What's Free or Cheap in NYC?
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See also Social Studies Resources and the various local Councils on the Arts. Also check out Walk New York (in Phys. Ed.) and the other opportunities listed for learning more about New York's fascinating neighborhoods.
MN above Canal
MN above Canal Street (continued)
Search the census on the Place Matters website for the hidden historical treasures in your own neighborhood, or create your own walking tour in any of the five boroughs.
Each borough has a District Attorney’s Office that offers free educational workshops and tours. Some focus more on drug prevention and others more on the criminal justice system. Many offer tours of the courts, mock trials for middle school age groups, and internships for teens. Call your local office and find out what is available.
You can contact a courthouse directly to arrange for a free tour, a chance to witness the judicial process and observe a trial in progress, and an opportunity for students to speak with a judge. I contacted the clerk’s office of the Chief Criminal Court Justice in the Bronx and arranged such an opportunity for my son (when he took the required high school course in American Government), but since then I have discovered these contacts (as well as the following listing): in Queens, Officer Thomas Flynn, (718) 298-3908; in Brooklyn, Captain Coyne, (718) 643-5674; in Staten Island, Patricia Soper, (718) 390-5359. Also worth checking out: the free public events calendar in the NYC courts.
Contact the Unified Court System, Office of Court Administration, 270 Broadway, (718) 643-8983. The Court Tours Program offers free guided tours, for groups only, of the criminal and civil courts for students, seniors citizens and civic or religious groups. The tours are available in every borough and in counties outside the City. Some tours even offer the opportunity for students to participate in a mock trial.
International street fairs are a way to explore the ethnic diversity of the city. See a schedule of fairs or call (212) 809-4900.
(note: Ellis Island is included here because the departure point is in lower Manhattan.)
The Ellis Island Immigration Museum offers a free guided tour for school groups that focuses on the wave of immigration from 1892-1954. Call (212) 363-3200, ext. 134, to reserve for a group (at least 3 weeks in advance). Ellis Island is free (parking is also free) but there is a fee for the ferry. For ticket rates and ferry schedule information, call (212) 269-5755 or visit Circle Line.
A new historical park with a sculpture garden exhibit and a calendar of events. Ferry and admission are free. See the websites from the National Park Service and the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation (GIPEC).
The Skyscraper Museum, at 39 Battery Place (back of Ritz Carlton Hotel) $2.50/student. Includes models of Woolworth Building and #1 Chase Manhattan. They have Family Programs and free workshops. Contact Lesley Doyel, Museum Educator, at email@example.com or (212) 945 6324.
Fraunces Tavern Museum, 54 Pearl Street, charges a fee for admission ($4/adults and $3/children 6-18), with additional fees for guided tours, but has a free self-guided tour. The first Saturday of every month is Family Saturday with hands-on activities reflecting 18th-century life, free with admission. This is the only surviving public house of colonial New York and the site of George Washington’s farewell address to his officers (Revolutionary War history). For info call (212) 425-1778 or visit www.sonsoftherevolution.org.
One parent’s review: "When we visited the Fraunces Tavern Museum we also stopped by the printing shop (Bowne & Co) at South Street Seaport. The curator at Fraunces Tavern couldn't have been nicer: she saw us come in, and instantly brought out the basket of faux artifacts. Then, despite the fact that she was on her lunch break, she stuck around to answer questions, show us how the flint box worked, and talk about the flags in the flag room. The Bowne & Co guy was fabulous, too. We asked questions about the presses, and he came over and talked to my kids for at least 20 minutes. Each child got to print a copy of a piece about Walt Whitman."
The South Street Seaport Museum, on South St, near Fulton St, on the shore of the East River, is in a neighborhood of restored 18th- & 19th-century buildings. There is a collection of historical vessels that you can board; an old-fashioned stationers (Bowne & Co. (see review above), several galleries, and a Museum Shop. They have an extensive list of programs for grades K-12 including mapping, archeology, and the living harbor laboratory. A fee is charged, but there are free seasonal events on Fridays. Hours: April-Oct. Tue-Sun 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., in winter Fri-Mon. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., with the ships and Water St. galleries closed on Mondays. Admission: $8/adults, $6/students, $4/children 5-12, Mondays $5/adults, $3/students, $1/children 5-12. Check out their events calendar or call (212) 748-8753. Internships are available to high school students, offering community service credits. For information and to schedule an interview, call the museum's Volunteer Office at (212) 748-8766.
New York Unearthed is the South St. Seaport’s museum of Urban Archeology, located at 17 State Street (opposite Battery Park between Pearl and Whitehall Streets). They are open Mon-Fri by appointment only. To schedule a visit call (212) 748-8753, and explore 6,000 years of history through dioramas and artifacts excavated from New York City's archaeological sites, with a three-dimensional cross-section of an actual archeological site. See the website calendar for their school programs and fees.
Castle Clinton National Monument, south of Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan alongside the Hudson River, was built in 1811 as a fortress against invaders. Stand within its storied walls and consider its rich history as you wait to purchase tickets for Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Open daily 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m., admission free.
The Irish Hunger Memorial, part of Battery Park, is free admission. Located at Vesey Street and North End Ave., the Memorial represents a rural Irish landscape with an abandoned stone cottage, stone walls, fallow potato fields and the flora on the north Connacht wetlands. It is both a metaphor for the Great Irish Famine and a reminder that hunger today is often the result of lack of access to land.
