New York City, Times Square’s “lights will inspire you.” It is a bit of a tourist trap, and the locals steer clear of Times Square at all times, but it’s a must-see for visitors. If you can, stand up on the outdoor step seats to get the best angle for your picture!
Walk the Brooklyn Bridge to Dumbo
It takes about 30-40 minutes to walk across the famous Brooklyn Bridge, but you’ll certainly want to stop and take pictures along the way – the views of the city are phenomenal. Once you’ve crossed into Brooklyn, make your way down to the Dumbo neighborhood. One of NYC’s most Instagram-famous locations is at the intersection of Washington & Water which gives you an up-close view of the Manhattan Bridge and the Empire State Building in the far, far distance (clearer on a less gloomy day than pictured below).
It costs to go into the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but it’s completely free to pose on the steps in front of the stunning building. If you DO purchase tickets to go inside the museum (I know, this isn’t “free” but it’s a helpful tip), make sure you wander up to the MET rooftop terrace, which provides an incredible view of Central Park and the towering high rises that surround the city.
While the trendy Soho neighborhood stretches across a 10-block radius, there are a few streets in particular that are extra picturesque. On a clear day, you get an amazing view of the World Trade Center towering above the other buildings on West Broadway. If you happen to find yourself here on a cloudy day, the busy blocks lined with designer fashion retailers also provide excellent backdrops for your photos.
A popular park in Greenwich Village, Washington Park is recognized by the towering Washington Arch, through which you get a clear view of 5th avenue and the Empire State Building. It’s also an excellent location for people-watching (or street photography). Come here to snap pics of an intense chess match, a man surrounded by hundreds of hungry pigeons or the park’s fountains, which are teeming with people cooling off from the NYC heat in the summertime.
What are some of your favorite spots in NYC for free photo ops? Next time I find myself in the city, I may have to challenge myself to find 7 new free spots!
As always, thank you for reading! XOXO