Your weekend plans begin here, with a couple of dozen FREE and cheap things to do this mid-August weekend, including the FREE Roots of American Music performances at Lincoln Center, car-free Summer Streets, the 37th annual Dominican Day Parade, and more.
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:
Nearly 400 top NYC restaurants are serving specially priced three-course meals $26 at lunch and $42 at dinner, the same price as last year.
This is your chance to splurge on a gourmet meal in such top-rated locally owned restaurants as the 21 Club, Delmonico’s and the Russian Tea Room.
There are participating restaurants in all five boroughs, and you can search by location or type of food. Of course, as always, beverages, taxes and tip are additional.
Additional information here, including tips and tactics for getting Restaurang Week reservations.
This annual festival of FREE music and dance performances, film screenings, comedy shows wraps up this weekend with the annual Roots of American Music Wekend, featuring performers inclding Patty Griffin, Yola, David Crosby and Friends, and Anais Mitchell.
See the full schedule here. Including times and locations on the Lincoln Center campus.
What to do in NYC on Friday
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 middle 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.
This 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.
Play games together and stay fit together at this FREE event in Crotona Park.
Sponsored by the City Parks Foundation and New York Road Runners also aim to keep them having fun. Intended for children ages 8 to 12 and an accompanying parent or guardian (a team consists of one adult and up to two young athletes), these races feature a dozen 12 activity stations along a timed course. At each station, the team must perform a challenge such as jumping rope, throwing a javelin, scaling a mini climbing wall and clearing hurdles, before advancing to the next.
Awards will go to the three fastest teams, and each participant who finishes, regardless of time, will receive a medal.
- Advance registration is encouraged, but not required for events at 9am and 10am.
- Location is north of the tennis courts in Crotona Park.
What to do Sunday in NYC
Celebrate all things Dominican at this parade that features music, dancing and more music. More than 10,000 marchers are expected, and as many as one million onlookers.
The parade marches up Sixth Avenue, from 36th St. to 56th St. starting at 11am.
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.
Starting Sunday, Attend a week of FREE outdoor 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.
There’s a different group of dancers each night, from August 11-16, representing 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 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.