The Museum of Jewish Heritage at 36 Battery Place in Battery Park is a Memorial to the Holocaust, honoring the Jewish heritage and spirit as it existed long before the Holocaust with original documentaries, artifacts, documents, photographs, and films. Step out the back door to the Battery Park waterfront, and the view of Lady Liberty takes on an even broader meaning. Open Sun-Tues and Thurs 10 a.m. -5:45 p.m., Wed 10 a.m. - 8 p.m., Fri and eve of Jewish holidays 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., adults $10, students $5, children under 12 free, free admission every Wednesday from 4 - 8 p.m. For more info call (646) 437-4200.
Trinity Church, at Broadway and Wall St., has gravestones dating back to New Amsterdam. The churchyard, which marks a fierce battle of the Revolutionary War, is open daily 7 a.m. - 4 p.m., and includes the graves of Alexander Hamilton, Robert Fulton, John James Audubon, Alfred Tennyson Dickens, John Jacob Astor. Each Christmas, New Yorkers participate in a candlelight ceremony at the grave of Clement Clarke Moore, son of one of Trinity's past rectors and author of the beloved poem "A Visit From St. Nicholas" which begins “ 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Tours are daily at 2 p.m. and Sunday following the 11:15 service. For groups of 5 or more, call (212) 602-0872. Admission is free. Museum hours: M-F 9 a.m. - 11:45 a.m., 1 p.m. - 3:45 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m. - 3:45 p.m., Sun. 1 p.m. - 3:45 p.m. For more info: (212) 602-0800.
St. Paul's Chapel, near Broadway and Fulton St., is a tiny stone church still standing from the days of New Amsterdam. Located directly across from the site of the World Trade Center, it miraculously withstood the attack of 9/11. Visit the chapel's interactive exhibit, "Unwavering Spirit" and see the stump of the sycamore tree that saved the Chapel on 9/11 (the subject of a bronze sculpture now being created by artist Steve Tobin). Open Mon-Sat 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., Sun 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., the churchyard is open until 4 p.m. in the winter, and until 5:30 p.m. in the spring, after daylight savings time changes. Admission is free. For more info call (212) 233-4164.
Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, George Gustav Heye Center, at 1 Bowling Green in lower Manhattan, is a free museum that offers educational tours and workshops in Native American history, art and lore, to school groups, or groups of ten or more, by reservation. Call Ada Torres at (212) 514-3705 to arrange for an hour-long program geared for any group K-12. Visit their website to download a reservation request or call (202) 633-6644 or (888) 618-0572 or email: NMAI-GroupReservations@si.edu to make a reservation. Check out their family programs on their website for free activities and storytelling events. Download their free family guide, or pick one up at the entrance. They also offer hands-on workshops that may have a materials fee. For info on workshops call (212) 514-3714.
Federal Hall, across the street from the New York Stock Exchange (see entry under Science & Math), has a larger-than-life George Washington, who was inaugurated here as President on April 30, 1789, standing on the steps at 26 Wall Street. When they complete renovations (planned in winter 2005) you can visit the first home of our nation's Federal Government, the U.S. Treasury, and New York's original City Hall. M-F, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., admission free.
Free guided tours of City Hall (Broadway & Chambers St.) can be arranged for groups of “school kids”, grades 3-12. The 30-45 minute tour includes local history and a visit to the Public Hearing and Committee Rooms. Contact Doris Robin-Witz at (212) 788-2170. Tours are available on weekdays and are offered free of charge. To make a reservation, please call 311 (or (212) NEW-YORK from outside New York City). also tours of the old NY County Tweed Courthouse.
The African Burial Ground at 290 Broadway (between Duane and Elk Sts.) was discovered during the construction of a federal office building in 1991. Workers discovered the remains of more than 400 Africans stacked in wooden boxes just 16 to 28 feet below street level. Construction halted immediately, and an archeological investigation unearthed the remnants of a five- to six-acre African burial ground used throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, created in the early 1700’s, when Trinity Church banned all Africans from its cemetery. For more info call (212) 337-2001.
Go back to the days of sail when South Street Seaport was a major shipping center. Tall ships and other historic vessels float in the East River.
September 30 and October 28 3pm – 7pm, the museum offers . Free Fridays. Between the hours of 3pm and 7pm the Seaport Museum offers free admission to its exhibition "Street of Ships: The Port and its People," as well as thematic educational and programmatic activities including special tours, artisan demonstrations, talks and lectures, and hands-on activities for the whole family.
Sunday 2 October, 2:00 - 4:00 p.m., Sea Songs session at the historic John Street Church, 44 John St, Manhattan. Come join in rousing sea shanties and songs from the great days of sail. A freewill donation is collected
Walk through Chinatown and see the herb shops selling ancient remedies, clothing shops with oriental dresses and tai chi slippers, all things Chinese. The Museum of Chinese in America is relocating to 215 Centre Street (btw Howard & Grand Sts; one block north of Canal St). Their previous home at 70 Mulberry St., 2nd Floor, is being retained and transformed as an archival centre and serve as a research centre open to anyone with a desire to learn or research Chinese American history. The musuemoffers a unique perspective on the Chinese immigrants who arrived in America possessing only their dreams and their honor, but who left a legacy in American history. Open Monday, 11 am.-5 pm; Thursday, 11 am-9 pm; Friday, 11 am.-5 pm; Saturday & Sunday, 10 am-5 pm. The Museum is closed to the public on Tuesday & Wednesday, except for prescheduled tours.
