Free Things to do in Manhattan during the Summer

A markerDavid Rubinstein Atrium -
Broadway & W 62nd St, New York, NY 10023, USA
[get directions]

The place for Midsummer Night Swing

It's hot, it's humid, it smells, it's summer in New York City. But who cares, there's a ton of things to do and they are all free! That's right, you read it right here, free things to do in New York. So let's get started.

Midsummer Night Swing at Lincoln Center

If you like to dance and love to hear big band music, then you have to go to Midsummer Night Swing at the David Rubinstein Atrium in Lincoln Center in June. You'll see lots of people dressed in swing era clothing, that means the women wear these swirly skirts and the guys sport pompadours. You also get a chance to join in on a free dance lesson. Afterwards you just listen to the music and practice what you just learned. It starts at 7PM and lasts till 10PM; the dance lesson is from 7:30-8:30. Go to lincolncenter(dot)org for more information.

Free Events in Bryant Park

HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival

If you like classic movies then head on over to Bryant Park, located behind the New York Public Library on 42nd Street and 5th Avenue. Every Monday evening at 5PM you can see the classics again on the big screen. The city has set up a huge outdoor theater so everybody can enjoy the movie. Most New Yorkers make it an occasion and come with picnic baskets and chairs or tablecloths to put down on the grass. It starts in the middle of June and ends in August.

Broadway in Bryant Park

If you want a small taste of Broadway for free, head on over to Bryant Park during the lunch hour. Starting Thursdays in July till the end of August, the cast from Broadway's most popular shows will perform two or three numbers from 12:30PM-1:30PM. You can buy lunch from one of the numerous diners, restaurants, delis and food carts, nab one of the small tables and chairs or a bench and enjoy the tunes and dances of The Great White Way.

For more information go to bryantpark(dot)org.

A markerBryant Park -
25 W 40th St, Manhattan, NY 10018, USA
[get directions]

HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival

Seaport Music Festival

This popular music festival is held at Pier 17 in lower Manhattan at South Street Seaport. Every Friday at 8PM, starting June through July, music will waft throughout the waterfront. However, before you go to the concert, feel free to see a remnant of old New York by walking around this historic area. The Ambrose, a tall ship, and The Peking, a tall boat are docked nearby. You can board them to see what ships were like in the old days. There's also a shopping center and some great restaurants. You can spend the day at the Seaport and then in the evening listen to the free concerts and see the lights of the Brooklyn Bridge. For more information go to southstreetseaport(dot)com.

A markerPier 17 Fulton and South Streets New York -
South St, New York, NY, USA
[get directions]

South Street Seaport

Free Events in Central Park

Central Park itself is a glorious place and totally free to enjoy. So many New Yorkers go to the park and take walks, rollerblade or go biking. Nature lovers love bringing their binoculars and look at the various birds and magnifying glasses to examine flora and fauna that are in the park. It has Belvedere castle (which is fake), a merry-go-round, a man-made lake, tons of playgrounds, several formal gardens, and a boating pond for kids to float little toy boats. In addition there are events that are held in the park that are also free.

Shakespeare in the Park

It's one of the most popular events of the summer and people line up early to get the free tickets. Often you'll see some first rate talent tackle Shakespeare and other classic plays at the outdoor Delacorte Theatre. Free tickets can be picked up at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park or online. For more information go to shakespeareinthepark(dot)org.

A markerDelacorte Theatre Central Park -
Central Park, 72 Central Park West, New York, NY 10023, USA
[get directions]

New York Philharmonic Concerts

This is another one of those summer traditions that are popular. The New York Philharmonic gives two free concerts every summer. It is held at the Great Lawn in Central Park. Come early, bring an old table cloth to spread on the grass to claim your spot. Bring a picnic basket, have friends join you and enjoy it all with some beautiful music. Afterwards there is a small fireworks display. The concerts are held in July and the Great Lawn is not far from the Delacorte Theatre. For more information, go to nyphil(dot)org.

Kayaking on the Hudson

Every July and August on weekends, you are able to kayak on the Hudson for free! The free kayaking program is all volunteer run and sponsored by the Downtown Boathouse, an organization dedicated to providing free public access to New York's harbor through public kayaking programs. Their mission is to encourage safe public use of the harbor waters of New York City. There are several locations that the kayaking programs are offered. 

  • Pier 40 on weekends and holidays from 9AM to 6PM, Thursdays from 5-7PM. Their location is at the West end of Houston Street, on the walkway on the South side of the Pier, about halfway out.
  • Pier 96 on weekends and holidays from 9AM to 6PM, weekday evening from 5PM-7PM. The Boathouse is located in the Clinton Cove Park on the Westside Highway and 56th St.
  • 72nd Street on weekends and holidays from 10AM to 5PM. The floating dock is located about 200 yards south of the 79th St. Marina on the waterside promenade at Riverside Park.

For more information, check out www(dot)downtownboathouse(dot)org.

Free Kayaking on the Hudson

show route and directions
A markerPier 40 New York City -
40 N River Piers, New York, NY 10014, USA
[get directions]

B markerPier 96 Boathouse New York City -
Downtown Boathouse FREE Kayaking Pier 96 location, Hudson River Greenway, New York, NY 10019, USA
[get directions]

C markerRiverside Park New York City -
Riverside Park, 475 Riverside Dr #455, New York, NY 10115, USA
[get directions]

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Comments 2 comments

TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

Wow! That is cool...who knew there were actually free things in NYC! Nicely done! Voted up and more. :)

Flightkeeper profile image

Flightkeeper 4 years ago from The East Coast Author

TToombs08, thanks for visiting. This is actually just a very partial list. The summer has many numerous free thing and is a great resource for the tourist.

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