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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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1. Meditate at Wave Hill

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649 W 249th St
Bronx, NY 10471
(718) 549-3200
Visit Website

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

2. Seasonal arts and crafts at Poe Park Visitor Center

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2640 Grand Concourse
Bronx, NY 10458
(718) 365-5516
Visit Website

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

3. Harlem Street Tree Care

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Frederick Douglass Blvd
New York, NY

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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4. See an exhibit at the Arsenal in Central Park

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830 5th Ave
New York, NY 10065
(212) 360-8163
Visit Website

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

5. Take advantage of MoMA’s free Friday admission

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44 W 53rd St
New York, NY 10019
(212) 767-1050
Visit Website

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

6. Check out a miniature model of NYC at Grand Central Terminal

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89 E 42nd St
New York, NY 10017
(212) 340-2583
Visit Website

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.

7. Play football at Flushing Meadows Corona Park

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(718) 760-6565
Visit Website

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

8. Take a walking tour of Bushwick

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Bushwick
Brooklyn, NY

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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9. Hike through Prospect Park

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(718) 965-8951
Visit Website

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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10. Check out rare ornaments at Alice’s Garden

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2102, 298 Satterlee St
Staten Island, NY 10307
(718) 984-6046
Visit Website

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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1. Meditate at Wave Hill

649 W 249th St, Bronx, NY 10471
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.

649 W 249th St
Bronx, NY 10471

2. Seasonal arts and crafts at Poe Park Visitor Center

2640 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY 10458
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.

2640 Grand Concourse
Bronx, NY 10458

3. Harlem Street Tree Care

Frederick Douglass Blvd, New York, NY
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.)

Frederick Douglass Blvd
New York, NY

4. See an exhibit at the Arsenal in Central Park

830 5th Ave, New York, NY 10065
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.

830 5th Ave
New York, NY 10065

5. Take advantage of MoMA’s free Friday admission

44 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019
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.

44 W 53rd St
New York, NY 10019

6. Check out a miniature model of NYC at Grand Central Terminal

89 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017

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.

89 E 42nd St
New York, NY 10017

7. Play football at Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Queens, NY
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.

8. Take a walking tour of Bushwick

Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY
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.

Bushwick
Brooklyn, NY

9. Hike through Prospect Park

Brooklyn, NY 11225
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.

10. Check out rare ornaments at Alice’s Garden

2102, 298 Satterlee St, Staten Island, NY 10307

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.

2102, 298 Satterlee St
Staten Island, NY 10307