NYC is the greatest city in the world, but holy cow can it be expensive. There’s no reason to panic, though, because there are still hundreds of free things to do here, too. We’ve rounded up the best free concerts, free art exhibitions, free comedy shows and much more to keep you going out gratis every night of the week.
At this massive grub hub, there’s only one rule: Come hungry. The Brooklyn Flea spin-off draws more than 10,000 visitors per day with a slew of 75 to 100 incredible food vendors. Our pro tip? Make sure you peruse the lineup before you go—those mouthwatering scents and the bevy of choices can make you dizzy (and the dense crowds can make you hangry).
Launched more than 30 years ago by nonprofit community arts organization BRIC to revitalize Prospect Park, Brooklyn’s premier outdoor performance series returns with free music, dance and film events. Andrew Bird and Esperanza Spalding on July 28, a screening of Creed with live scoring from Wordless Music Orchestra on Aug 4 and Whitney on Aug 11. While you’re there, be sure to check out NY Handmade Collective’s market, which features wares from local artisans like Jes Switaj, Suniq, Topolski Jewelry, WallcoJr Designs and Titiluli.
Don’t scoff, jaded New Yorker—there are a lot of free things to do in NYC today. We understand: When you live in one of the most expensive cities in America, it’s hard to imagine how anything in this town could be gratis. But guess what? Every event on this list is free, and actually awesome! That’s right, we found the best concerts, free art exhibitions, comedy shows, cultural celebrations and events happening in NYC parks, so you can have the time of your life without paying a dime. Whether you’re looking for free date ideas or something to do with visiting relatives, we got you. Do you want more great stories about things to do, where to eat, what to watch, and where to party? Obviously you do, follow Time Out New York on Facebook for the good stuff.RECOMMENDED: See all free things to do in NYC
Museum-going in New York can be an expensive proposition, but luckily, most institutions—including the Guggenheim, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art—offer free museum days and hours where admission is pay-what-you-wish (which can pretty much amount to the same thing). The trick is knowing when to take advantage of these bargains. To find out, look no further than our complete guide to the best free museums and discount hours in New York. After all, the city has the greatest concentration of museums in the world, so what are you waiting for?
Once the weather starts getting warmer, NYC street fairs invade various blocks in Gotham. Get ready for vehicle-free roads chock-full with some of your favorite eats from the best restaurants in NYC as well as some great vintage wares and antiques like you would find at the most popular flea markets. You can also expect artisanal crafts, live music and even more fun things to do outside at any one of these alfresco bazaars. Take advantage of the beautiful weather, including awesome free things to do, while these streets are full of fun. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to things to do in the summer in NYC
Grab a paddle and seek out some free kayaking! NYC's waterways have never looked more beautiful from a kayak (or canoe), where you can enjoy some of the best views of the city. See popular New York attractions in a whole new light by paddling on the New York Harbor or East River. Kayaking is certainly one of the best things to do in summer, so check out our roundup of the best places to go. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to things to do outside in NYC
Spend a Sunday afternoon browsing the wares of local artists, designers and vintage dealers at this weekly market. It’s a great place to pick up limited-edition art, handmade jewelry, unique home furnishings and tasty artisanal treats. Plus 100 percent of the net revenue is donated to four neighborhood public schools.
Looking for a California-backyard-party vibe, complete with carne asada and élotes on the grill? Well, then head to Str8 West Coastin’, where you’ll find expert selectors Still Life, Eleven and Dopeshoes playing only West Coast tuneage from the likes of Dre, Snoop, Cube, E-40 and Too Short. Snag top-notch swag like W-shaped foam hands (for Westsiiiiide), Tupac beer coozies, temporary tattoos while munching on some finger-lickin' BBQ. The party is totally free, but make sure to R.S.V.P. in advance.
Rent, subway fare, takeout orders, happy hour—the cost of living in New York adds up fast. What most people don’t realize is that there are plenty of cheap things to do in New York City. Believe it or not, it’s totally possible to visit some of the top New York attractions and eat at the best restaurants in NYC without going into credit card debt. We’ve even got cheap date ideas and ways to score cheap Broadway tickets. You’re welcome.
A seven-minute ride on a free ferry takes you to this seasonal island sanctuary, a scant 800 yards from lower Manhattan. Thanks to its strategic position in the middle of New York Harbor, Governors Island was a military outpost and off-limits to the public for 200 years. It finally opened to summer visitors in 2006. The verdant, 172-acre isle still retains a significant chunk of its military-era architecture, including Fort Jay, started in 1776, and Castle Williams, which was completed in 1812 and used as a prison. The 22-acre area containing the forts and historical officers’ residences is now a national landmark. Today, the island is jointly run by the city, the state and the National Park Service, and it provides a peaceful setting for cycling (bring a bike on the ferry, or rent from Bike and Roll once there). The island hosts a program of events, such as concert series and art exhibitions (see website for schedule), and where else can you have a picnic directly across from the Statue of Liberty?