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Cheap Summer Activities in NYC

After snagging a New York City hotel room for a steal this summer, use this list of freebies to fill your itinerary without emptying your wallet. All five boroughs offer discounts and waived admission to the best concerts, museums and events of the summer without the 5th Ave. price tag.

Free Concerts & Films

Shakespeare in the Park: The ticket line starts early but is worth the wait to enjoy the 50th season of performances at Delacorte Theater in Central Park. Bring a blanket, snacks and that special someone for a cheap date night with unrivaled NYC reviews. Performances are held almost daily through Aug. 25.

SummerScreen in McCarren Park: Every summer Wednesday since 2005, Brooklyn locals have flocked to McCarren Park -- deemed “the coolest venue in the country” by Rolling Stone magazine – for free movie nights. Crack open a Brooklyn Lager and enjoy cult classics such as “Friday” and “Goonies,” beginning at sunset.

Met Summer Concert: The world-famous Metropolitan Opera performs alfresco in all five boroughs. Although with the more casual setting, the hefty ticket price is also abandoned for the season. The series kicks off  on Wednesday, July 25th  in Central Park. 

HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival: Cure your case of the Mondays with a classic movie screening in Bryant Park. Complete the evening with a picnic-to-go from ‘wichcraft. Place an order in advance and pick up at their kiosk before the show. The weekly series runs through Aug. 20.

Barge Music: “Music in Motion” performances are every Saturday at 3 p.m. on a renovated coffee barge moored just under the Brooklyn Bridge. Musicians call a concert experience here, “unlike any other place in the world to perform.” The program is announced at the performance. Doors open at 2:30 p.m.; no reserved seating.

French Embassy’s 5th Films on the Green Festival: Scattered amongst Manhattan’s parks, the French Embassy hosts free film nights Fridays at 8:30 p.m. through Sept. 6. Sip une bouteille de vin blanc on the grass and enjoy works from some of France’s most famous directors, complete with English subtitles.

Washington Square Park Music Festival: Celebrate the festival’s 53rd season in its new Garibaldi Stage as it hosts local artists performing anything from Mozart to Mingus. Concerts are held Tuesdays at 8 p.m. through Aug. 2.

Starlight Concerts: Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., parks in Staten Island host double feature concerts that are free to the public. In the series’ 22nd year, concerts include a wide spectrum of musical genres from jazz to country and run through Aug. 9.


Museum of Modern Art: Every Friday from 4-8 p.m., the MoMA -- one of the world’s most influential modern art museums -- waives admission fees thanks to a sponsorship from Target. View the museum’s unparalleled contemporary art collection, relax in the on-site garden and don’t forget to grab some souvenirs with your savings in the gift shop.

New Museum: Since opening in 2007, the New Museum has exhibited contemporary artwork from all over the world. The building itself is a work of art, featured as one of the architectural New Seven Wonders of the World by Conde Nast Traveler. Every Thursday, the museum suspends its $14 admission price from 7-9 p.m.

Instagram NYC: The photo-sharing program’s first ever exhibit is at the W New York - Times Square and is free to the public every day.

Bronx Zoo: The zoo in Bronx Park is home to more than six hundred species and is one of the world’s largest metropolitan zoos. Make sure to visit the Egyptian cobra, as famous for its Twitter handle as its 2011 escape from the reptile house. Wednesday admission is pay as you wish, normally US$16.


Yoga on the Highline: Every Saturday from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. through August, Laughing Lotus Yoga Center hosts a free class. Find them directly under The Standard and bring your own mat. For more free and discounted yoga around the city visit http://yogatothepeople.com/new-york/.

Dance Manhattan: After dance classes, the studio hosts a nightly party open to the public at 9 p.m. Grab a professional partner to learn a few steps or bring friends and show off your own movies.

Capoeria in Queens: Head to Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City to master Brazil’s ancient martial art form. Each lesson ends with friendly competitions for advanced students and instructors set to live music, novices are encouraged to cheer and chant. Classes are held each Saturday at noon through Sept. 25.

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Tips by

Deal Expert, New York
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
See more Tips from
Elisabeth Barker