Your free and cheap weekend plans begin here, with a couple of dozen things to do this July weekend, including a FREE concert at MOMA, FREE fireworks in Coney Island, and a FREE family activity day in Rockefeller Plaza.
And remember that 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.
The NYCOTC Free & Cheap Weekend Guide is $25 or less, with an occasional splurge because we deserve to treat ourselves once in a while.
- 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.
Where to Cool Off
Must See Museum Exhibits
Rockwell, Roosevelt and the Four Freedoms – You’ve seen these Norman Rockwell images all your life and know them well. But nothing compares with seeing them in person. This timely exhibit about freedom is at the New York Historical Society.
The exhibit commemorates the 75th anniversary of publication of the illustrations in 1943, to support the WWII war effort, and remain a timely explanation of why Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear are universal and important to every one of us, every day.
Downton Abbey: The Exhibition – The Crawleys will see you now. This fabulous exhibit of Downton Abbey fashions and household furnishings sprawls over three floors. Drool over three floors of luscious costumes, sumptuous family rooms, the kitchen and servants quarters below stairs, plus see unseen footage from the popular series. In Midtown.
- Through Labor Day Weekend only.
Free concerts in NYC Parks
SummerStage – The annual festival of FREE concerts in parks in all five NYC boroughs with performances just about every day through Labor Day 2018.
Top performers include R&B, Latin, hip hop and jazz, folk, and the annual Metropolitan Opera Recital series, plus dance performances, and a special orchestral performance of David Bowie’s Blackstar, and the annual SummerStage Kids and SummerStage Family day.
South Street eaport Museum – Enjoy FREE Friday afternoon admissions through the summer. Visit the historic museum with its exhibitions of how NYC became a world port, and tour the historic ships docket at the between 3pm and 7pm.
Friday Night Fireworks – And you thought fireworks are just for the Fourth of July. Hah! Once again, light up your Friday nights all summer with a FREE fireworks show at Coney Island, every Friday (weather permitting) until August 31.
- 9pm at Between West 10th Street and West 15th Street.
Saturday Free & Cheap
The New York Beer Fest – This is an absolutely massive event, with a selection of more than 200 different pours from dozens of craft breweries. Try limited edition summer seasonal beers that go great with the heat and sunshine. These beers also go great with food, which is available for purchase from a selection of vendors. In addition food and unlimited beer, this outdoor party in Citi Field includes games and entertainment located throughout Citi Field. If you get a VIP ticket, you’ll get early entry, specialty pours and access to the actual ball field so you can stand on the same sand as the Mets.
- Get discounted regular admission for $35.10 instead of $50
- Get discounted VIP admission for $57.60 instead of $80
Kids Rock Summer Fun Day – FREE family activities return to Rockefeller Plaza with face painting, sweet treats, LEGO® Creation Nation that will be added to a giant map of the USA, live music, and more.
- 10am to 2pm, in Rockefeller Plaza.
Times Square Summer Street Fair – On Broadway between 47th and 57th St.
Bleecker Street Festival – On Bleecker Street between Christopher and Bank Sts.
Fort Greene Park Jazz Festival – Hear top local musicians, FREE, playing vocals, conga, and more. Toe tapping and dancing in the aisles is permitted.
- Fort Greene Park, 3pm to 7pm
- WARNING – Website opens with full volume jazz music, which stays loud as long as you are looking at the siteso be careful who is around you when you open it (like your boss), or mute your device before opening. Or, let the music play in the background while you check out the rest of our list of what to do free and cheap this weekend.
CD and Record Collector Expo – Sick of streaming? Go back to the future and browse through thousands of good old-fashioned vinyl and CD selections. Admission is. $6, and check the website for a $1 coupon for admission or a purchase.
- 10am to 4pm at The Watson Hotel, 440 W. 57th St. (formerly Holiday Inn)
Summer Done Right – Get your fill of fresh brews and live music at The Bronx Brewery. The day’s theme, Ladies Night, brings a lineup of female DJs, including Lady Chellez, Chiinky and Dana Lu. Tickets are $10 online, $15 at the door and include one free beer.
