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Things to do in NYC today

The best things to do in NYC today involves free and cheap activities, awesome concerts and more

By Time Out New York editors

It’s rare to be in the greatest city on earth and not have plans, but if you’re stumped for things to do in NYC today, consider us your entertainment saviors. Daily, there are awesome events to stream and new attractions to see, but if you’re searching for something really specific like new happenings at the city’s top destinations or something low-budget—like free things to do—we have everything you need listed right here.

RECOMMENDED: Full NYC events calendar

Things to do in NYC today

Syndicated outdoor
Photograph: Courtesy Syndicated

Take in a free outdoor movie at Syndicated

News City Life

Bushwick's Syndicated, known for being a one-stop shop for great food and films, is finally screening movies again—outside.

The Brooklyn hangout has been doing outdoor dining since restaurants were allowed to reopen, but it has been teasing outdoor screenings for a couple of weeks now. Finally, on Tuesday, it posted a photo of a staffer painting a 14-foot-wide white screen on its brick facade. On Wednesday, it posted a screening schedule which shows movies beginning around 8pm each night (depending on the weather.) 

Frieze Sculpture at Rockefeller Center 2020
Photograph: Courtesy of Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Tishman Speyer

Take a look at Rockefeller Center's major new sculpture installation

News Art

Rockefeller Center has been transformed into a free public sculpture park with artwork inspired by nature for the second iteration of the Frieze Sculpture installation.

The installation was supposed to be held in the spring but had to be postponed due to the pandemic, much like Frieze's other physical events this year. But now that NYC is waking up bit from its pandemic slumber, the show can finally go on.

Leading international artists Ghada Amer, Beatriz Cortez, Andy Goldsworthy, Lena Henke, Camille Henrot and Thaddeus Mosley created large-scale works for the plaza. The pieces are inspired by the area's natural materials of earth, rock, and plants and by the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. (That was the original date when Frieze Sculpture at Rockefeller Center was scheduled to debut.)

The flags below are more than meets the eye. They were made with dirt and earth from each of the 50 states. Andy Goldsworthy's Red Flags (2020) examines the contexts of flags—their inherent and potential meanings—in one of New York’s most iconic flag flying sites.

Photograph: JT Anderson @jtcanshoot

Go to a comedy show on a Brooklyn rooftop

News City Life

New Yorkers—how much do you miss belly-laughing at a comedy show alongside fellow comedy fans? How about the roar that erupts after a good joke, the body language of an animated storyteller, or the chatter about the funniest sets after the stage clears?

While we cannot yet huddle inside some of NYC’s beloved comedy dens, one Bushwick-based performance venue is bringing live comedy back and hosting socially-distanced sets on its rooftop.

The Tiny Cupboard, a DIY rooftop comedy club, is hosting 15 shows to laugh at each week, with three to four shows per day on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The gig's space in Bushwick can be found on the rooftop of a building, which houses art studios.

Spectators are treated to a rotating roster of hilarious talent, with many on-the-rise comedians and established funny people on the mic. Some shows are free, while others are still affordable, costing $5, $7 or at the most 10 bucks.

Met Museum
Photograph: Shutterstock

See the Met Museum's new outdoor piece by Yoko Ono

News Art

To celebrate the return of visitors on August 29, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has added new banners to its facade designed by none other than Yoko Ono.

Ono's piece, titled DREAM TOGETHER (2020), were created in response to the pandemic and consists of simple white 24-by-26-foot banners with the words "Dream" and "Together" in black. They flank the museum's main entrance with one on each side of the doors, joining Wangechi Mutu's installation of four bronze sculptures, The NewOnes, will free Us (2019), which sit in the niches of the exterior of the building.

Ono's banners are reminiscent of her other works like her IMAGINE PEACE campaign with John Lennon in that they simply convey an encouraging and peaceful message through bold words in black and white.

Chelsea Market
Photograph: Colin Miller

Head to Chelsea Market, outdoor edition

News Eating

Chelsea Market has gone outdoors.

Since Sunday, one of New York’s most popular destinations has lined its sidewalks along 15th and 16th Streets with more than 115 socially-distanced tables. Fifteen vendors are offering outdoor seating and 20 of the market’s businesses—normally there are 39—are now open. Tacos, hand-pulled noodles, lobster rolls or gelato? It’s all now available as either part of table service, takeout, delivery or self service.

You’ll now find red bistro tables with black chairs placed in six-foot circles to encourage proper distancing. So called health ambassadors will roam the block between Ninth and 10th Avenues to help ensure people are following safety procedures, from wearing masks to helping customers with ordering. There are QR codes at each table, in addition to two kiosks on 15th Street for ordering, with menus for all the participating vendors.

Early on during the current crisis, 17 of the market vendors stay opened, but the market, which sits next to the High Line, worked with the Department of Transportation to allow for more seating and construction for outdoor dining spaces. According to the market’s website, nearly six million people go through the market each year.  

The following businesses now offer table service: Ayada, Buddakan, Dickson’s Farmstand Meats, Lobster Place and Miznon.

