Your weekend plans begin here, with more than a dozen FREE and cheap things to do this October weekend including Harvest and Day of the Dead celebrations, and the 50th anniversary of Art in the Parks with a special party in Central Park. The NYCOTC weekend guide is always $20 or less so you can take bites out of the Big Apple without eating up your budget.
NYC isn’t expensive when you know where to go and what to do, and we do.
Unless a price is noted, our weekend list is FREE, and we usually remind you anyway, to be sure you know. Unless otherwise noted, street fairs are 10am to 6pm.
Financial Planning Day – FREE advice on mortgages and Medicare, retirement and wills, taxes and college loans, from experts from NYC and NYState agencies, in workshops and one-on-one sessions. At the SIBL branch of the New York Public Library, 10am to 5pm
Target opens on 34th St – The retailer opens its 43,000-square foot store in between Macy’s and the Empire State Building with giveaways and more highlighting NYC, such as a “newsstand” to distribute free MetroCard holders stuffed with coupons, a “fresh fruit stand” to give away cleverly packaged hand-sanitizer, and free mini-shaving cream samples at a “shaved ice stand.” Target also is taking over tables and chairs in pedestrian plazas on 34th St. and Herald Square with “Target loves Herald Square” messages.
Wildlife Conservation Film Festival – Documentaries and shorts about the glorious creatures of earth, and saving and protecting the ones whose survival is endangered by climate change and agriculture. Through Oct. 26.
Margaret Mead Film Festival – Documentaries and shorts about our cultural similarities and cultural differences, at the American Museum of Natural History
Oktoberfest events – Enjoy German beer, food and oompah bands this weekend at German restaurants, bierhaus and beer garden locations around town. See our list of what’s happening where.
- Best NYC outdoor beer gardens for an autumn afternoon or evening
- Best NYC rooftop bars for an autumn afternoon or evening
Chihuly at the NY Botanical Garden – This spectacular exhibit of nearly two dozen monumental glass sculptures is through Oct. 29, and crisp fall weather is an ideal time to enjoy the artworks. Saturday night is the final Chihuly Nights, when the sculptures are lit, and there’s live music and cocktails.
- Get a taste of Dale Chihuly’s art in Union Square Park, where his Rose Crystal Tower goes on display this weekend for a year. It’s a 31-foot-tall tower of sparkling crystals and steel, at the Southeast Triangle, Union Square East at 14th St.
The Cartier Haute Joaillerie Exhibition – For the first time ever in the U.S., the largest collection of Cartier High Jewelry is gathered in one place for a FREE showcase exhibition celebrating the artistry and craftsmanship of the legendary jeweler. There are some jaw-dropping 500 baubles and bangles in the exhibit, including some owned by the rich and famous including Vanderbilts, Woolworths and Elizabeth Taylor. Those are not for sale, but everything else is, if you can afford it. Oct. 21-29 only, at the Cartier Fifth Avenue Mansion at 52nd Street. Open daily, 10am to 6pm (from Noon on Sunday)
- Read the review in Forbes, which includes some photos that will make you drool.
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.
NYC parking calendar – know when you have to move your car, or not.
Subscribe to our email newsletter and get NYC on the Cheap in your inbox at 8am each morning. That’s FREE, too, and you’ll start the day with what you need to know to be a NYC cheapskate.
Let’s hope the weather cooperates for all the outdoor events. If not –
Every Friday in NYC
Freebie Friday – FREE admission to NYC museums including MOMA. No passes or coupons needed. Just go.
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.
Saturday in NYC
50th Anniversary of Art in the Parks – A FREE celebration with art, artists, arts and crafts projects and more, celebrating 50 years of free art in public parks, in Central Park. Details here.
Super Sabado: Dia de los Muertos Celebration – Celebrate Mexico’s beloved 3,000 year-old tradition that commemorates friends and relatives who have passed away, with face painting, art making, performances and more, at this FREE family-friendly event. 11am to 5pm at the Museo el Barrio on Museum Mile.
- ¡Celebra la tradición mexicana de más de 3000 años que conmemora a amigos y familiares que han fallecido con talleres de arte, caras pintadas, un espectáculo de danza y mucho más!
Tricks and Treats at Le Carrousel is for the kids, who are encouraged to wear their scariest costumes for magic shows, pumpkin decorating, music, and tasty treats. FREE at Bryant Park, at 1pm (rain date is Sunday, October 22). After the bash, take some spins on your favorite carousel. Single rides are only $3, and a 10-ride discount card is still only $20.
- Le Carrousel in Bryant Park is one of the NYC’s most popular. Here are the rest of the best NYC carousels.
Harvest Festival at Carl Schurz Park – Street fair with a focus on Halloween, 11am-1pm at Carl Schurz Park, 86th St and East End Ave
- FREE Saturday admission at top NYC museums every Saturday all year includes the Jewish Museum and the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum.
Sunday in NYC
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. Every Sunday at 11am, rain or shine. No advance registration is required. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended.
Every weekend in NYC
Hallett Nature Sanctuary – This almost-secret hideaway spot in Central Park is now open for the season. The gates to this locked-off sanctuary will be open daily this year, from 10AM to 30 minutes before sunset, with the caveat that it is closed occasionally due to inclement conditions. Wear sturdy closed shoes for the uneven walkways, and bring a camera. No dogs, bikes or strollers permitted.
Smorgasburg in Manhattan – Smorg Square, at 76 Varick St. (at Canal St.) on the border of Soho, Tribeca, and Hudson Square, is back every Friday-Sunday through Christmas, with a rotating lineup of food vendors curated from the Brooklyn markets, with 20+ vendors every Friday-Sunday and seating for 120. Plus, 60 world-class vintage, furniture, and handmade vendors at Brooklyn Flea’s new year-round indoor location directly across the street, at 100 Avenue of the Americas (at Watts St.).
Long Island Flea, Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg are open for the season. Details here.
Pier 2 Roller Rink at Brooklyn Bridge Park – Rates are $3 to skate, $6 to rent; check the website for hours and special events, including lessons. This is a covered rink, so you get fresh air, but not raindrops.
Brooklyn Bridge Park’s bouncy Squibb Park Bridge has reopened after more than two years and $2.5 million to reduce bounce. The walkway is a handy shortcut between Brooklyn Heights and the park.
Luna Park at Coney Island – Celebrate the 90th anniversary of the iconic Cyclone roller coaster all season.
Brooklyn Bazaar Night Market offers an Asian-style night market, with international food, vendors, and entertainment.
Also, check the list of best free things to do in NYC any day of the week, including weekends.
Enjoy your free and cheap NYC weekend.
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