Your free and cheap weekend plans begin here, with a couple of dozen things to do this weekend that starts with Friday the 13th, including FREE concerts at MOMA, celebrating Bastille Day, the World Cup finals, the Formula E season racing championship, and your last chance to experience Manhattanhenge.
Whew. We’re exhausted already, and the weekend hasn’t even begun yet.
NYC isn’t expensive when you know where to go and what to do, and we do. And we love to share.
The NYCOTC free & cheap weekend guide is $25 or less
Take bites out of the Big Apple without eating up your budget
- Unless a price is noted, our weekend list is FREE, but we usually remind you anyway.
- Unless otherwise noted, outdoor events are rain or shine, so let’s hope for shine.
- Unless otherwise noted, street fairs are 11am to 6pm.
Where to Cool Off
Where to Watch the World Cup
Be among friends at these friendly neighborhood bars and restaurants
Ending this Weekend
Midsummer Night Swing – The annual three-week festival of live dance bands and the chance to dance outdoors under the stars in Lincoln Center is now underway, through July 14th, including a FREE dance lesson from top NYC partner dance studios. This weekend wraps up with the fabulous Harlem Renaissance Orchestra and a special Saturday afternoon program just for kids.
- Individual tickets are $17.
- Four-Dance Pass: $60. Savings: $8
French Restaurant Week – Eat. Drink. Be French. The 9th edition of French Restaurant Week again celebrates Bastille Week. Through July 15th, more than 20 participating restaurants are offering Prix Fixe meals at revolutionary prices of $17.89, $25 and $38.
- For our friends in the Windy City, French Restaurant Week in Chicago is July 9-22.
David Bowie Exhibit – This special exhibition of everybody’s favorite musician, actor and artist and trend-setter has been organized with unprecedented access to his personal archives, with one-of-a-kind material and music.
- At the Brooklyn Museum through July 15th.
- Get $20 discount tickets for your choice of dates.
Must See Museum Exhibits
Rockwell, Roosevelt and the Four Freedoms – You’ve seen these Norman Rockwell images all your life and know them well. But nothing compares with seeing them in person. This timely exhibit about freedom is at the New York Historical Society.
The exhibit commemorates the 75th anniversary of publication of the illustrations in 1943, to support the WWII war effort, and remain a timely explanation of why Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear are universal and important to every one of us, every day.
Downton Abbey: The Exhibition – Note that this fabulous exhibit of Downton Abbey fashions and household furnishings has been extended through Labor Day Weekend. Drool over three floors of luscious costumes, sumptuous family rooms, the kitchen and servants quarters below stairs, plus see unseen footage from the popular series. In Midtown.
Free concerts in NYC Parks
SummerStage – The annual festival of FREE concerts in parks in all five NYC boroughs with performances just about every day through Labor Day 2018.
Top performers include R&B, Latin, hip hop and jazz, folk, and the annual Metropolitan Opera Recital series, plus dance performances, and a special orchestral performance of David Bowie’s Blackstar, and the annual SummerStage Kids and SummerStage Family day.
Manhattanhenge – Your last chance tonight to experience this celestial phenomenon, when the sun sets directly in between Manhattan’s east-west streets.
- There also is a special presentation about Manhattanhenge at the American Museum of Natural History.
South Street eaport Museum – Enjoy FREE Friday afternoon admissions begin this week, through the summer. Visit the historic museum with its exhibitions of how NYC became a world port, and tour the historic ships docket at the between 3pm and 7pm.
For National French Fry Day, Friday, July 13, the potato-powered FryGuys are offering FREE fries (or frys in their case) – their OG classic twice fried ones hand-cut daily from Idaho Russet potatoes. The free fries will be in the guise of their regular serving size – a hefty 1.5 lbs-plus – which normally sells for $6.
- Noon to 2pm at 150 E. 2nd Street in the East Village
Friday Night Fireworks – And you thought fireworks are just for the Fourth of July. Hah! Once again, light up your Friday nights all summer with a FREE fireworks show at Coney Island, every Friday (weather permitting) until August 31.
- 9pm at Between West 10th Street and West 15th Street.
Friday and Saturday
Tribeca Drive-in – See family friendly films FREE and outdoors. Friday, it’s the award-winning Moonstruck with Cher and Nicholas Cage. Saturday, it’s the beloved Disney classic Lady and the Tramp.
Saturday and Sunday
FIA Formula E Finals – Racers, man your engines. The rest of us, get set for the experience of watching single-seat open-wheel all-electric racecars zoom around a track at warp speed, at Brooklyn’s Cruise Ship Terminal. This is the final, championship race weekend of the international Formula E race. As we’ve been telling you, what’s learned on the track about managing electric car battery power and EV braking, will trickle down to our driveways one of these days.
- NYCOTC Editor Evelyn Kanter is also a credentialed automotive journalist, and will be attending the race.
- Read some of my automotive reports here.
Hot Dog Bus – Get FREE hot dogs every weekend through August 25th from this vintage VW Microbus. You can’t miss it. It’s bright yellow and looks like a food truck bulging at the seams. It’s part food truck and part art project, from the Austrian artist Erwin Wurm and the Public Art Project, designed, literally to “encourage audiences to reconsider the relationship between capitalism and consumption” in today’s culture, according to the project’s press release. Not to mention the relationship between over-consumption and obesity, by feeding us free hot dogs.