Other market vendors will have communal seating with online ordering and pickup available: Creamline, Buon’Italia, Doughnuttery, Filaga, Los Tacos No. 1, Mokbar, Seed + Mill, Tings and Very Fresh Noodles. L’Arte del Gelato will also have an outdoor cart.

The Carreau Club
Photograph: Courtesy of The Carreau Club

Play pétanque at a new bar at Industry City

News Drinking

The Carreau Club’s co-owners Dana Bunker and Aaron Weeks know how tough bars have had it the past five months since New York City banned indoor gatherings. But while their plans to open a sprawling bar within Industry City this month are on hold, there’s still a bright spot: they used an outdoor space to open the city’s first pétanque bar.

The airy courtyards in the former warehouse space, which is located on the waterfront in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, is now home to a kiosk selling beer, wine and bottled cocktails with sandwiches from M. Wells. They’re open during the week from 3-9pm and weekends noon-10pm. There are four courts where you can hold a drink in one hand while tossing a stainless steel ball in the other.

Davina Semo: Reverberation
Photograph: Courtesy Davina Semo/Public Art Fund

Ring Davina Semo's Monumental Bells

Art Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn Heights

Brooklyn Bridge Park has a new art installation by Davina Semo. The work, called "Reverberation" is comprised of five cast bronze bells, which can be rung by visitors in the park, and are meant to recal the maritime communication once common at this waterfront site. The traditional bell form in this work has been changed to an elongated, streamlined sculpture that dangles aloft from a heavy industrial galvanized steel frame. The holes she has drilled through each bell create constellations of light in their darkened interiors and staccato patterns on their exterior shells. Each bell has its own name and sound—Reflector, Singer, Dreamer, Listener, and Mother. They'll be up August 20, 2020 through April 18, 2021.

nyc biergarten
Courtesy N 11th St Cookout

Drink at the new biergarten across from the Williamsburg Hotel

News City Life

New Yorkers are embracing outdoor drinking and eating like never before right now, and biergartens offer the ultimate outdoor hang. There's usually an abundance of open-air space, you can enjoy strong brews and hearty food and, occasionally, there's a polka band. (Admittedly, you may have trouble finding the latter at the moment.)

Now, there’s a brand-new biergarten to hit up if you're looking to escape your apartment. N 11th Street Cookout has officially opened its gates in a massive lot across from Brooklyn Brewery, the Williamsburg Hotel and the Wythe Hotel.

The biergarten, set up on astroturf with enough picnic tables to comfortably seat 88 guests, was designed for the socially distanced era. Steve Brett, the general manager of N 11th Street Cookout, formerly headed up the Polish/Slovakian drinking den, Radegast.

At the on-site food truck, you’ll find ballpark-style food and snacks like cheeseburgers, hot dogs, soft pretzels, elote and fries.

As for brews, the menu is stocked with local breweries including Braven Brewing Co., Brooklyn Brewing Co., Five Boroughs Brewing Co. and Montauk Brewing Co.

The cocktail and bar program, designed by James Defoor (formerly of Greenwich Village bar Dante), has cocktails on the menu including mezcal mules, cold brew americanos and frozen drinks like passionfruit frosé and frozen hibiscus lemonade. (Don't forget, current New York regulations require a food purchase with beverages.)

The biergarten is open Monday through Friday from 4pm to 11pm; Saturday from noon to 11pm; and Sunday from noon to 11pm.

Photograph: Teddy Wolf

Dine outdoors at New York’s trendiest French bistro

News Eating

Frenchette, one of the most lauded French bistros to open in the past few years, will reopen August 11th with outdoor dining—and it’s already impossible to get a reservation.

Chef-owners Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson’s modern take on the classic brasserie has been a hit since debuting in 2018 (our former Time Out critic Jake Cohen gave it a solid four-star review). The Tribeca restaurant, which commanded long waits and hard-to-come-by reservations even before winning the coveted best new restaurant award from the James Beard Foundation last year, has been closed throughout the current crisis until now. 

Socrates Sculpture Park
Photograph: Courtesy Jeffrey Gibson/Scott Lynch/Sikkema Jenkins & Co./Kavi Gupta/Roberts Projects

See what's at Astoria's Socrates Sculpture Park this summer

News Art

Remarkably, the outdoor art showcase in Long Island City has been opened all of this time, because, well, it's a park. However, Socrates was only showing works installed before the crisis. Now, it's is making up for lost time with a new exhibition series, under the rubric, "Monuments Now," that will take place over the summer and fall. It kicks of with a trio of artists—Jeffrey Gibson, Paul Ramírez Jonas and Xaviera Simmons—presenting large-scale objects that take the premise literally. Gibson's piece, for example, consists of 40ft x 40ft plywood ziggurat inspired by the pre-Columbian earthen mounds created by indigenous people in the Mississippi Valley during the 13th century. It will be covered in a skein of brightly-colored geometric patterns. Ramírez Jonas, meanwhile, is creating a functional community grill in the form of towering obelisk.   

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