The Best Of Free New York City This August

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Not that it’s entirely unusual to hear a hodgepodge of German, Spanish, French and Dutch when you’re riding the subway in New York City, but the fact that a majority of those that I’ve been hearing are clutching guidebooks, wearing Styrofoam Statue of Liberty crowns, and poring over subway maps only means one thing: it’s August in New York.

Which is why I thought I’d try to help out a bit and list some of my favorite, and more importantly, free things to do in the big city during the month of August.

1) Central Park hosts Shakespeare in the Park, but good luck getting tickets. For free music, dance and film, check out the Central Park SummerStage, with shows in August ranging from dance by The Wheeldon Company, to music by The Pretenders and Dinosaur Jr.

2) With events all over Manhattan, the River to River Festival has historically hosted some of the best free shows in the summer, from indie to classic rock. Though I wouldn’t normally recommend it, a trip to South Street Seaport is a wonderfully odd place to watch music and drink a beer on a warm summer night given the bobbing 19th-century ships floating in the harbor next to the stage.

3) Free outdoor movies are actually easy to come by in the summer. Bryant Park hosts movies every Monday (The Magnificent Seven, Close Encounters of the Third Kind), Brooklyn hosts flicks under the Brooklyn Bridge (Butch Cassidy, Catch Me If You Can, and Edward Scissorhands), and indie flicks and shorts are the main course with the Rooftop Films series.

4) And believe it or not, NYC actually has some decent beaches, perfect for those sweltering mid-August days where an afternoon spent trudging the melting asphalt doesn’t sound too pleasing. The Parks and Recreation site has a listing of beaches, including directions, for all beaches, the best and perhaps most scenic being Rockaway Beach, where you can even do a little surfing.

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