I’ve made a post in the past detailing how to take advantage of cultural happenings in San Francisco on a student budget (which you can read HERE) and now I’m going to try to do the same for New York City. I’ve been here for almost a year now and I don’t think I will ever get over how expensive and out of control some of the prices are here (this may be due in part to the fact that I’m on the hunt for housing right now and I just want to weep while scrolling through Craigslist; must avoid places like these listings). Almost everything here, from produce to housing, is a lot more expensive than I’m used to and as a result, I’m always on the hunt to save a few bucks here and there. New York’s crazy prices shouldn’t deter you from enjoying the multitude of events and activities the city has to offer, I tell myself. Personally, it’s pretty pricey living here, all the way across the country, away from my family, friends, cheap produce, cheap Mexican food, In-n-Out, and so on. I force myself to go out and really enjoy the city because not everyone can say they live in New York City, right? So I will now present a taste of some of the FREE (or super cheap) activities I’ve partaken in this summer so far.
Free Movie Screening – The Internship
I mentioned free movie screenings in my SF post, but it seems like screenings are a lot harder to come by now, especially since Gofobo started requiring special RSVP codes. Luckily, the NYU Ticket Central Facebook occasionally posts about upcoming movie screenings and codes if needed. Best part is you don’t have to be a NYU student to like the page! So thanks to my constant Facebooking, I managed to see a post about an upcoming free screening for The Internship! The movie was actually a lot better than I was expecting and I didn’t find Vince Vaughn or Owen Wilson that annoying! Success!
The moral of the story is to keep your eyes peeled on pages like the NYU Ticket Central FB that post about free screenings. Yes, you’ll have to sacrifice some time because it is first come, first serve, but if you’re willing to do that it’s a great way to spend an evening in an AIR-CONDITIONED room (this has become very important in my books recently).
Free Movie Screenings at MOMA
This is actually a recent discovery! One of my friends told me about these free (with admission) screenings at MOMA and I cannot believe I didn’t know about them until now. Last Friday, with time to kill and a desperate need to sit in a room with air-conditioning, we trekked over to the MOMA, where we get in for free as NYU students (well, technically we’ve probably paid for admission with our student fees and whatnot) and saw Les Coquillettes, a French comedy. While looking for the trailer, I came across a few reviews that said it was a French version of HBO’s Girls, so make of that what you will. I haven’t watched Girls, but I did enjoy the movie and its portrayal of the going-ons at European film festivals. Plus, one of the girls spent the entirety of the movie looking for Louis Garrel, who I love and had a massive crush on back in my sophomore year of college , so I could relate to her. If French comedies aren’t your thing, the MOMA has many different film offerings, which you can check out HERE . Again, tickets are free with museum admission, but if you aren’t a student in NYC or wary of paying so much to see an older film that you probably have on DVD already (let’s be real here), the MOMA does have free admission on Fridays and you can get screening tickets then. I’m definitely going to try to check out a few more screenings this summer, especially films that I missed while they were in theaters. It’s a great way to take advantage of one of the biggest and most famous cultural institutions in New York, while enjoying a new or favorite film.
Movies in the Park @ Bryant Park!
Free movies in the park aren’t a New York speciality, by any means, but there’s something magical and special about seeing a movie outdoors in this city. Luckily, there are a number of film in the park programs throughout the city, including the Bryant Park Summer Film Festival , Syfy Movies with a View at Brooklyn Bridge Park, and Rooftop Films. Sadly, I’ve been to one screening so far, but I’m hoping to make it out to more.
My friends and I caught a screening of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in Bryant Park and it was a great experience! You do need to show up at least two hours before the start time to secure a spot because it gets VERY CROWDED. But it’s very fun chilling out on the grass with your friends and watching a classic movie on a giant screen. During the movie, people cheered for their favorite kid and of course, the oompa loompas. Overall, it’s a bit of a time commitment but again, it’s a great experience sitting in the middle of Midtown with hundreds of other people and enjoying that communal feeling watching a movie with a large group gives you.
Free Kayaking in the Hudson River!
This was definitely one of the best things I’ve done so far this summer! The Downtown Boathouse offers free kayaking at a few different locations along the west side of NYC. And yes, it’s COMPLETELY FREE! All you need to have is some sunscreen, maybe a swim suit, and the ability to swim. The last one is pretty important because you will be turned away if you cannot swim, so keep that in mind before heading out. Once you’ve got the all three, all you need to do is strap on a lifejacket and paddle! Unfortunately for me, it was a lot harder than it looked and I definitely struggled for a good hour or so. I crashed into a bunch of my fellow kayakers and got yelled at for straying too close to the pier. However, I eventually got the hang of it (sort of) and got to do my best Pochahontas. Obviously, that didn’t last long and my friend and I eventually got a double kayak where he did most of the work. Still, it was so much fun and I cannot wait to try it again! It’s a great workout for your arms and you get to enjoy a pretty sweet view of Lower Manhattan. I would definitely recommend this if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, but can’t leave the city.
