Your free and cheap weekend plans begin here, with a couple of dozen things to do, including the nation’s largest BBQ festival, a free National Children’s Day party, free SummerStage concerts and a free Latin music and dance party.
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 and 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.
Free concerts in NYC Parks
SummerStage – The annual festival of FREE concerts in parks in all five NYC boroughs begins on Sat. June 2, 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.
Brooklyn American Music Festival – Take in the views of the Manhattan skyline, including a picture postcard sunset, while you listen to great music in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The festival begins tonight with acoustic music, and continues with different musicians each Friday evening in June. FREE, 6pm to 8pm at Pier 3 Granite Terrace.
Films on the Green – The annual festival of FREE outdoor French movies is in a different NYC park each Friday. This year’s theme is gastronomy, with delicious films (pardon the pun) exploring the connection between food and wine and culture.
Latin Festival – The Grammy-nominated New Swing Sextet plays Cha Cha and Boogaloo tunes for dancing or just listening at this final Dance Party event of the season in Bryant Park. Renowned Venezuelan percussionist Luisito Quintero, whose 3rd Element project was nominated in 2015 for the Best Latin Album Grammy, infuses salsa music with Afro-Caribbean rhythms to create a fresh and dynamic sound.
- FREE, 5PM to 10PM at the Fountain Terrace.
Saturday and Sunday
Westside Eats – Take in the view from the Intrepid Museum while you try bites and drinks from more than two dozen local eateries and purveyors at the debut of this new NYC food festival. FREE admission to Pier 86 at 46th St., 10am to 6pm both days.
16th Annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party – You can listen to the live music for FREE, but tastes from 16 top pitmasters from 10 states will cost you, and the crowds and lines can be murder. But this NYC summer institution is just that. It’s the nation’s largest barbecue festival includes such local favorites as Hill Country Barbecue and Blue Smoke along with 14 other top pitmasters from around the country.
- In Madison Square Park, 11am to 6pm both days.
- Proceeds benefit the Madison Square Park Conservancy.
- Street closures include Madison Avenue between 23rd and 27th Streets; East 24th & East 25th Streets between Madison and Park Avenue South; and East 26th Street between Fifth Avenue and Park Avenue South.
National Children’s Day Kid’s Bazaar – Grand Bazaar, the weekly curated indoor and outdoor market turns into a special FREE Kids Pop-up today, with more than two dozen kid-centric vendors in addition to nearly 140 standard vendors, plus face painting and more.
- The event is 10am to 5:30pm at 100 W. 77th Street at Columbus Avenue.
- Enjoy sweet and savory bites in the markets food court with mac n’ cheese Mac Truck, Twister Cake, Gelato from Dolce Brooklyn and vegan treats from Kind Sugar.
- Kids can check out the new toys at Box of Play, dinosaur 3D puzzles from Boneyard Pets, handcrafted toys from Little Miss Workbench.
- Shop for kids at Tots and Totes (handmade bags and backpacks and mommy and me bags), darling girls bows and accessories at Brooklyn’s Handmade LuLuLuvs, and clothing from Little Moony and Baby Cloud, ethical clothing from Konscious Kids and a nail-painting party by Delilah Soleil.
- Grand Bazaar NYC was created in order to give back to the local Upper West Side community. Every time a vendor commits to selling their goods at the market, four schools in the surrounding area including PS 87, The Computer School, PS 334 and M.S. M247 Dual Language Middle School benefit. 100% of the net profits from the booth’s rental cost benefiting over 4,000 public school children by providing them with much need school supplies, books, art enrichment and sports programs.
Let’s Dance! – Learn to dance like a pro at this FREE evening of Salsa, Cha-Cha and Bachata lessons and group social dances led by master teachers, and social dancing featuring DJ Ray Colon. 6PM to 9:30PM at Pier I at 70th St., part of the Summer on the Hudson series of events.
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 is Another Hot Ticket
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.
If you’re not doing this already, subscribe to NYC on the Cheap’s daily emails (just one a day).
Follow us and like us on Facebook and on Twitter @nyccheap.