The best free things to do in New York City this summer

Talia Avakian

New York City has a reputation for being an expensive city.

But that doesn't mean you need to have a disposable income to enjoy it.

Particularly in the summer, New York offers multiple events that won't cost you a penny to attend.

From parades to movie nights in the park to cultural festivals, here's what you can enjoy in the city this summer free.

Governors Island offers free bike mornings from Monday to Friday between 10 a.m. and noon. Visitors can have a relaxed ride while exploring the island.

For more information on free bike rentals in Governors Island, click here>

Get crafty at Etsy's kaleidoscope-themed craft party taking place at the Manhattan Bridge Archway (near the company's Dumbo headquarters) on Friday and Saturday. With music, a bar, food trucks, and paper-crafting supplies provided by Etsy, you'll have everything you need.

Click here to find out more about the party >

From April through October, the High Line offers stargazing on Tuesdays from dusk to 9 p.m. Experts are available to discuss any sights of interest, and food vendors offer tacos, gelato, ice pops, and seasonal treats.

For more information on stargazing on the High line, click here>

The Egg Rolls, Egg Creams & Empanadas Festival honors the Lower East Side's diverse ethnic communities. The festival, which takes place Sunday, is sponsored by the Museum at Eldridge Street and features Chinese, Jewish, and Spanish food and art.

Click here for more information on the festival >

On Tuesday over 1 million visitors will descend on "Museum Mile" to gain free entry to some of the city's best museums. The Museum Mile Festival gives open access to all of the museums on Fifth Avenue from 82nd to 105th streets.

Find out more about the Museum Mile Festival here>

From April through November, Brooklyn offers free outdoor flea markets on Saturdays in Fort Greene and Sundays in Williamsburg from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. You'll find about 150 vendors offering vintage clothing, furniture, handmade crafts, and food at what The New York Times has called "one of the great urban experiences" in New York.

Check out the Brooklyn flea markets here >

Bubble Battle, created by the makers of Pillow Fight NYC, attracts thousands on June 13 for a massive bubble war in public spaces across New York including Astor Place, Times Square, the Coney Island Boardwalk, and Union Square.

Click here to learn more about Bubble Battle>

The Downtown Boathouse offers free kayak rides on the Hudson River every Saturday and Sunday from May through October. Times vary based on the weekend, but the boathouse provides instructions and safety equipment so you can enjoy a smooth ride.

For times and information on the Downtown Boathouse, click here>

The largest free performance festival in New York, SummerStage is a series of concerts, readings, and dance shows that take place from May to October across 14 neighborhood parks. Admission is first come, first served, so make sure to arrive early.

For showings and information on SummerStage, click here>

One of New York's most iconic and largest parades, Coney Island's Mermaid Parade, held June 20, showcases 1,500 artists who plan to create stunning floats, costumes, and performances for the event, which has been held since 1983.

Click here to learn more about the Coney Island Mermaid Parade>

Every year on June 21, more than 11,000 people gather to celebrate the longest day of the year with a massive yoga celebration in Times Square.

Click here to learn more about joining the party>

Free outdoor movies are offered across the city every summer, and Bryant Park is one of the best spots to watch films. Bring picnic food and a blanket and watch classic favorites every Monday at 5 p.m. from June 22 through mid-August.

Find out more about the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival here>

During Night at the Museums, 15 museums and historic locations across downtown New York — including the National September 11 Memorial and Fraunces Tavern Museum — offer free admission and special programs from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on June 23.

To find out which museums you can visit, click here>

Take part in one of the biggest gay-pride celebrations in the world. During The March on June 28, thousands of revelers plan to march down Fifth Avenue in a lively celebration with over-the-top costumes, live music, and incredibly colorful floats.

Click here to find out more about the March >

Go for a swim in one of the city's free outdoor pools, which reopen for the summer on June 27. The pools are open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

To find out more about NYC's outdoor pools, click here >

Macy's has held its massive fireworks display for the Fourth of July each year since 1976. Fireworks will be set off from the Brooklyn Bridge to create a stunning sight across the East River.

Click here to learn more about the Macy’s Fireworks show>

Looking to get down after work? Head to Bryant Park on Wednesday evenings to dance to live music with the help of instructors. Dancing in Bryant Park runs until June 24 and features everything from waltzing to West Coast swing to samba.

To find out more about Dancing in Bryant Park, click here >

Watch contestants stuff as many hot dogs as they can in their mouths at the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island. This is serious competition: An estimated 40,000 fans show up every year to watch the ESPN-televised event.

Click here to learn more about Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest>

The Brooklyn Bridge is open year-round, but the summer heat makes for a great walk along the East River. Head to Grimaldi’s Pizza once you make your way to the end of the bridge.

Embrace your inner Francophile and celebrate Bastille Day on July 14 with a parade on 60th Street in Manhattan, or head to Cobble Hill for a street party with petanque, absinthe, and French treats.

Learn more about Bastille Day in New York »

Head to Governors Island on July 18 for the City of Water Day Festival, which includes free events on the water such as boat tours, kayaking, and children's activities.

To find out more about the City of Water Day, click here >

On the first and third Wednesday of every month from May through October, crowds gather at 6:30 p.m. to participate in Bryant Park’s pingpong tournaments. Pre-registration opens a month before each event, and you can even schedule to host a pingpong party.

Learn more about Bryant Park Ping Pong here>

Watch 2,000 racers compete in an exciting dragon boat race at the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in Flushing Meadows Park on August 8.

Click here to find out more about the festival >

Travel back in time while watching a performance of William Shakespeare's "The Tempest" at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park as part of The Public Theater's Free Shakespeare in the Park. Performances run throughout the summer.

Click here for dates and tickets >

Check out the wares at a New York street fair. There are fairs all over the city nearly every weekend.

Learn more about the street fair schedule »

Celebrate Indian culture and watch floats showcasing the country's traditions at the India Day Parade, which heads down Madison Avenue, from 38th Street to 23rd Street, on August 16.

For the parade route, click here >

Savor some barbecue while enjoying blues music at the Hudson River Park's Blues BBQ on August 22. The event features food from some of New York's best barbecue restaurants alongside blues artists.

Click here to find out more information about the Blues BBQ >

Catch free screenings of 10 productions from the Metropolitan Opera's Live in HD series. The HD productions are shown outside at the Lincoln Center Plaza on 10 consecutive nights from August 28 till September 6.

For more information on the festival, click here >

Stroll around Brooklyn's Brighton Beach neighborhood on August 30 for the Brighton Beach Jubilee, which will feature ethnically diverse performances, food, and rides.

For more information on the jubilee, click here >

Looking for more things to do in New York City?

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