21 Fun Things to Do in NYC for Students: Weekend Guide
They don’t call it the city that never sleeps for nothing.
New York City has something for everyone and depending on the season, you’ll find different things to do around the city.
The best thing about New York is that not everything costs money. That is great news for someone living on a student budget.
There is so much to do, you’ll be able to do something different each weekend for a year and you’ll have only scratched the surface.
Here you will find a couple of fun things that you can do all year round in the NYC as a young person, whether you came just for a weekend or you study here.
First time in New York? Check this 3-day guide!
Go do Broadway
You can’t say that you have been to New York if you have not seen a Broadway show.
These shows are synonymous with New York and have been running for decades. Shows like the Lion King is still running, but you don’t have to go and see all the major stuff.
You are bound to find a gem of the show when you least expect it. If you can find cheap flights to New York, you’ll be able to sniff out a good show. You’ll forever regret it if you don’t make a turn.
Find some more free attractions in this NYC budget guide
A slice for every occasion
Whether it’s after a long day in the streets of New York or the beginning of your night out, you have to make a turn at Paulie Gee’s slice shop. These guys know how to make a pizza.
They are traditional to the bone with char wood fires, none of that thick base pies and flavor that will blow your mind.
Go for the original cheese and pepperoni or live dangerously with the Hellboy. Mike’s Hot Honey will bring a tear to your eye for a very low price per slice.
Explore the arts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the most impressive museums in the world and one of the many that you can visit in New York. This is the perfect destination for those days when you just want to contemplate in peace and quiet. The exhibits are updated regularly and they have plenty for you to see.
You won’t be able to experience the fullness of the museum in just one day, it is that big. It makes up 13 acres of Central Park and boasts a collection of artifacts that span over 5000 years.
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Explore Prospect park for a day
Everyone knows about Central Park, but if you want to get away from the secular places and visit a peaceful little slice of heaven, then Prospect park is for you. It is a 526-acre public park in the heart of Brooklyn.
The park is open during the day and the evening and perfect for stargazing during those clear summer evenings.
During the day you can go for anything from a relaxing picnic to playing just about any sport under the sun. This is the perfect romantic getaway, especially if you go out on the lake with a paddleboat.
Tired of typical attractions? Find new places to visit in NYC
A view from the top
New York has one of the most impressive skylines in the world and up until recently, if you wanted a view of the city, you had to brave the Empire state building.
This year, the 20 Hudson Yards observation deck opened to the public and it is stunning.
The observation deck is 1131 feet up in the air and offers unprecedented panoramic views of the city.
This is one of the coolest touristy things that you can do and once you’ve finished viewing the sights, you can go to the 100th floor to the champagne bar and relax the night away.
Ice skating in Central park
People who live up North will know that skating on a lake or a dam is completely different from skating in a rink.
During Winter, you have to make a turn at one of the Central Park ice rinks.
You can choose to go to either Wollman Rink or the Lasker Rink, but of a student budget, you can go to the Conservatory Waters. There you can skate for free if you have your skates and the ice is at least 6 inches thick.
Go for a ferry ride
The State Island ferry is free for all and you can even drink on it. They have some of the lowest beer prices in town. The hour-long trip is worth it if you want to go for some cheap sight-seeing.
Lady Liberty can be seen in all her splendor as you cross the river. If you are on a tight budget, then you have no choice.
Plus, the atmosphere is electric on the ferry. What more do you want?
Take a stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge
If there is one walk that every local or visitor should make, it would be the Brooklyn Bridge. It is one of the greatest feats of 19th-century engineering. In 1883, it was the world’s longest suspension bridge, spanning an impressive 1.3 miles.
If you are planning a romantic evening, be sure to book a restaurant near the bridge and go for that evening walk over the bridge. Be sure to take a lock with you and join in the love lock tradition.
Eat your heart out at Smorgasburg
For all the foodies out there, you have to try the Smorgasburg open-air food market. This is one of the biggest markets of its kind in the US and it runs every weekend.
Over 100 vendors make their way to the market every weekend and they have some of the most delicious treats on offer.
Many culinary experts say that this is the place where new trendy dishes are born. Both the Ramen burger and Wowfulls waffle cone had their origin at this market. This is not one to miss if you want to show your taste buds some love.
Bling it up at the Opera
If you thought that Opera was only for the snooty and super-rich, then you need to have your mind blown.
