What's Free or Cheap in NYC?
Don't neglect the beaches: Rockaway, Brighton Beach and Coney Island, are accessible by subway. Orchard Beach, a perfect crescent, can be reached by taking the #6 to its final stop in the Bronx, and changing to a local bus.
Here's a picture from Laurie's All Girls Literature Group in Inwood (2009 - 2010)
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|City Parks Foundation offers a wide array of programs throughout the five boroughs. Check out the Sports & Recreation Events in Central Park and the Athletic and Recreational Facilities in all NYC parks.|
Watch the annual NYC Triathlon at locations all over the NYC area, as over 100 elite athletes swim, bike and run. Go to NY Triathlon Club and click on events for their schedule.
Swimming in NYC public pools is free, open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, 11 - 7. To find the pool nearest you, go to NYC Parks - Pools or call Parks Citywide Aquatics at (718) 699-4219.
NYC Parks runs summer camp programs in recreation centers citywide from early July through late August for children ages 5-13 (age range varies at each site). Programs include arts & crafts, sports, computers, field trips and more! Please call the individual centers for specific information, listed at NYC Parks Summer Camps.
The word "soccer" comes from England. It is an alteration of "assoc.", which is an abbreviation of "association football" (differentiated from Rugby football).
At CityParks Golf boys and girls ages 5 - 16 learn to play golf for free with free use of equipment. Held in several public parks and on citywide courses, golf is accessible to kids of all ability levels throughout NYC.
Ultimately kids can try out for the CityParks Junior Golf Academy, for dedicated junior golfers. Sessions for various ages and skill levels are held in July and August. Advance registration is required for CityParks Golf. Call (718) 760-6999 for more information or go to CityParks Golf to download an application.
Track and field program provides free coaching to boys and girls ages 5-16 starting in July for six weeks ending with an organized track meet. Learn hurdles, relay races, the long jump, shot put and javelin throw. Recently expanded to nine locations, participants can register at each park while the program is in session. For more information, call (718) 760-6999 or visit CityParks Track & Field .
Sponsored by the City Parks Foundation, CityParks Tennis is one of the largest municipal tennis programs in the country. CityParks Tennis provides free lessons to 10,000 children and seniors each year at 40 citywide parks. A variety of programs are offered for all skill levels. For more information, call CityParks Tennis at (718) 760-6999.
NYJTL is the largest tennis and education-themed community organization in the United States and offers comprehensive school and community based programs throughout New York City’s five boroughs reaching more than 100,000 youth from ages 6-18. One parent's comments" "My son is really enjoying the New York Junior League’s free lessons. They even supply the racquet and balls so there really is no cost. Lesson locations are in all the boroughs. We went to one location where he was the youngest player and he felt kind of intimidated by the older (trash-talking) kids so after a week we visited another location and found a perfect fit where the younger kids have a separate time with the coach and it’s a small group of them." DOwnload their brochure (pdf format)
The New York City Department of Transportation is partnering with community groups to present Weekend Walks at 19 sites in all five boroughs from May through October. Local merchants' associations, community groups, and business improvement districts host Weekend Walks as a fun way to highlight local businesses and cultural institutions. The Walks are temporary pedestrian streets that create great opportunities for New Yorkers to meet, see their neighborhoods in a new way, and relax on summer weekends.
Passing Stranger is a free 90-minute walk that takes you through 50 years of poetry history in the East Village. Jim Jarmusch narrates.
Monster Walks – find fantastic animals and other monstrous creatures adorning the cathedrals and buildings of Manhattan. This is a great walking trip for any age, in any season (weather permitting). Bring your camera or a sketch pad!
Free walking tours at noon some Sundays, from May through October, of Battery Park City and lower Manhattan, meet at Robert F. Wagner Park. Includes tours of gardens and artists. Call (212) 267-9700 for schedule or visit www.bpcparks.org.
Free summer playground programs in 135 parks, playgrounds, and recreation centers in the five boroughs, providing structured recreation, sports, arts & crafts, board games, tournaments, water games, special events, and face painting, Tuesdays - Saturdays, June - September, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (times may vary) To find a site near you go to NYC Parks Dept. or call the recreation office in your borough:
Summer Junior Park Ranger youth programs in Brooklyn, northern Manhattan and the Bronx, include botany, ecology, fishing, canoeing, orienteering, conservation, and games: NYC Parks: Junior Rangers. Costs are $50 for 5 days. 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., $20 additional for an overnight camp-out, $10 additional per week for extended hours: 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. & 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Call 311 (or(212) NEW-YORK from outside New York City) and ask for the Urban Park Rangers or call the Director of the Junior Ranger Program at (212) 360-2774. Applications must be filled out and mailed to: Urban Park Rangers, Jr. Rangers Program, 1234 Fifth Avenue, First Floor New York, NY 10029.
