The Ultimate Cheapskate's Guide to Brooklyn

From Food to Fun! Enjoy Brooklyn on a Budget

Locals love to analyze the sky rocketing real estate prices around Brooklyn, but you don't have to spend a fortune for a visit to Brooklyn. From economical activities to cheap eats, here's a guide for anyone who is on a budget (and who isn't?). You don't have to break the bank on your next trip to Brooklyn, and it doesn't take too much tweaking to save some serious bucks. 

I'll confess that I've spent over $10 for a grilled cheese sandwich and almost $15 for a sundae in Brooklyn, but after a few mistakes, I was able to discover places where you don't have to pay a ton for good food and fun. Yes, it's still true that an apartment in brownstone Brooklyn costs as much as a mansion in other parts of the country, but you can still find a slice of pizza for a buck and world-class museums offer free admission on various days. 

If you're really on a strict budget, you should peruse Brokelyn, a site created for budget friendly Brooklyn folk and don't forget Time Out New York is free, so pick up a copy while you're here and check out free shows and events that week. 

Now, check out these 14 free (or almost free) activities! 

01 of 14

Soak in the Rays in Coney Island

Coney Island Boardwalk

 Alexander Spatari / Getty Images

Coney Island

While many of America's beaches come with a high price tag, you can spend the day at Coney Island for free. Pack a beach blanket and spend a lazy day in the sand and surf at Coney Island. During the summer months, there is a lifeguard on duty. Afterward stroll the iconic Coney Island boardwalk. Pack a lunch to make it a perfect economical day. If you aren't that prepared, you can pick up a Nathan's Hot Dog. If you happen to be there on May 28th, they are offering five cent hot dogs to celebrate their 100th anniversary. 

02 of 14

Score a One Dollar Slice

2 Bros Pizza

Courtesy of 2 Bros Pizza 


2 Bros Pizza 

Yes, I've spent over twenty-five bucks on a pizza pie in Brooklyn, but you can still find a slice for a buck (yes, that means a pie costs less than ten dollars). Head to the Brooklyn outpost of this NYC chain and devour their dirt cheap pizza at 2 Bros Pizza.

03 of 14

Go to a Free Party

Brooklyn Museum

perke / Flickr / CC BY 2.0 

Target First Saturdays at the Brooklyn Museum

There is no better way to celebrate the start of the month than at Target First Saturday at the Brooklyn Museum. The themed party on the first Saturday of each month (except September) from 5pm-11pm, allows free access to the museum and also comes with entertainment, from musical performances to gallery talks and activities. This is not to be missed. I must warn you, it does get quite crowded.

04 of 14

Roller Skating with a View

Pier 2 Roller Rink

Courtesy of Pier 2 Roller Rink

Brooklyn Bridge Skating 

Don't forget to pack your roller skates, because on Mondays from 3-6pm you can skate for free at Pier 2 at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Marvel at the incredible views of Lower Manhattan as you skate at this enormous rink that pumps in all of the latest pop songs. I suggest getting there early, since this tends to attract a crowd. Just to note, admission is from $3-$5 with an additional $6 for skate rental, so even if you can't make the free skate session, this is still a fun budget friendly activity.

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05 of 14

Hop aboard a barge

Waterfront Museum Barge

Courtesy of Waterfront Museum / Steven McGill

Waterfront Museum

Visit this museum housed on a restored barge docked in trendy Red Hook. On Thursdays from 4pm-8pm and Saturdays from 1pm-5pm, enjoy a trip to this eternally quirky museum that doubles as a home for the owners. Admission is free, but you can make a donation. Take a free tour of this historic 1914 barge.

06 of 14

Take a Boat

Governor's Island—six fun places you can take a ferry from New York City

Kate Glicksberg / NYC & Company

Governors Island Ferry

For two bucks you can take the ferry from Brooklyn Bridge Park to Governors Island. The roundtrip fare is a great deal for anyone on a budget, and if you have kids under twelve, they're free. The seasonal summer ferry service provides folks with a ride to this 22-acre National Park. The Island hosts many activities and events all summer long. Check their website for ferry times and events. Cyclists will be happy to note that they can bring their bikes on the ferry.

07 of 14

Drink at a Dive Bar

Montero's Bar & Grill

Kilgub / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


In Brooklyn, cocktails can cost as much as entrees. If you want to drink without spending all your cash, head to Montero's on Atlantic Avenue. This historic and atmospheric bar is a local haunt and has free karaoke nights. Be prepared for a fun night, where your uber ride home might cost more than your drinking budget. If you want some happy hour deals, check out our list of frugal happy hour deals.

08 of 14

Have a Picnic or go Camping

Sitting in Brooklyn Bridge Park underneath Brooklyn Bridge

Cultura Exclusive / Henglein and Streets / Getty Images

New York City Parks 

Head to one of Brooklyn's many parks and dine al fresco. My favorite picnic is to pick up a bunch of good eats from Sahadis and walk down Atlantic Avenue and enjoy a meal at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Or you can head to Prospect Park and gather supplies at Blue Apron Foods on Union Street.

If you're daring and really enjoy nature, you can camp at Floyd Bennett Field, a defunct airport, which offers camp sites. It's twenty dollars for a campsite and it's open from May through October. You won't find cheaper accommodations in Brooklyn, unless you crash on your friend's couch.

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09 of 14

See a Free Flick

Brooklyn Bridge Park free movie

Andrew Lichtenstein / Getty Images

In Brooklyn you can see movies at posh indie movie theaters where you can dine on high-end cuisine and craft cocktails, but you can also see a free flick under the stars at the many Brooklyn summer film screenings around the borough. If you're visiting Brooklyn in the warmer months, you can take your pick of free flicks. From films on the Red Hook waterfront to movies in a popular Williamsburg park, here's a list of free summer film festivals. 

10 of 14

See a Concert Celebrate Brooklyn

Celebrate Brooklyn—Digable Planets & Camp Lo

Al Pereira / WireImage / Getty Images

Celebrate Brooklyn

For a three dollar donation, you can spend your evenings listening to an array of music at the bandshell in Prospect Park. Pack a blanket and find a spot on the lawn as you enjoy everything from classical to contemporary music.

11 of 14

Get Schooled in History

Brooklyn Historical Society

Courtesy of Brooklyn Historical Society

Brooklyn Historical Society 

On Free Fridays. enjoy free access to the Brooklyn Historical Society from 5pm-9pm. Upcoming dates include September 9th, October 14th, November 11th and December 9th. Each evening has an extensive list of activities. Learn about the history of Brooklyn while strolling through the Brooklyn Historical Society in charming Brooklyn Heights.

12 of 14

Smell the Roses

The Cranford Rose Garden

Courtesy of Brooklyn Botanic Garden

 Brooklyn Botanic Garden

On Tuesdays, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is free to the public. Spend the day smelling the roses and other flowers at this scenic garden. 

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13 of 14

Get Literary

Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn

annulla / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Brooklyn is home to some of the world's most noted writers, and you can hear many of them read for free. Book Court and Greenlight Bookstore host evening readings for no cost. Check out their schedules for a list of upcoming readings. 

14 of 14

See Shakespeare in the Park

Smith Street Stage—Much Ado About Nothing

Steven Pisano / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Smith Street Stage

See The Tempest from June 8 - June 26 at 7:30 pm in Brooklyn's Carroll Park. All performances are free to the public. Bring chairs or a blanket and watch another fine performance from this stellar acting company, which has been performing Shakespeare in Carroll Park since 2010.

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