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Things to Do

Free things to do in New York City, from live music to exhibits and more

The Metropolitan Opera is back with 10 free

The Metropolitan Opera is back with 10 free outdoor opera screenings within Lincoln Center Plaza, starting with a screening of "Funny Face." Photo Credit: The Metropolitan Opera / Richard Termine

Living in New York City comes at a hefty price, from rent to MetroCards to a cup of coffee, so why spend more than you have to?

Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to spend a lot to enjoy yourself. There are tons of free events to check out in the city that never sleeps.

Below is our freebie guide to NYC.

U.S. Open Fan Week (Aug. 19-26)

Monday through Sunday, the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park will host free live music, exhibitions and a Pride panel with Billie Jean King, along with a chance to catch some of the top tennis players in the world warming up for the Grand Slam event:

  • Matches between tennis legends — U.S. Open champion John McEnroe vs. Jim Courier, Andy Roddick vs. James Blake, and a doubles match between Martina Navratilova and Tracy Austin vs. Lindsay Davenport and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario
  • "Open Pride" celebrates the LGBTQ community with Billie Jean King, who will join other athletes in a panel discussion, "Love All — An Open Conversation."
  • Indie rock band LANY is set to perform live on Wednesday, followed by country music star Brett Eldredge on Thursday and singer Leon Bridges on Friday.
  • Wednesday is also designated "Queens Day" in honor of the U.S. Open's home borough, with accompanying local performers and exhibitions, and the annual Arthur Ashe Kids Day will be held on Saturday with live entertainment and activities.

Food & Drink

Tito's vodka tasting (Saturday)

Yorkshire Wines & Spirits (1646 First Ave.) is doing a tasting of Tito's Handmade Vodka with mixologists, who will serve up cocktails from 5 to 8 p.m. 

Performance

Beach sessions dance series (Aug. 19-22)

Head to the beach for classes in dance, from contemporary to voguing, by professionals who will lead you through the moves at Low Tide Bar at Beach 97 and the boardwalk. Register at beachsessionsdanceseries.com.

Emerging Music Festival (Aug. 23-24)

Bryant Park's annual two-day music festival is back with eight up-and-coming indie rock, folk, singer-songwriter and soul bands, including Sammy Rae & The Friends, Morningsiders, Celisse Henderson, The Muckers (day one) and Renata Zeiguer, Tomberlin, Ghost Funk Orchestra, and Remember Sports on day two. Music begins at 6 p.m.

#MusicAtMoxy series (Tuesdays): Moxy Times Square (485 7th Ave.) has live music from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

  • Aug. 20 — Chelsea Denise: Brooklyn-based artist with notable singles "We Guhd" and "Time."
  • Aug. 27 — The Set: With an R&B sound, The Set combines classic 2000s R&B with trap beats.

Wythe Hotel's Sunset Songs music series (every other Tuesday)

From 6 to 9 p.m. every other Tuesday, enjoy a lineup of free live performances on the hotel's rooftop, including John Errol on Aug. 27 and Grace Ives on Sept. 17. Just RSVP on eventbrite.com.

Live at the Archway (Thursdays)

DUMBO's Live at the Archway is a series of free concerts and interactive arts every Thursday beneath the Manhattan Bridge Archway. This month, swing by for a performance by Say She She (Aug. 22), and The Good Folks and Motteo (Aug. 29). Events are free and begin at 5:30 p.m. with headlining acts taking the stage at 6:30 p.m.

Free Jazz in Times Square (Thursdays)

Enjoy a free jazz concert in Times Square (Broadway Plaza between 43rd and 44th streets) each Thursday night, from 5 to 7 p.m., with the city's best up-and-coming jazz artists, including:

  • Aug. 22: Andrew Renfroe Trio
  • Aug. 29: Alexis Morrast

Canal Yards Project comedy show (monthly, next is Aug. 29)

Head to Industry City for a free night of laughs by Emily Duke, Khalid Rahmaan, Dan Wilbur, Ashley Hamilton, Sam Jay, Laura Merli and Angela Palladino. This monthly event, sponsored by BUST magazine, happens at Frying Pan Brooklyn, within Industry City at 51 35th St., starting at 8 p.m.

