Your free and cheap weekend plans begin here, with a couple of dozen things to do this Father’s Day Weekend, including a museum program for adults and children with cognitive and sensory disabilities, the Mermaid Parade in Coney Island, the 13th Annual Egg Rolls, Egg Creams and Empanadas Festival celebrating three important NYC cultures, and free hot dogs in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Whew. We’re exhausted already, and the weekend hasn’t even begun yet.
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
Take bites out of the Big Apple without eating up your budget
- 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.
- Unless otherwise noted, street fairs are 11am to 6pm.
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.
David Bowie Exhibit – This special exhibition of everybody’s favorite musician, actor and artist and trend-setter has been organized with unprecedented access to his personal archives, with one-of-a-kind material and music. At the Brooklyn Museum through July 15th.
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.
- This weekend, legendary Kool & the Gang performs in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
Friday and Saturday
Tribeca Drive-In – FREE family-friendly movies one weekend a month, at the Oculus in downtoan Manhattan. This weekend, it’s Chef, about a foodie’s passion to open his own restaurant, and The Princess and the Frog.
Saturday and Sunday
4th Annual Parade of Trains – For Father’s Day weekend, the NY Transit Museum is running vintage subways to Brighton Beach, including some of the oldest cars in the system, dating from 1904. The subways might be old, but the fare is modern – it will cost you the swipe of a MetroCard. The vintage trains are making short trips 11am to 4pm both days, between the Brighton Beach B/Q station, Ocean Parkway and Kings Highway.
- Stay tuned for updates to the annual Nostalgia Train program around the Christmas holidays.
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
SEE ALSO: NYCOTC Editor Evelyn Kanter’s trip across North Africa in a VW Microbus
Jazz Age Lawn Party – Party like it’s the 1920s at this popular annual event on Governor’s Island. There is both FREE and ticketed admission. Yes, it’s complicated. If you’ve miss out on the free tickets for this weekend, the event happens again in August.
What to do in NYC on Saturday
Morning at the Museum – A special FREE Smithsonian program for adults and children with cognitive and sensory processing disabilities get early admission, before the museum opens to the public, when it’s quiet, a gallery scavenger hunt, design activities, and a “Take a Break” space and more, a hands-on theatrical puppet performance that uses sign-language, adaptive equipment and facilitated dialogue to focus on character development and anti-bullying issues.
There’s also a design activity with Cecilia Arana and Mindy Pfeffer from NYC Kids Project, a social justice arts organization advocating empathy, acceptance, and inclusion.
- 9:00–10:30 a.m, for all ages. Pre-registration required. Register online here or by email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 917.809.6732.
Identity Day at AMNH – If you want to know what it is, bring it to the museum and an expert will identify it, from a seashell to what you think is a dinosaur bone. Identity Day includes an up-close look at specimens from the Museum’s rarely seen collections, while scientists attempt to identify your discoveries.
- Participating sciences include Anthropology, Botany, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Entomology, Herpetology, Ichthyology, Invertebrate Paleontology, Mammalogy, Microscopy, Ornithology, Paleontology, and Astronomy.
- FREE with museum admission, Noon to 4pm.
Coney Island Mermaid Parade – The Mermaid Parade is the largest art parade in the nation, with colorfully outfitted Mermaids and Mermen, vintage vehicles and more. It’s the annual celebration of ancient mythology and modern honky-tonk rituals of the seaside, it showcases over 1,500 creative individuals from all over the five boroughs and beyond, opening the summer with incredible art, entrepreneurial spirit and community pride.
- Parades down Surf Ave. starting at 1pm. FREE, of course.
- Best place to watch is on the avenue. The north side of the street is usually less crowded than the beach side.
- The Parade will start at West 21st Street and Surf Avenue
- The Parade will roll east to West 10th Street where it turns toward the Boardwalk
- Cars and Motorized Floats continue down Surf Ave. passing W. 10th Street and exit the parade.
- At the Boardwalk, the marchers and push-pull floats turn west and head towards West 17th St.
- The Mermaid Parade disbands at Steeplechase Plaza
What to do in NYC on Sunday, Father’s Day
Egg Rolls, Egg Creams and Empanadas Festival – Celebrate the diverse ethnic communities of the Lower East Side and all of NYC at this annual street fair. With the landmark Eldridge Street Synagogue, as its centerpiece, this neighborhood festival is a block party with a mash-up of Jewish, Chinese and Puerto Rican traditions, sights and sounds. Activities include Ma Jongg, Lezmer music and mask making, plus great Jewish, Chinese and Latino food from local vendors.
- FREE, Noon to 4pm, Eldridge Street between Canal and Division Streets.
- Take the “F” train to East Broadway and walk west on Canal. Turn left at Eldridge Street.
- Take the “D” train to Grand Street and walk east on Grand Street. Turn right at Eldridge Street.
Taste of Jewish Culture Street Festival – The theme of this annual street fair is “Diversity is Delicious.” It’s a family-friendly event with music, dance performances, and food. Of course food. There’s plenty of traditional European and Middle Eastern food and drink, including Egg Creams and Kosher selections.
Nosh from vendors including Ben’s Kosher Deli, Bonsai Kakigori, Breads Bakery, Cutco, Danny Macaroons*, Dr. Pickle*, Empanada Papa, Glazed and Confused*, GlutenFree.Sy*, Harlem Seafood Soul, Krafted by Karli, La Newyorkina, Mysttik Masaala, Nachos Libre, P.O.P. Cake Shop, Paprika Kosher*, Raw BK Organic Kitchen*, Rebecca’s Cake Pops, Redefined.Coffee*, Rib in a Cup, Stache of Goods, StuFFffed, Wandering Que, What’s the ‘Dillaz, the Workmen’s Circle Egg Cream Experience, Zabari Catering, and Zola Bakes.
- Music performances by Aaron Alexander & NY Klezmer Series All-Stars with dance leader Sarah Myerson at 12:15, 1:15; 2:15, and 3:15pm
- A special performance by the Fiddler on the Roof musicians presented by the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene at 1:00pm
- Interactive “Instant Yiddish” with Kolya Borodulin at 2:00 and 3:00pm.
- 11am to 6pm On Sixth Ave.between 48th and 49th Streets.
Rubin Museum Block Party – Family-friendly activities including a Healing Garden plant trailer, music and dance performances, and FREE museum admission all day. The museum is at 150 West 17th Street. 1pm to 4pm.
NYCOTC round-up of best Jewish delis in NYC for overstuffed sandwiches
Downton Abbey Exhibit Through Labor Day
Downton Abbey: The Exhibition – Note that this fabulous exhibit of Downton Abbey fashions and household furnishings has been extended through Labor Day Weekend. Get $25 discount tickets for your chance to 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.
David Bowie Exhibit Closing Soon
David Bowie Exhibit – This special exhibition of everybody’s favorite musician, actor and artist has been organized with unprecedented access to his personal archives, with one-of-a-kind material and music. At the Brooklyn Museum through July 15th.
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.
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.