Your weekend plans begin here, with a dozen or so FREE and cheap things to do this late February weekend and the end of Spring Break for many families.
This weekend includes the last chance to see several popular family-friendly shows and exhibits before they close.
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.
Last Chance for These Shows Closing Sunday
Audiences young and old have been delighted by Yeti, Set, Snow! this winter at the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre in Central Park, which has been playing since November.
Yeti, Set, Snow! tells the story of a young girl named Widget, and her friend, Twig, who encounter a yeti named Pascetti and a cat, Tinsel Kitty, on the first snow day. Pascetti dislikes the snow but through songs and outdoor activities, he learns not only that snow can be fun, but the importance of friendship.
Tickets are just $8 for kids and $12 for the adults who accompany them. It’s a deal!
Also, the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater is one of the last marionette theaters in the USA – and it’s in Central Park.
Every holiday season, the New York Transit Museum’s Grand Central Gallery plays host to a city within a city with the display of a miniature electric railroad running over, through, and beneath some of New York’s most magnificent landmarks.
This beloved FREE annual holiday exhibit features model trains traveling along a 34’ long, two-level, “O” gauge model train layout.
The model trains depart from a miniature replica of Grand Central Terminal, and feature the Transit Museum’s collection of Lionel trains including Metro-North, Polar Express and vintage subway train sets.
The model trains make their way past multiple New York landmarks and on to the North Pole.
Who doesn’t love trains?
- New York Transit Museum’s Grand Central Gallery
This popular annual exhibit has reimagined to celebrate the 100th birthday of Busytown author and illustrator Richard Scarry.
The installation showcases artwork and graphics of Scarry’s characters (like Huckle Cat and Lowly Worm!) from publisher Penguin Random House alongside Jerni Collection toys. Children and adults can also experience dynamic displays exploring the workings of the railroad, the services it provides, and the jobs required to keep people and goods moving.
Kids hop on our custom-made Busytown vehicle-themed benches and take photos throughout the gallery with Busytown characters.
And there are plenty of additional miniature antique trains to gawk at and enjoy.
Also: Pick up an “I Spy” scavenger hunt brochure and take everybody on an adventure through the exhibition.
- New York Historical Society, 77th St. and Central Park West
First Chance for These New Shows
We all love that old time Rock & Roll, from Berry to Bowie, Aretha to Zeppelin, The Doors, Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead and Santana, to name a few.
It’s all on display at a new exhibit at the New York Historical Society, including vintage concert posters, costumes, and such artifacts as Keith Richard’s boots held together by duct tape, Janis Joplin’s tambourine and a coat worn in concert by Jimi Hendrix.
Bill Graham and the Rock & Roll Revolution focuses on the role of the legendary concert promoter, who put many artists and bands on the musical map in the 1960s and 1970s, including at the legendary Filmore Auditorium in San Francisco and the Filmore East concert hall in the East Village, which used to be called “the church of rock and roll”, along with many outdoor concerts.
The exhibit includes a stereo headset triggered by an infra-red signal, so that when you are in front of a specific section, you hear the music. Because it’s all about the music.
- New York Historical Society is at Central Park West and 76th St, next door to the American Museum of Natural History
Basketball in New York is a saga set in schoolyards, street corners, gymnasiums, and packed arenas, where a shared sports culture cuts across race, ethnicity, class, and language.
City/Game captures the excitement and evolution of this quintessentially urban game and the energy of the diverse New Yorkers who play it and love it.
- At the Museum of the City of New York, Fifth Ave. at 103rd St.
What to do Sunday
Join the experts on the eve of International Polar Bear Day to celebrate this phenomenal species.
This family-friendly festival dives into all things polar bear with activities, show-and-tell with Museum collections, and an interactive theater performance. Plus, scientists will be on hand to discuss conservation, polar bears’ predatory nature, and how humans have interacted with these amazing mammals through history.
Learn about its behavior, diet, territory, and how climate change has made it a vulnerable species.
Watch as a life-size polar bear puppet roams the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life. You’ll have a chance to ask it everything you always wanted to know about this species.
Other program highlights include
- Examine a variety of specimens and artifacts related to polar bears from the Museum’s collections.
- Hear from scientists Mark Siddall, Eric Regher, Kristin Laidre, and Ben Keisling as they host discussions about polar bear research and conservation.
- Join Party Like Brooklyn for a special interactive dance party and scavenger hunt.
Free with museum admission, 11am to 4pm.
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.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for autographed copies.
FREE Things to do in NYC every weekend
Weekend Walks are sponsored by NYC.
Check the NYC website for the schedule.
FREE Things to do in NYC every Friday
Freebie Friday – FREE admission to NYC museums including MOMA. No passes or coupons needed. Just go.
FREE Friday morning admission to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, until Noon.
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.
FREE Things to do in NYC every Saturday
FREE Saturday admission at top NYC museums every Saturday all year includes the Jewish Museum
FREE Things to do in NYC every Sunday
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.
You now get FREE admission to more than 30 NYC museums and cultural institutions with the new CulturePass. It’s a new perk to use with your library card from the NYPL, Brooklyn Museum or Queens Museum systems.
NYC isn’t expensive when you know where to go and what to do, and we do. And we love to share.
- 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.
- Street fairs are 11am to 6pm, unless otherwise noted.
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.
Where to eat at LaGuardia Airport – Top NYC restaurants and cafes are replacing fast food joints.
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.
Enjoy your free and cheap NYC weekend.
Evelyn Kanter also is the author of several NYC and Hudson Valley guidebooks, including my latest, 100 Things to Do in NYC Before You Die.