The Met's Summer HD Festival (Aug. 23 — Sept. 2) 

This summer, there is no need to go inside to catch the city's most famous opera. The Metropolitan Opera is back with 10 free outdoor opera screenings within Lincoln Center Plaza, starting with a screening of "Funny Face" and a performance of the Met's "Aida" by Verdi. Other performances will include those of "Carmen," "Das Rheingold," "Dialogues des Carmelites," "Samson et Dalila," "Cendrillon," "La Faniculla del West," "La Fille du Regiment," "Luisa Miller," and "Adriana Lecouvreur." There will be 3,000 seats available nightly with no tickets required. (Free; 7:45 or 8 p.m.; Columbus Avenue, between West 65th and 62nd streets; metopera.org)

Comedy and beer (Aug. 30)

A handful of comedians are getting together at the Pine Box Rock Shop in Brooklyn for a show sponsored by New Belgium Brewing, with, you guessed it, free beer. Audience members will get one free Fat Tire as host Michael Rowland introduces comedians. (Free but RSVP; 7:30 p.m.; 12 Grattan St.; eventbrite.com)

Rite of Summer Festival (through September)

The Rite of Summer Festival offers free outdoor concerts at Governors Island with Ensemble Connect, Sandbox Percussion, Go: Organic Orchestra, Brooklyn Raga Massive, Sirius Quartet and more. The shows will be presented twice the same day, at 1 and 3 p.m. For more, visit riteofsummer.com

Concerts at One at Trinity Church (Starting Sept. 12):

The Choir of Trinity Wall Street and NOVUS NY will be performing some of the works Trinity has helped to develop within the past 10 years, including three Pulitzer Prize-winning songs that deal with climate change, water justice, human trafficking and gender inequality. Check trinitywallstreet.org for more. 

Pop-ups

360 Wellness beauty bar (every Wednesday in August)

Take part in free beauty treatments and demos from noon to 4 p.m. at the Shops at Columbus Circle. RSVP first at theshopsatcolumbuscircle.com

  • Aug. 21: Beauty at Any Age
  • Aug. 28: Face Masks and Aromatics

Howard Johnson by Wyndham's "Sweet Escape" (Aug. 22-23)

Howard Johnson Hotels is looking back at its long history with a two-day pop-up at 393 Broadway, featuring a model guest room built out of retro candy, Instagrammable exhibits, and more, running from noon to 7 p.m. both days. Tickets are free.

Art

Paint & Sip with Putnam & Putnam featuring Dirty Hands (Aug. 20)

Learn how to paint with watercolors from a professional watercolor artist and walk away with new skills. This class, from 6 to 7 p.m. at Moxy's 2nd Floor Studios, will tackle painting a Putnam & Putnam flower bouquet. Space is limited to first come, first served, so email rsvp@moxychelsea.com with "WATERCOLOR" in the subject to reserve a spot.

Pup portraits at Sony Square (Aug. 24)

Get your four-legged friend photographed for National Dog Day on Saturday. Up to three images from the photoshoot will be delivered digitally, and if you post your dog's photo on Instagram and tag @sonysquarenyc, your dog could be featured on Sony Square's Instagram story. (noon to 6:30 p.m.; 25 Madison Ave., Manhattan; sony.com)

Woodstock photo exhibit (through Aug. 30)

Catch C. Parker Gallery's 30 days of peace, love and artwork in an exhibit that features artwork from many of the original Woodstock performers such as Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, Santana, The Who, plus an original painting from Graham Nash. The exhibit, "The Art of Woodstock," will also include a collection of fine art photographs from Woodstock, including shots of Joan Baez, Santana, Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Janis Joplin, Sly & the Family Stone, The Who, and others, by photographer Baron Wolman, who documented the festival for Rolling Stone magazine. (Free; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays; 409 Greenwich Ave., Manhattan; cparkergallery.com)

