Cool Off From the Summer Heat
Take a dip into a pool: Odds are you’ve been feeling the effects of the heat this summer, and one of NYC’s pools can be the perfect way to cool off. No matter which borough you’re in, you can find a free pool near you to beat the heat.
Astoria Park Pool , Where: 19th St, Queens
Lyons Pool Where: 6 Victory Blvd, Staten Island
Where: 19th St, Queens
Go kayaking in NYC waters: Tackle the Hudson or East River on a kayak with some friends, and do it all for free! There are tons of boathouses around the city that provide free reservations and equipment to have an enjoyable day on the water. Just some of them include Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse and the Manhattan Community Boathouse, but there are tons of options to choose from!
Enjoy Free Concerts
It’s no secret New York has one of the hottest music scenes in the world, and the summer amplifies it even more. Thanks to the warm weather and many outdoor venues and parks, the opportunity to see free concerts skyrockets. Here are some of our favorites.
Rise Up NYC Concert Series: This new free concert series announced by the mayor is running through September 14 across all 5 boroughs. Artists include Mary Mary, Mr. Vegas, Funk Flex and more. The goal of the series is to reunite the city through music.
SummerStage: This concert series is a New York summer tradition organized by City Parks, and offers shows in 12 different parks across the city, with the largest stage being in Central Park. Booked artists range from Afrobeat to hip-hop to indie!
Various free concerts: Thanks to the many parks and outdoor venues, there are tons of free shows to see as summer closes. The most notable are Bryant Park’s Picnic Performances, musical events at Hudson River Park and “Backyard at Hudson Yards.”
Explore Museums During Free Hours
New York is full of the most prestigious art and history museums, but sometimes their entrance fees don’t feel quite accessible enough to the everyday New Yorker. Luckily, most have special “free” days when entrance fees are waived completely.
The Museum of Modern Art (First Friday of every month): Thanks to clothing store UNIQLO, museum admission to the Museum of Modern Art is free the first Friday of every month!
Bronx Museum of the Arts (Free every day!): This uptown museum known for its innovative contemporary art exhibitions houses over 2,000 pieces of artwork in a variety of mediums.
Brooklyn Museum (First Saturday of the Month, 5-11 pm): Head to the outer boroughs to experience this historic museum whose roots trace all the way back to 1823.
El Museo del Barrio (Pay What You Wish): More casually known as simply “El Museo,” this museum specializes in the art of Latino, Caribbean, and Latin American cultures through comprehensive collections and exhibits.
Guggenheim Museum (Pay What You Wish on Saturdays 6 pm–8 pm): Step into a world of modern and contemporary art at the Guggenheim Museum on the Upper East Side. The museum is typical $25 for adults but hosts a “pay what you wish” program on Saturdays from 6 pm – 8 pm.
Spend Some Time Exercising
Take this summer to work on yourself! Exercising is a great way to get out and about and improve your health. Here in the city, there are so many out-of-the-box ways to break a sweat instead of going to a normal gym. Take a look!
Summer Streets: Take advantage of the 7 mile stretch of shut down roads to break a sweat! During the first 3 Saturdays of August, Park Avenue will be closed for cars from Brooklyn Bridge to East Harlem. You can bike, walk, run or do what you wish!
Yoga: Throughout the summer and fall, most parks also have free exercise classes. Battery Park, Washington Square Park, Bryant Park, Astoria Park, Flatiron Plaza and Hudson River Park all offer free yoga classes in the summer season.
Go for a Run: Of course, you can always create your own running path throughout the park, but these ones have dedicated tracks: Riverside Park, Randall’s Island, Astoria Park and Van Cortlandt Park.
Biking: Grab your bike and hit one of NYC’s bike routes to grab a scenic view of the city during your ride. You have so many options between parks, beaches, and more where you can ride!
Tour Street Art Galleries
Besides museums, did you know there’s a ton of one-of-a-kind art to be seen right on the streets of NYC? Here are the best spots for street art in the city:
First Street Green Art Park (this is where the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Mural Popped Up): This special park on the Lower East Side celebrates art with murals, music, sculpture, workshops, photography and installations.
Address: 33 E 1st St.
The Bowery Wall: The history of this mural wall goes back to 1982, when Keith Haring created his first public work there. It moved back and forth between artistic endeavors and advertising space over the years, but now is reserved for murals by new NYC artists. Currently there is a mural that reflects the graffiti roots and history of NYC.
Address: 76 E Houston St.
Wellington Art Mural Project: This display in Astoria hosts over 100 murals by local and international artists alike spanning multiple blocks. See a full map on their website here.
Address: 11-98 Welling Ct., Astoria
The Bushwick Art Collective: This Brooklyn outdoor street art gallery is likely the largest in NYC, totaling about 100 blocks of art displays.
Address: 427 Troutman St., Brooklyn
Jump On a Walking Tour
Tours in NYC are known to be pricey, but there are actually a variety of walking tours given by volunteers that are completely free.
Flatiron District: If you’re interested in learning more about NYC’s most iconic triangle-shaped building, the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership sponsors free 90-minute walking tours around the neighborhood on Sundays at 11am. Meet on the southwest corner of Madison Square Park.
Grand Central (Suspended until further notice but will hopefully be up and running again soon!): Similarly, the Grand Central Partnership hosts a 90-minute guided walking tour led by an urban historian in and around Grand Central and the surrounding neighborhoods. They meet Fridays at 12:30pm.
Free Tours By Foot.com: Though not completely free, these walking tours are unique in the fact that you pay-as-you-wish. There is no upfront cost and after the tour, you decide how much to give the guide based on the quality of the tour/what you think it was worth.
NYC Parks Have to Offer
Speaking of Central Park, taking a walk in one of our green NYC parks is always free! No matter the time of year, they are perfect for a stroll. And even more than that, there are so many free activities in the parks you may not even know about.
Play Tennis: Hudson River Park, which runs from Chambers St. all the way to 59th St. on the west side, has free tennis courts that are available on a first come, first served basis, all year-round! You can find them at Pier 40 (at W Houston St. in Greenwich Village).
Go Fishing: Hudson River Park also offers catch-and-release fishing from July through September at Pier 25 (N. Moore St.), Pier 84 (E 44th St.), and Pier 51 (Jane St.). They provide the rods, reels, bait and instruction for participants to drop in a line. You can also learn about the Hudson River water quality (!) from chatting with environmental educators.
Watch a Free Movie: Hudson River Park also has free outdoor movie screenings in the summer, as with most of the other parks in NYC (Central Park Great Lawn, Washington Square Park, Bryant Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Tompkins Square Park, Thomas Jefferson Park, etc). Check each park’s website come summertime for the schedule.
Enjoy Free Things You’ll Only Find in NYC
The Arsenal Gallery in Central Park is also always free to enter, Monday-Friday from 9-5 p.m.
While you can no longer climb the wacky Vessel at Hudson Yards, access to the ground-level base is open to the public.
Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge…and think about all of the hidden fun facts while you’re doing it.
Visit the Union Square Greenmarket open year-round to peruse goods from regional farmers, fishermen, and bakers.
Ride the Staten Island Ferry: This free boat ride has a great view of the Statue of Liberty! Find out the schedule here.
Stroll around one of NYC’s street fairs: From now until the fall, all 5 boroughs are having street fairs consisting of food from tons of different vendors. Try out samples and bounce around street fairs like Harlem’s Uptown Night Market or the Ferragosto Festival.
Tour Brooklyn Brewery: Walk through the Brooklyn Brewery and learn how beer is made with a free tour every Sunday from 1 pm – 6pm. We can’t promise you won’t buy a beer on the way though!