General Admission: $7; Seniors (65+ w/ID) and Students (w/school ID): $4; children under 12 in groups less than 8: free MOCA Members: free. For info call (212) 619-4785.
The website Explore Chinatown offers maps, information, events, etc. and also details of discounts.
The Eldridge Street Synagogue, at 12 Eldridge St. between Canal and Division Sts., was completed in 1887 and is the first house of worship built in America. They provide educational and cultural programs year-round for adults and children. Open Sunday and Tues. - Thurs. 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. with hourly tours from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m., reservations required for groups of 10 or more. Tours: adults $5, children under 13 $3, all persons without a tour guide are $1.00. For more info call (212) 219-0888.
The NYC Fire Museum, 278 Spring Street between Varick and Hudson Streets in Manhattan’s Soho district. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and on Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Closed every Monday and major holidays (New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, July 4th, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day). Admission Prices: Adults $5, Seniors/Students $2, Children under 12 $1. Fire related art and artifacts from the late 18th century to the present. They also hold classes on Fire Safety.
The Ukrainian Museum at 222 E. 6th St. (bet. 2nd and 3rd Aves.) is open Wed. - Sun. 11:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. with Ukrainian folk art, clothing, stamps &ammp; coins, and more. For info (212) 228-0110 or e-mail: info@UkrainianMuseum.org.
Theodore Roosevelt’s birthplace, a national historic site at 28 E. 20th St. (between Broadway and Park Avenue South), offers free guided tours for “school groups”. Call (212) 260-1616 for info. The site is open 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Tuesday - Saturday. Guided tours are given on the hour with the last tour at 4:00 p.m. A $3 entrance fee is charged for adults; children age 16 and under are free. Reservations are required for groups of ten or more. Educational programs are offered by reservation only, at least two weeks in advance. For information about programs, tours, and special events, call (212) 260-1616, or visit the website.
Children's Galleries for Jewish Culture, 515 West 20th St (212) 924-4500. Exhibits, workshops, and programs. Open to the public for Sunday Arts and Crafts, Special Holiday Programs, and on weekdays during select School Vacations. Admission: $5.00
Le Pain Quotidien> offers free tours that teach your intrepid young students the way their bakery runs, how their bread is made & what it means to be an artisan baker. ALthough is says Public Schools only, they will accommodate homeschoolers.
The Pierpont Morgan Library, 29 East 36th Street, is a research library as well as a museum of Renaissance art and literature, with changing exhibits. It is currently closed for renovations, but they are offering on-site educational programs for free. For more information, visit their website, call the Education department at (212) 590-0331, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. When the museum reopens, they will probably return to their practice of free educational tours and workshops for student groups (10 or more) grades 4-12. Contact Rebecca Gantwerk at (212) 590-0331.
Scandinavia House, 58 Park Ave. (between 37th and 38th St.), has The Heimbold Family Children’s Learning Center, open to the public free of charge on Saturday, 12:00 noon – 5:00 p.m. (but to members only on weekdays), where ages 3 - 10 (and their caregivers) can learn about the history and culture of Scandinavia. Saturday Morning Storytelling with the Hans Christian Andersen Storytellers is also free for children ages 5+ and adults, Additional family events, such as celebrations of Scandinavian children's literature and theater for kids have a fee. Check their website for a current calendar and info or call (212) 847-9740 or (212) 879-9779.
The recently refurbished Grand Central Terminal (at 42nd St. and Lexington Ave.) offers a virtual tour online, a self-guided walking tour, and free guided tours Wednesdays at 12:30 p.m., call (212) 935-3960, and Fridays at 12:30 p.m., call (212) 883-2420. Grand Central also hosts some interesing events.
The NY Transit Museum Gallery annex, located in the Grand Central Terminal (at 42nd St. and Lexington Ave.) in the shuttle passage next to the Station Master’s Office has a popular holiday train show from Thanksgiving to mid-January (closed holidays). Hours: M-F, 8 a.m. - 8 p.m., Sat-Sun 10-6, For info call (212) 878-0106. Admission is free.
Times Square is known as the crossroads of the world. It is especially noted for it's New Year's Eve ceremony, but at any time it's a great place to watch people from all over the world.
Witness a live broadcast! Free tickets to FOX’s new daytime show at 1211 Avenue of the Americas (bet. 47th and 48th Sts.), M-F, 1 - 2 p.m. Call 877-FOX-TKTS (877-369-8587) or visit their website and fill out their request form (don’t do both). DaySide , a news and variety talk show, airs live Monday-Friday from 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. Arrive by 11:30 a.m. at the station where tickets are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Guests under 18 admitted only with a FOX News Network consent form signed by parent or legal guardian.
The Alliance Francaise, a French school and cultural center, hosts a free Bastille Day Party every mid-July on Sunday from noon to six, for three blocks on 60th St. between 5th & Lexington Aves. Music, face painting, book vendors, waiters’ races, dancing, food vendors, and children’s races (entry fee is a $5 donation). For details visit the website or call (212) 269-6500.
