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50 things to do in New York City on a Friday

Every weekend should be a long one with these fab ways to spend a Friday.


Browse art or watch movies for free at MoMA
Leave Andrew Jackson at home and visit MoMA for free between 4 and 8pm every Friday night. You'll still need to get in line for entry and film tickets, but get there as the clock strikes four and you'll be fine. 11 W 53rd St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-708-9400, 4--8pm; free.

Browse art or watch movies for free at MoMA
Leave Andrew Jackson at home and visit MoMA for free between 4 and 8pm every Friday night. You'll still need to get in line for entry and film tickets, but get there as the clock strikes four and you'll be fine. 11 W 53rd St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-708-9400, 4--8pm; free.

Bowl till 2am at Harlem Lanes
The 24 alleys and nice I'm-drunk-and-need-snacks-now menu options make Harlem Lanes the perfect destination for those uptowners who don't feel like trekking out of the neighborhood for tenpin goodness. 2116 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd (Seventh Ave) at 126th St, third floor (212-678-2695 $7.50 per person per game, shoe rental $4.50 per person.

Experience Girls & Boys at Webster Hall One of the most popular regular parties in the city also offers one of the biggest discounts. Girls & Boys at Webster Hall, which draws high-profile international acts like Simian Mobile Disco, Justice and Hot Chip, allows you to sign up via the Webster Hall website and receive a Dollar Daze voucher. Print it out, present it at the door before 11pm, and gain admission for only a buck. 125 E 11th St between Third and Fourth Aves (212-353-1600, Fri 10pm; $25, advance $15.

Take a free 90-minute Grand Central tour with Justin Ferate
Acclaimed guide Justin Ferate not only dissects the lore and legends of Grand Central Terminal's history, but places them within the context of its lesser-known neighborhood. Meet inside the lobby of the Altria Building, Park Ave at 42nd St (212-697-1245, 12:30pm; free.

Watch poets battle at slam night at Nuyorican Poets Caf
At this 35-year-old joint, poetry is a contact sport—especially on Friday's slam night (there are occasional matinees as well). Lyricists from the boroughs and beyond square off, and the winner is determined by an animated, jam-packed house. 236 E 3rd St between Aves B and C (212-505-8183, 10pm; $10.

Dance at Camaradas El Barrio
A self-styled "workers' public house" that opened in 2004, Camaradas El Barrio is a Puerto Rican tapas bar whose wooden benches, exposed brick and modest art gallery create a casual hang for kicking back over a pitcher of sangria, especially since it's only $15 during happy hour (4--7pm). It'll help you relax and shed your inhibitions for a DJ spinning salsa, hip-hop and '80s dance hits. 2241 First Ave at 115th St (212-348-2703, 4pm--3:30am; free.

Sing along to show tunes at Marie's Crisis
If you like how people in musicals can go from normal conversation to singing their hearts out without warning, this is the West Village bar for you. One minute, the barmaid is pulling you a pint of Bass, the next she's belting out "Memories." Join the other show-tune lovers and gather round the piano starting at 5:30pm, when the crooning begins. 59 Grove St between Seventh Ave South and Bleecker St (212-243-9323). 4pm--4am; free.

Play beer pong at Down the Hatch
Relive your dorm days at this fratboy-meets-yuppie bar with a game of beer pong. Loser has to eat the spicy (but tasty) buffalo wings labeled "suicidal." 179 W 4th St at Jones St (212-627-9747, Noon--4am; free.

Gorge on late-night BBQ in Red Hook 
The lovable, low-key dive Brooklyn Ice House, which is in the old Pioneer Bar-B-Q space, offers more than just an extensive list of brews. We suggest the two smoked pulled-pork sandwiches on soft white buns, with neon-green pickles and barbecue sauce on the side, for only five big ones—available from noon to 2am daily. 318 Van Brunt St at Pioneer St, Red Hook, Brooklyn (718-222-1865)

Check out the $10-for-five-shots special at the Continental Bar
This dark dive boasts one of the best regular specials in the city—$10 for five shots of anything, anytime. Chase 'em down with a cold one while surveying vintage rust-belt beer signs. Continental Bar, 25 Third Ave between St. Marks Pl and E 9th St (212-529-6924, 4pm--4am.

