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23 for Your Summer 2023

As usual, it's summer and you have nothing to do. So you doom scroll on TikTok for hours, expecting the boredom to magically evaporate and your bank account to no longer be in the negatives. As the city starts to warm up, we feel the taunting heat of trying to obtain a picturesque summer. Consider me your fairy godmother because I have the ultimate guide for all your summer city needs!

Growing up in Brooklyn, the words “free” and NYC were never something I associated together. The city is known for being an expensive place to travel to and even more costly to live in. It was not until I started going to college in the city that I was exposed to the free or inexpensive experiences the city offers! So if you’re in NYC for the summer and are on a budget here are 23 fabulous activities going on right now:

Celebrating its 30th season, Paramount+ Movie Nights return to Bryant Park. The event is free and takes place every Monday until August 21! Make sure to pack a blanket and secure your spot on the lawn. No other movie-going experience compares to watching some of your favorite movies under the city skyline!

Free Museum days

New York is filled with endless diverse and incredible museums. Going to all of them can become costly, especially if you are just visiting. But here’s a little secret…many museums are always free (or pay what you wish)! And some offer monthly or weekly free days! NYC-ARTS has a beneficial breakdown of dates and hours to visit some of NYC’s most iconic museums! My personal favorites are the MET and the Brooklyn Museum.

Summerstage concert series

If you love concerts like me, you probably know that tickets can get pretty pricey. Well, you are in luck because the Summerstage concert series has already begun across all five boroughs! The event is free – no hidden fees are checkout! The series runs until October with some notable performances from Lil Yachty, Diplo and so many more. You can check out the full lineup here!

New Yayoi Kusama exhibit

The new exhibition, “I Spend Each Day Embracing Flower” by legendary artist Yayoi Kusama exhibit is bursting with polka-dotted delight. The Chelsea exhibit at David Zwirner features exciting new paintings, sculptures, and an infinity room. Make sure you experience this immersive world of Kusama before it closes on July 21! Click here for all the details!

Governors Island

A hidden gem of NYC is the beautiful parks and art spaces on Governors Island. Perfect for a city escape that would break the bank! Plan a picnic with friends and enjoy some fresh air and relaxation. Getting to the Island is just a ferry ride away!

Coney Island

It’s not a New York City summer without a stop at Coney Island. Grab your sunscreen, towels, and your favorite page-turning beach read. Make sure to check off the amazing Broadwalk and pick up a couple of Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, after taking a spin on the Cyclone rollercoaster that Beyoncé famously rode in 2013 (what a year!).

Shakespeare in the Park

The 61st Free Shakespeare in the Park is back! The 2023 season will feature classics of Hamlet and the Tempest. Tickets must be reserved but there are many opportunities for free ticket distributions. Ye shall find all the information here!

Art galleries

NYC is the birthplace of so many artists and revolutionary movements. It’s the perfect stage to display the hottest new art. So many contemporary galleries are free to the public. It's a great way to support local artists and the culture of the city. Check out @thirstygallerina on Instagram for the best weekly gallery updates!

Free Comedy shows

Recently, I went to a comedy show at The Stand with a couple of friends. Warning, your face will hurt from how much you will be laughing! The show I attended was $30 however there are many great free comedy shows scattered around the city. Check out this article from TimeOut to laugh out loud without crying over the bill!

Be part of a live audience

I am going to share one of my favorite best-kept secrets (today is your lucky day!). Have you ever wanted to be part of a live studio audience? New York is home to so many different studios that offer fan experiences for free! All you have to do is create an account at and join the fan experience. Your request will get added to the queue and they will notify you if you have been chosen to be part of the audience. Last fall my friend and I got to see a taping of the Today Show starring Jimmy Fallon at the NBC Studio!

Lottery broadway tickets *Under $50*

Broadway tickets can be extremely pricey. But there are a few inexpensive ways to see the newest shows. Tons of shows offer daily lotteries that allow you to win up to two tickets at just $50! My favorite website for Broadway lotteries is Lucky Seats, which is currently offering tickets to shows like Funny Girl and Moulin Rouge. Another great way to snag cheap tickets is to go to the show's box office. Often shows will reserve a limited number of $50 tickets for standby. It never hurts to check, especially if you’re in the area!

