Travel and spending seem to go hand in hand, but whether you’re driving down the road or flying across the country, every major city has free things to do – activities that allow you to explore and enjoy without shelling out entry fees.
While most museums have an entry fee, many of the nation’s top museums are free, including the Cable Car Museum, San Francisco, California; Houston Museum District (select museums and centers are always free, and others have free times), Houston, Texas; Smithsonian Institution museums – including 19 museums and galleries – Washington. D.C.; and the Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, Maryland.
In addition to these always free museums, many museums have selects days or times that are free, so inquire before you go.
More and more cities are investing in public art and offer free brochure guides for touring the public art at your leisure – from Laguna Beach, California, which is home to 75 pieces of public art, to New York City, which sponsors Art in the Parks. Contact the tourism offices for the cities you plan to visit to see what public art is available for viewing. In addition, many cities have art walks on select nights of the month, where you can walk from gallery to gallery enjoying the art and sampling free appetizers.
Most zoos rely on admissions to help fund them, but several renowned zoos are free, including Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, Illinois; Saint Louis Zoo, St. Louis, Missouri; and the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, Washington, D.C. Zoos are especially great when traveling with grandchildren!
What is the city you’re visiting known for? From motorcycles and guitars, to cheese and beer, many cities offer free factory tours for aficionados, such as Harley-Davidson, Kansas City, Missouri; Allagash Brewing Company, Portland, Maine; or Taylor Guitars, El Cajon, California.
Historical Sites and Memorials
If you’re a history buff, you’ll want to check out historic sites in the cities you plan to visit. Historical sites and memorials are often free to the public, such as the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and others in, Washington, D.C.; The Alamo and San Antonio Missions trails, San Antonio, Texas; New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, New Orleans, Louisiana; 9/11 Memorial, New York City, New York; Independence National Historical Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts.
These are just a few of the many free options from coast to coast. Do a little digging to pack your next vacation full of free attractions that will help you learn, explore and save money!