Catch cabaret cinema at Rubin Museum of Art
Buy a drink ($7) and this Himalayas-focused museum will treat you to cabaret-style viewings ranging from Fellini to Miyazaki. K2 Lounge Rubin Museum of Art, 150 W 17th St at Seventh Ave (212-620-5000 6pm; free.

Take the Gossip Girl Sites Tour
Spotted: Gossip Girl fanatics (it's okay to admit it, we are too) touring the sites made famous on the CW's teen soap opera, including Henri Bendel, the Palace Hotel and Blair Waldorf's palatial Fifth Avenue building. The three-hour-long bus tour hits more than 30 locations that have been featured on the show. OMFG! Meet at the Palace Hotel, 455 Madison Ave at 51st St (212-683-2027, Fri--Sun noon; $40.

Slurp oysters for cheap at Fish
An anomaly on a tourist-trap street, this small, nautically decorated restaurant delivers what it promises: $2 oysters (especially the Japanese varieties) that are reliably good. 280 Bleecker St at Jones St (212-727-2879). Noon--midnight.

Hit up a Mexican food cart in Soho
When aptly named brothers Dave, Jesse and Brian Vendley opened a Mexican-food cart in June 2006, their so-called gourmet Cal-Mex street food developed a fast and loyal following. A 2008 Vendy Award cemented their place in the pantheon of next-generation street-food vendors. The devil's in the details: thoughtful seasoning (courtesy of a rub Jesse developed with a Queens-based spice company), flavorful meat cooked to order, and portions that combine both quantity and quality. Try the Calexico carne asada burrito ($8) and the chipotle pork taco ($3). Full menu served at the corner of Prince and Wooster Sts (Mon--Fri 11:30am--3:30pm); burrito menu served at the corner of Broadway and Broome St (Mon--Fri 11:30am--3:30pm);,

Listen to jazz at Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle
Choice acts keep New York's most dapper nightspot on the map, while the steep cover charge and white-jacketed service make sure riffraff doesn't scuff up the bar's most valued draw: original Ludwig Bemelmans murals. Mixologist Brian Van Flandern's spiffy (and pricey) potions preserve the bar's classic character. Try the popular Paradise cocktail (pear vodka, Aneri and prosecco with lime and bitters), or a rum, lime, tonic and Martell cognac concoction named for the spot's longtime barkeep, Tommy Rowles. The Carlyle, 35 E 76th St at Madison Ave (212-744-1600, 5:30--8:30pm; free.

Ride your steed at Critical Mass
Join other pedal pushers for a public bike ride, to assert your rights as a cyclist and your right to have an enjoyable cycle with a friendly crew. The Manhattan event happens the last Friday of every month at 7pm, and the more open, less traffic-clogged Brooklyn ride is on the second Friday or every month. See for more information. Free.

Visit the Brooklyn Brewery
The name of the game at one of New York's most successful breweries is beer. The name of the game in the Tasting Room is cheap beer. For four bucks, you get one token, good for a glass of the brewed-on-site suds of your choice. Settle at one of the picnic tables and sip a smooth Brooklyn Pilsner or seasonal Black Stout Chocolate. Don't hold back. The more you drink, the more you support a clean environment: The brewery is now 100 percent wind-powered. 79 North 11th St between Berry St and Wythe Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-486-7422, Fri 6--11pm. Free.

Play in Magic: The Gathering tournaments at Jim Hanley's Universe
Magic: The Gathering lovers can travel to either the Manhattan or Staten Island location of this comic-book hub to meet up with other equally enthused players and just play. Looking for something extra special? Employee Andrew Denniser tipped us off to the "Two-Headed Giant," a once-in-a-while showdown in which two players pair up against another two and battle it out. He also cautions, "It's not for the faint of heart. You're not going to become a master the first time you play." Don't say we didn't warn you! 4 W 33rd St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-268-7088, 6--10pm; $15.

Catch free live music at Zebulon in Williamsburg
Lively crowds and worldly grooves turn this bar into a sophisticated nightly party spot. 258 Wythe Ave between Metropolitan Ave and North 3rd St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-218-6934, 9pm, free.

