Free Things To Do In Lower Manhattan
Most tourist-y things in New York City tend to be up in midtown (e.g. Times Square, Broadway, Rockefeller Center, Central Park, etc.). But heading to the bottom of the island has its purpose too. But when you're budget traveling or just poor, sometimes it doesn't make sense to pay a ton to go see the Statue of Liberty. I've created a list of five free things to in Lower Manhattan I found when walking around there the other day. These things won't cost a cent!
National Museum of the American Indian
If you're interested in Native American culture that covers the entirety of the Americas (North and South), then definitely check out the National Museum of the American Indian. Not only is it free, but if you have any native background, there are archives you can search to find your ancestors and information about your family tree. The artifacts in the building are beautifully ancient and a reminder that there were a rich culture of people here before the European takeover.
If you're anything like me, and you're obsessed with the National Treasure films, you'll know that Trinity Church is where the treasure is hidden in the first film. Well lower Manhattan is home to Trinity Church and a few blocks away is St. Paul's Chapel. They're both free to enter and each have their own draws. St. Paul's pays homage to the 9/11 attacks while Trinity has beautiful window glass art reminiscent of European cathedrals. Both also hold cemeteries on the grounds, which are interesting to decipher who was laid to rest there.
Where the two World Trade Center towers once stood now lay two fountains with the names of all whose lives were taken in the horrible event of September 11th. It's very emotional to go over to the pools and stand in the reverence of what once was in this part of the city. There's a calming effect that comes along with it and a natural moment of reflection that comes with standing in it's presence. Visiting the fountains is free, but if you are okay with the splurge, you can go inside the neighboring museum to learn more.
Staten Island Ferry
The best and free views of the Statue of Liberty are definitely from the Staten Island Ferry. There's a ride every 30 minutes and you just walk onto the large boat and find a spot at a window and you'll get great shots without having to pay a cent. There's also great views of lower Manhattan from the boat and even once you get off on the other side. Be prepared to get blown around a bit and to probably have to push a bit for a good spot to see, but you have two chances, one on the way over and on the way back to get a good view.
Spanning the entire bottom cape of the island of Manhattan is Battery Park. It's a nice place to walk around and relax. There's often events or street performances happening there that seem less crowded than the rest of the city. I came across an apple festival on my last walk there which had apple-themed food, a old-timey band playing and even a mini corn maze for kids to run through. Beware of all the people attempting to try and sell you tickets to see the Statue of Liberty though, because they're everywhere.