Free fun in New York City?

Originally Published: January 29, 2010 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: March 6, 2014
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Dear Alice,

Could you suggest some specific things for Columbia students to do for fun? I don't drink or do drugs, and I don't have money to go shopping or to fancy restaurants. When it's nice out I like to walk through central park, but I can't think of anything to do at night or in the winter. It's specifically nighttime when boredom hits the most.

Thanks so much,

—Bored in the City

Dear Reader,

Spending the big bucks may seem inevitable to a cash-strapped city goer. This is especially true if you're a student pressed between a heavy load of school work and a tight budget. But have no fear — the city that never sleeps offers a plethora of opportunities to learn, explore, and enjoy without blowing all your savings. You could start by checking out NYC: The Official Guide. You can also join their email list to receive information on free or low-cost things going on around the city. In addition, a visit to Time Out New York, or even an Internet search for "free things to do in New York City" should return more results than you can possibly fit onto your calendar.

Being a Columbia student also comes with its own perks to help the financially frugal enjoy their time in the big city. These include:

  • Free museum admission: Your handy student ID card gets current undergraduate and graduate students into thirty museums for free. You can check out the CU Arts page for a list of museums offering free admission to Columbia Students.
  • Free and discounted theater tickets: CU Arts has information on free shows and discounted tickets that might be a great passport into New York nightlife.
  • Free campus perks: The Dodge physical fitness center offers weight rooms, a track, basketball courts, ping pong tournaments and much more to keep boredom from turning you into a couch potato.
  • Free music, poetry, comedy and storytelling: The Postcrypt coffeehouse features professional and student performances every Friday and Saturday night throughout the academic year — all for a cost of $0!

Lastly, you can check out Columbia's Office of Student Development and Activities. They have tons of information on school-related activities, organizations, jobs, and internships to fill the gaps in your schedule.

Boredom, beware. Onwards towards more and more free fun!

Alice