We know that it’s hard to get out of Columbia’s MoHi bubble to begin with, and even when you want to venture up or downtown, it can be tough to find affordable things to do in New York City. That’s why we made a list where you can make the most of your time at Columbia by exploring all the great spots in the city—while saving money along the way.
Museums in New York City are some of the most famous in the world and boast some of the best art pieces you’ll ever encounter. One of the perks of being a Columbia student is that you have access to discounts that others don’t, so make the most of it!
Metropolitan Museum of Art: Columbia and Barnard students get free admission to the Met with their student ID (though certain exhibits might cost extra). No matter which galleries you choose to explore, you shouldn’t complete your visit to the Met without checking out its Cantor Rooftop Garden Bar (open from mid-April through October), which has gorgeous views of Central Park and the city.
The Guggenheim: Student tickets are $18, which is $7 off the regular $25 ticket. However, on Saturdays from 5 to 8 p.m., the Guggenheim has cash-only, pay-what-you-wish tickets, with the last ticket issued at 7:30 p.m. The architecture of the building should be as much of a pull as the artwork inside, and unlike other museums in the city, it is possible to see the whole museum in a couple of hours.
Whitney Museum of American Art: Student tickets are $18, which again is $7 off the regular $25 ticket. Note that if you’re 18 or under, you can get in for free, and that on Fridays from 7 to 9:30 p.m., the Whitney has pay-what-you-wish tickets. It is conveniently located next to the High Line and Chelsea Market, so if you visit, you should definitely try to cross all three off your list!
Museum of Modern Art: For Columbia and Barnard students, tickets to both the MoMA in Midtown and the MoMA PS1 in Long Island City are free for one visit. The MoMA holds one of the largest collections of modern art in the world, but if you don’t want to spend too much time there, check out this audio guide that will show you all of its highlights in an hour.
American Museum of Natural History: The AMNH has pay-what-you-wish tickets at the ticket counters and offers free public tours that are included with admission. The suggested ticket price for students is $18, compared to the regular $23 ticket for adults. If you’ve seen Night at the Museum, it’s a fun activity to try and spot all the exhibits that were featured in the movie!
Check out the Columbia University Arts Initiative webpage for a full list of museums that offer free admission to Columbia students, as well as for more details regarding student discounts.
New York sports teams and their respective home arenas are monuments to the history of sports with extremely exciting atmospheres and loyal fans. Going to a sports game is definitely something you should do at least once while you’re here at Columbia. When you do, you should definitely make the most of your student ID benefits!
The New York Yankees: You can get one half-price ticket in designated seating locations at select Yankees games. The ticket must be purchased at the Yankee Stadium Ticket Windows on game day. If the Boston Red Sox are in town, that would one of the most fun games to watch!
The New York Knicks: This famous basketball team offers a student pass that provides updates on last-minute ticket sales if you sign up with your .edu email address. Tickets for the “Mecca of basketball” are usually expensive, so don’t miss out on this opportunity to experience a Knicks game for cheaper!
The Brooklyn Nets: In general, Nets tickets are usually much cheaper than Knicks tickets. If you want the experience of NBA game but aren’t a huge fan, attend a Nets game when they are not playing a high-profile team for a great experience at a lower price. Also, the Nets have a College Pass option that gives students access to last-minute tickets to Nets home games in Barclays Center.
Although we live in a ~concrete jungle~, New York has its fair share of parks as well. If you want to venture outside of Riverside and Morningside Park, then check out these well-known green spaces in the city:
Central Park: This is one of the most famous landmarks of New York City. On a warm day you can grab your picnic blanket and sit on the Great Lawn to soak up some sun. If you want to spend money, the rowboats are $15 an hour. Alternatively, you can just choose to sit in front of Bethesda Fountain or the Mall, watch all the different street performances, and reminisce about the great movies (read: Enchanted) that were filmed here.
The High Line: This elevated park is created from a former New York Central Railroad line and has great views of Chelsea and the Hudson River. Pro-tip: Start at the Vessel at Hudson Yards (which you can get free tickets for online) and make your way down the High Line to Chelsea Market and the Whitney Museum.
Washington Square Park: Although this park is on the smaller end of the scale, it is one of the liveliest and most famous in the city. On a warm day, catch all the great street performances, listen to some live music, take pictures next to the iconic arch, or watch the dogs play in the dog park.
Brooklyn Bridge Park: On a sunny day, Dumbo is one of the nicest places to be in New York. Although it is a bit far from campus (around a 50-minute subway ride), it is definitely worth it. You can sit on the grass next to the river and take in the unparalleled views of the downtown Manhattan skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge. If you want, instead of taking the subway back from Brooklyn, you could even walk the bridge and take the subway from Manhattan.
General New York Landmarks
The Staten Island Ferry: One of the first things you probably picture when you think of New York is the Statue of Liberty. Although it costs money to visit the statue itself, you can take the free Staten Island Ferry that drives right by the statue and take in the amazing view of it.
Times Square: New Yorkers scoff at the thought of Times Square, but we won’t pretend that we weren’t a little bit starstruck when we first saw it. Even if you are only going to visit it once, you can’t live in New York City without having seen this iconic space.
Broadway: Although watching a Broadway show is a must for many people, the tickets can be out of most people’s price range. If you really want to watch a show, you can check out the TKTS booth in Times Square, where they offer discounted tickets the day of a show. Additionally, your student ID might also get you discounted tickets at the ticket booth of some shows. What’s more, the Barnard and Columbia box offices offer discounted ticket prices, and the Urban New York Lottery offers free tickets for certain shows if you win!
Upright Citizens Brigade: Though this isn’t a landmark, comedy clubs are a large part of New York City culture. The tickets for the more famous comedy clubs might be too expensive, but no worries—UCB offers comedy shows for around $10.
Talk Shows: New York City is home to many talk shows that offer tickets for free such as The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, etc. However, these are quick to sell out so check their respective websites in advance!
There’s so much to do in New York, so if you don’t want to visit any crowded or notoriously touristy spots, you can discover all the different neighbourhoods by simply walking around. Be sure to keep an eye out for free events that happen all over the city and for what the Columbia and Barnard box offices and Urban NY Lottery are offering. Happy exploring!