Located at 421 East 61st Street between First and York Avenues, the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden offers a fascinating glimpse into life in the 1820s. Open 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday (arrive no later than 3:30 to leave enough time for last tour) and from 6 until 9 p.m. on Tuesday evenings in June and July for “Summer Garden Evenings” $8 adults, $7 students and seniors, free for Museum Members and children under 12
The New-York Historical Society 177 Central Park West at 77th St., is adjacent to the American Museum of Natural History. Admission is $10/adults, $5 for students and teachers (try using your NYCHEA I.D. or proof of homeschooling), and free for kids under 12 with an adult, open Tues-Sat 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.; Sun 11 a.m. - 5:45 p.m.; free admission on Friday from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Audioguides and transcripts can be borrowed for free, and ask about their scavenger hunts. They offer many educational programs for no charge. On the website you can submit a visit request form for a group program or tour, and read a list of programs by grade level with contact information. Or call Stacy Gilinson, Supervisor of Family Programs, at (212) 873-3400 ext. 264, or ask for ext. 283 for elementary school programs that examine primary sources and make history come to life. See www.nyhistory.org/education. If you would like more information or have any questions about these programs for high school students, please contact Kim Sekel, Manager of High School Programs, at 212-485-9276 or email@example.com.
The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) at 81st and CPW has an admission that’s pay-what-you-wish. Here you will find a wonderful variety of social studies activities for all ages. My children have, at various stages in their lives, sorted hats as an exercise in classifications and a study of a melting pot culture, opened a box marked Japan which held all sorts of things native to a Japanese child but foreign to mine (activities in the Discovery Room), attended lectures, gallery talks, dramatizations, and treasure hunts that led them to explore the history and culture of many lands around the world. As a high school student, my son currently takes free courses in anthropology in preparation for a possible internship. Don’t forget to browse their website for free educational materials.
Gracie Mansion, the official home of New York City’s mayor, located at 89th Street and East End Ave., has tours on Wednesdays at 10:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m., from late March - mid-November, by reservation only; $7/adults, $4/seniors, but all students are free. Call (212) 570-4751.
The Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue at 103rd St. (212) 534-1672. Museum Hours: Tuesday - Sunday: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Closed Mondays. Open on Monday holidays including Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Columbus Day. Ramp access is available at the 104th Street entrance. Suggested Admission: Adults $7, Seniors, students $5, Family $15 (max. 2 adults). Exhibits, events (many free). Voluntary internships available for teens.
El Museo del Barrio, 1230 Fifth Avenue at 104th St., (212) 831-7272. Open Wed-Sun, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. Admission $6 adults, kids under 12 free. A Latino museum dedicated to Puerto Rican, Caribbean and Latin American art.
El Taller Latino, the Latin American workshop. is at 2710 Broadway, 3rd floor (corner of 104th St.), (212)665-9460. Visual arts gallery, music, Latin American culture.
Hands-on workshops on the Middle Ages, for ages 4 and up, are held on Saturdays 10 a.m. - noon at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on Amsterdam and 114th St. at the bargain price of $5.00 per child with accompanying adult, considering the art materials used. The workshop includes weaving, brass rubbing, clay gargoyles, copying medieval illuminated letters, cutting out for stained glass effect, and chiseling on a limestone block. The kids have fun and are allowed to take their work home (well, not the limestone block). No reservations are needed, but you can call ahead to reserve a space, probably wise during holiday times, to find out about other family workshops, or to be added to their mailing list: (212) 932-7347.
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is a gem in the spectrum of our New York Public Library system nypl.org. Located in Harlem (515 Malcolm X Blvd. at 135th St.) it is really worth a visit. Free tours can be arranged for any age group and, like any library, personalized assistance is always available. Here you can find an archives full of original documents, primary source material, telling the story of Black history in America, along with changing exhibitions and programs. Call (212) 491-2207 for information, (212) 491-2051 to arrange a group guided tour. Due to ongoing renovations, you must enter through the landmark building that is their temporary entrance: 103 W. 135th Street.
The Schomburg Library not only has a calendar of changing exhibits, events, films, and performances (some with a fee); they also sponsor a Junior Scholars Program, a Saturday program for young people ages 11-17, designed to empower local black youth. This program uses the museum’s collections, visiting speakers (often leading authorities in African-American studies and living legends in black culture), film screenings, cultural performances, NYC field trips; and has workshops in music, theater, dance, video production, magazine publishing, photography, visual arts, spoken word, and web design. Children learn about the histories and cultures of people throughout the African Diaspora. This intensive 26-week series of Saturday sessions, from 10 a.m. - 3p.m., aims to prepare young people for intellectual and entrepreneurial careers. To apply for this program a student needs to be nominated by an educator, teacher, youth organizations, church, as well as selected civic and cultural institutions and organizations. The nominated youth must complete an application (including a written statement indicating the applicant’s interest in the program) and an interview. Prospective participants will be selected based on their compatibility with the program and on their ability to take full advantage of it. To join the mailing list to receive updates and application information call (212) 491-2234 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to The New York Life/Schomburg Center Junior Scholars Program, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 515 Malcolm X Boulevard, New York, NY 10037.