Visit a Botanic Garden

Each of the city’s boroughs has its own Botanic Garden filled with unique and beautiful greenery. The gardens offer free entry during specific days of the week (refer to the free museum days link for details).

The MET Cloisters

The MET Cloister is another hidden gem of NYC. Many people do not know about the museum located in Washington Heights. The Metropolitan Museum of Art oversees The Met Cloisters. The art in the museum dates from the fall of Rome in the fourth century to the early sixteenth-century start of the Renaissance.

Learn to tattoo *Under $50*

If you have wanted to learn how to tattoo, this is the summer! FIB Tattoo is currently offering classes until July 29. Bucketlisters is offering executive tickets pricing starting at $45. So grab a friend and get tatting by clicking here!

Malibu Barbie Cafe

Come on Barbie, let’s go grab brunch at the Malibu Barbie Cafe! The brand new cafe has opened up at the Seaport in anticipation of the Barbie Movie, hitting theaters on July 21. The cafe transports you to 1970s Malibu Barbie style with many Instagram-able photo ops! Make a reservation before September 15! Fun Fact: Our social media manager works there! Say hello to Jake for us!

Friday’s at Slate

Buckelisters is partnering with Rose Gold Entertainment to offer exclusive $18 tickets every Friday at Slate NY– the club with a slide! An EDM-themed nightclub with top-notch smoke and light production is located on the top floor. You may enjoy a dance party on this floor while listening to traveling DJs like Young Bombs, Vavo, and others! Slide down to the bottom level to enjoy activities like life-size chess, bowling, skee ball, and more!

Candle making *Under $50*

Wick & Pour is offering $44 candle-making classes daily. The candle-making session comes with a chair and all the materials you need to create a candle. In an instructor-led class, you will select your preferred scent and vessel before measuring, mixing, and pouring your very own candle. BYOB for this class

Brooklyn Flea

The Brooklyn Flea in DUMBO is officially open for the season. Join hundreds of vendors every Saturday and Sunday selling food, art, jewelry, antiques, vintage clothing, furniture, and other items. One of New York's top urban experiences to shop secondhand!

Good Morning America concert series

The Friday Summer Concert Series presented by ABC's Good Morning America will take place at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park for its fifteenth year! The 2023 artist lineup and performance dates are coming soon. As information becomes available, it will be posted on the Central Parks website. For updates, sign up here! Doors open at 6:00 AM for live performances on Fridays from 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM during the "Good Morning America" show. Free tickets are available upon request.

Support small businesses

We all love the convenience of Amazon, but the summer is a great opportunity to get out there a shop small by supporting businesses. NYC is home to so many unique shops and markets. My favorite stores are 99 cents stores that are scattered all around the city. They have everything you need from party supplies, home decor, and even art supplies for all those summer DIYs!

Rowboat central park $20

Get some friends together and row a boat around Central Park Lake. Perfect for after a picnic on the lawn. The boats are first come, first serve and hold up to 4 people. The boats only cost $20 per hour!

Day trips

New York City and New York State are filled with so much culture and richness that rarely gets explored because they are not the most buzz-worthy attractions. Summer is a great opportunity to explore new places around the five boroughs and the state itself. You never know, you might just find your new favorite lunch spot or the perfect place to relax and read! I recommend traveling to Forest Hills, Queens, or Brooklyn's Chinatown!

Just get out there and explore!

For many of us, summer is a time to relax and unwind. Find something that speaks to you and go out there and do it. Take a walk and snap some photos along the way. Sit in the park and journey. Throw an epic dinner party with your closest friends. It's up to you, the possibilities are endless. It is so easy to get caught up in other people's lives and what everyone else is doing. Take this time to explore your own interests and hobbies. Best of all it's free!

Written by Olivia Vella

Photography by Arnold Okyere

Models: Joe St. Pierre, Alex Demeny

Production Assistance/BTS by Jake Pranian

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