New York's first dim sum house opened in 1920 on a rough crook of gang-riddled Doyers Street. But the bakery and tea shop, at least, had a sweet reputation: Its almond cookies and moon cakes were legendary. Over its near century in business, ownership of the parlor has remained among the restaurant family to preserve its traditions. Back in 2010, the stalwart was refreshed with a new interior (vintage lamps, framed archival photographs) and remodeled menu showcasing made-to-order plates rather than dim sum en masse. Nom Wah is completely unlike the chaotic banquet halls that dominate Chinatown's dim sum scene. Instead, the dining room is much more charming and welcoming, from the checkered tablecloths over Art Deco tables to the couples huddled beneath old posters of a glam Chinese movie star. The food, too, stands apart; the dim sum here tastes fresher and is more affordable than the competition. Try the ultra-fluffy oversize roasted-pork bun, the flaky fried crepe egg roll and the tender stuffed eggplant filled with a spiced shrimp-and-squid mixture. Plus, it keeps the small plates coming long after other dim sum joints have closed their doors.
This cabaret-style venue commits itself curtain and soul to the nouveau burlesque scene, so if you stumble across a pile of pasties and glitter on the Lower East Side, you're probably somewhere nearby.
Take in some sun on Dream Hotel’s PHD Terrace while sipping Italian cocktails and nibbling complimentary treats at this afterwork shindig. Tunes from the ’60s come courtesy of the Nick Palumbo Band.
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
New York City’s only preserved 19th-century family home is an elegant, late Federal-Greek Revival house stocked with the same furnishings and decorations that filled its rooms when it was inhabited by hardware tycoon Seabury Treadwell and his descendants from 1835 to 1933.
In many major cities around the world, museums are government funded, which means entry is free. Alas, this is not the case with New York City’s museums. Institutions like MoMA and the Guggenheim charge hefty admissions, and while the Metropolitan Museum of Art used to be pay what you wish for everyone, that policy is restricted now to New York State residents. Still, there are plenty of museums that are free or have free days. And there still museums with pay what you wish admission, if not every day, then on certain days weekly or monthly. You just have to know who offers what. To figure that out, check our guide to the best free museums and discount hours at NYC’s museums. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best museums in NYC
Every summer, the Public Theater produces a beloved NYC democratic tradition and one of the best free things to do in NYC: Shakespeare in the Park, presented at the open-air Delacorte Theater in Central Park. There’s nothing quite like hearing the Bard’s immortal words performed outside in New York, with a backdrop of natural splendor and the Belvedere Castle looming in the background like the world’s most impressive set decoration. But Shakespeare in the Park’s popularity means that tickets aren’t easy to come by. Only the most perseverant will be able to secure seats. Here’s our guide to navigating the system. What is Shakespeare in the Park? Created by the late Joseph Papp in 1962, the Public Theater's series offers free, large-scale productions of works by William Shakespeare (as well as the occasional musical or non-Shakespearean drama). The productions often feature some of the most talented actors of our day. Past casts have included including Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Al Pacino, Blythe Danner, Philip Seymour Hoffman, George C. Scott and Denzel Washington. What is being performed this season? Othello is playing May 29 through June 24, 2018, in a production directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson. Twelfth Night is playing July 17 through August 19, 2018, directed by Oskar Eustis and Kwame Kwei-Armah. In addition to these official Shakespeare in the Park offerings, the Public is mounting a 35th-anniversary revival of The Gospel at Colonus from September 4 through Septembe
This popular shopping joint is open all year round and recently expanded to host live performances and 100 sellers every weekend. Make sure to snag some of the new merch—vintage from Thriftwares ranging from the 1950s–1990s, downtown-cool jewels by Wicked Heathens and hats from ALIENSofBROOKLYN.
Everything you need to know about visiting the High Line (New York, NY). In a city famously known as a concrete jungle with crowded streets, astronomical property rates and few green spaces, the High Line is a key example of New York’s willingness to transform, adapt and innovate. Why is it called the High Line?The 1.45 mile-long park, which first opened in 2009, was originally created entirely on an abandoned elevated train track, snaking above the otherwise industrial West Side neighborhoods (Meatpacking, Chelsea, Hudson Yards). Today millions clamour for the dazzling views of the Hudson River, downtown New York’s skyline and, for some voyeurs, the guest rooms at the Standard Hotel. Artists, who were already flocking to Chelsea’s gallery scene, have found an appreciative audience with massive murals, abstract sculptures and a few performance pieces cropping up around and within view of the park. Recently one of the city’s most distinguished cultural institutions The Whitney Museum of American Art recently moved within view of The High Line. When should I go?The spot is most popular during the warm months. While the flowers and plants–a selection that is mostly indigenous to the region–are in bloom, the wood lounge chairs are coveted. Sunset is also a very popular time, so, if you can, try for a morning or afternoon walk. Can I eat and drink there?Yes! Something about the smell of fresh greenery makes treats from artisanal vendors selling ice cream and original sodas tas
Considering the MoMA’s reputation for having one of the world’s finest collections of art from the 18th century through today, it’s no surprise that around nearly every corner of the venerated museum is a seminal piece by an artist trumpeted in art history or coveted by contemporary collectors. During the height of tourist season, around Christmas and again in late spring and summer, expect a shoving-match just to catch a momentary glance at Van Gogh’s Starry Night or Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. Special exhibitions, including retrospectives of masters like surrealist René Magritte and large installations like the blockbuster Rain Room, have enough draw that some people will wait for hours just for the one exhibit. Meanwhile, no matter the time of year or temporary display, cash-strapped New Yorkers come in droves at the end of the work-week for free friday nights (4pm-8pm). If you really want to experience the museum and all it has to offer go on a weekday and buy your all-inclusive ticket online ($25). You’ll skip the line and find yourself unencumbered as you stop to contemplate the meaning of time in front of Salvador Dali’s melted-clock painting The Persistance of Memory or checking out the movie times in the attached theater.
