Your weekend plans begin here, with more than a dozen FREE and cheap things to do this first weekend of December. The NYCOTC weekend guide is $20 or less so you can take bites out of the Big Apple without eating up your budget, plus a few occasional splurges worth the money. And everything is family-friendly.
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.
Today in NYC
Bryant Park Tree Lighting and Skate-Tacular – A fabulous ice skating show featuring Olympic champion Johnny Weir and others is followed by the official tree lighting. Then you can go holiday shopping among the 150 vendors in the stalls of the Holiday Bazaar.
SEE ALSO Best NYC Holiday Markets
Free Museum Admission
The first weekend of the month means FREE admission at several NYC museums which offer First Friday or First Saturday of the month freebies. Including:
Free First Friday of the Month
- Children’s Museum of Manhattan (Upper West Side, 5pm to 8pm)
Neue Galerie (Upper East Side, 6pm to 8pm)
The Noguchi Museum, Astoria, Queens
The Frick Collection (East Side), 6pm to 9pm (except January)
Free First Saturday of the Month
- Brooklyn Museum (Brooklyn, 5pm to 11pm)
Today and Saturday
The Nutcracker – See this popular and timeless holiday ballet FREE at Brookfield Place, formerly known as the Winter Garden, in the World Financial Center. This is a one- hour version of the beloved holiday ballet performed to Tchaikovsky’s cherished score, is set Art Nouveau-style circa 1907 with innovative choreography by long-time New York Theatre Ballet choreographer, Keith Michael. Perfect for ages 3 and up. Performances are 7pm Friday and Satuday at 1pm and 7pm. Seating is first come first served. Also take photos with Nutcracker characters before the performances.
- While you are at Brookfield Place, visit Luminaries, the specacular interactive light show.
Now Open in NYC
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree – Glittering and sparkling in glorious splendor. FREE to enjoy.
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.
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.
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.
Christmas Spectacular with the Radio City Rockettes – The annual holiday extravaganza opens today. Get $49 discount tickets for your choice of dates, instead of the regular $75 price.
Friday-Sunday in NYC
Native Art Market – Shop for museum-quality jewelry, pottery, beadwork, sculptures, woven fabrics and more directly from the Native American artisans who created them, at the National Museum of the American Indian in Lower Manhattan. FREE, including FREE museum admission.
New York Motorcycle Show – Head to the Javits Convention Center this weekend to drool over hundreds of bikes from manufacturers including Harley-Davidson and BMW. Tickets are $20, and kids 11 and under ride free.
Marché Maman – This is a curated selection of exceptional artisanal French products, in a pop-up holiday market at the French Institute: Alliance Francais. Shop for fragrances, baby clothes, home decor, flowers, jewelry, and more from fine French vendors including Maman, Bastide, Breaking the Wool, By Johanne, and Merci Bisous. Dec. 2-16.
Brooklyn Botanical Garden – The winter season begins this weekend with first-Sunday-of-the-month day of family-friendly programs including nature walks, family discovery stations, storytime, outdoor tours and more. Also, winter season means FREE admission on weekdays, 10am to 4:30pm, through February.
- FREE admission also on weekdays to the Queens Botanical Garden, through February.
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.).
Long Island Flea, Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg are open for the season. Details here.
Pier 2 Roller Rink at Brooklyn Bridge Park – Rates are $3 to skate, $6 to rent; check the website for hours and special events, including lessons. This is a covered rink, so you get fresh air, but not raindrops.Heights and the park.
Brooklyn Bazaar Night Market offers an Asian-style night market, with international food, vendors, and entertainment.
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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