Your weekend plans begin here, with a couple of dozen FREE and cheap things to do this mid-August weekend, including the final car-free Summer Streets of 2019 and Harlem Week events.
There’s so much to see and do in NYC and never enough time to see and do it all.
All events are FREE and family-friendly, unless otherwise noted.
The NYC on the Cheap motto is get more NYC for less money.
Let’s hope the weather cooperates with outdoor events, but if it doesn’t, here are some rainy day activities in NYC, besides re-arranging your sock drawer.
Unless otherwise noted, street fairs are 10am to 6pm.
Know before you go:
Closing This Weekend
This amazing exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History closes on Sunday. The exhibit highlights the latest advances in ocean exploration and the researchers and technologies behind them. With the use of 21st–century technologies such as robotics, satellite monitoring, miniaturization, and high–definition imaging, scientists are revealing the unseenhabits of the oceans’ most mysterious animals and mapping remote, inhospitable habitats inunprecedented detail.
Visitors embark on a journey from the oceans’ sunlit surface to inky depthsin a series of circular, media–rich galleries that showcase a range of marine ecosystems. They are introduced to a new generation of scientists using cutting–edge research tools anddeveloping new methods to explore the oceans top to bottom.
Exhibition highlights include:
- microscope stations to view live rotifers (a type of zooplankton)
- a suspended display of biofluorescent species—reflecting the diversity of underseaanimals that absorb and re–emit light
- a 180-degree, high–resolution screen showing life-sized 3D animations of ocean giantsincluding blue whales, giant squid, and manta rays
- a virtual ride in a submersible into the shadowy depths and a photo–op station at a full–size model of a Triton sub
- an interactive media installation featuring schooling fish that react to visitors’ movements
- a magnetic sand table with a dynamic live projection where young visitors can learnabout ocean topography by digging trenches and forming islands
- live marine animals including seahorses, pipefishes, and chain catsharks, whose vividfluorescence was only recently discovered
Friday is the final FREE outdoor performance of a week of performances by dance troupes from around the world, against the backdrop of New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island at Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Park in Battery Park City.
The dancers represent all styles of dance, including the traditional dances of their home countries. This year’s featured artists include a curated selection of local dance companies as well as dancers from Argentina, Austria, Curaçao, France, India, Iraq, Lithuania, Netherlands, Sri Lanka and Turkey.
Photo is from one of last year’s performing troupes.
- FREE outdoor performances at 9pm.
- Final performance is Friday night, 6pm to 8pm The Schimmel Center at Pace University. Tickets for the closing performance are $10; or $65 including after-reception.
- At the Museum of the City of New York, Fifth Ave. at 103rd St.
What to do in NYC on Friday
The FREE summer performance series winds up its sixth season with the five-hour Accordion Festival, with five bands performing a variety of international music. Each band features at least one accordionist.
Here’s the lineup:
- Toot Sweet (cabaret soul)
- Aces of Rhythm (tango from Argentina)
- Fedor Chistyakov (Russian rock & roll)
- Los Texmaniacs (Texas-Mexican conjunto)
- Rey Vallenato Beto Jamaica (vallenato from Colombia)
FREE, in Bryant Park, 5pm-10pm, hosted by Mickela Mallozzi (Emmy Award-winning host of Bare Feet with Mickela Mallozzi).
Enjoy FREE concerts Fridays in August in Bryant Park.
- 6pm on the Stage, facing Sixth Avenue
What to do in NYC on Saturday
This is the final of three weekend of the popular the popular car-free program the first three Saturdays of August, closing seven miles of Manhattan streets to motorized traffic and turning the car free streets into one long street fair, with music and dance performances, playgrounds for the kids, free bike rentals, and a popular zipline.
No cars allowed, 7 AM to 1 PM on August 3, 10 and 17, from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Upper East Side, Lafayette Streets, Park Avenue and Park Avenue South will be for the exclusive use of bicyclists, joggers and walkers.
2019 is the 12th annual Summer Streets program, and pnce again, five “rest stops” along the route will offer different FREE activities and performances at each stop, including FREE rock-climbing walls, the popular FREE 165-foot zip line, FREE outdoor fitness classes and wheelchair basketball games, a dog park, FREE bike rental and bike repair and lots of FREE samples from food and drink vendors, including FREE water refill stations so you keep hydrated.
