Hot Fun In The City - Free Summer Fun In New York City

New Yorker’s are notorious for flocking, at the closing bell, to their air conditioned Volvo’s and hitting the Long Island Expressway for the over crowded and yet always chic Hamptons. Seasoned New Yorker’s are finding ways to beat the city heat and soaring gas prices and find fun and relaxation in the city for free.

New York’s Summer Stage

New York’s Summer Stage offers thirty-two days and nights of free film, music, dance and readings in the middle of New York City’s Central Park. Central Park’s Summer Stage is located closest to the East side entrance at Fifth Avenue and 72nd Street.  All events take place as scheduled and are not subject to cancellation for inclement weather.

Central Park Summer Stage Series.

Putumayo, world music, is the theme for this years events as a multinational representation of sounds from throughout the world are featured in New York’s Summer Stage line up. Poetry, crime stories, tragedy and the Immigrants experience highlight the spoken word series; funky soulful jazz and the fusion of sounds from the world stage; contemporary dance and soul stirring gospel are all featured.

The Spoken Word, Jazz, Gospel: The Summer Stage series has something for everyone.

Central Park’s Summer Stage has something for everyone. Admission is on a first come first serve basis with no tickets required. Entrance is one hour before the events scheduled start time. 

Shakespeare in the Park – The Public Theater

Shakespeare in the Park is a ritual for most New Yorker’s. In a city where the lights of Broadway are always welcoming and often pricey, free theater, in one of the most beautiful parks in the world, is a luxury that carters to all on a first come first served basis. It has been said that Jackie O, one of the most ultra chic residents of New York, waited in the very long line just like every other person. The lines, especially on the weekends are daunting and begin as early as 6:00am, snaking through the parks interior, until the tickets are distributed at noon.

Is this the line?

The performance is always worth the early morning wait with shows headlined by a who’s who in American and British television and theater. Where else can you see Meryl Streep or Patrick Stewart or Kevin Kline up close and personal for free? My most vivid and fondest memories are of Patrick Stewart challenging the Gods as massive storms rolled in and his booming voice matched note per note the thunder’s roar. He won out and the rain subsided, for the moment.

Meryl Streep as Mother Courage during the 2007 season.

The show must go on and it always does. Inclement weather is the sign to bring an umbrella and tough it out like the rest of us and enjoy the dedication of those who are without umbrella and are still giving of their talent to bring theater to the public free of charge. The entrance for The Public Theater is at 80th and Central Park West.

New Yorker's can be treated to Free Theater as often as they can brave the long lines.

Mid-Sumer Night Swing at Lincoln Center

On Manhattan’s famed upper west side near the tony Juilliard School stands the home of the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Opera, the New York City Ballet and the famed Lincoln Center Fountain. The appreciation for the performance arts that are skillfully and with precision presented inside these buildings  for twenty days in the summer are brought outdoors to a center stage for Lincoln Center’s  Mid-Summer Night Swing party. The Lincoln Center Pavilion becomes a ballroom filled with music ranging from Benny Goodman’s Band to Salsa and Hot Latino flavor to the always welcome, and equally outrageous, Village People.

Benny Goodman's Orchestra plays Lincoln Center.

The fountain is covered and the dancers are in abundance. They line the parameter of the pavilion and fill the center dance floor. It becomes a dancer paradise that gives way to opportunity for countless dance lovers to test those skilled, or not skilled, dancing feet with the professionals, who offer their services for free, or the not so professional, who don’t seem to mind having their toes stepped on.

Dancers party at Lincoln Center's Mid-Summer Night Swing.

It is a place where music fills the air and New Yorkers from every part of the city make their way to Lincoln Center to dance the night away under the stars.  Mid-Summer Night Swing runs from July 8 through July 26.

The Village People live at Lincoln Center.

Coney Island

The famous Coney Island, accessible by subway, is one the oldest and most evolved beaches in the area and provides affordable getaways for budget minded New Yorker’s to enjoy some great beach fun.  The metro card never looked so good!

Nathan's Hot Dogs: Don't leave Coney Island without one!

Coney Island is a year-round beach community with a seasonal population that can quadruple on a daily basis. The most famous Coney Island event is the annual Fourth of July Nathan’s Hot Dog’s eating contest where for twelve minutes contestants devour as many of the World famous Hot Dog’s as one can possibly consume. 

Battling it out for the top dog spot in Nathan's Famous Hot Dog eating contest.

The water temperatures stay in the mid 60’s for most of the summer and are a welcome relief when the sweltering heat grips the city and the heat index hits 90 degrees. The amusement park is home to the famous Coney Island Roller Coaster and Parachute Drop.  The boardwalk stretches for miles and is lined with delicious sea food delicacies, the usual burgers, fries and dogs. Nathan’s famous Hot Dog stand is located at the beach’s entrance.

Looking Inland at the world famous Coney Island Beach, Roller Coaster, Ferris Wheel and Parachute Drop.

The Coney Island Boardwalk, amusement park and beach is still a budget minded city dwellers best bet.

Beach Day Packages - When you have to get away

Walking the beaches or watching the surf Jones beach holds something for everyone.

Other beach excursions are offered through Long Island Rail Road day packages for the great beach escape to many Long Island beaches:  Jones Beach, Robert Moses and Long Beach. The package to Jones Beach from Penn Station runs about sixteen dollars roundtrip. Trains leave on the half-hour and the best bet is to take the late morning train for a complete afternoon of sun, surf and beautiful beaches. The Jones Beach excursion includes shuttle bus to and from the train station with late evening pick-ups to accommodate the Jones Beach Concert series.

From the Stage at Jones Beach. The Concert series offers a great line-up, in a great setting with affordable ticket prices.

Long Beach has the some most pristine beaches with plenty of shoreline to walk. All LIRR Day Trip depart from Penn Station.  The  Long Beach excursion takes weary New Yorker’s one hour from the city and coutless miles mentally. 

A seaside sunset, surf, sand, beach: What more could you ask for?


It is one of the few Long Beaches to have dining facilities. Dinner, after a day at the beach, is done either casual in an outdoor café setting with a full menu or indoors where proper attire is expected. The menu runs the range of finger fare appetizers, Wings and dipping sauce to the full course meals. Prices, depending on your choices, of course, range from reasonable for the budget minded to standard and expected at a medium range for a full-course meal. With any dinner choice alcoholic beverages always increase the tab.

From the city with transportation and a dinner of appetizers plus a full ocean sunset at no extra charge you can expect around $35.00 dollars per person.

The Sunset over the Robert Moses Causeway.

Manhattan Street Fairs run in abundance throughout the summer. For a listing of street closings and fair listings check 311.

Kabob’s, gyro's and other ethnic food vendors line the street fairs in new York.

For a taste of Americana try the HBO Monday Night at the Drive-In that offers a classic movie series in Bryant Park. Movies begin at Dusk, are free, (BYOB), that's Bring Your Own Blanket and open to all on a first come first serve basis.

The HBO Bryant Summer Drive in Movie Series. Classic Film in an urban setting.

Enjoy other great free events range from the Macy’s Fourth Of July Fireworks to simple summer fun in New York’s Central Park.

Gucci's and Macy's: The perfect Fourth of July Combination.

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