They say the best things in life are free. That’s fine by me. Living in the city ain’t cheap, so as a local I’m smart about where I spend money. That’s why I’ve got the scoop on the best things to do in NYC that won’t cost you anything.
Popular Free Things to Do In NYC
It’s hard to believe that many of the best things to do here are free. Some of these have become exceedingly popular, while others are still under the radar. Check out the NYC activities that have made my top 5 list this year.
1. Shakespeare in the Park
OK, so this one is not as “turned up” as a boozy brunch party, but that’s what you want sometimes. Located in Central Park, Shakespeare in the Park, is a cultural experience. There are different plays to choose from throughout the season, so see what’s playing first and plan weeks in advance.
Here’s the essential part you need to know – getting the tickets is a wait in line, all day situation. The plays are extremely popular so there is no way to make an advanced reservation. However, the waiting experience can be cute if done right.
Bring a blanket, some snacks, and a friend. Even though the wait is long, you can make the most of it with a positive attitude, good book, or a friend to gossip with. Afterwards you go home, get dressed, and enjoy an incredible theater performance for free. The best part is that the food court has booze!
2. Free Concerts in the Park
One of the best NYC activities will always be the free concerts. Summer Stage, among others, has been having events even before the ’80’s. All of the concerts aren’t free, because some shows are for charity, so make sure to check online. Overall, the lineup for most of the free shows is pretty good, so you’ll kick yourself if you miss one of those.
For example, in the past there’s been performing artists ranging from Simon and Garfunkel to Erykah Badu. Some of the coolest bands are both emerging artists and old favorites. I never like to miss out on these events and you shouldn’t have to either!
3. Free Museum Parties
The Brooklyn Museum does a party called “First Saturday’s” every Saturday of the month. It lasts from summer until early fall. This event is a great spot for a date night, or you can even find your date there!
There’s free admission to the museum where you can see the latest exhibit for the month. In the back of the museum you can go outdoors. There’s live music, dancing, and my favorite…booze.
The Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art have events too. One of the most recent ones I went to was at the Museum of Natural History’s planetarium. That was really cool. They had the dancing and music in one area and then you were allowed to go with your wine or champagne to watch shows in the planetarium. Not sure where else you can do that.
4. Free Events/Parties
Getting your name on a list in NYC isn’t as hard as you think. Lots of promoters are just regular people, so it’s not the elite crowd it tries to make itself out to be (well depends on the club/bar). Most people who like nightlife and go out regularly know someone that “knows someone”. So this is often how I get into places and not pay! Or, I have another sneaky method…
If a friend ever invites you to an invite-only party and forwards you the invite, do the following: RSVP that you’re going even if you can’t. When you do that your name is automatically added to the mailing list. You’ll be seeing invites to exclusive parties in your inbox in no time thereafter.
These parties are all usually free with an open bar till about 10:30 or 11:30 pm. Parties like these are definitely worth going to and you any even see a few celebrities!
5. Free Summer Movies at the Park
There’s a bunch of places throughout the city where you can have a picnic in the park as you watch a movie on a giant screen. It’s adorable and something really cute to do with friends or on a date. Movies range from classics to the newest releases. Here are a few of the spots that host these.
- Bryant Park
- Newport Playground
- Lawn East at Memorial Grove
- The Peninsula
- Field 81
What are some of your favorite free things to do in NYC?
–Guest Post: Whitney Marquise Acoff
About The Author
Whitney Marquise Acoff is a freelance Journalist. She has her own news publication called The Inside Report and writes for a variety of fashion, food, and political publications. You can find and follow her social media at @whitneymarquise