Explore the American Folk Art Museum with Free Music Fridays
Celebrating traditional craft-based work is the American Folk Art Museum (formerly the Museum of American Folk Art). Enjoy the galleries, caf and live music in the stunning atrium designed by architects Billie Tsien and Tod Williams every Friday for nothing, zip, nada. 45 W 53rd St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-265-1040, 5:30--7:30pm, free.

Hear traditional Russian music at Russian Samovar
Enjoy the three-piece bands, as the samovar-shaped lamps with gold mesh shades grow more gorgeous with every shot of the house-infused vodkas. 256 W 52nd St between Broadway and Eighth Ave (212-757-0168, 8pm--1:30am; free.

Enjoy aperitivo at Dell'anima
Splurge on, say, a $12 tipple of Aperol or Six Points Sweet Action and you could make an early dinner out of the complimentary Italian snacks—like frittata triangles, citrus-and-fennel salad, and mixed olives. 38 Eighth Ave at Jane St (212-366-6633, Fri--Sun 4--6pm.

Toast Lady Liberty on the Staten Island Ferry
Witness superb panoramas of lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty on the Staten Island Ferry, made all the more sweet by the onboard snack bar's very un-cruiselike beer prices ($3--$5). Board at Whitehall Ferry Terminal, 4 South St at Whitehall St (718-727-2508,

Go for some deep relaxation at the Integral Yoga Institute
Wind down every Friday with a peaceful, gratis 45-minute yoga class. The session begins with gentle stretching, then moves on to a long period of yoga nidra (deep relaxation) and concludes with breathing practices and a brief meditation. It's helpful for those without jobs, too. Integral Yoga Institute, 227 W 13th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves (212-929-0585, 5--5:45pm; free.

Get free pizza at The Mark Bar
If you're in Greenpoint, Saturday is the only day you'll go hungry: Weekdays at 6pm, this beer-and-juke standard rolls out the free pizza and cold cuts, and on Sundays at noon, you'll find gratis bagels and coffee. 1025 Manhattan Ave at Green St, Greenpoint, Brooklyn (718-349-2340, 6pm.

Pretend you're a tourist and visit the Top of the Rock
NBC, Simon & Schuster, McGraw-Hill and other media giants inhabit this art deco city within a city. Exploring the center is free, and guided tours of the complex are available daily. The observation deck offers seriously fantastic views of the city below. 48th to 51st Streets between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-664-7174, $21. 8am--midnight.

Free Friday hours at the Whitney Museum of American Art
From 6 to 9pm, admission is whatever you want it to be. Which is a bargain considering that you can spend those hours staring at new exhibitions or the excellent permanent collection of modern art. 945 Madison Ave at 75th St (212-570-3600,

Pay what you wish at the International Center of Photography
On Fridays, we recommend heading to ICP, where entry is based on a voluntary contribution and you can take in two floors' worth of photos and video exhibitions on the cheap (5--8pm). 1133 Sixth Ave at 43rd St (212-857-0000,

Enjoy a free buffet at the Watering Hole
Nostalgia for rowdy college days is the stock-in-trade here, where a fratty crowd guzzles cheap beer and stages Guns N' Roses karaoke sessions, But the jukebox is solid, and a classic oak bar embellishes this otherwise typical pub. Happy-hour special on Friday from noon to 7pm includes a free buffet of everything from buffalo wings to hotdogs to fries. 106 E 19th St between Park Ave South and Irving Pl (212-674-5783)

See the TGIF Comedy Show at EastVille Comedy Club
The East Village got its first bona fide chuckle-hut-style stand-up club. EastVille puts up much of the same club-circuit talent that populates the city's other rooms, plus up-and-coming comics from the downtown alt scene. Tickets are $15-20 plus a two-drink minimum (cover waived if you R.S.V.P.). 85 E 4th St at Second Ave (212-260-2445,

Have a drink and listen to live music at the Met
On Fridays from 4 to 8pm, sip wine ($12), beer ($7) or a mojito ($12) at the second-floor Great Hall Balcony Bar, which peers onto the stately foyer. Live classical music courtesy of a piano player or a string quartet adds to the sophisticated atmosphere. 1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street, (212-535-7710, 4--8:30pm. 

