Your weekend begins here, with more than a dozen FREE and cheap things to do, including holiday tree light ceremonies, Hanukkah celebrations, the chance to ride a vintage subway car, and more.
The NYCOTC weekend guide is $25 or less so you can take bites out of the Big Apple without eating up your budget, and family-friendly, plus an occasional splurge that’s worth the money.
NYC isn’t expensive when you know where to go and what to do, and we do.
Unless a price is noted, our weekend list is FREE, but we usually remind you anyway, to be sure you know.
Saturday in NYC
City of Science – Unleash your inner scientist at this FREE, larger-than-life, touring event where the wondrous properties of science, technology, engineering, and math collide, with interactive demonstrations, hands-on activities, enormous exhibitions and more. 10am to 4pm, at the Park Slope Armory YMCA, 361 15th St. RSVP encouraged but not required.
Holiday on the Hudson – Bundle up because this holiday tree lighting celebration is along the Hudson River, with music, including Christmas carols performed by Barnard Bacchante after the tree is lit, and more. Hot chocolate will be served (while supplies last), so make sure to bring your own mug. West Harlem Piers, 125th St. and Marginal Ave., 4:30-6:30pm. FREE
Roosevelt Island Tree Lighting Ceremony – 7pm on the Lawn South of Rivercross (501 Main St.) FREE
Winter Wonderland at the Apollo – FREE holiday-themed activities including picture taking with Santa Claus and performances, hosted by the Apollo Theater’s Tour Director and Ambassador, Billy Mitchell. FREE, 2pm to 6pm.
- Additionally, this is the final day of the toy and book drive for children serviced by Greenhope Services for Women, Inc. Bring new and unused books CDs, clothing and toys that are in good condition, suitable for boys and girls ages 3 to 18. All donations should be unwrapped, please.
Saturday and Sunday in NYC
Cheeses of France Pop-Up Market – Get tastings from top French cheese producers, learn about the diversity of French cheeses from the experts, including best cheeses for a cheese board and in recipes, and purchase special and unusual French cheeses. France offers more than 1,200 cheeses, and this event will allow turophiles to sample some of them and learn from the experts. FREE at the French Cheese Board, 41 Spring St. in Soho.
Sunday in NYC
MTA Holiday Nostalgia Train – Take a trip back in time, on vintage R 1/9 cars that were in service 1932 to 1977. You might remember light bulbs, woven wicker seats, ceiling fans and windows you could open before air conditioning -and straps to hang on to – the reason NYC subway riders are called “straphangers”. Ride the vintage trains for the cost of a MetroCard swipe, on Sundays through Dec. 24.
Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights begins at sundown on Tuesday, and Sunday is Family Day at several museums and events spaces, with dreidl and menorah making, Hanukkah songs and dances, Hanukkah food and more. Take your pick of these ticketed events:
Hanukkah Family Day at the Museum of the City of New York
Hanukkah Family Day at the Jewish Museum
Latkepalooza at the Museum of Jewish Heritage
Menorah Mania at the Museum at Eldridge Street.
Hanukkah Festival at the 92nd St. Y
Festive Holiday Destinations in NYC
- Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
- Central Park Holiday Tree
- Bryant Park Holiday Tree, shops and skating rink
- Madison Square Park Holiday Tree
- Prospect Park Holiday Tree
- South Street Seaport Holiday Tree
- Luminaries interactive light display at the Winter Garden
The Butterfly Conservatory – Warm yourself in the beauty and color of thousands of butterflies, flittering around you in this annual winter treat at the American Museum of Natural History. FREE with admission. Also visit the fabulous Origami Tree at AMNH
Infinity Mirrors Exhibition – The wait time to experience the Insta-famous Infinity Mirrors room, designed by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, at the David Zwirner Gallery can be as long as four hours. But you will be rewarded by a jaw-dropping, once-in-a-lifetime experience. FREE
Holiday Express: Toys and Trains – Watch vintage trains zip around the lobby of the New York Historical Society, threading their way around equally vintage toys and games. The popular annual display is open through Feb. 25th. FREE with admission.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Seriously, you can now have a full breakfast at the iconic Fifth Avenue store, at the new Blue Box Cafe, decorated in the same shade as the famous Tiffany blue gift boxes, on the newly-renovated fourth floor. At $29, it’s just over our $20 benchmark, but every once in a while you have to splurge, and the splurge is even bigger if you opt for lunch ($39) or afternoon tea ($49). And shame on you if you don’t know Tiffany’s is at the corner of 57th and Fifth.
- Enjoy a Brooklyn High – tea, that is – at the Williamsburg Hotel. It’s a creative twist on traditional tea service. Enjoy a unique selection of single-source Japanese teas and if the mood is right, a petite bottle of champagne. Fridays through Dec. 22, Noon to 4pm, $30.
Christmas Spectacular with the Radio City Rockettes – The annual holiday extravaganza. Get $49 discount tickets for your choice of dates, instead of the regular $75 price.
Know before you go
FREE apps on subway track work and schedulng delays – know what trains are bypassing what stations so you aren’t late for one of these free and cheap weekend events.
NYC official street closures website – know what streets are closed when for street fairs, parades, political protests and more.
NYC parking calendar – know when you have to move your car, or not.
Subscribe to our email newsletter and get NYC on the Cheap in your inbox at 8am each morning. That’s FREE, too, and you’ll start the day with what you need to know to be a NYC cheapskate.
Let’s hope the weather cooperates for outdoor events. If not –
Every Friday in NYC
Freebie Friday – FREE admission to NYC museums including MOMA. No passes or coupons needed. Just go.
Get FREE admission to more than a dozen NYC museums with the IDNYC card. Enrollment is also FREE.
Freebie Friday: Family Fridays at MoMath – Solve puzzles, family-style, and learn how math affects everything, from music to space flight. 6:30pm, FREE The National Museum of Mathematics is at 11 E. 26th St.
Freebie Friday – Grand Central Neighborhood Tour. FREE every Friday at 12:30, docents from the Grand Central Partnership guide you through the history of the fabled Grand Central Terminal and some equally-fabled nearby landmarks including the Chrysler Building. There are no tickets, no reservations. Just meet at Sculpture court at 120 Park Avenue (southwest corner of East 42nd Street). Tour is 90 minutes.
Every Saturday in NYC
FREE Saturday admission at top NYC museums every Saturday all year includes the Jewish Museum and the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum.
Every Sunday in NYC
FREE Sunday admission at top NYC museums including Morgan Library and Museum.
FREE Flatiron Walking Tour – Join professional guides on a 90-minute journey through this vibrant neighborhood, viewing some of the City’s most notable landmarks, including the New York Life Insurance Building, the MetLife Clock Tower, the Appellate Courthouse and the famous Flatiron Building. Every Sunday at 11am, rain or shine. No advance registration is required. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended.
Every Weekend in NYC
Smorgasburg in Manhattan – Smorg Square, at 76 Varick St. (at Canal St.) on the border of Soho, Tribeca, and Hudson Square, is back every Friday-Sunday through Christmas, with a rotating lineup of food vendors curated from the Brooklyn markets, with 20+ vendors every Friday-Sunday and seating for 120. Plus, 60 world-class vintage, furniture, and handmade vendors at Brooklyn Flea’s new year-round indoor location directly across the street, at 100 Avenue of the Americas (at Watts St.).
Also, check the list of best free things to do in NYC any day of the week, including weekends.
Enjoy your free and cheap NYC weekend.
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