The Hispanic Society of America, on Broadway between 155th and 156th Sts., is a free museum and reference library for the study of the arts and cultures of Spain, Portugal, and Latin America. (212) 926-2234 Hours: Sun 1 - 4 p.m., Tue-Sat 10 a.m. - 4;30 p.m., North Building Galleries (XIX Century Paintings and Ceramics), T-F 1:30 - 3 p.m. and Sat 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.. To arrange a group visit, download the group visit application and fax it to (212) 690-0743. Reservations can also be made over the phone at (212) 926-2234, ext. 209.
Cuéntame un cuadro (Tell me a painting) is a new Spanish-language educational program at The Hispanic Society of America for children between the ages of three and seven. The second Saturday of each month, children and their families will have fun as they listen to stories, draw and explore the works of our collection. This program is free and is offered in Spanish.
12 p.m. The second Saturday of each month.
More information and to reserve a space, please contact the museum's education department. (212) 926-2234 ext. 209 or email@example.com
Presenta su nuevo programa educativo: Cuéntame un Cuadro
Cuéntame un cuadro es un nuevo programa educativo de la Hispanic Society of America para niños de tres a siete años de edad. El segundo sábado de cada mes, los niños y sus familias se divertirán escuchando cuentos, dibujando y explorando las obras de nuestra colección. Este programa es gratuito y se ofrece en español.
12 p.m. El segundo sábado de cada mes.
Para más información y para confirmar su asistencia, por favor comuníquese con el departamento de educación de la Hispanic Society. (212) 926- 2234 ext. 209 o firstname.lastname@example.org
The Morris-Jumel Mansion in Roger Morris Park, 65 Jumel Terrace, at 160th Street, east of St. Nicholas Avenue, is open to the public Wednesday - Sunday, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.; Mon. & Tues. open to groups by reservation only. For more info, call (212) 923-8008. This is Manhattan's oldest surviving house. Check out the online schedule for their seasonal events.
On NYC Parks Park Ranger Tours (see also Summer Phys. Ed.: Park Ranger Programs and Science & Math: Urban Park Ranger Tours), guides talk about local Revolutionary War history and Native American history. Although they used to be free, city cutbacks in funding resulted in fees of $100 for some tours. The cost divided among ten or twenty kids still makes the tours a bargain. Call (212) 304-2365 to arrange a tour or inquire about scheduled tours of Little Red Lighthouse from spring to fall. Tours include:.
The free annual Medieval Festival in Fort Tryon Park (in front of the Cloisters Museum) is usually held on the first Sunday in October, noon - 6 p.m. Call (212) 795-1600 or visit the website for details on last year's event. There are always armorers in residence. You can see how armor is made, heft a helmet, and ask questions to your heart's content. Jugglers, jousting, falconry, medieval music and costumes and more!
To honor the Battle of Fort Washington, every year on a Sunday in mid-November from noon to 3 p.m., a Revolutionary War campsite is reenacted in Fort Tryon Park on the Café Lawn. Costumed re-enactors explain what a soldier's life was like. See how the soldiers lived and explore their tents. See a colonial spinner, a real blacksmith, and a live musket demonstrations. Colonial arts and crafts for children. Organized by the Parks Dept., this event is usually as close as possible to the actual day of the battle, Nov. 16th. In the fall you can check the events calendar for the exact date.
The Cloisters Museum is part of the Metropolitan Museum (admission is pay-what-you-wish). This is a place rich in medieval history, with free (with the price of admission) gallery and garden talks, and chamber music on the weekends. Family programs include hands-on workshops for ages 4 - 12, on the first Sat. of every month from 1 -2 p.m. For info or to arrange a group visit call (212) 650-2280.
The Junior Scholars Program at the Schomburg Center, NYPL, 515 Malcolm X Blvd. [entrance on corner of Lenox Ave. & 135th St. it is free to students aged 11 – 18. The program brings together 100 teens and preteens who will "attend college-style lectures and presentations, engage in dialogue with adult scholars, participate in guided peer group discussions and activities, generate individual research projects and portfolios, and create collaborative media and arts projects that grow from their intensive study based on the Schomburg’s vast collections, exhibitions, and educational resources. Through this process, it is expected that Junior Scholars will increase their historical literacy, expand their knowledge of who they are as intellectual, social, cultural and artistic beings, embrace their legacy as African-American citizens, and learn of the lands and cultures of their prolific and trailblazing ancestors." Homeschooling families have raved about this program. The 2013 program begins October 26 and ends on May 17 with an annual Youth Summit. Applications must be completed by September 30. If you have any questions, email email@example.com or phone Joel Diaz, Education Associate at (212) 491-2207. See also their Facebook page.
On the corner of Broadway and 204th St. is the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum, a restored 18th-century farmhouse, open Wed- Sat 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., Sun. 12 noon - 4 p.m. Admission to the museum is $1 for adults and free for children under 10. Check out their free or low-cost group tours and other events. At this last standing Dutch Colonial style farmhouse in Manhattan, they hope to give students a glimpse of northern Manhattan's agricultural past and its change over time from farm to city. The house was built c. 1784 and as you can imagine, the landscape has changed drastically there in the last 200+ years! For info call (212) 304-9422.
The Brooklyn Children's Museum, 145 Brooklyn Avenue Brooklyn, (718) 735-4400, admission $4 per person. Closed Mondays and Tuesday afternoons. Special hours for kids under 5. People, places, history. Virtual collectins online.