- Noon to 6pm in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Saturdays at Pier 5, Sundays at Pier 1.
- Limit one per person, while supplies last
SEE ALSO: NYCOTC Editor Evelyn Kanter’s trip across North Africa in a VW Microbus
What to do in NYC on Sunday
Bastille Day on 60th Street – Vive La France! Celebrate all things French with Can Can dancers, mime artists, more than 80 booths showcasing the best of French food and culture, food and wine tastings, a car show of vintage and modern French Citroen vehicles and more at this annual festival presented by the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF). This year includes a FREE World Cup Final screening, and the chance to win a FREE trip to Martinique or Paris, including airfare. It’s all happening on 60th St. between Fifth and Lexington Aves. Noon to 5pm.
Here’s some of the FREE schedule:
- A special free screening of the **FIFA World Cup Final** in FIAF Florence Gould Hall, 55 East 59th Street, at 11am. Whether or not Les Bleus advance to the championship match, FIAF will host a first-come first-served viewing party in its state-of-the-art 361-seat theater.
- Live performances by Sense and La Jarry , electropop singer Marie-Line Grinda and the Hungry March Band , hip-hop performers It’s Showtime NYC!
- The always popular Can Can dancers (shown here)
- Dancing and interactive activities, including a zouk lesson, mime demonstrations, and dancing and sing-alongs with Jacques & Marie’s Paris Swing Band.
- Kids’ Corner & FIAF “Pop-Up” Library** will invite all ages to participate in French-inspired games and arts-and-crafts organized by FIAF’s Language Center, as well as story time.
- Bastille Day on 60th Street once again is the finishing point for the annual **Citroën Bastille Day Rally & RendezVous** , where car lovers will be able to get up close to classic models of the popular French automobile.
- A new addition, the French Garden, will feature a premium shopping area with exclusive fashions and accessories from French boutiques Jérôme Dreyfus, Emma & Chloé, Tissage Moutet, 727 Sailbags, and many more.
Champagne & Jazz Party — 1:30-3pm and 3:30-5pm in the FIAF Skyroom — featuring vintages from Pol Roger, Ayala, Champagne Delamotte, and Besserat de Bellefon, as well as sparkling cocktails courtesy of Grand Marnier, served along with treats from Maman Bakery and Voilà Chocolat. Jazz singer Chloé Perrier will sing favorite French and American songs accompanied by a guitarist. Tickets to each session are $75,
Summer in the South of France — 12-1:30pm, 1:30-3pm, and 3-4:30pm in FIAF Tinker Auditorium — showcasing wines provided by Sud de France, Kronenbourg beer, Bayonne ham, cheese from Président, and artisanal breads from Maison Kayser. Tickets to each session are $25.
A special screening of the film _Le Brio_ (2017), starring Daniel Auteuil and Camélia Jordana and directed by Yvan Attal, follows the outdoor street fair in FIAF Florence Gould Hall at 5:30pm. A 2018 César nominee for Best Film, _Le Brio_ follows the relationship between a young Arab student from the Paris suburbs and a racist professor, whose perspective changes when he becomes her mentor. Tickets are $14,
Summergarden at MOMA – FREE outdoor classical music and jazz concerts in the Sculpture Garden featuring the talented musicians of NYC’s The Juilliard School and Jazz at Lincoln Center. Titled New Music for New York, each Sunday evening in July. Seating is first-come first-served, and museum admission is not required. The Sculpture Garden may close if attendance reaches maximum capacity. Entrance to Summergarden is through the Sculpture Garden gate on West 54 Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues.
- The Sculpture Garden opens at 7pm. Concerts begin at 8pm and are 60-90 minutes long, and you may stay in the Sculpture Garden until it closes at 10pm. In the event of rain, concerts will be held in The Agnes Gund Garden Lobby, and the Museum’s 54 Street entrance will open at 7:30 p.m.
- The exhibition galleries are closed during Summergarden. The Garden Bar, on the northeast end of the Sculpture Garden, features a selection of homemade snacks, draft beer, wine, and nonalcoholic beverages. In the event of rain, the Garden Bar is closed.
Third Annual Ice Cream Blizzard – Celebrate National Ice Cream Day with $1 scoops and other sweets. Participating local vendors include Sam’s Fried Ice Cream, edible cookie dough from 2 Dough Boyz, organic ice cream from Blue Marble Brooklyn, healthy ice pops from City Sticks, Mexican ice cream from LA NewYorkina, ice cream sandwiches from Too Cool Chix, Thai rolled ice cream from Minus Celsius Ice Cream, fish-shaped waffle cones and unicorn floaties from Taiyaki NYC, Bona Bona Ice Cream, artisanal Italian Gelato from Dolce Brooklyn, gluten-free choices from Eat Mud, Mochi balls from My Mo Mochi and ice cream sandwiches from Melt Bakery.
- 10am to 5:30 pm at Grand Bazaar NYC, 100 West 77th St.
FREE Dog Treats – To help dogs beat the heat, a Wag! ice cream cart will serve FREE dog-friendly cool treats in the Central Park Dog Park area from 2pm to 6pm.
Getting Around NYC – 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.
Get NYC on the Cheap in your inbox at 8am each morning.
It’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.