New York City is known as “The City That Never Sleeps,” so it’s no surprise that it’s chock-full of free public Wi-Fi connections. There are popular chain stores, funky bars, public transportation networks, and tourist attractions everywhere you look. You’ll never be far from an easy connection and a place to post your latest travel pics to social media!
Here are 10 places where you can find free Wi-Fi in New York City.
1. Subway Stations And Subway Trains
New Yorkers disagree on how well it works, but there’s no denying that the free public Wi-Fi in the subway system is a game-changer for tourists. The subway is an easy place to quickly connect and update your travel plans, all while getting to your next stop. Note that the name of the network is TRANSITWIRELESSWi-Fi and that it really doesn’t work during those times the subway train goes aboveground.
Parks and Wi-Fi? Why not? New York City’s parks and public squares are hugely popular places, and free public Wi-Fi there makes sense. You can see the entire list of participating parks at the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation page. Here are some key locations in and around tourist hot spots:
In Lower Manhattan, the Alliance for Downtown New York provides Wi-Fi at the following sites (look for the #DwtwnAllianceFreeWi-Fi network):
- Trinity Church Cemetery and Mausoleum
- Saint Paul’s Chapel
- Staten Island Ferry Whitehall Terminal
- Bowling Green Park
- Historic Stone Street near Fraunces Tavern from Broadway to Broad Street
- Plaza in front of 7 World Trade Center at the intersection of Vesey Street and Greenwich Street
Many public spaces in and around Manhattan parks work with AT&T to provide free Wi-Fi. Look for the network attWi-Fi at these spots:
- Bryant Park behind the New York Public Library
- The High Line
- Sheep Meadow in Central Park
- Rumsey Playfield in Central Park
- Central Park Zoo
3. LinkNYC Kiosks
LinkNYC is the modern-day version of the once-ubiquitous phone booth. There are more than 1,500 kiosks, or Links, throughout New York City. In addition to offering free Wi-Fi, they have USB ports for charging (though you, of course, have to have your charging cord with you). You can also use the Links to make phone calls within the United States, and there’s a 911 button for emergency services. The Links feature built-in tablets with information on city services and directions. You can see a list of all Link locations here, but chances are you will see them long before you need them.
4. Tour Buses And Tourist Attractions
Nearly every major museum and attraction in New York City offers free Wi-Fi. However, there are some exceptions (such as historic sites, like churches), and sometimes the signal is only in the lobby, gift shop, or café.
Hop-on, hop-off bus tours love to advertise that their buses include free Wi-Fi. In my experience, this should be considered a bonus and not a guarantee. Sometimes these signals are dodgy, and other times you won’t be on the bus long enough to make it worthwhile. However, it doesn’t hurt to try.
5. Apple Stores
Apple stores aren’t exactly the most fun places to hang out. After all, who wants to be surrounded by people whose computers just crashed? But in New York City, Apple stores are everywhere and are good places to charge your phone (and use the restroom). Here are some locations to check out:
- World Trade Center — 185 Greenwich Street
- Chelsea — 401 West 14th Street at 9th Avenue
- SoHo, 103 Prince Street at Greene Street
- Midtown East — 45 Grand Central Terminal
- Midtown East — 767 Fifth Avenue between East 58th Street and East 59th Street
- Upper West Side — 1981 Broadway at West 67th Street
- Downtown Brooklyn — 123 Flatbush Avenue
- Williamsburg — 247 Bedford Avenue at North 3rd Street
6. Cafés, Studios, And Bookstores
Cafés, studios, and bookstores have long offered free Wi-Fi. In fact, they’ve become so popular for that purpose that you might even find anti-Wi-Fi properties, where you are forbidden to take out your phone or laptop. Of course, many restaurants now offer free Wi-Fi as well, but I can’t help but feel that having to buy a full meal defeats the purpose of “free” Wi-Fi. A cup of coffee or glass of wine, however, I can get behind. The places on this list are especially prized by writers:
7. Bars And Pubs
A growing number of bars, pubs, and even wine bars offer free public Wi-Fi (with the expectation, of course, that you’ll linger with a drink or two). With a spot of luck, you might just pick up on the signal when you’re standing near the front door. If not, head inside, ask what’s local on tap, and get a bit of a cultural experience along with your Wi-Fi. These three properties are good places to start:
8. Hotel Lobbies
I know what you’re thinking. You want to explore, not hang out in a hotel! But a hotel lobby is a great place to grab a drink, check your email, and take advantage of the clean restrooms. Among the hotels that offer dining, drinks, and free Wi-Fi are these properties:
- Algonquin Hotel
- Courtyard by Marriott New York Manhattan/Midtown East
- The Hotel @ Fifth Avenue
- Millennium Hilton New York Downtown
- Omni Berkshire Place
The spot that most people think of as the New York Public Library is actually just one of 81 branches throughout the city. The Humanities and Social Sciences Library is a New York City landmark; it even offers free tours that highlight its architecture, artwork, and literary collection. It also offers free Wi-Fi, as do all libraries in New York City. If you’re going to be in New York for a while and want to brush up on your tech skills, the libraries offer adult-education classes for free as well.
Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s, Whole Foods… if it’s a well-known national chain, it’s in New York City, it’s everywhere, and chances are it offers free public Wi-Fi. My personal favorite is Starbucks. I guess I like my Wi-Fi with a side of cappuccino and chocolate chip cookies! And I can’t help but remember the great scenes from the movie You’ve Got Mail that centered on this popular coffee shop. There are Starbucks locations everywhere you look in New York City, so you’ll never be far from your next connection.