Hit up Central Park.
With 843 acres of land in this Manhattan getaway, even the native New Yorker hasn’t seen it all.
- Walk through the park for some free entertainment from dozens of talented street performers. From the break dancers and juggling pre-teens to the pantomimes and street musicians taking requests, there is never a want for talent in the city’s largest park. If you’ve got a few bucks, throw them to your favorite performer- they’re struggling too! If not, plenty stop by for some free entertainment, showing their gratitude with smiles and applause. If you really like them, maybe hit them up next payday.
- Check out the free Summerstage events. Running June through September, the series brings a wide variety of entertainment to Central Park’s main stage as well as other venues throughout the city. There’s live music, dance performances, live comedy and more every weekend and multiple days each week. Check out the event listings for the series put on by the City Parks Foundation here.
- Don’t forget about the volleyball, basketball and tennis courts, the baseball fields and huge quads where you can go to play some soccer, throw around a football or frisbee, or just work on your tan. On hot summer days, be ready for crowds so get there early to call dibbs on your favorite spot.
Learn how to Kayak!
- The Downtown Boathouse gives free kayaking lessons on the Hudson about every weekend at Pier 101 on Governor’s Island. The only requirement is that you’ve got to know how to swim. Better get there early, though, because boats are given away at a first-come, first-served basis. Check out the website for more details.
- To get to Pier 101, take the free ferry that runs between Manhattan and Governors Island on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The ferry leaves from the Battery Maritime Building at 10 South Street in Lower Manhattan.
See a movie in Bryant Park
Every Monday in the summer, classic movies play for free in Bryant Park as part of its annual Summer Film Festival. Grab a blanket, a date and maybe pack a pre-movie picnic. The lawn opens to viewers at 5 p.m. and the movie starts at dusk (usually between 8 and 9 p.m.) The park runs from 40th to 42nd streets and between 5th and 6th avenues. For a list of the season’s movie schedule, check out the park’s website here.
Check out a street festival
New York City is a hub for multiculturalism. You can’t walk down the street, board a subway, or go into a restaurant without hearing at least two languages that are not your own. With such a diversity of people, New York has parades and festivals for just about anything and most of them are free to attend. Check out our events calendar to see what festivals and parades are going on this weekend and where you can go to participate.
Have a bite to eat at the Union Square greenmarket
Union Square’s greenmarket – running every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday – is a great place to snack on some free samples from local-ish farmers. With the vegetables, fruits, cheeses and breads, you’ve got most of the basic food groups covered and so long as you don’t hoard an entire plateful, no one will mind your freeloading.
Take in the arts!
See free professional shows
- When you don’t have the money to see a ballet performance at the Lincoln Center, hang outside the building. No, we’re not suggesting you try to slip in the back. Every July and August, the Lincoln Center holds its annual Out of Doors festival. The free festival features more than 100 performances including live music, dancing and poetry slams.
- Check out the country’s most talented students. The Juilliard School for the performing arts holds free musical concerts for the public most every Wednesday at 1:00. Called Wednesdays at One, the concerts are held at Alice Tully Hall at 1941 Broadway at 65th. The concerts are an hour long and require no tickets to get in.
- One of the most beloved summer traditions, Shakespeare in the Park is a great way to feel like you’re at a Broadway show without paying a single pound. More than 80,000 natives and visitors head over to the Delacorte Theater in Central Park each season to get their dose of olde English. Celebrities, too, will done some 17th century apparel and earn their Shakespearean acting chops
Have a few cheap laughs
The Upright Citizens Brigade is arguably the city’s best comedy troupe, with free shows at various times throughout the week and every Sunday night at the 9:30 p.m. Asssscat 3000 show. Show up around 6pm to get in line for the free tickets. The comedy club, which was co-founded by Saturday Night Live alumna Amy Poehler, is located at 307 West 26th Street. Check out the full show schedule, go here.
Go to the MoMa
That’s right. You can check out the Museum of Modern Art for free on Friday Nights. The $20 entrance fee is waived for Target Fridays each week. You cannot get tickets in advance, though, so be ready to wait in line. Free entrance to the MoMa is from 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday. The museum is at 11 W. 53rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.
Some yoga places around the city offer free introductory classes, no strings attached. One popular yoga center Jivamukti, has a free class for new students the last Sunday of every month. Places like Lotus Yoga also hold free weekly classes in 14th Street Park (at 10th Ave and 14th St.) through July and August.