The Metropolitan Opera House is the perfect place for you to dip your toes into opera. Even if you just want to feel classy for a day, you can get into a show for as little as $25 with a student discount.
You’ll be supporting some amazing artists and be mesmerized by the talent of the singers at the opera house. If for nothing else, you’ll be able to say that you’ve been to the opera.
Be a tourist for a day
There are many things that New Yorkers take for granted, but you should step inside the shoes of a tourist for a day and go visit the statue of liberty again.
The statue is the ultimate monument and symbol for liberty and it kind of brings a feeling of nostalgia as you read the history of it all.
The 305-foot copper has been standing tall since 1886 and is something to behold up close. It’s one of the cheaper expeditions that you can go on and it is worth every penny.
It isn’t just graffiti
The streets of New York are where street art was born and if you think that graffiti isn’t art, then you haven’t seen the masterpieces of New York. Bowery Road is famous for some of the world’s best wall canvases.
The art is phenomenal and you will be treated to a visceral experience that you will not find a museum. The work that you’ll see on Bowery Road is not that of your average gangster wielding a spray can.
These guys are professional and they come from all over the world at a chance to exhibit their skills.
Pay your respects at ground zero
9/11 was one of the most devastating days in recent American history and you can pay your respects to the fallen where the twin towers once stood.
The footprints of where the towers once stood are now two of America’s largest manmade waterfalls and they are surrounded by the names of all the people who lost their lives on that fateful day.
This is a testament to the resilience of America and a message to everyone out there that when the going gets tough, they stand together. This is one of those goosebump destinations that you cannot miss.
A different type of movie
If you are a movie lover, then New York is the place to be. You can watch all your favorite blockbusters at any cinema in the country, but Indie movies and foreign films don’t always have a home.
Film Forum is where you’ll get your indie fix and it is open right through the year.
When it opened in 1970, it was a non-profit joint with fold-out chairs. Today, it is a gem of a cinema and if you are in the mood for something different, then you know just where to go.
Catch Shakespeare in the park
Summer is an amazing time of the year. In Central Park, it is extra special when the Public Theater wows the crowds with their renditions of Shakespeare’s classics.
High school might have killed it for you, but there is just something special about watching a play in the park. The best part is that these shows are free.
You have to hurry though because seats are limited and you can get a ticket from the Delacorte Theater at noon on show days. You’ll get a new appreciation for Bard’s words in the park.
Get your nerd on at the public library
One of New York’s most awe-inspiring sites to visit is the New York Public Library. The building itself is a work of art with super high ceilings, intricate chandeliers, and massive windows to let the light shine in on all that knowledge hidden between the pages.
You don’t even have to read anything while you are there. Just being in that space makes you feel smarter, but if you feel like it, you can pick up a book on just any topic.
Buy some indie books
If the library is not your scene, but you still love to read, then you cannot miss the Strand bookstore. This indie store was founded in 1927 and has been going strong since.
They have over 2.5 million new, used and rare books that you can sink your teeth into. There are too many books to peruse in one day.
The sign outside says that they have a line of over 18 miles of books. If you are looking for a bargain, go to the $1 shelf. You might just pick up a gem for your library at home.
Relive the old Amusement park days
If Disney Land and Six Flags is a bit above your budget, you can still get that amusement park feeling at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park.
They don’t have all the fancy rides of the other parks, but they have a classic Ferris wheel and oodles of classic carnival thrills. You have to make a day of it.
Not many people know it, but Ney York has a pretty cool beach where you can have an awesome day of fun in the sun. It has the best of both worlds.
One part New York attitude mixed with an equal amount of beach bum makes for a pretty unique vibe.
The Forbidden Planet is every comic book fan’s little slice of heaven. If you can think of a comic book, they will have it.
Here you’ll get everything from comic books to figurines and other comic book related toys. Be prepared to spend a lot of time there.
Go to the ball game
Yankee Stadium is a must-visit location. When a game is on, you have to make an effort to go and experience the hype.
Even if you don’t know a thing about baseball, you are bound to have a good time. The atmosphere alone is enough to make you a fan.
There is no reason why you should be cooped up in your flat over a weekend.
With so much to do in New York, you’ll never have a dull moment.
The only thing you’ll have trouble with is deciding what to do next.
Robert Everett worked in the corporate sector in a managerial role before deciding to live life as a travel blogger and vlogger.
He makes money with his vlogs and also through academic writing where he covers essays, term papers and research papers.
In his free time, he watches web series, takes martial arts classes and cooks different cuisines.