Free stuff in New York? Believe it

NEW YORK -- Believe it or not, this city is chock full of free activities and attractions, most of which are available this summer.

If you know where to look, you can sample free concerts, plays, museum exhibitions and tours throughout the five boroughs.

The following are some examples of tours and activities that are free:

  • Get a feel for New York as a real New Yorker sees it with a guided tour by a Big Apple Greeter.
  • These experienced local volunteers will share the secrets of their favorite neighborhoods at no charge.

    Appointments must be made at least three weeks in advance.

    For details, call (212) 669-8159 or visit www.bigapplegreeter.org.

  • Enjoy concerts and dance performances under giant palm trees at the World Financial Center's Winter Garden, a glass-enclosed shopping and business complex on lower Manhattan's waterfront that holds free events throughout the summer.
  • Call (212) 945-0505 or visit the Web at www.worldfinancialcenter.com.

  • Watch millions of dollars' worth of commodities change hands at the noisy New York Mercantile Exchange.
  • Mondays through Fridays, trading at the Comex Division is from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; trading at the Nymex Division is from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

    Its museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call (212) 299-2499.

    Drop by the Hayden Sphere at the Rose Center for Earth and Space for an evening of jazz every Friday from 5:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. The music is free with the suggested museum admission of $10.

  • Enjoy folk paintings, furniture, pottery, quilts and other decorative arts from the 18th century to the present at the Museum of American Folk Art, Tuesdays through Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Call (212) 595-9533 or visit www.folkartmuseum.org.

  • Historical and contemporary designs can be viewed for free at the Cooper-Hewitt National Museum of Design on Tuesday evenings from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Call (212) 849-8400 or visit www.si.edu/ndm.

  • Explore 4,000 years of Jewish history at the Jewish Museum, which showcases 14,000 artifacts and is free on Tuesday evenings from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Call (212) 423-3200 or visit www.thejewishmuseum.org.

  • Special exhibitions are showcased at the Guggenheim Museum SoHo, open Thursdays through Mondays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. with free admission at all times.
  • Call (212) 423-3500 or visit www.guggenheim.org.

  • Unique urban art is on display for free at the Municipal Art Society's Urban Center Gallery from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The museum is closed on Sundays and Thursdays. For details, call (212) 935-3960.
  • Explore the largest collection in the world devoted to Native American history and culture for free at the National Museum of the American Indian.
  • The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursdays to 8 p.m. Call (212) 668-6624 or visit http://www.nmai.si.edu/.

  • Catapult into the future at the Sony Wonder Technology Lab, where high-tech interactive exhibits entertain children of all ages.
  • The attraction is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays, and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays.

    For more information, call (212) 833-8100 or visit www.sonywondertechlab.com.

  • By calling in advance, you can attend free tapings of popular television shows, including "Late Night with David Letterman," at (212) 975-5853; "Live with Regis and Kelly," at (212) 456-3054, and the "Montel Williams Show," at (212) 830-0364.
  • Explore the Art Deco Rockefeller Center on a free, self-guided tour. Pick up maps in the main lobby at 30 Rockefeller Center. Call (212) 332-6868.
  • Taste farm-fresh produce, homemade breads, cheeses, cider and more at the Union Square Green Market, where some vendors offer free samples. Call (212) 477-9220.
  • Browse for bargains at the famous Sixth Avenue Antiques Market between 24th and 26th Streets, which is free on weekends. Call (212) 243-5343.
  • Revel in the best classical music, jazz, drama, opera and dance that New York has to offer at free warm-weather performances in the city's parks by the New York Philharmonic, City Opera, Shakespeare in the Park and many more.
  • For details, Call the City of New York Parks and Recreation Special Events Phone Line at (888) NY-PARKS or visit www.centralparknyc.org.

  • Everything that's news is on display at the First Amendment Center (formerly Newseum New York), which showcases photography exhibits, lectures and films about journalism and the media. Call (212) 317-6508.
  • Take advantage of special exhibitions at the beaux arts New York Public Library.
  • Call (212) 221-7676 or visit www.nypl.org.

  • Drop by the Hayden Sphere at the Rose Center for Earth and Space, at 81st Street just off Central Park West, for an evening of live jazz, tapas and drinks Fridays from 5:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.
  • The museum's suggested donation is $10. For details, call (212) 769-5100 or visit www.amnh.org.

  • Explore the beauty of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, which is free on Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Children under the age of 16 always are admitted free. Call (718) 623-7200.
  • Although the New York Hall of Science suspends its free admission (Thursdays and Fridays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.) during the summer, it resumes in September.
  • The regular price, in effect during July and August, is $6. Call (718) 699-0005 or visit www.nyhallsci.org.

  • In the Bronx, enjoy great views from Wave Hill, the acclaimed public garden and cultural institution overlooking the Hudson and Palisades.
  • Admission is free all day Tuesday, and Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon. All other times, admission is $4 for adults, $2 for seniors and students and free for children under the age of 6.

    For more information, call (718) 549-3200.

  • The Socrates Sculpture Park, a free outdoor museum located on the East River in Long Island City, Queens, is an abandoned garbage dump that was turned into a vital community resource.
  • It serves as both a major art institution and as reclaimed open space allowing public access to the waterfront.

    It is open daily until sunset. Call (718) 956-1819.

  • Take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry for views of the lower Manhattan skyline, the harbor and the Statue of Liberty.
  • The ferry is free at all times. Call (718) 727-2508.

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