top of page

Explore Harlem on a budget at these 5 free cultural destinations

Updated: Mar 16, 2020

The exhibit "A Ballad for Harlem" at the Schomburg Center is free to all visitors

On a budget and looking for some local spots that you–and maybe those guests crashing on your sofa over the holidays–can explore? You're in luck: some of the best places to visit in Harlem also happen to be free.

Here are five neighborhood destinations serving up terrific art, music and history that won't charge you an entrance fee of any kind (okay, one has a $5 suggested donation). From south to north, they are:​

20 E 127th St between Madison and Fifth Aves

Tue, Thu, Sat noon-5pm

After three years, the I, Too, Arts Collective has lost its lease at The Langston Hughes House, the 1869 brownstone where the poet spent the last 20 years of his life. The non-profit arts organization will be ending its run on December 31. In the meantime, stop by and check out the beautiful parlor floor holding the famed Harlem poet's very own typewriter, baby grand piano as well as some other mementos. There's a $5 suggested donation.

Lenfest Center for the Arts, 615 W 129th St between Broadway and 12th Ave

Wed-Fri noon-8pm; Sat, Sun noon-6pm

This art gallery run by Columbia University moved to the school's new Manhattanville campus two years ago and quickly grabbed art world headlines with its blockbuster show, Posing Modernity: The Black Model from Manet to Matisse. The current exhibit, Waiting for Omar Gatlato: Contemporary Art from Algeria and its Diaspora, is on view through March 15, 2020.

515 Malcolm X Blvd and 135th St

Mon, Thu-Sat 10am-6pm; Tue, Wed 10am-8pm

A division of the New York Public Library, the Schomburg Center isn't just a unique place to dig through rare books, manuscripts, photographs, moving images and more related to black culture, it's also a great spot for checking out fascinating (and free) exhibitions. Currently on view: Femmetography: The Gaze Shifted, about the black feminine gaze, and A Ballad for Harlem, a deep dive into the people and places that have made Harlem Harlem, closing on December 31.

Hamilton Grange National Memorial is free

414 W 141st St between St. Nicholas and Convent Aves

Wed-Sun 9am-5pm

Run by the National Park Service, founding father Alexander Hamilton's historic country home is always free to the public. Built by Hamilton in 1802, the charming two-story country estate invites visitors to learn more about his life through exhibits as well as tours of the ground floor complete with a restored parlor, dining room and study.

555 Edgecombe Ave and 160th Street, apt 3F

Sundays 3:30pm-5:30pm

Since 1994, tourists and jazz aficionados alike have been gathering every Sunday afternoon at the private apartment of pianist (and legend) Marjorie Eliot for an afternoon of free jazz. It's not too late to join them.

For daily updates, follow The Curious Uptowner on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

Screen Shot 2020-11-18 at 2.39.32 PM.png
  • Black Pinterest Icon
  • Black Twitter Icon
  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Black Instagram Icon
bottom of page