Floating the Apple has community rowing and rowing for kids, as well as boatbuilding classes on Tuesdays.
On five occasions during the summer, NYC Parks creates an outdoor skating rink complete with music and a disco ball called Rock 'n Rollerblade. The season finale is at Union Square Park. Free skates and equipment are provided Riverside Skate Park in Manhattan, Mullaly Skate Park in the Bronx, Millennium Skate Park in Brooklyn, and Forest Park Skate Park in Queens offer an opportunity for individuals to perfect their skills on in-line skates, skateboards, and bikes. Riverside Skate Park has five ramps including half pipes, quarter pipes, and rails and is the site for Riverside Skate School. During the summer months the school offers a 4-level curriculum with beginner, intermediate, advanced and specialty level. Go to NYC Parks: Roller Hockey / In Line Skating for current info. See also Central Park: In-Line and Roller Skating and the Rollerblade Stopping Clinic.
In downtown Manhattan, at the Battery Parks, there are events all summer long. Check out BPCParks.org for the locations and current schedule. Preschool Play is M, T, W, 10 a.m. - noon and Preschool Family Play is Sundays 2 - 4 at Robt. F. Wagner Park; elementary school-age kids meet for games Wednesdays, 3:30 - 5:30 p.m. also at Robt. F. Wagner Park.
Tai Chi is a 1,000-year-old Chinese system of health and self-defense
Yoga in Bryant Park is free every Tuesday from 10 - 11 a.m. and Thursday from 6 - 7 p.m., in the southwest corner of the lawn, for all ages and all levels. Check out the current schedule at bryantpark.org.
In Manhattan on the Hudson River, visit www.downtownboathouse.org. From mid-May to mid-October on weekends and holidays, take a free twenty-minute kayak ride on the Hudson, leaving from Pier 40, Pier 96, or 72nd St.
From April to November you can watch Petanque (also called Boules) for free at Bryant Park, 12:30 - 2:30 (days vary). Lessons may be available as well.
Basketball programs for youth in Central Park at the North Meadow Recreation Center, located mid-Park at 97th Street. Call (212) 348-4867x12 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit Central Park: Basketball.
Rollerblading is popular in Central Park and the Skate Patrol operates a Stopping Clinic on West 72nd Street, where Skate Patrollers give free lessons on how to use the heel brake. The clinic is just inside the West 72nd St. entrance to the Park, open from 12:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m., Sat. and Sun., mid-April to mid-October. For more information, visit Central Park: In-Line and Roller Skating.
From mid-April to mid-October, the best place to fish is at the Harlem Meer, located at the northeast corner of Central Park. The Meer is stocked with a wide variety of fish, including golden shiner, largemouth bass, pumpkinseed sunfish, bluegill sunfish, carp, and chain pickerel. Bamboo fishing poles are available free of charge (upon presentation of valid picture I.D.) from mid-April to mid-October at The Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, located on the north shore of the Harlem Meer at 110th Street between Lenox Avenue and Fifth Avenue. The poles are issued Tuesday through Sunday, from 11 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. and must be returned by 4:00 p.m. Bait (corn kernels) is free with the poles. The use of bread dough or bread products is discouraged as it has been found to be harmful to both the wildlife and the waterbodies. Groups of up to 20 may reserve poles by calling the Dana Center at (212) 860-1370 at least two weeks in advance.
The NY Board of Health offers advice on what locally caught fish are safe to eat.
There are 12 handball courts available at the North Meadow Recreation Center (mid-Central Park at 97th Street) on a first come, first served basis, daily from 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. Handballs are supplied with a photo I.D.
Midsummer Night Swing at Lincoln Center, all ages and levels dance party. (212) 875-5766 for schedule or go to lincolncenter.org: Midsummer Night Swing.
Call (212) 360-3333, the Recreation Hotline, for the schedule at Riverside Park at 101 Street, Manhattan, for free Soccer, Basketball, and Skate School.
Free summer classes in Capoeira, a martial art from Brazil, in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, 231st St., 1 block west of Broadway (1 block from the subway station).
See the Park Ranger Programs.
The Brooklyn Flea is at 180 Seventh Avenue, Park Slope, PS 321, Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 3pm. Free educational activities for kids including: mini-book-writing workshops by 826NYC, dance lessons by Mark Morris Dance Center, physics experiments by Carmelo the Science Fellow, recitals by Brooklyn Conservatory of Music students, and filmmaking by Reel Works. See the full schedule.