The Joy Formidable @ Brooklyn Academy of Music
I love the Joy Formidable and was super excited when I saw that they were doing a free concert in Brooklyn. Free concerts in New York are fairly popular and there are two great websites that keep track of all the free music happenings in the city: ILoveFreeConcerts and MyFreeConcert. These have been amazing resources during my time in New York and I don’t think my time in the city would be as enjoyable without them, so if you’re in NYC, do yourself a favor and make sure to check out those websites.
The Joy Formidable show was a special engagement put on my Rolling Stone and Canon so the venue was pretty swanky and there were lots of goodies – free food, drinks, and Rolling Stone magazines.
If you’ve never heard of The Joy Formidable, please take a listen. They are fantastic live and super talented. At one point, Ritzy and Rhydian came into the crowd to perform an acoustic version of “Silent Treatment.” Please enjoy this poorly filmed version:
It was an awesome show and I’m so happy I managed to catch TJF again. If you’re in NYC, make sure you follow those two websites because this is just one example of the many free opportunities happening around the city.
One of the best things about being in NYC during the summer, as I’ve learned so far, is Summer Stage. The City Park Foundation organizes this summer festival every year that features a huge variety of performances in parks throughout New York. The best part is a lot of them are FREE! So you get to see some fantastic musicians/performers for nothing in a world famous park like Central Park; how does it get any better?
In June, Comedy Central had a free event called Stars Under the Stars and had comedians, such as John Mulaney and Amy Schumer. I mentioned it in a previous post, but this was a great night! I love comedy, I love free things, and I love Central Park.
Last night, I was fortunate enough to see Lianne La Havas at Summer Stage and could not be happier. Her voice is beautiful and the crowd was great and really receptive. I’m height challenged so I couldn’t see for about 95% of the show, but the music was more than sufficient.
Check her out if you haven’t already!
This is another recent discovery, but I’ve been meaning to come here for the longest time! I finally made it out here last Saturday with a couple of friends and I think this has become one of my favorite museums, along with the Met. Again, as NYU students we get free admission (which means, we’ve already paid already) but I think it’s worth the price of admission if you’re really interested in visual media, particularly television or film. They currently have a great exhibit called Cut Up highlighting the art of fan made videos, including mash-ups, redubs, trailers, etc. As someone who constantly watches YouTube vidoes, I absolutely loved it! I think it also serves as a great counter-argument in the free culture debate. Although the origins of most of these videos are copyrighted material, I do believe they count as original works. Lower prices and increased access to new software, including editing tools, have made it easier for the average person to explore their creativity and produce new forms of art. In my opinion, I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all. I definitely recommend checking it out, especially if you’re a fan of viral content or a bit interested in the free culture debate.
Their ongoing exhibition, Behind the Screen, is a lot of fun as well! They have different stations for each of the technical and creatives stages of filmmaking and it’s fantastic. You get to try a simplified version of each step, including voice acting and sound effects. My friends and I had a blast trying them out and I highly recommend visiting the museum just for this. The other exhibitions are wonderful bonuses. Oh, and did I mention they have a bunch of famous movie props? Seriously, if you’re a film and/or television geek, you must checking out this museum! They recently added a Breaking Bad exhibit so I’m going to try my best to come back and see it.
I know we all love visiting the Apple Store to get our thirst of shiny Apple products and the free access to WiFi and internet quenched, but one of the coolest things about being in New York is the number of actors and creatives coming by to promote their stuff. Often times, the Apple Store in SoHo has FREE talks with these people and with a reservation, you can sit in and listen. Back in March, I saw the band Ra Ra Riot do a short Q&A and performance as part of their Meet the Musicians series and in May, I saw The Lonely Island do a talk with John Mulaney as the moderator. They didn’t perform, but it was still great. Most recently, I saw Mads Mikkelson (from Hannibal and other movies) promote his current movie, The Hunt, along with the director. That wasn’t as fun, only because the Tumblr fangirls came out in the droves and made me question my sanity as I stood their longer and longer amongst people who uttered phrases like, “I’m Tumblr famous!” and “Who are you guys on Tumblr? I’m uploading this picture right now and tagging you guys!” But moving on…these Apple talks are really great because it’s fairly intimate and of course, it’s FREE! Even if you don’t go, the store uploads them to iTunes later for your viewing enjoyment.
However, you need to make sure you check the store’s page often because they don’t seem to announce these events anywhere. If you don’t, you may miss out on seeing something you really want to, just like I did now when I looked up the store’s page and found out that there is a Breaking Bad talk tomorrow and it’s full. So yes, be sure to check the page often.
I think that’s about it for now, but there’s still a month of summer left and I will be sure to post another entry detailing more future free/very cheap adventures in New York!