The Brooklyn Commons, 388 Atlantic Ave. (between Hoyt and Bond St.), has an open exchange of activities and classes. Many have suggested fees (such as a lecture on pollution), others charge a fee (such as a weekend course on beekeeping or a nine-session course on medicinal herbs), and the afternoon game club, for ages 7 to adult, is free. There may also be rental space at affordable rates.
The Brooklyn Historical Society offers a current calendar of events, some are free with admission. Call the BHS staff at (718) 222-4111 to learn more. On the bottom of their publications page you can download PDF files with free educational materials about the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. They offer FREE Saturday Academy 6-week courses in American History for students in grades 6-12. Email with questions or for more information.
The Brooklyn Strategist is a board- and card-game social club that meets Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, from 3-6 pm, at the Brooklyn Commons (http://thecommonsbrooklyn.org/), 388 Atlantic Ave. (between Hoyt and Bond St.). For ages 7+, tweens, teens, and adults, games teach math, strategy, history, social studies, communication, and encourage multigenerational interaction. These games all require face-to-face interaction. There are no computer or digital games of any kind. The club has a huge inventory of board and card games (many out-of-print). If you want to play a favorite game or learn a new one but don’t have someone to play with, The Brooklyn Strategist will find partners for you to share the experience. In 2011 six modules are offered: Ancient Strategy Games?; Civilization and Empire Building; Word, Cryptology and Trivia Games?; Sporting Games; History of Conflict?; Card Games. For more information: (646) 470-3556, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The City Reliquary, corner of Havermeyer and Grand Sts., Williamsburg, Brooklyn. A free window museum that displays relics of the city and "community collections" - exhibitions of the collections of ordinary people. Events, community projects.
Perform community service, learn about the law, and get paid to do it! Ages 14-18 can volunteer to participate in Greenpoint Youth Court, Brooklyn. Read details (pdf format), download the 2010 Application (pdf format, deadline 6 April), or contact the Program Coordinator of the Greenpoint Youth Court, Jessica Stein, at 646-460-1764.
The magnificent magnolia tree at the Magnolia Tree Earth Center was the first "living landmark" in NYC. 677 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, (718)387-2116. Read about its history. The center runs workshops for teens to impart technical skills to care for gardens and city trees.
New York Aquarium, Surf Avenue & West 8th St, Brooklyn, (718) 265-FISH. Open 10 a.m. daily, closing hours vary by season. Adults $13, kids 2-12 $9, seniors $10. Members and kids under two are free. Admission on Fridays from 3:00 p.m. until closing is pay-what-you-wish.
The New York Transit Museum, located at the corner of Boerum Place and Schermerhorn St. in Brooklyn Heights, is in a real 1930s subway station, with exhibits on the history of the transit system including trolleys, buses, and a history of the fare as well. For pre- and post- activities online go to their Education Station. Hours: Tues. – Fri. 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., Sat-Sun noon - 5 p.m. Admission: adults $5, children 3 – 17 and seniors $3. For group reservations for guided tours call (718) 694-1873, Mon-Fri 10:00 - 4:00. Group reservations are only confirmed when a signed agreement has been received by the museum. For more info call (718) 694-1600. See the special MetroCard deals.
In the Park Slope / Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn is the Old Stone House Historic Interpretive Center, a replica of a Dutch stone farmhouse with a very rich history, open Saturdays & Sundays, 11 a.m.- 4 p.m., on Third Street between Fourth & Fifth Aves. For info call (718) 768-3195.
The Brooklyn Central Library has microfilm and microfiche collections that include the first Brooklyn City Directory and the earliest newspapers of the borough -- a marvelous social studies lesson completely free!
Lefferts Historic House, in Prospect Park, at the intersection of Flatbush and Ocean Avenues and Empire Blvd., is one of the few surviving Dutch Colonial farmhouses in Brooklyn. Open April through October, and Sept. - Nov., Thursday-Sunday & Holidays: 12 p.m. - 5 p.m., July-Labor Day: same days 12 p.m. - 6 p.m. For more info, call (718) 789-2822.
The Brooklyn Museum (see Art: Brooklyn Museum) has period rooms filled with local history, including a room with children’s toys laid out in a Christmas scene.
Wyckoff House, in Brooklyn at 5816 Clarendon Ave. near Ralph Ave., was built in 1652. Walk-in tours are given at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m., Tues-Sat. Visitors arriving at other times will be asked to wait, and groups of six or more must call to make a reservation. They also have seasonal colonial activities including educational programs that explore the lives of Dutch settlers, Irish farmers, and people of African descent. Many events are free. Call (718) 629-5400 for their schedule, or visit the website.
In Brooklyn, the Harbor Defense Museum at the Fort Hamilton Army Base (101st St. & Fort Hamilton Pkwy) hosts a series of monthly discussions and films called Military History through Film. Free, but seating is limited, so call (718) 630-4349 or 4306 to reserve.
