Sick of the NYC Black Friday frenzy? Not remotely interested in long lines and fights over discounted Coach bags? Want to spend the day doing literally anything but shopping? Here’s a list of some great activities to do in New York City next weekend–for a more enjoyable use of your precious free time.
What to Do in NYC 0n Black Friday (That Isn’t Shopping)
New York City is full of amazing ways to pass any day, and Black Friday is no exception. While the rest of the world is scrambling to secure the latest high end fashion trends–you’ll be doing anything but. Here’s a list of a few great things to do in and around the city that never sleeps.
Visit the American Museum of Natural History
- Location: 200 Central Park West
What to do at the American Museum of Natural History
The Museum of Natural History is the perfect spot to spend a day with family, friends, or even by yourself–taking in the sights of worlds past and enjoying the latest attractions.
Currently, the museum’s newest exhibits are “Extinct and Endangered” and “Discover The World of Sharks.” The first focuses on insects (small and large) that are currently endangered or extinct–and their roles in protecting our ecosystems. Even the most microscopic of insects play a crucial role in our environment. Large format photographs show the most miniscule of details in each creature’s composition–and writing beneath reveals the many intricacies of their behaviors. For those with a great interest in environmental studies or animals–this is a must see! It’s only on display for a limited time– so get going!
The second, “Discover the World of Sharks”, is rather self explanatory. Sharks have always been a source of fascination and fear. The exhibit’s tagline is the following: “To be great is to be misunderstood”, and potentially nothing summarizes sharks more accurately. Tons of lifesize shark models are on display, and interactive exhibits allow visitors to “hunt” like one of the ocean’s greatest predators.
Besides the temporary exhibits, tons of permanent wonders are on display at the Museum of Natural History. The bones of dinosaurs, the histories of cavemen, the famous model of a blue whale…there’s more than any one person could explore in a day.
Rooms like the “Hall of Biodiversity” explore animals’ important roles in nature and the history of their evolution. There’s exhibits exploring meteors, birds, reptiles, and even the foliage of New York State. However you spend your time at the American Museum of Natural History—it’s certainly more informative than a shopping spree.
Visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Location: 1000 5th Ave.
What to do at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
So maybe dinosaur bones and the history of evolution isn’t your thing–no big deal. The Metropolitan Museum of Art provides an experience that’s just as informative, in a different format.
Just like the Museum of Natural History, the Met has different rotating exhibits that provide a new twist to the typical displays. Currently, an exhibit on The Tudors is ongoing–exploring the “art and majesty of Renaissance England.” Under the Tudor Dynasty, art in Europe flourished—and the Met is putting some of those groundbreaking works on display (with a history lesson to boot.)
There’s an amazing collection of art to discover, with rooms dedicated to different eras, styles, and variations. From statues to impressionists, artifacts to modern marvels, there’s something for every aesthetic.
Catch a Broadway Show
Post-Covid Broadway is back, and some could argue it’s better than ever. Every show is worth witnessing, but here’s a few to consider.
“Moulin Rouge! The Musical”
Based on the hit 2001 movie, directed by none other than Baz Luhrmann, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” invites viewers into a magical world of “truth, beauty, freedom, and love!” With an extravagant set, amazing selection of musical medleys, and a dazzling cast, “Moulin Rouge” is bound to excite. Ditch the shopping trip and settle into those plush seats for a show you’re bound to remember.
“Funny Girl” has been making headlines with its recent casting of Glee’s Lea Michele as the starring role. As the revival of a classic masterpiece that’s been entertaining for decades–”Funny Girl” is certainly worth revisiting (over and over again.)
Four or so years back, a seat at “Hamilton” was as coveted (and impossible to attain) as a winning lottery ticket. Nowadays, the show is a bit more accessible—but nonetheless worth witnessing. For those of you who’ve only ever known the magic of “Hamilton” through headphones–what better way to spend your NYC Black Friday than experiencing the legendary musical live?
Based on a combination of two mythical stories, “Hadestown” combines the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice with Hades and Persephone. Journey to the underworld and experience heart wrenching ballads and catchy tunes written by songwriter Anais Mitchell.
“Some Like It Hot”
This musical comedy, based on the film by the same name, is a new show on Broadway worth catching. Featuring a score by the minds behind “Hairspray,” expect to get these songs stuck in your head for weeks to come. Filled with laughs, gags, and adventures, “Some Like It Hot” is a must-see for fans of the original film and for anyone who likes to be entertained.
Also new to the Broadway stage this musical, based on the cult classic film of the same name, is guaranteed to entertain. Set in 1973, the show follows an aspiring music journalist as he goes on tour with an up and coming band.
Where to Buy Broadway Tickets Online
Take a Day Trip to Witness “Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience”
- Location: FDR Park, Yorktown Heights, Westchester
So, What is it?
Presented by Warner Brothers and Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter, “Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience” is an immersive walkthrough for fans of the franchise. Giving classic characters, creatures, and scenes new life- the experience is ridden with music, lights, and animatronics that bring the woods behind Hogwarts to the real world.
From Ron and Harry’s flying car to Hagrid’s pet spider, each scene is celebrated and revisited with stunning interactive elements. Cast your own patronus or practice spells in the totally transformed woods of Yorktown’s FDR park! Shops throughout sell butterbeer, Slytherin-themed cocktails, hot chocolates themed to your Hogwarts house, and so much more!
The traveling exhibit is only up for a short while, so ditch the NYC Black Friday lines and grab tickets while you still can (no muggles allowed!)
Visit Saks Fifth Avenue (Only to See Their Holiday Light Display!)
- Location: 611 5th Ave
This One’s a challenge …
I get it, visiting Saks Fifth Ave in NYC on Black Friday without spending money seems an impossible feat. However, witnessing their annual light show is beyond worth the trip. Starting the week of Thanksgiving, Saks will usher in the holiday season—with a gorgeous display of music, lights, and more. For any who haven’t witnessed it, it’s a NYC must-see!
Take a Trip to the Bronx Zoo
- Location: 2300 Southern Blvd.
The Bronx Zoo is the perfect place to spend an afternoon, and bundled in your winter coat the walk through shouldn’t be too uncomfortable.
With tons of animals and interactive exhibits, it’s impossible not to enjoy every second spent within. The Congo Gorilla Forest brings you closer than ever to a variety of gorillas, and Tiger Mountain is home to one of the wild’s most ferocious predators. There’s rooms for reptiles, birds, amphibians and more as well as an interactive butterfly garden. From brown bears to giraffes, sea lions to ‘land lions’, almost every wild animal has found a home in none other than the Bronx, New York. Purchase your tickets here!
Go Ice Skating at Bryant Park!
- Location: Bryant Park, Manhattan
The Rink at Bryant Park
Open since October 28th, the rink at Bryant Park is the perfect place to usher in the holiday season. Open from 8am to 10pm all week long, admission is free (if you bring your own skates.) For those without, don’t fear—skate rental is available within. Grab a hot chocolate and a pair of gloves, and head over to the rink at Bryant Park!
Catch a Laugh at The Comedy Cellar
- Location: 117 Macdougal St.
What’s the Comedy Cellar?
The Comedy Cellar has been home to tons of up and coming comedy acts, as well as some highly recognizable comedians. These days, we all need something to laugh at. The Comedy Cellar (and their connected venue, The Village Underground) has a line up of performers bound to entertain. For those in desperate need of a night out with friends, the Comedy Cellar is a decent pick. Check out their current line up here.