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Free Wi-Fi in New York: Where to go online for free

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New York Public Library reading room
Go online in style for free in the New York Public Library's main reading room. Photo: Craig Dietrich

Most visitors to New York these days bring along a laptop or a smartphone, handy for checking emails, finding things to do, and calling home on Skype. The trouble is, using these devices can be pricey, considering what many hotels charge to use their Wi-Fi.

But never fear, the Cheapos are here, with a list of several spots where you can always find free Wi-Fi in New York City:

New York City Starbucks

Laptops and lattes at a Starbucks in Soho. Photo: Lee Gillen

Starbucks

The unofficial “office” of many a New York-based freelancer, the coffeehouse giant makes up for outrageous drink prices with free Wi-Fi in each of its locations. Lucky for you, there are more Starbucks on the island of Manhattan than you can shake a (peppermint) stick (latte) at. Check their Web site to find the nearest location.

The Union Square East Starbucks (14th Street and Park Ave South) offers plenty of seating and a great view of the hustle and bustle along 14th Street. We also suggest the Starbucks on 63rd Street and Broadway, a place that sees its fair share of laptops given its proximity to the Fordham University and Juilliard School.

New York City parks

New York, the “concrete jungle,” is also home to tons of green space. Beginning this year, AT&T allows you to take your laptop to one of these verdant pastures to do some work or Facebooking, free of charge:

Manhattan:

  • Battery Park (Battery Place and State Street)
  • Central Park – Mineral Springs
  • Central Park – Rumsey Playfield
  • Central Park – Tavern on the Green
  • Marcus Garvey Park (East 120th Street and Madison Avenue)
  • Thomas Jefferson Park (FDR Dr., bet. E. 111 St. and E. 114 St.)
  • Tompkins Square Park (Avenue A and East 7th Street)

Brooklyn:

  • Brooklyn Bridge Park – Pier 1
  • Brooklyn Bridge Park – Pier 6
  • Herbert Von King Park
  • McCarren Park Field House
  • Prospect Park Picnic House

Bronx:

  • Devoe Park in the Bronx
  • Joyce Kilmer Park

Queens:

  • Astoria Park

Staten Island:

  • Clove Lakes Park

Once you find the network “attwifi” in these locations, you’re ready to go. No need to sign up for anything or enter any password.

And if these locations aren’t convenient, stick around; within five years, 20 parks across the five boroughs will offer free Wi-Fi. Check nycparkgov.org for updated locations.

New York Public Library at Bryant Park
Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, nypl.org

The main branch of the New York Public Library, the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building is worth a visit for the architecture alone. Built in the Beaux-Arts style in 1911, the library’s main entrance, flanked by two lion sculptures, is iconic and has been featured in films since the 1930s.

All visitors (even those without library cards) are welcome in the library and those with laptops can set up shop in the magnificent Bill Blass Reading Room, which should certainly inspire some great emails… Simply find the network and get to work in no time.

For hours, times, and other Wi-Fi enabled libraries in New York, consult the library’s Web site.

McDonald’s

McDonald’s is no longer just a place for a post-club snack. Believe it or not, the mega-chain is adding free Internet access to its menu (and yes, you can still get fries with that).

Check the restaurant’s Web site for Wi-Fi enabled locations, but we recommend the McDonald’s near Columbus Circle on 57th Street and Eighth Avenue, as it’s one of the nicest locations in the city. The location on Sixth Avenue between 14th and 15th Street also offers plenty of seating and outlets for laptops.

Also in our guide: Planning a trip to New York City? Check out our reviews of the best cheap hotels in New York, all visited, inspected and photographed by our editors. (Some of them even have free Wi-Fi!) Read more in our New York City guide.

About the author

Desiree Browne

About the author: Desiree Browne is a Brooklyn resident who can't imagine living anywhere but New York. An assistant at a parenting website, she loves spending her free time in more grown-up pursuits, like dancing salsa, searching for the best cafe au lait, and sampling the tastiest cocktails. Desiree also loves filling her Netflix queue with old movies, many of which she writes about on her vintage pop culture blog, Pop-o-matic Deluxe. Her work about her love of New York has appeared in The New York Observer, Metromix New York and The Awl.

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