Radio City Music Hall

Friday in New York: Top Budget Itinerary!

Explore Midtown East from the Headquarters of the United Nations to the Museum of Modern Art, with all of New York City’s most iconic buildings in between.

Want to know what to do on a Friday in New York City?

Check out our budget itinerary below, including a list of all the Free or Pay What You Wish museums!

Headquarters of the United Nations

Take the subway to 42nd Street-Grand Central (lines S, 4, 5, 6, 7) for the Headquarters of the United Nations. This is international territory, belonging to the Member States of the UN.

1 hour guided tours are offered which include visits to the General Assembly, Conference & Secretariat buildings and the Dag Hammarskjold Library. Many exhibits & art collections are also on view.

Entrance Fee: $22 adults, including the guided tour on weekdays only

Opening Hours:

  • Monday to Friday, 9:00 am to 4:30 pm
  • Saturday & Sunday, 10:00 am to 4:30 pm (no tours)


  • Bring your passport or government-issued photo ID
  • Arrive 1 hour before the start of your tour for a security screening

Schedule of availability & tickets can be booked online or purchased on-site.

Conference Building UN Headquarters

Conference Building at the Headquarters of the United Nations

Iconic Buildings of New York City *

Now it’s time to check out some of the iconic buildings of the New York City skyline.

Start with the art-deco-style of the Chrysler Building before checking out the beaux-arts interior of Grand Central Terminal.

Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal

Then, take the subway to 23rd Street (line 6) & begin exploring again at the triangular-shaped Flatiron Building.

Criss-cross back & forth between the fashion meccas of Fifth Avenue & Madison Avenue before reaching the unmistakable Empire State Building.

NY Empire State Building

Empire State Building

Continue up Fifth Avenue until you’re at the New York Public Library – it’s free to enter so take a look around inside at its many exhibits & splendid architecture.

Alongside, is Bryant Park, a leafy green spot to relax, people-watch & gaze up to the surrounding skyscrapers.

Relax in Bryant Park

Relax in Bryant Park

Keep going along Fifth Avenue to the Rockefeller Centre & Radio City Music Hall, both of which are major landmarks of New York.

Then cross over to the nearby St Patrick’s Cathedral – admire the neo-gothic architecture & stained glass windows.

* Free attractions

St Patricks Cathedral

Neo-gothic architecture of St Patricks Cathedral

Museum of Modern Art

Be prepared for long queues at the Museum of Modern Art on Free Friday Nights, even before 4:00 pm – the website recommends arriving after 6:00 pm but that doesn’t give you enough time.

It’s worth the wait though.

MOMA holds, arguably, the greatest collection of modern Western masterpieces in the world. These include the most iconic works of Dali, Picasso, Monet, van Gogh, Pollock & many influential American artists.

Entrance Fee: Free (regular admission $25.00), 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Opening Hours:

  • Saturday to Wednesday, 10:30 am to 5:30 pm
  • Thursday, 10:30 am to 8:30 pm
  • Friday, 10:30 am to 8:30 pm
Free Fridays queue MOMA

Prepared to stand in line on Free Fridays at MOMA

Whitney Museum of American Art

After MOMA closes, you have time for a quick visit to the Whitney Museum of American Art – take the subway to 14th Street-8th Avenue (lines A, C, E, L).

Its collection focuses on 20th & 21st century American art, through paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, prints, films & new media.

Entrance Fee: Pay What You Wish (regular admission $22 adult online, $25 adult at the museum), Friday 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm

Opening Hours:

  • Sunday to Thursday, 10:30 am to 6:00 pm
  • Friday & Saturday, 10:30 am to 10:00 pm
Whitney Museum

Visit the Whitney Museum if you still have the time or energy!

Friday in New York Wrap-Up

*** Tip of the Day: Skip the Whitney Museum if you don’t want to hop around like mad – it’s Friday night, get yourself a drink instead! *** 

This itinerary is based around the Museum of Modern Art & the Whitney Museum of American Art, which are only free on Fridays.

Are you interested in seeing a Broadway production or want to know what else there is to do in New York? Check out our post How to Score Cheap Tickets on Broadway Rush.

This Friday itinerary is Day 5 of our ultimate guide, 7 Days in New York: Top Budget Itinerary – find out how to visit all the major attractions & museums in the Big Apple in 1 week for less than $50!

And keep reading to find out what you can do on Day 6 – Saturday in New York City: Top Budget Itinerary!

The Guggenheim New York

The Guggenheim is waiting for you on our Saturday in New York: Top Budget Itinerary!

Free / Pay What You Wish on Friday

Plan your own Friday in New York City around these museums:

First Friday of Every Month

For a complete list of museums & attractions with Free or Pay What You Wish admissions, see our post Every Free Museum New York!


5 Shovels-2

Super easy DIY travel around city centres