Your weekend plans begin here, with a couple of dozen FREE and cheap things to do this long holiday Columbus Day Weekend, including the start of Halloween celebrations and celebrating Indigenous People’s day, and the opening of the popular Butterfly Conservatory at AMNH.
We’re exhausted already, and the weekend hasn’t even started yet!
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.
Know Before You Go
There are lots of street fairs and parades this holiday weekend.
Be sure to check the street closures advisory so you are not stuck in traffic.
What to do in NYC on Columbus Day, Monday, Oct. 14
Spend the day celebrating and learning more about the people Christopher Columbus and his crew encountered on Oct. 12, 1492.
The National Museum of the American Indian, which celebrates the native people of North and South America, from the Arctic to the Antarctic and everywhere in between, has an all-day family-friendly schedule of FREE tours, films, demonstrations and hands-on activities throughout the museum.
Dak’Toká Taíno/I Am Taíno
In this live-action puppet film, a grandmother talks with her granddaughter about their Taíno heritage in post-Hurricane Maria Puerto Rico.
There are several screenings throughout the day, and a discussion with director Alba Enid Garcia follows each screening.
- See the hourly schedule of events here.
- NMAI is FREE every day. NMAI is at Battery Park.
The annual celebration of all things Italian marches up Fifth Avenue from 44th to 71nd Streets
Opening Saturday, Oct. 12
This popular display returns to the American Museum of Natural History for its 22nd season with more than 500 butterflies fluttering among colorful tropical flowers and lush green vegetation.
The butterflies are from farms in Florida, Costa Rica, Kenya, Thailand, Malaysia, Ecuador, and Australia.
Beyond being just beautiful, butterflies are important harbingers of environmental change, and the exhibit includes an educational component about the roles butterflies play in ecosystems and the importance of protecting them.
- At AMNH through May 2020
- FREE with museum admission
Enjoy getting lost in NYC’s only corn maze. The adventure begins with a stalk talk to prepare you for the 3-acre challenge of finding clues, solving puzzles and making your way out of this interactive maze.
Feel up to the challenge? Maybe the kids will lead you out.
There’s also a Maize by Moonlight evening event in October.
- Every weekend through Oct. 26th, plus on Mon., October 14, 2019
- 11:00 am–4:30 pm (last ticket sold at 4:30)
- Advance Tickets: $10; $5 (ages 4-11), Door Tickets: $15; $8 (ages 4-11), Free for ages 3 & under
- Queens Farmhouse Museum, 73-50 Little Neck Parkway, Floral Park
- Click here for directions, including by MTA subway and bus and LIRR
Experience The Art of the Brick the world’s largest display of LEGO® art.
Artist Nathan Sawaya created more than 100 pieces for this exhibition using only LEGO bricks. The collection features original pieces, as well as re-imagined versions of some of the world’s most famous art masterpieces, including the famous painting known as Scream.
More than one million LEGO bricks were used to create Sawaya’s sculptures.
In addition to the LEGO artworks on display, there are activity stations where kids of all ages can create and design their own.
- Art & Architecture – Recreate famous building, bridges and structures using LEGO bricks.
- Hidden Hands – Build a mystery object inside a covered box using only your sense of touch.
- Assistive Devices – Design a tool that will allow you to pick up an object on a post through a series of various sized windows.
- Describe It – Build a simple object out of view and describes the object to your friend. Then, see if your friend can build the same object based only on the description.
- Six Bricks – Find out how many different things you can build using only six LEGO Duplo bricks.
- LEGO Drag Race – Build a LEGO brick car and test it out on ramps of different inclines.
- Tilt Maze – Rearrange straight LEGO “bar” bricks to create a maze for a wooden ball to navigate through on a tilt-table.
- LEGO Music Box – Create your own unique song using a special LEGO baseplate. On the baseplate, horizontal lines represent different “tracks,” and vertical columns represent the eight “beats.” Use different colored LEGO bricks as instruments or notes/pitches to create your song. Then put the visual representation of your song under a camera, where simple image processing algorithms will turn it into music.
Art of the Brick is at the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadow Park.
- $7 per person, plus NYSCI admission.
- Take the 7 train to the 111th St. station.
This exhibit traces the bike’s transformation of urban transportation and leisure and explores the extraordinary diversity of cycling cultures in the city, past and present.
The exhibition explores the complex, creative, and often contentious relationship between New York City and the bicycle over the last 200+ years, while underscoring the importance of cycling as the city confronts the present and future of climate change, energy scarcity, and population growth.
- At the Museum of the City of New York, Fifth Ave. at 103rd St.
- Through Sunday Oct. 13.
It’s the end of the season for one of the best outdoor weekend food and flea events on the planet, before it moves indoors for the winter. Here are the final dates at each market:
- Smorgasburg in Prospect Park – Sunday, October 20
- Smorgasburg at the World Trade Center – Friday, October 25
- Smorgasburg in East River State Park – Saturday, October 26
- Brooklyn Flea in Williamsburg – Saturday, October 26
- Brooklyn Flea in DUMBO – Sunday, October 27