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5 Free Things to Do in NYC this Summer

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Columbia Barnard chapter.

Last summer I stayed in the city for an internship, and was really worried. This city is expensive. Fortunately, besides the cost of groceries, I found there’s a lot of amazing stuff to do in the city that’s absolutely free! Whether you’re staying for a summer job, internship, or just for fun, NYC can be really exciting during the summer because it gives you the opportunity to do lots of things you never have time for – at no extra cost. If you’re planning on staying, there’s probably already a bucket list of museums and parks to explore in the back of your mind, but here’s some awesome stuff that you may not have thought of  that won’t cost a dime. Bring along a BFF or newfound work friends!


1. Shakespeare in the Park

Monday-Friday at 8pm at the Delacorte Theatre (near 81st and Central Park West). It’s totally free, but you have to stand in line. Reserve a ticket beforehand, because they sell out! This summer’s shows are The Tempest (May 27-July 5) and Cymbeline (July 27-August 23).


2. Summergarden at MoMA

Every Sunday in July, MoMA opens up it’s sculpture garden for free jazz and classical concerts at 8pm – but get there at 7pm to get a good seat. Gelato and champagne/wine are also available (and encouraged! Although that part isn’t free)


3. Summer Streets

For three Saturdays in August, NYC shuts down nearly 7 miles running down Park Avenue from Central Park to the Brooklyn Bridge for a giant walkingtour/bike tour/block party. You can walk around, explore various stops along the way like the Union Square Farmer’s market, arts and crafts stations, or performances. There are also free bike rentals, rock climbing, and ziplining! 

4. Free Outdoor Movies

Parks all over the city and various boroughs offer free movie screenings every day of the week – check here for a full list, or here for dates of the Bryant Park HBO festival (although this one is by far the most crowded!)


5. Museum Mile Festival

On June 9th from 6-pm, 5th Ave from 85th-105th streets shut down for a giant block party with free music and arts and crafts. The best part? Museums including the Met, the Museum in the City of New York, the Guggenheim, and the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum open their doors free of charge.

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Sofia Lyons

Columbia Barnard

I'm a first year student at Barnard and aspiring fashion journalist, hoping to bring my fellow collegiettes some style tips & info about upcoming trends! I also love singing/songwriting, dancing, event planning, community service, eating good food, and exploring NYC.