If you’re hopelessly addicted to TikTok like so many others (guilty!) then you’ve probably seen a thousand or so videos with a similar premise: Influencer (aspiring or actual) logs their spending throughout a day in New York City. Though seemingly innocent, the finale can be quite heinous — with the narrator cheerfully declaring their grand total for the day, usually upwards of $150.
While it’s no secret that living in New York isn’t exactly cheap, the idea perpetuated by influencers and verified Twitter users that “you can’t leave the house without spending x dollar amount” isn’t exactly fair. Sure, when you combine brunches at Jack’s Wife Freda with drinks at Clandestino (and Uber rides to and fro,) the result can be costly.
We’re here to tell you: that isn’t the only way. In fact, you can have the perfect spring day in NYC for little more than a $2.75 swipe or two! To prove it, the team at Common has put together this list of free things to do in New York City this spring — whether you’re a literati, a fashionista, an art aficionado, or just looking to make this spring a memorable one.
For the well-read
Where are all our fellow English majors at?! Whether you’re still a #literati or your love for literature stopped at graduation, we think you’ll love these free NYC attractions all the same. Both less than a 25-minute train ride from our Long Island City home, ALTA by Common, two of New York City’s best libraries are hosting some free fun this spring. The Polonsky Exhibition at the legendary New York Public Library showcases some of the library’s treasures — many of which have never-before been displayed — including a declaration from Christopher Columbus and the original Gutenberg Bible.
At the nearby Morgan Library and Museum, similarly drool-worthy rarities are on display; the museum counts both a Mary Shelley-annotated copy of Frankenstein and an original edition of A Christmas Carol among its extensive collection. NYPL is always free to visitors, but The Morgan Library is only free from 2-5 PM on Fridays — so be strategic!
For the super-stylish
If New York is your runway, then free attractions can be found just about anywhere. Through May 8th, The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) will be showcasing historic accessories in this two-century-spanning installation. The evolution of women’s fashion will be explored — from 1800 through the present day — as well as the social implications of some of these monumental accessories.
After reminiscing over fashion’s past, try on some of fashion’s present at any of New York’s flagship boutiques. Though Barneys, Totokaelo, and Opening Ceremony may be gone, New York is still the spot for window shopping. Our advice? Visit Bode’s DIY-chic downtown space, Williamsburg’s Chickee’s Vintage (20 minutes from Common Gates,) and the legendary 9-floor Bergdorf Goodman (a brief strut from The Heritage by Common.) After all, it’s free to fantasize!
For the art snobs
While we fully believe in supporting art museums, there’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of free installations in-between spending $30 on admission to some of New York’s other world class institutions. This spring, the Brooklyn Public Library in Greenpoint is showcasing a New York City first: a Lenape-curated collection of artifacts from the native people of the New York Harbor region. Just a 30-minute train ride from Common Gates, the Lenapehoking exhibition is free to the public and runs through April 30th.
Back at the New York Public Library, art meets tech meets nature with the truly unique INterSECTS. The brainchild of graphic novelist Peter Kuper sees butterflies, dragonflies, caterpillars, and other insects interacting with the Beaux-Arts architecture of the library. The result is certainly moving — it will just be up to you to decide whether that “movement” is your skin crawling or your heart fluttering! Catch this free exhibit before it flies away (sorry!) on August 13th.
For the Common members
While living at Common is not free, the amenities and perks members get while also scoring one of the best housing deals in New York ought to count for something! In-between taking advantage of all of the other free activities on this list, members at ALTA by Common can go for a springtime swim; residents at The Heritage by Common can walk steps to Central Park, and those calling Common Gates home can soak up springtime on their furnished rooftop.
Making the most of spring in New York doesn’t have to drain your bank account — and we’ve shown that some of the best NYC experiences this spring require little more than good timing and a MetroCard swipe. If you’re looking for some more free springtime fun, take a tour of a few of our New York City homes and start planning your perfect spring day in NYC