The Queens Council on the Arts organizes free folk festivals, concerts, readings, art exhibits, and all kinds of activities. Check out their website for a current calendar or call (718) 647-3377. The #7 line has been called The International Express. Queens is the most ethnically diverse county in the world. If there are 57 different nationalities living in NYC, then there are 57 in Queens. This PDF file is a self-guided tour of the Number 7 International Express subway line that links many of these ethnic communities. Historically, immigrant populations have been linked to subway lines. For example, Brooklyn’s Chinatown is a direct-line subway ride away from Manhattan’s over-full Chinatown. Explore the diverse international neighborhoods of Queens and learn about how immigrants settled in this borough. At the end of the guide is a list of summer festivals including: Colombian Independence Day, Ecuadorian Independence Day, Peruvian Independence day, the Hong-Kong Dragon Boat Festival, Korean Harvest and Folklore Festival, all in Queens.
Named after the acclaimed African-American poet, the Langston Hughes Library and Culture Center, 100-01 Northern Boulevard in Corona, has the largest circulating Black Heritage collection in New York. It hosts cultural programs such as independent Black film festivals, a Kwanzaa celebration and a Langston Hughes Day. It also hosts art exhibitions, open mic nights, a music series, and a literature program in which the authors read from their works. Programs feature both established and emerging artists whose work reflects the African American experience. Main phone number: (718) 651-1100; Black Heritage Reference Center (718) 651-7116; Information & Referral Service (718) 672-8313; Homework Assistance Program: (718) 672-2710.
Guided tours for groups can be arranged at the King Manor Museum, 150th Street & Jamaica Ave. in Jamaica, Queens, or you can go alone on their free self-guided tour. The museum was the home of Rufys King, 1755-1827, a signer of the Constitution who was antislavery. Open Sat. & Sun., 1 p.m. - 5 p.m., Thurs. & Fri., 12 noon - 2 p.m., and by appointment. Groups of 10 or more require a reservation. King Manor is closed during the month of January. Call (718) 206-0545 for information.
Kingsland Homestead, at 143-35 37th Ave. in Flushing, Queens, is a late 18th-century house that houses the collection of the Queens Historical Society. It is located steps away from the 17th-century Bowne House, where Quakers were first permitted to meet in New Amsterdam. Hours: Tues., Sat. & Sun., 2:30 - 4:30 p.m., tours for groups available by appointment. For more info call (718) 939-0647.
Can you believe that there is still a working farm in New York City? The Queens County Farm Museum in Floral Park, Queens, dates back to 1697. Admission is free except for special events (there are many of these so check their calendar at their website). It is open weekdays 9-5, with free guided tours on weekends 10-5. You can purchase animal feed and feed the animals, and hayrides are available from April - Oct. for $2/person. There is a fee for class trips. Free events include: the Apple Festival the first Sunday in October, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. (learn about apples, watch cider pressings, and see the nation's largest apple cobbler baked on site); October pumpkin picking, with free admission to the pumpkin patch (and a charge for the pumpkins); Holiday “open house” for the two days following Xmas, from noon - 4 p.m., with craft activities, mulled cider, and free tours; the Strawberry festival on the third Sunday in June with hayrides, children's games, and more. Call (718) 347-FARM ((718) 347-3276) or go to the website.
John F. Kennedy International Airport, Control Tower, 5th Floor, Jamaica, NY 11430, (718) 244 4182. For groups of 15 or more only, ages 8 and up (bring proof of age), at least one adult for every seven children. The tour begins in the lobby of the Control Tower with the viewing of a video, "A Visit to JFK." The walking tour then focuses on the 11-block-long International Arrivals Building and various aspects of international travel. Children travel on moving sidewalks, pass through the metal detector, visit the Customs and Immigration Hall, and receive a "make believe" passport. They may also get to meet a member of the Department of Agriculture's Beagle Brigade. These dogs demonstrate how they sniff out food that people sometimes try to smuggle into the country. This opportunity depends upon the dogs' busy schedules. Tours are oriented to the age level of the group and last about 90 minutes. Weekdays at 10 and 11:30 a.m.; weekend and holiday tours depend upon availability of guides.
The Hall of Fame for Great Americans at Bronx Community College (formerly the uptown NYU campus), was the original "Hall of Fame" in this country. The building looks like the Pantheon in Rome and boasts sculptures of: authors, educators, architects, inventors, military leaders, judges, theologians, philanthropists, humanitarians, scientists, statesmen, artists, musicians, actors, and explorers. Movies shot here include: The Good Shepherd, A Beautiful Mind, Goodbye Columbus, The Siege, Thomas Crown Affair, and more. A field trip for all ages, the Hall of Fame is open to the public daily 10-5 for self-guided tours and guided tours by appointment, with two weeks advance notice suggested. Admission is free for self-guided tours, with a suggested $2.00 donation/person. Guided tours and lectures for students and children are free, and there is free parking on the campus. To make arrangements, contact Susan or Art Zuckerman at 718 289-5161.
The Nitchen Children's Museum of Native America fosters intercultural understanding between Native peoples and non-natives by providing accurate historical, cultural and contemporary programming to children, parents and teachers. 550 West 155th St, New York NY 10032 (between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue). Phone: (212) 694-2240
is an elegant mansion and the oldest county seat in the country. Located in Pelham Bay Park at 895 Shore Rd., just south of the border of New Rochelle, bird watchers walk this road at dusk looking for the owls that live here. The gardens are open year-round Tues - Sun 8:30-4:30, the mansion is open Wed., Sat. & Sun. noon-4 p.m. closed in August. The restored 1840’s stone carriage house is open April-October. For more info http://www.bartowpellmansionmuseum.org/, for group tours call (718) 885-1461, Ext. 102. There is no charge for NYC public school groups (Tues-Thurs mornings Sept-June), but a $30 charge to other groups, so offer proof of NYC residency and Board of Ed. supervision by showing your letter of receipt for your IHIP or LOI and perhaps they will honor NYC homeschoolers as they do public school students. Reservations for groups must be made at least two weeks in advance.