Queens Night Market
Saturday night is the last Queens Market until Sept. 14th, as it takes a month-long break to make way for the US Open.
There’s a new Queens Night Market outpost in Manhattan, Mondays through Thursdays, Noon to 8pm.
What to do in NYC Saturday and Sunday
Two days of music, FREE, at this historic home, which may or may not be haunted. The music and the gardens will haunt you only with their beauty.
- FREE, 2pm to 6pm both days.
This is the big weekend of several weeks of individual events, with two days of music, dance and special programming just for the kids.
Sat. August 17th – 18th 11AM-6PM
New York Children’s Festival
Outdoor Festivities for children 5 – 12 years of age, health testing, health education, technology, health information, Back To School Fashion Show, storytelling, children’s entertainment (daily performances showcasing sporting events, face painting, dance, step shows, hip-hop, music, poetry, vocalist, etc.) arts and crafts, new technology information & children’s programs.
- Music Theme: ABC – The Jackson 5
- Howard Bennett Playground – West 135th St. Between Malcolm X Blvd & 5th Ave.
Arts & Crafts Market
First-class art, jewelry and fashions created by extraordinary designers and crafts persons throughout the diaspora with a focus on the creative culture of African Americans, Caribbean Americans, Hispanic Americans, African and International Artists and Designers.
- Music Theme: Lively Up Yourself – Bob Marley
- West 135th St. Between Adam Clayton Powell Jr & Frederick Douglass Blvd.
Summer in the City
Outdoor Concert: R&B, Hip-Hop, Latin, Reggae, Rock and Outdoor Film Festival
Special Events: Higher Education Fair & Expo, Step Shows and Sports Fashion Show
Music Theme: Back On The Block – Quincy Jones
- West 135th St. Between 5th & St. Nicholas
Sun. Aug 18th 10AM-7PM
West 135th St. Between 5th & St. Nicholas
Music: Salsa, Latin, Gospel, R&B, Reggae, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Rock, Blues, Soca, Calypso.
Special Events: Upper Manhattan Auto Show, Children’s Fashion Show, Tennis Clinics, Business Expo
Music Theme: Let’s Stay Together – Al Green
What to do Sunday in NYC
Learn to dance like a pro at these Salsa, Cha-Cha and Bachata lessons and group social dances led by master teachers from the Piel Canela Dance and Music School and featuring DJ Ray Colon.
- 6pm to 9:30pm at Hudson River Park, Pier I, at 70th St.
- FREE outdoor performances at 9pm.
- Final night 6pm to 8pm The Schimmel Center at Pace University. Tickets for the closing performance are$10; or $65 including after-reception.
Lincoln Summer House
Take a break at the South Street Seaport to see the latest Lincoln vehicles, the Aviator and Corsair SUVs, both on display in cooling and soothing summery white.
There are FREE frozen snacks and fruit-infused water, and the chance to learn about what goes into the design of a luxury vehicle, meditation tips, and more.
Also check out the Nautilus outdoor art display sponsored by Lincoln and an art design partner. These are colorful interactive poles with sensors that emit a soothing sound when you tough them.
- FREE, Opens today, through Sept. 2, at Pier 17, Noon to 8pm daily.
Take a Dip
NYC has FREE outdoor swimming pools in every borough. They are open daily 11am to 7pm through mid-September.
NOTE – NYC outdoor pools will stay open until 8pm this weekend, due to the heat wave in NYC
Need more things to do in NYC?
My new book is full of them. 100 Things to be exact.
100 Things to Do in New York City Before You Die is a great guide to discovering the quirky treasures of NYC, or re-discovering some of the most famous spots in the world.
Available online and in bookstores now.
NYC beaches are open for the season through Labor Day Weekend, with lifeguards, food kiosks and fun in the sun, sand and surf.
There are 14 miles of public beaches within the NYC boundaries.
Lifeguards are on duty 10am to 6pm daily, and for the third year in a row, free sunscreen is available at sunscreen stations similar to stations for hand sanitizer.
Here is our guide to the best beaches in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island you can get to by subway.