Catch Michael Feinstein's show at Loews Regency
Cabaret's crown prince draws A-list talent to this swank room in the Regency. It's pricey, but you usually get what you pay for. The list of past guests include David Hyde Pierce, Chita Rivera, Dihann Carroll and Ben Vereen. On Fridays, enjoy the 8:00pm show or the late-show at 10:30pm. Lowes Regency Hotel, 540 Park Ave at 61st (212-339-4095,

See a film and get popcorn at IFC Center
The organic kernels at this West Village theater are popped in canola oil, lightly salted and bathed in real melted better. Not in the mood for a movie? Top a pot off with a shake of Old Bay seasoning and be on your way—you don't have to be a ticket holder to score this $4.75 snack. 323 Sixth Avenue between Third and Fourth Sts (212-924-7771,

Experience GUMBO (a gay Dumbo party) 
The Brooklyn hood's first gay dance soiree welcomes queer boys and girls for this "antiscene" night out, appropriately dubbed GUMBO. Two floors' worth of festivities go down every first Friday and third Thursday of the month—and revelers who enter before midnight can nab tix at half price for $5. Galapagos Art Space, 16 Main St at Water St, Dumbo, Brooklyn (718-222-8500, First Friday, third Thursday 10pm--4am; $10, before midnight $5.

Snag a ticket to The Daily Show
Take a chance with fate and give The Daily Show a call on Fridays at 11:30am to see if there's been a cancellation for the following Monday through Thursday. You must be at least 18 years old and have a photo ID. 513 West 54th Street between 10th and 11th Aves (212-586-2477,

Have a tot at the Brandy Library
Downtown booze connoisseurs frequent this so-called library, the only one we can think of where liquor lines the walls. A novella-size drinks menu lists a glossary of spirits and 100 cocktail options, among them the Corpse Reviver (gin, lemon juice, Lillet Blonde, Cointreau and Pernod) and the Jarnac Ginger (cognac, bitters and ginger beer). Paying $13 for one of these earns drinkers a basket of gratis gougres (warm cheese puffs). 25 North Moore St at Varick St (212-226-5545, 4pm--4am.

Go to open-mike night at Nola Studios
Every Friday from 6:30 to 10:00pm, this rehearsal and studio space in the Theater District welcomes poets, spoken-word artists, actors, singers and comics. It's uncensored, sound-proof, and there's a DJ for all-night dancing. Exorcise your dream of being a performer or just enjoy the show. 244 W 54th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves (917-292-2683)

Order a Manhattan at Greenpoint's Manhattan Inn
Glasslands Gallery co-owners Brooke Baxter and Rolyn Hu have opened a cocktail-focused gastropub. The weathered decor is composed mostly of recycled items, including doorknobs as beer-tap handles and old schoolhouse desks as small tables. James Endicott (Per Se, Allen & Delancey) is behind drinks like the Manhattan's Manhattan (rye, Carpano Antica, mirto and oak-aged bitters), and a selection of six drafts (Victory Prima Pils) and a brief wine list. Look for dishes like shepherd's pie and live piano in the 55-seat dining room. 632 Manhattan Ave between Nassau and Bedford Aves (718-383-0885) 4pm--4am.

Bowl until 4am at Brooklyn Bowl
The Williamsburg bowling alley and live-music venue fully embraces the new mania for Brooklyn-made products and local nostalgia. All of the beer sold inside—by Sixpoint, Kelso and the next-door Brooklyn Brewery—is made in the borough. With a deafening hipster-rock soundtrack—and a stoner-food menu from the Blue Ribbon team, which includes crispy pork rinds doused in cilantro and peppers, delicious fatty brisket and big platters of succulent Old Bay--fried chicken—the place self-consciously targets a postgrad demographic. 61 Wythe Ave between North 11th and 12th Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-963-3369,

Chow down at Anthony's in Park Slope
Sal Buglione (of Nick's Pizza) has opened a homey Italian eatery; a brick oven turns out pizzas. Aside from that, there's delicious manicotti, and a fantastic spaghetti puttanesca. More family friendly and less expensive than Al Di La, Anthony's is a real neighborhood treasure. 426A Seventh Ave at 14th St, Park Slope, Brooklyn (718-369-8315,

