Your Presidents Weekend plans begin here, with more than a dozen FREE and cheap things to do in NYC, including Lunar New Year events.
The NYCOTC weekend guide is $25 or less so you can take bites out of the Big Apple without eating up your budget, plus a few occasional splurges we think are 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.
Snow is expected this weekend.
Last Chance: Ending Soon
Mandatory new admission fees for The Met, Met Breuer and the Cloisters begin on March 1st, replacing the “pay what you wish” admission in effect since the 1970s. Note that the new admission fees are only for out-of-state residents.
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.
Friday through Sunday
LEGO LIVE NYC – Experience hours of creating, and learning with more than 4.66 MILLION bricks. Featuring build zones with favorites like Architecture, City, Friends, NINJAGO, Star Wars™, and more, Learn from LEGO® Mindstorms®, LEGO® BOOST, and LEGO®Minecraft™ experts. Visit Minecraft™ worlds in fully-immersive Virtual Reality displays. Plus, live stage demonstrations, build contests, racetracks, tips & tricks from LEGO® Master Builder® Chris Steininger and more. At Pier 36 on the Hudson River. Tickets are $30 per day per person.
Lunar New Year Events
Friday, February 16
Lunar New Year for Kids Celebration – Celebrate the Lunar New Year public school holiday with a free day of fun. Activities include storytelling, snacks, games, crafts including a paper lantern making workshop, and a Chinese acrobat. FREE at the China Institute in Lower Manhattan, 10am to 1pm . Registration recommended to ensure space.
19th New Year Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival – Celebrate the first day of the Lunar New Year with performances, vendors and firecrackers. FREE, at the Sara D. Roosevelt Park in Chinatown. 11am to 3:30pm.
Saturday, February 17
Winter Garden at Brookfield Place – Professional artists from the New York Chinese Cultural Center (NYCCC) present traditional Chinese performances including Shaolin Kung Fu demonstrations, Chinese drumming, Chinese acrobatics, as well as traditional Chinese music and dances. The performances kick off with a dynamic Lion Dance throughout Brookfield Place. 2pm to 3:15pm. FREE
Lunar New Year Parade and Reception – Flushing has one of NYC’s largest Asian communities, and also one of the largest Lunar New Year celebrations. Enjoy the parade, with performances by local dance and music groups. The parade starts at Union St. and 37th Ave. at 11am, marching to the Queens Crossing shopping center. There’s also a FREE pre-parade reception, open to all, at St. George’s Episcopal Church, 135-32 38th Avenue, 9:30am to 10:30am. Both events are sponsored by the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce. Registration is recommended for the reception, to ensure space.
Sunday, February 18
Losar Family Day – Celebrate the Himalayan New Year, with an afternoon of art, music, and food. Learn about traditional Losar celebrations, go on a family tour of the galleries, listen to Himalayan music, and explore the possibilities of your future through Losar and Earth Dog-themed activities and art projects including painting with mud, adding your New Year intentions to your own dhar-chok inspired Wishing Tree, making and eating traditional guthuk, the noodle soup eaten on the eve of Losar, with ingredients symbolizing your wishes for the future, and sketching out your past, present, and future on Divination Cards next to the Tibetan astrological manuscript, the White Beryl. FREE, Noon to 4pm, at the Rubin Museum in Chelsea.
Kids Week at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum – A week of nearly hourly activities, from performances by the casts of top Broadway shows and wildlife demonstrations, to programs with NASA scientists and demos of NASA technology. All shows, lectures and mini-tours are FREE with admission.
SEE ALSO Best NYC museums for kids
Museum Exhibits Just Opened
Scenes From the Collection – After months of planning and construction, the Jewish Museum has unveiled a dynamic new collection exhibition of more thn 400 objects from around the world, including some never on display before. You don’t have to be Jewish to appreciate hundreds of years of artwork, silver craftsmanship, fabric design and jewelry. The Jewish Museum offers FREE admission on Saturday.
The Virtue in Vice – The Seven Deadly Sins – pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth – are on display in these objects chosen from the Cooper Hewitt collection. Through mid-April. Save $2 on tickets purchased online.
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 museum admission.
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.
2018 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.
FREE guided tour of the High Line. Hear the story behind NYC’s trend-setting park in the sky on a special winter walking tour! Join us for a free 45-minute long tour led by High Line Docents, knowledgeable volunteer guides who offer you an insider’s perspective on the park’s history, design, and landscape. Saturdays through April 7. Meet at the Gansevort Steps at Noon.
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.
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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