- Noon to 10pm. The Bronx Brewery is 856 East 136th St.
Saturday and Sunday Free & Cheap
OZY Fest – Top musicians, including Broadway stars, comedians and speakers including political heavyweights converge on Central Park this weekend for what is described as part music festival, part political movement and part food fair. See everyone from Passion Pit, Common and Young the Giant to Taye Diggs and Laverne Cox, Chelsea Handler, Hasan Minhaj and Michelle Wolf, Malcolm Gladwell, Jemele Hill and Salman Rushdie, plus a special appearance from Hillary Clinton. Plus food and drink, including cooking demonstrations by NYC rock star chef Marcus Samuelsson.
- Discount tickets are $49.50 for Saturday (instead of $99)
- Discount tickets for Sunday are $39.50 (instead of $79)
- A two-day pass is $67 (instead of $134)
Hot Dog Bus – Get FREE hot dogs every weekend through August 25th from this vintage VW Microbus. You can’t miss it. It’s bright yellow and looks like a food truck bulging at the seams. It’s part food truck and part art project, from the Austrian artist Erwin Wurm and the Public Art Project, designed, literally to “encourage audiences to reconsider the relationship between capitalism and consumption” in today’s culture, according to the project’s press release. Not to mention the relationship between over-consumption and obesity, by feeding us free hot dogs.
- Noon to 6pm in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Saturdays at Pier 5, Sundays at Pier 1.
- Limit one per person, while supplies last
- NOTE – The Squibb Bridge is closed until further notice for safety checks
SEE ALSO: NYCOTC Editor Evelyn Kanter’s trip across North Africa in a VW Microbus
Sunday Free & Cheap
WFAN Jeep Yankees FanFest – Break out your favorite team jersey for a day of fun and games, including the chance to gt your photo taken with Yankee and baseball greats including Bernie Williams, Daryl Strawberry, Willie Randolph, David Cone and Cecil Fielder. WFAN will be broadcasting live from the event, and there will be batting cages, interactive activities, giveaways and more. All FREE.
- Macombs Dam Park E. 157 St & W. 161 St Bronx, right across from Yankee Stadium, 3pm to 7pm, before the game.
- FanFest is open to the public, whether or not you have game tickets.
Sixth Avenue Summer Street Fair – Sixth Ave between 34th St and 42nd St
Summergarden at MOMA – FREE outdoor classical music and jazz concerts in the Sculpture Garden featuring the talented musicians of NYC’s The Juilliard School and Jazz at Lincoln Center. Titled New Music for New York, each Sunday evening in July. Seating is first-come first-served, and museum admission is not required. The Sculpture Garden may close if attendance reaches maximum capacity. Entrance to Summergarden is through the Sculpture Garden gate on West 54 Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues.
- The Sculpture Garden opens at 7pm. Concerts begin at 8pm and are 60-90 minutes long, and you may stay in the Sculpture Garden until it closes at 10pm. In the event of rain, concerts will be held in The Agnes Gund Garden Lobby, and the Museum’s 54 Street entrance will open at 7:30 p.m.
- The exhibition galleries are closed during Summergarden. The Garden Bar, on the northeast end of the Sculpture Garden, features a selection of homemade snacks, draft beer, wine, and nonalcoholic beverages. In the event of rain, the Garden Bar is closed.
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.
Let’s hope the weather cooperates for 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.
Every Saturday in NYC
FREE Saturday admission at top NYC museums every Saturday all year includes the Jewish Museum and the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum.
FREE guided tour of the High Line. Hear the story behind NYC’s trend-setting park in the sky on a special winter walking tour! Join us for a free 45-minute long tour led by High Line Docents, knowledgeable volunteer guides who offer you an insider’s perspective on the park’s history, design, and landscape. Saturdays through April 7. Meet at the Gansevort Steps at Noon.
Every 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.
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.