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Summer on a Budget in New York City

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by Denise Allen (subscribe)
I am a passionate traveller and writer from Adelaide, with an Honours degree in Writing and Creative Communication. Currently living in New York!
Published September 1st 2019
Get the most out of your summer without the price tags
Summer in New York City conjures up visions of romantic comedies and TV Shows featuring people out and about in Central Park, rowing boats and dining outdoors. This summer life in the city almost looks too glamorous to be obtainable. I used to believe this until I got to move to New York for an extended period of time. Although I'd been to The Big Apple many times for vacations, living here is something completely different. You can't just blow all of your money on a few experiences with the excuse that you're on holiday. Living here whilst trying to make the most of everything New York has to offer can be tricky, especially because there are a lot of things which cost quite a bit of money. Thankfully the city itself makes it fairly easy to still enjoy yourself and do lots of things in summer, totally free of charge! At first, I couldn't believe the amount of free things which were offered and thought there must be a catch, but there isn't. Below are some of my favourite free things I have either been able to do this summer or still plan to do before those leaves start to fall-

Throughout summer, the city offers movies in the park- completely free! There are so many different locations such as Central Park, Hudson River Park, Washington Square Park and more. There are free movies showing every night in a few different places all around the city, stretching to Brooklyn, Queens and The Bronx to make sure there is a movie near everyone. All you need to do is show up on time to put down your picnic blanket and get a good spot, then settle in and watch a movie under the stars. Check out the NYC Parks website for details on what movies are showing where and when!

Walking past the Hudson River I saw a sign which said 'Free Kayaking'. Sure, I thought, but what is the catch? Turns out there isn't one, because the Downtown Boathouse is offering free kayaking through May to October at their locations along the Hudson River. You just have to sign a waiver and make sure all children are accompanied by an adult, and you're good to go. Check out their website for more details.

Love the rich culture of New York City? Love a night out on Broadway to see a musical or a classic Shakespeare play? Don't love how much it costs to enjoy a night out at the theatre? Well, New York has got you covered. There are many free public performances offered throughout the summer season. The Public Theater organisation offers free shows in the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park. You can enter the lottery to win tickets for performances on various dates, and you win, you get to see these shows for free. Bryant Park also offers what they call 'Picnic Performances' of various Shakespeare plays and operas. On the spot where the ice rink stands in Winter, take a seat on the grass and enjoy a performance of Hamlet, or excerpts from Carmen. Good Morning America also has some great performances to offer with their Summer Concert Series. Taylor Swift recently took the stage in the park on the day she released her latest album and many fans got to see her perform without paying a cent. It is easy to keep track of when and where these performances happen by looking it up online.

There are so many stand-up comedy shows happening all the time, all over New York. Some offer reasonably priced tickets, but others offer them for free. Most venues, however, do enforce a minimum two drink purchase, so don't get caught with that. But if you were planning on going out for a couple of drinks anyway, why not do it with some free comedic entertainment included? Greenwich Village Comedy Club and Broadway Comedy Club offer free shows fairly regularly, so if you feel like some comedy, just search for free tickets to comedy shows and you're sure to find something!

There are so many museums and art galleries in NYC which have free entry, however, most of the more well-known ones charge an entry fee. There are some loopholes though. The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens usually charges $15 for adults but is free on Friday mornings from 8am until noon, through March to November. The 9/11 Memorial which usually charges around $28 for adults, offers free tickets for those who snatch them up online on Tuesdays from 5pm until close. If you have a particular museum in mind which you want to visit, it is worth doing your research to see if they offer free tickets at specific times. Even if tickets aren't completely free, some museums actually only have a suggested entry price, which allows you to pay what you can. The American Museum of Natural History is one of these places, and although suggests around $23 for admission, they will take whatever you want to pay. Some museums which are always free include the Folk Art Museum Lincoln Square, the Bronx Museum of Art and the Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology.

Despite the general consensus that New York is one of the most expensive cities in the world, a city this size does make it easy to find lots of fun things to do for both adults and children, without the hefty price tag. With all of these places and experiences available to you for free or for a small price, there is certainly no shortage of things to do on a budget in New York City throughout the summer.
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Why? To enjoy NYC Summer on a budget!
Where: New York City
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