Your weekend plans begin here, with a couple of dozen FREE and cheap things to do this final weekend of 2019, including your last chance to ride the MTA Holiday Nostalgia Train, the last few days of Hanukkah Menorah lighting ceremonies, and Kwanzaa festivities.
Get more NYC for less money with NYC on the Cheap. That’s our motto and we’re sticking to it.
Everything on NYC on the Cheap is family friendly, and nearly everything is FREE.
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
Be sure to check the street closures advisory so you are not stuck in traffic.
Drop off your holiday tree at any one of a couple of dozen locations and watch giant chippers turn it to mulch to insulate and protect NYC trees over the winter and beyond.
You can also take home your very own bag of mulch to use in your backyard or to make a winter bed for a street tree community garden.
Mulchfest is the annual event sponsored by the NYC Dept. of Parks, in all five boroughs.
Be sure to remove all decorations – lights, ornaments, tinsel – so the chippers chip only the tree itself
Drop off your tree at any Mulchfest location between December 26 and January 11, or join Chipping Saturdays on Saturday, January 4 and Saturday, January 11!
Do This on Saturday
Say good riddance to bad memories of 2019 to make room for new memories in 2020 Shred it and forget it at the annual Good Riddance Day event in Times Square, on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019.
FREE, of course. Your shredded memories become part of the confetti that greets Times Square revelers on New Year’s Eve.
Bring photos of broken romances, turn-down letter from the co-op board or the job you wanted – anything you want to shred and forget.
Do This on Sunday
Get aboard for a trip back in time, on a vintage NYC subway train.
This weekend is the final ride of the year for the popular MTA Holiday Nostalgia Train, which travels annually each Sunday from Thanksgiving weekend to the Sunday between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
This is your chance to ride vintage R 1/9 cars that were in service 1932 to 1977, and conductors dressed in vintage uniforms.
You might remember light bulbs, woven wicker seats, ceiling fans, windows you could open before air conditioning, and straps to hang on to – which are the reason NYC subway riders are called “straphangers”.
Ride the vintage trains for the cost of a MetroCard swipe, $2.75 a full price or less if you have a discount pass.
The world’s largest Hanukkah menorah will be lit every evening for eight nights on Fifth Avenue at 59th Street, starting Sunday, Dec. 22nd, at sundown.
A slightly smaller one also is being lit nightly in Brooklyn, celebrated each evening with live music, latkes, and gifts for children with a live kickoff concert on the first night.
Both menorahs are at their respective Grand Army Plaza locations, at Central Park and at Prospect Park.
Whether you spell it Hanukkah or Chanukah, it’s a festival of lights, commemorating the victory of the Macabees over their Greek-Syrian opressors in the second century BC.
Best Museum Exhibits for Kids
This popular display is back at 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
Experience 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.