Summertime and the Livin’s Freebie

Don’t let my recent expedition to the Hamptons fool you: a born and raised penny-pincher, I’m a sucker for a good deal.

A wine-tasting groupon? No question. NYC Restaurant Week? Twice a year like clockwork. A three-pack of grand pianos? Count me in.

Fortunately, Manhattan and its surrounding boroughs in the summertime are a prime place to put my intrinsic frugality to good use. That’s because – despite what the Kardashian sisters* may lead you to believe – you can fill your social calendar to the brim in this city without spending a dime.

*inserted for SEO purposes.

Any New Yorker worth his weight in cab fare has spent an evening picnicking at the New York Philharmonic’s free summer concert series, but did you know classical music under the stars is just one of hundreds of low- or no-cost events hosted by Bloomberg and friends each year?

Don’t get me wrong: I love Tchaikovsky and condoned outdoor drinking as much as the next kid, but you know what else I love? 1995-era Paul Rudd. That’s right, folks. If you live in the city of New York, you can watch Clueless on the big screen at the Brooklyn Bridge Park tonight for absolutely free. (Unless you publicly tear up when Tai and Travis get together, in which case, it will cost you something: your dignity.)

And that’s just one night at one park in one borough. For a full list of city-sanctioned freebie activities, check out this helpful list compiled by our friends at Or if clicking a link is too challenging, check out my compilation of highlights below:

  • Thursday, August 2: Watch Wet Hot American Summer at Brooklyn Bridge Park at sundown. What’s that? You’re already young-Paul-Rudded out for the summer? Shame on you.
  • Friday, August 3: Watch Jurassic Park on the deck of the Intrepid. Jump out of your seat in terror when the Dilophosaurus has her big scene.
  • Monday, August 20: Watch Raiders of the Lost Ark on the Bryant Park lawn during the HBO Summer Film Festival. In case you’re reading this, Harrison, know that you’ll always have my heart.

But – despite my apparent selection bias – it’s not just outdoor movies that make up the bulk of the city’s free summer events. This summer, my intra-city travels have taken me all over. Two highlights that you should be sure to check out:

Books Beneath the Bridge, an outdoor literature series featuring a New York author reading an excerpt from his book, answering questions and posing for awkward photos with book clubs.

Amor Towles, author of super lovely “Rules Of Civility,” is always cool around the ladies.
  • Smorgasburg, a Saturday afternoon culinary “flea market” on the Williamsburg waterfront.
This look says: “I may be a badass helicopter pilot, but I get angry when some hipster puts fermented fruit peel in my lemonade.”

Alright, New Yorkers: when it comes to must-do free summer activies, what am I missing?


One thought on “Summertime and the Livin’s Freebie

  1. Kind of tempted to fly to NYC just to watch Wet Hot American Summer. That’s one DVD I don’t own that I need. I thing my VHS was donated to the staff lounge years ago.

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