Russ & Daughters has been serving lox, herring and other specialty foods since 1914, and its Super Heeb of horseradish cream cheese, wasabi-flavored roe and sublime whitefish salad form a holy trinity with an unholy name.
Everything you need to know about visiting Chelsea Market (75 Ninth Ave, New York, NY 10011). The former home of the National Biscuit Company is a hot spot for foodies and shopping addicts. Primarily known for its wide-range of eateries, Chelsea Market is hands-down one of New York’s most notable food halls boasting more than 35 vendors. Whether you’ve got a hankering for a steaming-hot cup of lobster bisque, perfectly aged cheese or a strong and smooth shot of espresso, Chelsea Market has you covered. Aside from finger-lickin’ fare and sweet merchandise, the attraction offers historical charms such as the market’s iconic fountain, which was crafted using discarded drill bits and exposed pipe from the former Nabisco factory. The grub: Mexican food lovers, rejoice! Chelsea Market is home to one of the best taco joints in the city: Los Tacos No.1. Next time you’re craving crepes, hit Bar Suzette for its French onion soup-inspired creation or opt for a sweet, Nutella and fruit-filled pancake. Seafood worshippers will go nuts inside The Lobster Place—a wholesale and retail fish market, which serves fresh and prepared meals like lobster roll and sushi. When you need to oblige your sweet tooth, hit the pint-sized Doughnuttery stand for mouth-watering bite-sized desserts. (You can watch the doughnuts come fresh off the conveyor belt and choose your own toppings.) The market also reps great restaurants like a rustic, classy spot called The Tippler. The shops: Chelsea Market i
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building The century-old main branch of the NYPL is about as regal a setting for reading—either on your laptop or those old dusty things called books—as you’ll find in the city. Two massive Tennessee-marble lions, dubbed Patience and Fortitude, flank the main portal and have become the institution’s mascots. Once inside, check out the cavernous Rose Main Reading Room, spanning almost 300 feet and outfitted with chandeliers and stunning ceiling murals. Though it’s a classy setting in most instances, it’s also where Bill Murray uttered, “Are you, Alice, menstruating right now?” and “Back off, man, I’m a scientist” in Ghostbusters. Free guided tours (at 11am and 2pm) stop at Rose Main Reading Room and the Bill Blass Public Catalog Room, which offers free internet access. Lectures, author readings and special exhibitions are definitely worth checking out.
If you need another reason to get excited for summer, NYC street fairs take over various blocks in all five boroughs when the weather gets warmer. While frolicking through these vehicle-free roads, snack on sensational eats from the best restaurants in NYC and score stellar throwback wares and antiques as you would find at our city’s finest vintage clothing stores. As enjoyable as eating and shopping can be, there are many more things to do outside, from rocking out at outdoor concerts to peeping at some street art. Take advantage of the beautiful weather, including awesome free things to do, while the streets are full of fun. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to things to do in the summer in NYC
Tucked between the Lincoln Tunnel and Port Authority bus ramps, this unlikely slice of city street is closed to traffic every weekend when dozens of vendors unfold their tables full of goods. Vendors tend to compensate for the out-of-the-way location by offering lower prices than found in the Chelsea lots, which makes it worth the trek. Be sure to hit Wildpalm Vintage for precious jewels and Store with No Walls for designer vintage from Oscar de la Renta and Versace ($10–$100).
Located at the top of Museum Mile, the Museum of the City of New York is the place to explore the city’s past, celebrate its present, and imagine its future. The institution’s entire first floor is devoted to New York at Its Core, a sprawling exhibition including two galleries taking visitors on a tour of all 400 years of New York City history and a flagship space known as the Future City Lab where visitors use interactive technology to design the NYC of the future. Rotating exhibitions throughout the rest of the Museum focus on issues ranging from the city’s history of social activism to New York’s built environment, and include objects from the Museum’s extensive Collections of vintage photographs, costumes and textiles, theater memorabilia, furniture and decorative arts, and more. Don’t miss the amazing Stettheimer Dollhouse, created during the 1920s by Carrie Stettheimer, whose artist friends re-created their masterpieces in miniature to hang on the walls. Look closely and you’ll even spy a tiny version of Marcel Duchamp’s famous Nude Descending a Staircase.