Outdoor movies

  • Tuesday: "The Hottest August" at Liberty Park in Lower Manhattan; "Boys N The Hood" at Red Hook's Valentino Pier
  • Wednesday: "Greener Grass" at the William Vale in Williamsburg;  "March of the Penguins" at Socrates Sculpture Park in LIC; "Big" at Hudson River Park's Pier 63; "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" at Riverside Park Pier 1
  • Thursday: "The Hangover" at SIXTY LES rooftop (190 Allen St.); "Selma" at Brooklyn Bridge Park
  • Friday: "Rooftop Shorts: Closing Night" at Green-Wood Cemetery in Greenwood; "Trolls" at Hudson River Park's Pier 46

Fitness & Sports

Yoga in Central Park (Tuesdays and Thursdays)

Bring your mat to Strawberry Fields (at West 72nd Street) for a 60-minute, all-levels class that aims to strengthen, balance and relax you, by Carrie Asby Yoga. Donations are accepted but not necessary. Register online at eventbrite.com.

MNDFL Classes at #SweatAtMoxy (Wednesdays): From 8 to 8:30 a.m., start your day off with a quick meditation class in the Moxy Chelsea's Fluer Room (105 W. 28th St.). There is no dress code so you can hop off to work without having to change. Just book your spot at moxy-hotels.marriott.com.

Soulga Yoga #SweatAtMoxy (Thursdays): Starting at 7:30 a.m. each Thursday, Moxy Times Square's Magic Hour (485 7th Ave.) turns into a yoga studio with classes that mix vinyasa yoga flow and barre with music to provide a sensory experience for both the mind and body. Visit gosesh.co/c/soulgayoga to reserve a free spot.

Classes at Union Square (Thursdays): Before you head to work or after a long day, exercise with the Union Square Partnership. You'll find the following classes at the South Plaza in the morning and in the North Plaza in the evening:

  • 7 a.m. — Yoga
  • 8 a.m. — Boxing HIIT
  • 9 a.m. — Tai Chi
  • 5:30 p.m. — Dance Cardio
  • 6:30 p.m. — Cardio HIIT
  • 6:30 p.m. — Paragon Sports Run Club
  • 7:30 p.m. —  Sunset Yoga

Brookfield Place fitness classes:  Work up a sweat while you look over the river with the Statue of Liberty in the distance. The schedule is as follows:

  • Wednesday, Aug. 21: Pure Barre
  • Saturday, Aug. 24: Jane DO 

Shape Up NYC fitness classes: The city offers free workouts and fitness classes across five boroughs, including yoga, Pilates, Zumba, dance, aerobics, sculpting, boot camps and more. Why pay for a class you can get for free? Check on nycgovparks.org to find the nearest courses. 

Ongoing:

Greenwich Village Walking Tours: The Village Alliance gives free walking tours of Greenwich Village, which stops at its most important landmarks, including the former homes of Andy Warhol, Lou Reed and Jackson Pollock, and Jimi Hendrix's studio. Tour guides also show the Greenwich Village of today, where people work, live and play — rain or shine, starting at 11:30 a.m. Meet at St. Marks Church-In-The-Bowery (at Second Ave. and E. 10th St.) 

Swimming at public pools: There are 56 pools across the five boroughs to help cool you off as the mercury rises. Find your local swimming hole in our "Best NYC public Pools" guide and head there between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. for a fun day in the sun without paying a cent.

