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10 free things to do in NYC on Black Friday

Skip the shopping frenzy and explore New York City without spending a dime

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While Thanksgiving is touted as a time to be grateful for the good things in life, it's also the calm before the storm known as Black Friday. The day after the holiday marks the unofficial kick-off of the holiday shopping season, luring in prospective customers with promises of steep deals and discounts.

But before you head out to the nearest shopping center, ask yourself, "Do I really need to give into the consumerism of it all?" If your answer is a definitive yes, then don't let us stop you. But if you're reading this, chances are you've already entertained the thought of skipping out on the shopping frenzy—here are 10 alternatives to consider this Black Friday that are free, fun, and far less stressful.

Looking for things to do with kids? Check out 35 family-friendly places to check out in NYC.

Are you a museum nerd? Visit these 13 museums with outstanding architecture, or these 17 under-the-radar cultural institutions.

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Meditate at Wave Hill

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Trade in the ridiculously long lines at stores for a a more calming experience: a free morning meditation session at the Bronx’s picturesque 28-acre Wave Hill. The event begins at 11 a.m. and takes place at the Wave Hill House—it’s free along with regular admission to the garden, a serene setting in its own right. Latecomers will not be admitted.

Joshua Bright

Seasonal arts and crafts at Poe Park Visitor Center

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If you’re looking for something to do with kids, bring them to the Poe Park Visitor Center in the Bronx for an afternoon of arts and crafts, where they can make masterpieces inspired by the season. The event takes places from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.

NYC Parks

Harlem Street Tree Care

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If you’ve got a green thumb (or even if you don’t), consider volunteering with NYC Parks Stewardship to learn how to cultivate and identify street trees. Volunteers will meet at 110th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard at 10 a.m.—be sure to register beforehand—and should be prepared to get a little dirty. (Don’t forget to bundle up, since it’s supposed to be cold on Friday.)

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See an exhibit at the Arsenal in Central Park

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The New York City Urban Field Station has resident artists who work with the organization to help encourage new ways of thinking about urban conservation, land management, and community resilience. Their work is on view in a new exhibit, “City as Ecosystem,” that’s on view at Central Park’s historic Arsenal building.

NYC Parks

Take advantage of MoMA’s free Friday admission

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As always, the Museum of Modern Art will offer gratis admission between 4 and 8 p.m. on Black Friday as part of its Uniqlo Free Friday event. Check out one of the museum’s newest exhibits, “City Dreams,” by Bodys Isek Kingelez; if you want to miss the inevitably huge line, arrive after 6 p.m.

Iwan Baan

Check out a miniature model of NYC at Grand Central Terminal

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The New York Transit Museum’s 17th Annual Holiday Train Show at Grand Central Terminal is up and running, and this year’s exhibition features a cityscape designed by Brooklyn-based artist Josh Cochran. The display showcases vintage model subway cars along with trains by Lionel Metro-North and the Polar Express. The exhibit is free and runs from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Play football at Flushing Meadows Corona Park

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Burn off some of that Thanksgiving Day grub with a fun game of football at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens. There are different time slots available for various age groups and adults can play a game of their own beginning at 1:45 p.m. The Turkey Bowl happens at the Al Oerter Recreation Center.

NYC Parks

Take a walking tour of Bushwick

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Free Tours by Foot will offer multiple walking tours—all of which are, as the name suggests, free—the day after Thanksgiving, and if you’re into graffiti, there’s a tour that takes you to Bushwick, where you’ll find some of the city’s most intriguing street art. The tour kicks off at 2 p.m. at meets at 288 Seigel Street.

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Hike through Prospect Park

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Get outdoors and enjoy a scenic hike through Prospect Park led by the Urban Park Rangers. The hike kicks off at 1 p.m. and will lead you to hidden paths and waterways and will allow you to get a glimpse of the park’s wildlife. Meet at the Audubon Center, near East Drive and Lincoln Road, if you’re interested in participating.

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Check out rare ornaments at Alice’s Garden

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Head to Alice’s Garden in Staten Island and revel in the beauty of “rare and unique architectural terra cotta ornaments,” some dating back more than 100 years. There’s also a wide assortment of native plants to enjoy. The garden will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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Meditate at Wave Hill

Joshua Bright

Trade in the ridiculously long lines at stores for a a more calming experience: a free morning meditation session at the Bronx’s picturesque 28-acre Wave Hill. The event begins at 11 a.m. and takes place at the Wave Hill House—it’s free along with regular admission to the garden, a serene setting in its own right. Latecomers will not be admitted.

Joshua Bright

Seasonal arts and crafts at Poe Park Visitor Center

NYC Parks

If you’re looking for something to do with kids, bring them to the Poe Park Visitor Center in the Bronx for an afternoon of arts and crafts, where they can make masterpieces inspired by the season. The event takes places from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.

NYC Parks

Harlem Street Tree Care

Shutterstock

If you’ve got a green thumb (or even if you don’t), consider volunteering with NYC Parks Stewardship to learn how to cultivate and identify street trees. Volunteers will meet at 110th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard at 10 a.m.—be sure to register beforehand—and should be prepared to get a little dirty. (Don’t forget to bundle up, since it’s supposed to be cold on Friday.)

Shutterstock

See an exhibit at the Arsenal in Central Park

NYC Parks

The New York City Urban Field Station has resident artists who work with the organization to help encourage new ways of thinking about urban conservation, land management, and community resilience. Their work is on view in a new exhibit, “City as Ecosystem,” that’s on view at Central Park’s historic Arsenal building.

NYC Parks

Take advantage of MoMA’s free Friday admission

Iwan Baan

As always, the Museum of Modern Art will offer gratis admission between 4 and 8 p.m. on Black Friday as part of its Uniqlo Free Friday event. Check out one of the museum’s newest exhibits, “City Dreams,” by Bodys Isek Kingelez; if you want to miss the inevitably huge line, arrive after 6 p.m.

Iwan Baan

Check out a miniature model of NYC at Grand Central Terminal

The New York Transit Museum’s 17th Annual Holiday Train Show at Grand Central Terminal is up and running, and this year’s exhibition features a cityscape designed by Brooklyn-based artist Josh Cochran. The display showcases vintage model subway cars along with trains by Lionel Metro-North and the Polar Express. The exhibit is free and runs from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Play football at Flushing Meadows Corona Park

NYC Parks

Burn off some of that Thanksgiving Day grub with a fun game of football at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens. There are different time slots available for various age groups and adults can play a game of their own beginning at 1:45 p.m. The Turkey Bowl happens at the Al Oerter Recreation Center.

NYC Parks

Take a walking tour of Bushwick

Shutterstock

Free Tours by Foot will offer multiple walking tours—all of which are, as the name suggests, free—the day after Thanksgiving, and if you’re into graffiti, there’s a tour that takes you to Bushwick, where you’ll find some of the city’s most intriguing street art. The tour kicks off at 2 p.m. at meets at 288 Seigel Street.

Shutterstock

Hike through Prospect Park

Shutterstock

Get outdoors and enjoy a scenic hike through Prospect Park led by the Urban Park Rangers. The hike kicks off at 1 p.m. and will lead you to hidden paths and waterways and will allow you to get a glimpse of the park’s wildlife. Meet at the Audubon Center, near East Drive and Lincoln Road, if you’re interested in participating.

Shutterstock

Check out rare ornaments at Alice’s Garden

Head to Alice’s Garden in Staten Island and revel in the beauty of “rare and unique architectural terra cotta ornaments,” some dating back more than 100 years. There’s also a wide assortment of native plants to enjoy. The garden will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.