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Photograph: Courtesy New York Botanical Garden

15 things to do in NYC on Black Friday instead of shopping

Save a little bit of money this year by checking out the best things to do in NYC on Black Friday that aren't shopping

By Annalise Mantz

What are you doing for Black Friday in NYC? After becoming becoming more stuffed than a Thanksgiving turkey, you may be motivated enough to slog your way through a turkey trot in New York or brave the crowds during Black Friday. Not feeling up for the usual shopping shenanigans? Then skip the crowds, lines and chaos for something a little more fun and, frankly, less threatening to your bank account. Round up your friends and family and try something on our list of the best things to do on Black Friday instead of shopping. Trust us—no discounts or deals can compare to the memories you’ll make at these New York attractions.


Things to do on Black Friday besides shopping

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photograph: Wendy Connett

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Museums Art and design Central Park

Make a post-Thanksgiving trip to the museum your new family tradition. Luckily, most museums open their doors on Friday and the Met is a great choice for the whole family. There's something for everyone: your dad the history buff, pretentious cousin who insists on reminding everyone she went to art school and little brother who just wants to see the mummies. 

Gulliver’s Gate
Photograph: Courtesy Gulliver’s Gate

Gulliver's Gate

Museums Art and design Midtown West

You’ll feel larger than life as you gaze down on the itty bitty cityscapes at Gulliver’s Gate. At this interactive museum of miniatures, you'll spot tiny taxis zooming in and out of New York City streets, miniature bricks in Jerusalem’s Western Wall and even pint-sized versions of the Beatles crossing Abbey Road. It’s an unreal experience that no one will forget.

Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes
Photograph: Paul Kolnik for MSG Entertainment

Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes

Theater Musicals

Now that Turkey Day is over, bring on the Christmas cheer. Kick off the season (literally!) with a sensational performance by the Radio City Rockettes at the Christmas Spectacular. There's sure to sparkling costumes, extravagant props, live animals and, of course, the incredibly coordinated Rockettes. 

Alley Pond Park
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Gail Frederick

Alley Pond Park Walk

Head out to Queens for a guided tour of peaceful Alley Pond Park. Home to more than 300 species of birds and other wildlife, this park also offers plenty of opportunities for foraging. Think tons of fresh herbs and vegetables like field garlic, sassafras and dandelion greens. Your guide will teach you how to identify and pick the best greens—don’t forget to bring a bag so you can take home your spoils!

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Gail Frederick


New York Botanical Garden

Attractions Parks and gardens The Bronx

Ditch the concrete jungle and head into nature at the New York Botanical Garden. The holiday train show is sure to delight kids of all ages. Watch model trains zip around miniature versions of the Statue of Liberty and Rockefeller Center made entirely out of natural materials. 

Kings County Distillery Tour

Bars Brooklyn Navy Yard

At Brooklyn’s Kings County Distillery, a few bucks ($15, to be precise) gets you an hourlong tour and three whiskey samples. Yes, we said three! You'll need to leave the kiddos at home, but that should be more than enough reason to check it out.

Whitney Museum of American Art
Photograph: Filip Wolak

Whitney Museum of American Art

Museums Art and design Meatpacking District

Take a more artsy crowd to the Whitney. The avant-garde museum showcases contemporary American Art, and you’ll see pieces by Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, Andy Warhol and many more. While you’re there, don’t forget to check out the outdoor galleries for some stunning views of Chelsea and the Hudson River.

Bryant Park Winter Village
Photograph: Courtesy Angelito Jusay

Bryant Park Winter Village

Things to do Markets and fairs

It's officially the most wonderful time of the year. And New York has one of the most wonderful holiday markets to match! Get a head start on your holiday shopping list at the Bryant Park Winter Village. Peruse handmade jewelry, artisan soaps and candles, art prints and more with a cup of Max Brenner’s silky hot chocolate in hand. 

New York City Ballet: George Balanchine's The Nutcracker
Photograph: Courtesy Paul Kolnik

New York City Ballet: George Balanchine's The Nutcracker

Dance Ballet

Watch the New York City Ballet company bring a little girl's dream to life, complete with the sparkling Sugar Plum Fairy, evil Mouse King and Christmas tree that grows from 12 to 40 feet. The enchanting choreography, extravagant costumes and elaborate set will capture your imagination. Make the memory extra special with VIP Sweet seats: Take in all the mesmerizing magic with premium seating and leave with a complimentary souvenir book and a keepsake photo. 

Holiday Origami Tree at the American Museum of Natural History
Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

American Museum of Natural History

Museums Science and technology Upper West Side

If you have little ones in tow, opt for the family-friendly American Museum of Natural History. Jaws will drop when you enter the rotunda to discover the enormous Barosaurus skeleton replica, and that’s just the beginning. To celebrate the holiday season, the museum partakes in a tradition more than 40 years old: the 13-foot Origami Holiday Tree. This year's theme is Oceans of Origami, an homage to Unseen Oceans, the exhibition currently on display exploring the far reaches of our planet's oceans. Volunteers started folding the paper decorations last spring!

Still want to get a little holiday shopping done?

Photograph: Pixabay

Holiday gift guide 2018


It’s the most wonderful time of the year, so spread good tidings by using our holiday gift guide 2018 to score amazing presents for your friends and family.


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