Folks flock to this floral-filled exhibition at Macy’s Herald Square, where jaw-dropping arrangements are on display for two weeks. The theme for this 43rd annual installment is “Carnival,” which means you can expect whimsical statues built with brightly hued blooms, which mimic the bedazzlement of a traveling road show.
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?
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.
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
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).
New York's first dim sum house opened in 1920 at a crook in Doyers Street known at the time as "the bloody angle." That Chinatown passage bore witness to the grisly havoc of the Tong gang wars—shootings and hatchet murders—but the bakery and tea shop had a sweeter reputation: Its almond cookies and moon cakes were legendary. For more than three decades, the Choy family ran Nom Wah, but in 1974, Ed and May Choy sold the operation to longtime manager Wally Tang, who started there in 1950 as a waiter when he was 16. In 2010, Wally Tang passed Nom Wah on to his nephew Wilson Tang, a banker at ING Direct. The 90-year-old stalwart had fallen into disrepair, so Tang gave it a remodel. He and his wife raided flea markets for vintage lamps and the restaurant's storage room for archival photographs. Tang painted the dingy green walls a mustard yellow, and cleaned decades of dust and grease off the tea tins lining the restaurant's shelves. The most important tweaks, though, were behind the scenes: Tang updated the kitchen and did away with the procedure of cooking dim sum en masse. Now, each plate is cooked to order. Tang's nips and tucks transformed a health department nightmare into a charming old-school institution, completely unlike the chaotic banquet halls that dominate Chinatown's dim sum scene. The dining room is transportive—checkered tablecloths cover Art Deco tables and couples huddle beneath an old poster of a glam Chinese movie star. The food, too, stands apart; the dim s
This Lower East Side flea hosts one of the best collections of food vendors in Manhattan, with more upstarts joining the fray each week. Standouts from recent years include Adirondack Creamery, an upstate outfit that makes ice cream using local dairy, and Wonder City Coffee & Donut Bar stand—a spin-off of the Brindle Room’s morning java service.
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).
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
New York City’s most beloved old-school club night returns for another round of legendary tunes. Whether you’re a veteran fan of this sweaty party or you’ve never experienced the eclectic mix of high-energy pop, hip-hop, funk and rock ballads from yesteryear, you’re in for a wild time. Bring comfy shoes, and prepare to lose your voice singing along.
The rooftop is what keeps crowds coming back to this LES rock club—it’s got potted palms, a fishpond and a margarita machine. When the airy party ends at midnight, head to the ground level for deejayed music or into the basement to catch a live show. Tuesdays from 7 to 10pm, hot dogs and burgers are served for five bucks per plate—so no need to worry about boozing on an empty stomach.
Falafel doesn’t usually come in different flavors—unless it’s made by an Israel-born chef who’s worked under Bobby Flay. At her falafel and smoothie bar, Taïm, Ludo chef Einat Admony seasons chickpea batter three ways: traditional (with parsley and cilantro), sweet (with roasted red pepper) and spicy (with Tunisian spices and garlic). She pairs the terrific falafel with tasty salads like marinated beets, spicy Moroccan carrot salad or baba ghanoush, and three dipping sauces. The smoothies are exotic too—date-lime-banana, pineapple–coconut milk and a refreshing cantaloupe-ginger—and can be made with whole, skim, soy or no milk.
A popular destination on Columbia Street’s restaurant row, three-story Alma serves fancy regional Mexican food in a giddy, casual atmosphere. Although the ground floor bar and midlevel dining room are pleasant, diners clamor for a seat on the rooftop patio (open year round) for inspiring views of the Manhattan skyline and the glittering, accidental beauty of cargo-loaders below. The food ranges from old standards (fresh, cilantro-heavy salsa, and creamily addictive guac) to sophisticated dishes like huachinango a la naranja, a red snapper with orange sauce, which is as airy and light as the view.
PaddlesIn search of public options for curious newbies, I visit NYC's holdout nonprivate dungeon. The simple setup, found behind a marked door under an inconspicuous Chelsea awning, isn't intimidating. There's a bar selling soft drinks and a few rooms full of contraptions catering to individual interests—such as a chair to help fetishists get a faceful of a partner's feet. Unadorned corridors of cages and Saint Andrew's crosses are scattered around. My friend and I arrive just before 3am on a Saturday, as the space was converting from a well-lit coed atmosphere to the darker men-only party. Still, a half-dozen suburban types linger on a stage with a giant mirror behind it, setting up one last "scene" (a fantasy scenario). Everyone I meet is helpful, down-to-earth and eager to talk, including the Brit who'd arrived in town with a mind to getting caned. He met a German couple outside the club, took them for a drink and convinced the woman to do the honors. There's no pressure here; everything that you do or have done to you is consensual. Quietly watching is permissible; if you witness an act between two people who intrigue you, etiquette dictates you wait until they're through to approach them. There's no penetration or booze—stipulations that have helped the club avoid being shut down—so it's about leaving your street clothes at the door ($2) to reveal your leather skivvies; purchasing a cat-o'-nine-tails ($50--$70) from a spread of switches, whips and paddles on a lighted d
When a hot dog craving strikes, it may be tempting to grab a dollar dog from one if the city's dirty-water carts. Instead, chow down on one of our picks for the city's best cheap hot dogs, including both all-beef classics and nouveau franks.RECOMMENDED: The best cheap eats in NYC
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.
If you’re an animal-lover wondering where to become an animal shelter volunteer in NYC, look no further. If you’re not quite ready to adopt or foster (or still thinking about it) you can still walk a dog, meet a cat or help nonprofits in many other ways today. Check out our pet guide to NYC, and explore volunteer opportunities in all five boroughs below. RECOMMENDED: Where to volunteer in NYC
Ladies should probably leave the Blahniks at home. In traditional Irish-pub fashion, McSorley’s floor has been thoroughly scattered with sawdust to take care of the spills and other messes that often accompany large quantities of cheap beer. Established in 1854, McSorley’s became an institution by remaining steadfastly authentic and providing only two choices to its customers: McSorley’s Dark Ale and McSorley’s Light Ale. Both beverages have a lot more character than PBR, though at these prices, it won’t be long before you stop noticing.
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.