Living just a short train ride away from New York City and having so many things to do at our disposal, sometimes we forget to take advantage of everything at our fingertips. Ridiculously, I'd never been here to the lake in Central Park until a few months ago and I was amazed at how beautiful and secluded it is right in the heart of Manhattan. There are all sorts of sites events, and activities to enjoy as a family without the usual fees, if you just know where to look.
Take Home Depot. Did you know they offer "workshops for kids" one Saturday a month throughout the country? Each child is given all the supplies needed to complete a wood project with an employee guiding them through the steps. In addition to taking home their project, kids receive an orange apron as part of this little-known free program.
There are also library programs. The offers an astounding variety of both adult and children's programs that many New Hyde Park residents participate in. But did you know that we can also take advantage of many programs offered other Nassau County libraries? Defensive driving, English-as-a-second-language, cooking, Irish step dancing performances, career workshops, history lectures, crafts, puppet shows, computer classes, tax advice, music and more are all regularly on the calendar free of charge at libraries near New Hyde Park. Check out the Garden City, Franklin Square, Floral Park, Elmont, and Mineola libraries for more great options. And libraries also rent out music CDs for free and DVD movies for just $1. Such a deal!
As for museums, there are opportunities to see some of the world's most fascinating museums right in our area for free or close to nothing. The Museum of American Finance at 48 Wall St. is free Tuesdays through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. through 11:00 a.m. (they also offer numerous walking tours of the financial district). Also, the Children's Museum of the Arts at 182 Lafayette St. is free on Thursdays; the Bronx Zoo is free (for the grounds only) every Wednesday; the New York Botanical Gardens is also free on Wednesdays; Forbes Galleries at the Forbes magazine headquarters, 62 Fifth Ave. are free Tuesdays through Saturdays (there is an interesting collections including toy soldiers, Monopoly games, Hudson valley jewelry and more); and the Brooklyn Botanical Garden is free for admittance on Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
You should also check the library for free "museum passes" to the Guggenheim Museum; Nassau County Museum of Art; Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum; American Museum of Natural History; and the Westbury Gardens.
Another fun and free thing to do in New York City is to hit a street fair. Starting in April, there are street festivals and fairs for any reason and no reason at all, from the Times Square Block Party, Herald Square Spring Party, Romanian Day Street Fair, Amsterdam Avenue Fair, Children of the World Festival and the Grand Central Festival to name a few. There are dozens more through the spring, summer and fall. They're a great place to explore, walk, find ethnic food, music, and goods, and, of course, people watch. Check out www.nycstreetfairs.com for a complete listing.