Free canoe tours and lessons and bicycle tours, as well as Gowanus and Red Hook waterfront tours (reservations necessary), are available from the club. See their schedule at www.gowanuscanal.org or call (718) 243-0894.
Free canoe tours and lessons and bicycle tours, as well as Gowanus and Red Hook waterfront tours (reservations necessary), are available from the club. See their schedule at www.redhookboaters.org or call (718) 243-0894.
Friends of Gateway is dedicated to protecting, improving, and enhancing public awareness of, and access to the New York metropolitan area's unique Gateway National Recreation Area, which extends from Brooklyn to Staten Island and New Jersey.
Yoga in Socrates Sculpture Park (Long Island City) is free, all ages and levels welcome, Saturdays May - August, 11 - noon. Tai chi, also free, is on Sundays, 11 - noon. For more info call (718) 956-1819, ext. 10, or go to www.socratessculpturepark.org.
The Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival is a tournament worth watching, and is combined with a festival of stage entertainment and artists’ demonstrations, with a focus on China (other world cultures are also represented in the festival). Admission is free, on a weekend in mid-August from 9-5, rain or shine, in Flushing Meadow, Queens. For info go to H.K. Dragon Boat Festival.
See Rollerblading and the Park Ranger Programs.
In the summertime, NYC is the capital of free festivals. Here's a brief rundown. More will be added as people announce their schedules. Please remember Etiquette for Live Performances.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater presents free performances in all five boroughs in August.
See NYC Parks - Free Summer Concerts. Jazz in Battery Park, lower Manhattan, at lunchtime, Metropolitan Opera performances on the Great Lawn in Central Park, (212)362-6000 or (212)360-3333.
Arts in the Parks, citywide, weekday mornings: puppet shows, music, live entertainment, for ages 5-9. Call (212) 360-8290 for schedule and locations.
The Met offers a free five-borough Summer Recital Series.
The NY Philharmonic offers free concerts in various parks, with fireworks! Call (212) 875-5709 for citywide schedule.
SummerStage is New York’s largest free performing arts festival, bringing over 100 performances to 18 parks throughout the five boroughs.
The River to River Festival includes a river-front concert series through August. Call (212)528-2733 for info.
South Street Seaport runs a variety of free concerts during the summer. See their Calendar of Events or call (212) SEAPORT - (212) 732-7678.
A variety of free music events at Hudson River Park.
ABC's Good Morning America offers a free concert series with top-name artists, Fridays from May to August, 7 - 9 a.m. (yes, in the morning!), at Bryant Park. (212) 512-5700 or check gma.abcnews.com for the latest schedule. (And free movies there on Monday evenings at five, but go early)
Toyota Concerts offer top acts for free in Rockefeller Center on Friday morningsat 7:00 a.m.
SummerStage runs through mid-Sept., music from around the world at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park. Most events are free, weekend evenings at 7 p.m., rain or shine, some midweek concert dates too. No tickets, seating is first-come-first-serve. Doors open 90 minutes early weekends, 60 min. early weekdays. Enter Central Park at 69th & 5th Ave; the Playfield is near 5th & 72nd St.
The Harlem Jazz & Music Festival brings world-class artists to the area. (212)862-8477 for schedule.
Celebrate Brooklyn presents a variety of free concerts.
The Bronx Arts Ensemble has a schedule of Free Community Events, including free outdoor summer concerts on Sundays and holidays in Van Cortlandt Park and other locations in the Bronx. Check out their schedule at (718)601-7399.
More will be added as people announce their schedules. Please remember Etiquette for Live Performances.
The Public Theater was founded by Joseph Papp as the Shakespeare Workshop and is now one of the nation's preeminent cultural institutions, dedicated to embracing the complexities of contemporary society and nurturing both artists and audiences, as it continues Joseph Papp's legacy of creating a place of inclusion and a forum for ideas. It is the producer of Shakespeare in the Park.They have a mobile unit that produces Shakespeare plays, performed FREE in all five boroughs. In 2015 they did Romeo & Juliet; in 2016 they did Hamlet: Hamlet.
Summerstage presents plays in NYC parks.
Theater Playground Productions in NYC Parks (for kids and families). Check their website for dates and locations.
Xoregos presents Sophocles' Antigone” in 13 locations in four boroughs (sorry, Staten Island), to include both parks and libraries; (July 23 to Aug. 13, 2011).
Gorilla Rep performs in in Fort Tryon Park.