Take a free tour of Brooklyn Brewery: On Saturday and Sunday, the Brooklyn Brewery offers free tours every half-hour from 1 to 6 p.m. Tickets are released on the day of the tour only, so check its website before you hop over. (79 N. 11th St., Williamsburg, brooklynbrewery.com)

Meet the neighbors at Queens County Farm Museum: This isn't the countryside but it will feel like it. The 47-acre Queens County Farm Museum sits squarely within city limits and is the longest continuously farmed site in New York, which still includes the restored Adriance Farmhouse that was first built as a Dutch farmhouse in 1772. Visitors to the farm can hang out with the many animals on the property, including chickens, goats, sheep, pigs and cows, as well as purchase vegetables from the farm stand. Yarn culled from resident alpacas and Cotswold sheep is also for sale. (10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 73-50 Little Neck Pkwy., queensfarm.org)

Visit the residents at Green-Wood Cemetery: Sprawled across 478 hilly acres in Greenwood Heights, Brooklyn, this cemetery is one of New York's hidden treasures. Established in 1838, its roster of "residents" reads like a "Who's Who" of great New Yorkers — political machine leader William "Boss" Tweed, composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein and communications pioneer Samuel F.B. Morse are all buried at this National Historic Landmark. (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 1 to March 31; 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 1 to Sept. 30; 500 25th St., green-wood.com)

Search out public art: Find the city's amazing collection of public art, from "Tilted Head" at Central Park to The Vessel, which is a climbable sculpture at Hudson Yards, and others you can find out about here.

Free Flatiron Tour (every Sunday): The Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership Business Improvement District (BID) hosts free, 90-minute walking tours of the Flatiron District by professional guides each Sunday. You'll stop by the famous Flatiron building, the New York Life Insurance Building, the MetLife Clock Tower and more. (11 a.m., meet at the tip of the Flatiron building at 23rd Street, flatirondistrict.nyc)

Free museum nights

Sept. 11 memorial Museum (Tuesdays): Free from 5 p.m. to close. Free always for 9/11 family members, rescue and recovery workers, active/retired U.S. Military. (108 Greenwich St. 911memorial.org)

Bronx Zoo (Wednesdays): Free all day. (2300 Southern Blvd. bronxzoo.com)

Museum of Jewish Heritage (Wednesdays & Thursdays): Free from 4 to 9 p.m. (36 Battery Place, mjhnyc.org)

New York Botanical Garden (Wednesdays & Saturdays): The grounds are free all day Wednesdays and from 9 to 10 a.m. on Saturdays. (2900 Southern Blvd, nybg.org)

Brooklyn Botanic Garden (Fridays): Free before noon. (455 Flatbush Ave, bbg.org)

Whitney Museum (Fridays): Pay what you wish from 7 to 10 p.m. (99 Gansevoort St., facebook.com)

Bronx Museum (First Friday of each month): Free from 6 to 10 p.m. (1040 Grand Concourse, bronxmuseum.org)

Brooklyn Museum (First Saturday of each month): Free from 5 to 11 p.m. (200 Eastern Pkwy., brooklynmuseum.org)

Neue Galerie (First Friday of each month): Free from 6 to 9 p.m. The shop and cafe will be open until 9 p.m. as well. (1048 Fifth Ave., neuegalerie.org)

Noguchi Museum (First Friday of each month): Free all day through its extended hours, from 5 to 8 p.m., with a cash bar in the evening. (9-01 33rd Rd., noguchi.org)

Japan Society (Fridays): Free from 6 to 9 p.m. (333 E. 47th St., japansociety.org)

Morgan Library & Museum (Fridays): Free from 7 to 9 p.m. (225 Madison Ave., themorgan.org)

Museum of Modern Art (Fridays): Free from 4 to 8 p.m. (11 W. 53rd St., moma.org)

Rubin Museum of Art (Fridays): Free from 6 to 10 p.m. with happy hour and live music from 6 to 7 p.m. (150 W. 17th St., rubinmuseum.org)

Jewish Museum (Saturdays): Free all day. (1109 Fifth Ave., thejewishmuseum.org)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Fridays): Free from 6:30 to 9 p.m. (1000 Fifth Ave., metmuseum.org)

Frick Collection (First Friday of each month): Free from 6 to 9 p.m. (1 E. 70th St., frick.org)

Queens Museum: Free for students of New York colleges and universities with current ID and NYC teachers. (New York City Building, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. queensmuseum.org)

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