It is common knowledge that New Yorkers are pretty lucky…we have amazing public parks and playgrounds that serve as a respite from the concrete jungle, and dozens of world class museums and cultural institutions to fulfill our intellectual curiosity. The parks are free, but visiting our lovely museums sadly is not. Well, now there is a little known card with huge cultural benefits for those of us residing in the city: IDNYC.
IDNYC is a type of free government-issued photo ID (a NYC registry) for all city residents 14 and older regardless of immigration status. It was initiated as a means for the city of New York to give documentation to people who wouldn’t be able to obtain it from the state or the federal government. While less necessary for those of us with a valid driver’s license, passport of other type of photo ID, all New Yorkers can benefit. IDNYC cardholders can apply for a free 1-year membership at more than 40 cultural institutions, including:
- The Met
- Bronx Zoo (membership also gets you access to the Central Park Zoo)
- New York Botanical Gardens
- Lincoln Center
- New York City Ballet
- The Met Opera
- Brooklyn Children’s Museum
Sadly, my beloved Cooper Hewitt museum is not included. Beyond museums, the IDNYC also offers Fitness Benefits such as discounts on New York Road Runners races, Citi Bike, Chelsea Piers Skyrink and Golf Club, Modell’s Sporting Goods. Also there are Health Benefits including a prescription drug discount program, and Entertainment Discounts for the New Victory Theater, Gulliver’s Gate and others. The benefit usually includes a single membership so you’ll still have to pay admission for your child(ren), but, while not perfect, it is definitely worthwhile.
Getting the ID was simple: I applied online and set up an appointment, went in, had my NYC residency verified, took a picture, then two weeks later I received my card. Since then, I have become a member at the Met, Symphony Space, and the New York Road Runners (where I got a 45% discount on a race I’m running in June). I also plan to use the 2 for 1 ice skating discount at the year round Chelsea Piers Skyrink (it includes skate rentals!).
*Some museums, including the Met and the American Museum of Natural History, are “pay what you can” at the cashier. Others offer free entry on certain days of the week (e.g., Bronx zoo is free on Wednesdays).