Free Shakespeare in the Parking Lot (at Ludlow and Broome Streets) presented by The Drilling Company. In 2011, they present one of Shakespeare’s lightest works, The Comedy of Errors (July 7 to 23), and one of his heaviest, Hamlet (July 28 to Aug. 13)
Free movies on Fridays in July - August, at Hudson River Park (click on RiverFlicks for Kids to see the schedule). On Pier 45 at Christopher St. .
The HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival (behind the 42nd St. NYPL) runs mid-June through August, Monday nights (Tuesday night, raindate). The lawn opens at 5 p.m. for blankets and picnics, films start at dusk (8 or 9). Folks get there at midday to stake out their spots. You can sit in the chairs among the trees, on the side, but watch out -- one side is for smokers (if they haven't outlawed this completely). In the bandshell they have live Broadway performances, musical numbers from current shows, every Thursday in July and August, 12:30 - 1:45 p.m. Hotline: (212) 512-5700 for their schedule.
New York Classical Theatre offers free plays in Central Park, in Battery Park at Castle Clinton, and on Governors Island. In 2011, they present The School for Husbands (through June 26) and Henry V (July 6 to 24), part of the River to River Festival, both at Battery Park and on Governors Island, with boat transportation provided.
Shakespeare in the Park is a free series that runs Tuesday to Sunday, late July through August in Central Park at the Delacorte Theater. Measure for Measure and All’s Well That Ends Well will be in repertory (June 6-July 30, 2011)
The Manhattan Shakespeare Projectall-femalae cast performs Henry V (June 16 to July 17) at Summit Rock in Central Park, St. Nicholas Park in Harlem and Sunset Park in Brooklyn.
An all-female cast will perform Aeschylus’ Seven Against Thebes, and a male cast will do Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex (Aug. 30 to Sept. 2, 2011) in East River Park, as part of SummerStage
Boomerang presents free productions of Shakespeare in Central Park, near the bridle path, reached from the park entrance at West 69th Street, Saturdays and Sundays, mid-June to mid-July at 2 pm. 2011 offering is Much Ado About Nothing.
The free Central Park Film Festival usually happens in late August.
Dubbed "The Other Free Shakespeare in the Park, Hudson Warehouse presents Shakespeare Thursdays to Sundays, June – August, 6:30 pm at the North Patio of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument in Riverside Park (West 89th and Riverside Drive). This summer they are doing The Merry Wives of Windsor (through June 26) will be followed by Chekhov’s Seagull (July 7 to 31) and The Taming of the Shrew (Aug. 4 to 28), all at the North Patio of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Riverside Park, Manhattan
Every June, Moose Hall Theater Company offfers free Shakespeare at the Inwood Hill Park Peninsula (with other plays and festivals in July and August. In 2011, they present Othello (Wednesday to June 25) and War of the Worlds (July 20 to Aug. 6), adapted from the H. G. Wells story.
Classical Theater of Harlem presents Henry V (Aug. 5 to Sept. 4, 2011) be in Mount Morris Park in Harlem and, as part of SummerStage, the annual City Parks Foundation festival, in East River Park on the Lower East Side. It will also be staged indoors (for a fee) at the Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center, 3940 Broadway, near 165th Street, Washington Heights
Pulse Ensemble Theatre presents a modern version of As You Like It at Riverbank State Park in Harlem(July 14 to Aug. 6, 2011).
The Bard on Pier 1 presents free performances of Shakespeare on the Granite Prospect. Two different New York-based companies interpret the Bard and bring his words and wisdom to Pier 1.
The Manhattan Shakespeare Projectall-femalae cast performs Henry V (June 16 to July 17) at Summit Rock in Central Park, St. Nicholas Park in Harlem and Sunset Park in Brooklyn.
Free film and theater presentations in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
The Old Stone House in Brooklyn at Washington Park (5th Avenue btween 3rd and 4th Streets in Park Slope) hosts free film and theater events , including productions of Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, and Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.
Piper Theatre presents a modern version of Molière's The Miser (July 7 to 22, 2011) on the grounds of the Old Stone House in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Endure (July 9 and 16) is an interactive show that requires audience members to run – bring your running shoes and iPods for the original score – along with the performers.
For their inaugural production, Theater 2020 presents an updated Romeo and Juliet (July 30 and 31) with a Hindu Romeo falling for a Muslim Juliet. Free performances in Brooklyn Bridge Park in Dumbo are part of the Bard on Pier 1 program
Eight Queens parks will provide outdoor stages for “Much Ado About Nothing” and “Othello” (Aug. 2 to 20, 2011), presented byHip to Hip.
Free movies in Socrates Sculpture Park, on Wednesdays in July and August.