Investigate the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum
Founded in 1897 by the Hewitt sisters, granddaughters of industrialist Peter Cooper, the only museum in the U.S. solely dedicated to design (both historic and modern) has been part of the Smithsonian since the 1960s. In 1976 it took up residence in the former home of steel magnate Andrew Carnegie: It's worth a look as much for the impressive mansion as for the roster of temporary exhibitions, which include an always-interesting series in which works are selected from the permanent collection by a prominent artist or designer. 2 E 91st St at Fifth Ave (212-849-8400,

Catch The Living Room's comedy show
Luke Thayer and Abbi Crutchfield present an hour of stand-up with underground comics, special guests and mock news every second and fourth Friday at 8pm at The Postmark Caf. 326 6th St between Fourth and Fifth Aves, Park Slope, Brooklyn (718-982-ARTS,

Double up at Tacos Matamoros
Have $5 and an unlimited MetroCard, will travel for tacos: If this describes you (and if it doesn't, you should take a long, hard look at yourself), head to Sunset Park and the vast Tacos Matamoros. Grab two Vegetarianos ($1.25) and take the tacos—stuffed with rice, beans, cilantro and onions, dusted with two cheeses (one creamy, one crumbly) and laced with a bracing tomatillo salsa—to Sunset Park to watch the sun go down. Mull over which is better, the tacos or a view of the sky changing colors behind a sublime panoramic view of lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. 4503 Fifth Ave between 45th and 46th Sts, Sunset Park, Brooklyn (718-871-7627)

Stroll through the Conservatory Garden
Experience the charms of a European garden without having to, you know, fly to Europe. This six-acre garden offers three styles (French, Italian and English) and a plethora of flowers, fountains, neatly trimmed hedges and walkways. If your knowledge of old-world gardening is bit rusty, take a free tour on Saturdays at 11am (through October). Just be prepared for the throng of wedding photo shoots, and by that we mean be prepared for photo-bombing. Central Park, east side from 104th to 106th Sts, enter at Fifth Ave and 105th St (no phone)

Roll a bocce ball at Union Hall
The spacious main floor of this Brooklyn bar has a garden, food service and a bocce court. Tucked in the basement is a comfortable space dominated by the more delicate side of indie rock, interspersed with burlesque, comedy and other forms of entertainment. 702 Union St between Fifth and Sixth Aves, Park Slope, Brooklyn (718-638-4400, 4pm-4am.

Shoot pool for free at Superfine
At this Dumbo restaurant, sign up for a game on the chalkboard (first come, first served). With the money you'll save, you can splurge on a grilled pizza ($12). 126 Front St at Pearl St, Dumbo, Brooklyn (718-243-9005)

Browse sex toys at Babeland
At this friendly sex-toy boutique—run by women and skewed toward women—browsers are encouraged to handle all manner of buzzing, wriggling and bendable playthings, including the famed Rabbit Pearl vibrator. The shop also stocks a huge variety of condoms and hosts frank sex-ed classes on a variety of subjects. Now with three locations in Soho (43 Mercer St), Park Slope (462 Bergen St) and the Lower East Side (94 Rivington St). Go to for more info. 

Eat for cheap at Prosperity Dumpling
The pan-crisped pork-and-chive namesake at Prosperity Dumpling is alluring, but the veggie version is even better, bursting with minced greens and assorted mushrooms (five for $1). 46 Eldridge St between Canal and Hester Sts (212-343-0683)

Go to happy hour at Heathers
Although its 1980s cinematic namesake conjures high-school hell, this East Village bar makes chillin' in the classroom rather cool. Artsy locals perch on school chairs, sip two-for-one $5 drafts and scribble messages on the chalkboard-covered bathroom walls. Live DJs enhance the quirky ambience. 506 E 13th St between Aves A and B (212-254-0979, 4--8pm. 

Grab milk and cookies at Ronnybrook Milk Bar
The walls are made from milk crates at the Chelsea outpost of the upstate milk farm. Sidle up to the counter for two freshly baked cookies and a tumbler of whole, skim or flavored milk for $3.50. Chelsea Market, 75 Ninth Avenue at 16th St (212-741-6455,

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