This one’s for the little guys: Many of CMOM’s exhibits are geared to tots ages six and under, including a Dora the Explorer play area. But with five floors of exhibits, there’s fun for big kids, too. The museum also hosts traveling exhibits.
No bar has a better collection of ’70s lunch boxes, and the rollicking jukebox ain’t half bad, either. This souped-up rec room offers two pool tables, skeeball, darts, pinball, arcade favorites like Big Buck Hunter, and more. The five-hour happy hour means you can rotate pitchers and pints among the 14 brews on tap. Locals are first drawn in by the clublike exterior, but stay for the chill, pool-hall atmosphere that suits both birthday bashes or a few beers between friends.
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?
Everything you need to know about visiting Prospect Park (Brooklyn, NY). Urban visionaries Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who most famously designed Central Park, also put their stamp on bucolic, 526-acre Prospect Park. Amenities like the Long Meadow and Nethermead offer plenty of space to pull up on a patch of grass and indulge in some people-watching, and the woodland expanse of the Ravine is a towering forest within bustling Brooklyn. But we also have to give props to Robert Moses: The controversial city planner was behind some of the park’s kid-friendly offerings, including the zoo and LeFrak Center at Lakeside, where roller skating and ice skating goes down. What to do nearby:You can walk to all of these spots in about a half hour, no matter where you are in the park.-Take a pedal boat ride at Lakeside Brooklyn.-Stroll over to the Prospect Park Zoo.-Go roller skating (or ice skating) at Lakeside at Prospect Park. -Peep the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch at Grand Army Memorial Plaza. -Breathe in all that fresh hair at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. -During warmer months, see a show at Prospect Park Bandshell.-Ride on the Prospect Park Carousel Where to eat:Try one of the best restaurants near Prospect Park Where to drink:Try one of the best bars near Prospect ParkWant some more Prospect Park history?About 2,000 people are buried in Prospect Park. Since the 1840s (and possibly before) Quakers have been burying their dead in an NYC cemetery owned and
Not much changes at the beloved Brooklyn institution, Tom’s: The lemon-ricotta pancakes slathered in a medley of butters are still heavenly, cherry-lime rickeys maintain an old-soda-shoppe allure, and on weekend mornings, a line of hungry diners of all ages—munching on cookies and orange slices proffered by friendly staff—stretches around the block. A borough favorite since its opening in the 1930s, this neighborhood joint goes beyond basic diner, offering fluffy chocolate-cake French toast and some of the best egg creams in town.
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
Part of a 40,000-square-foot complex operated by BRIC Arts Media, the presenter behind Celebrate Brooklyn! at the Prospect Park Bandshell, the newly christened BRIC House hosts regular concerts, monthly dance parties and the occasional sneak peek at a musical-theater work-in-progress.
Everything you need to know about visiting Brooklyn Heights and the Brooklyn Promenade (Columbia Heights, NY 11201). Looking for a great place to enjoy a panoramic view of everything the city has to offer? The Brooklyn Promenade—a one-third-mile stretch of pavement along the East River—is a favorite destination of residents, tourists and couples looking to make out next to an unforgettable span of NYC’s skyline. Breathtaking views of the Brooklyn Bridge and Statue of Liberty are both visible from here, but the Promenade wasn’t originally built for aesthetic reasons: City planner Robert Moses originally wanted the Brooklyn Queens Expressway to run through Brooklyn Heights. After lots of opposition from the local community, the promenade was built to insulate the mansions and tree-lined streets nearby from highway noise and has been doing so since it opened in October 1950. Eat some ice cream (and pizza!)Once you’re done enjoying the views, you’ll find no shortage of food and drinks nearby: Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory and Grimaldi’s are both within walking distance of the promenade. Fun fact: The ice cream factory is housed inside an old fireboat house. As for Grimaldi’s, it’s a household name among pizza-loving New Yorkers and this Brooklyn location is the most famous. Take a carousel rideBuilt in 1922 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, Jane’s Carousel is one of the highlights of Brooklyn Bridge Park—also the home to volleyball courts, dog runs and playgrounds. Even though
The eternally puckish actor Alan Cumming and promoter-provocateur Daniel Nardicio took over the former Eastern Bloc bar in 2017 and reimagined it as a cabaret, comedy and party hub that evokes of the golden era of NYC downtown nightlife. Celebrities occasionally pop in—such as Paul McCartney, Emma Stone and Vanessa Williams—but the club is its own star: a cheeky-decadent quasiqueer hangout with with a frisky, welcoming vibe and risqué murals by Cumming's husband, Grant Shaffer. Mondays are a sexy-geeky Broadway open-mic night with pianist Lance Horne; Fridays and Saturdays, hosted by the charming and charismatic trans singer Daphne Always, feature dance music and go-go boys. The tradition of downtown nightclub performance is rich but endangered, and Club Cumming is the East Village's best new addition in years: an oasis of creativity and community that draws from traditions of the past but is resolutely planted in the present.