The Poe Cottage, 2460 Grand Concourse and East Kingsbridge Rd., the last home of the poet and author Edgar Allen Poe, is set in a small park. Open Sat. 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., sun 1:00 p.m. - 5 p.m. Reservations required for tours for ten or more, call (718) 881-8900.
The Bronx Historical Society, at 3309 Bainbridge Ave., has a vast research library which is open to the public from 9:30 to 4:30, Monday to Friday. Please call (718) 881-8900 for all research requests and appointments.
The Valentine-Varian House, at 3266 Bainbridge Ave. and E. 208th St., built in 1758, is the second oldest house in the borough. It is open Sat. 10-4, Sun. 1-5. Reservations required for tours for ten or more, call (718) 881-8900.
In Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx you can visit the historic Van Cortlandt House at Broadway and 246th St. Open Tues-Fri 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., Sat. & Sun. 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., call to confirm at (718) 543-3344. Admission: adults $5, seniors and students $3, children 12 and under free, free general admission every Wednesday. School tours, arranged at least 2 weeks in advance, are 45 minutes and average $1.00 per child (based on a group of 18, chaperones are free). Two-hour interactive school programs are $3.00/child. Choose from “The Life of a Child in the 18th Century” and “The Compleat Soldier” about the life of a Revolutionary War Soldier. Their new workshop, making a Delft tile, costs $6/child. Contact the Education Director, Michael Grillo, at (718) 543-3513. workshops are described at . If you have a good-sized group, they recommend booking concurrent appointments at the Urban Forest Ecology Center with the local (Bronx) Urban Park Rangers: (718) 548-0912 or (718) 430-1832.
The annual Native Harvest Festival with Native American dancers, drummers, foods & crafts, is usually the last Sunday in September, noon - 4 p.m. For more info on events in Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx, call (718) 430-1800 or 430-1890.
The Judaica Museum of the Hebrew Home for the Aged , 5961 Palisade Avenue, Riverdale, (718) 548-1006 or 549-8700 ext. 294. Overlooking the Hudson River, the collection features artifacts reflecting the customs and ceremonies of European and Oriental Jewry over the last three centuries. Visitors can also enjoy temporary exhibitions featuring local artists and collections. There are holiday programs and family workshops -- a calendar can be obtained by writing or calling. School Groups can enjoy a choice of three interactive tours: Let's Trace Our Roots, about genealogy and family history; The Joy of Giving "Tzedakah" (charity); and Jewish Lifestyles: Cultures and Customs. Each tour is followed by a hands-on Crafts Workshop where students create an object related to the exhibit. Groups may consist of up to 25 people. Hours: Monday thru Thursday 1 - 4:30 p.m., Sunday 1 - 5 p.m.. Admission is free. Group Tours (including schools) cost $50.00. Rates may vary depending on level of crafts workshop. Reservations: At least 4 weeks in advance.
The Alice Austen House, at 2 Hylan Blvd. was the home of photographer Alice Austen. The house dates back to the 1690s and the Victorian garden has been replanted according to Austen’s photographs. Open March - December, Thurs- Sun, noon - 5 p.m.. For more info call (718) 816-4506 or go to the website.
The Andrew E. Zimmer Fish and Game Association introduces adults and youths on Staten Island to the conservation and enjoyment of the outdoors.
The Conference House, at 7455 Hylan Blvd., is a 17th-century stone manor with an important place in local Revolutionary War history. Open April 15 - Nov. 15, Friday - Sunday 1 -4. Call to confirm, (718) 984-6046.
Historic Richmond Town, in the middle of Staten Island, is a living history village and museum. Open Sept - June, Wed-Sun 1 - 5 p.m., July & Aug Wed-Fri 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sat & Sun 1 - 5 p.m.. Reservations required for groups. Call (718) 351-1611. See also NYC Parkks Dept: Historic Richmond Town.
The Noble Maritime Collection, at 1000 Richmond Terrace, Building D, Staten Island, preserves and interprets the art, writings, and historical maritime artifacts of the distinguished marine artist, John A. Noble. It continues Noble's legacy of celebrating the people and traditions of the working waterfront of New York Harbor, and interprets the history of Sailors' Snug Harbor through its collections, exhibitions and programs. Their Education Programs welcome homeschoolers. Email DB Lampman, Director of Programs.
Seguine Mansion in Lemon Creek Park, at 440 SeguineAve., on the southern shore, is a Greek Revival mansion built in 1838. Open from the end of March to mid-Nov., tours on Wednesdays by reservation only. Call (718) 570-4751.
The Annual Pumpkin Festival at Willowbrook Park in Staten Island occurs on a weekend in mid-October, noon - 4 p.m. Decorate a pumpkin, hike in fall foliage, enjoy a petting zoo, music and art projects. Organized by the Greenbelt Conservancy.