Our dear friend, Debbie has coined the phrase, “cheap and cheerful” to describe bargain travel and other key purchases. This summer, due to our sluggish economy, we will all look for things to do, at a relatively low cost, preferably free. But this would be good advice for all times, plus many are exciting, fun, and unique.
This is at the top of the list. The memorials, monuments and museums are mostly free. The two mile walk from the Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial has many great stops along the way. The 555 foot climb to the top of the Washington Monument is great exercise, free and a fantastic view. The National Zoo, part of the Smithsonian Museums, is also free. Even Barack and Michelle’s home has a free tour, which must be arranged through your Congressional rep. And don’t forget the infamous places, like Ford Theater and the Watergate Office Building. A walk down U Street or through Georgetown is also tough to beat.
The breathtaking 1.7 mile walk across the Golden Gate Bridge is free and good exercise.
An all day pass on the famous Cable Cars cost $3. The famous cable car barn and museum is free. Golden Gate Park is one of the most pleasant inner city parks in the country. Once out to the Great Highway, a stroll on the beach, ending at the famous Cliff House is great on a warm sunny day. An easy stroll through North Beach (Little Italy) and Chinatown is a must for tourists and locals alike. A drive down Lombard Street is free. A stroll on Haight Ashbury will bring back memories, if you still have any to recall.
Lake Harriet is popular with walkers, runners and cyclists. The lakeside band shell hosts free summer concerts. The historic streetcar connecting Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun costs only $2 each way. The Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden are free on Thursdays. And a stroll through the Mall of America is always free. A word of advice, avoid the ice fishing and curling. Not fun, too cold, and very dangerous.
The famous International Rose Garden houses more than 7000 rose plants on 4.5 acres. Getting around Portland is easy with great public transportation, costing $2 for 2 hours. Tours of Portland’s famous microbreweries are free or charge a nominal fee. Or how about a free tour of the Nike plant out in Beaverton? And the stroll along the Willamette River provides great views, gourmet coffee and donuts, and a place to relax.
The “Cradle of Liberty” is packed with many free sites that tell the story of the American Revolution. The 2.5 mile Freedom Trail is a great place to start. The 18th century warship, the USS Constitution, has free guided tours. And a climb up the 294 step Bunker Hill Monument is great exercise. Stop off for some oysters at the Union Oyster House, where JFK ate. Walk down Beacon Street for a real dose of reality.
Start with a visit and stroll to the Navy Pier. The ferris wheel is only $6, and the fireworks are free, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The Art Institute of Chicago is free on Thursdays. The Lincoln Park Zoo is free, with lions, tigers, and bears. The famous Chicago Skyline and the Magnificent Mile are free. Same for Millennium Park. And Garrett’s Popcorn is a must stop. Watching a Cubs game on a rooftop is free again, thanks to the sad economy.
My favorite city, has the famous Pike Place Market, open every day of the year, and free. Fish tossing, street artists, free music (I use the term loosely), and free food samples are plentiful. The Seattle Art Museum is free the first Thursday of every month. The famous Seattle Public Library is free every day, with free newspapers, and free internet use. The buses are free in the downtown zone, so no need for cabs or rental cars. And the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field is nearby.
Known for its beaches and Deco district, Latin flavor, and taste of Cuba, visit Little Havana. This neighborhood is filled with cafes, restaurants, murals and monuments. Every Friday is known as Viernes Culturales. It is free and offers music, art, and walking tours. Walk along the beach to spot a celebrity or two.
The Mile High City has the place to get high, the 16th Street Mall, home to dozens of bars, cafes, microbreweries, and retail. A free shuttle runs the length of the mall after you have had too many (not speaking from personal experience). The Denver Mint has free tours. A drive out to Red Rocks is always a treat, along with the fun filled Evergreen suburb, home to John Hinckley, among others.
Balboa Park is home to the famous San Diego Zoo. Two of its fifteen museums are free every Tuesday. In the nearby city of LaJolla, a half mile of coastal tide pools offer a nice afternoon stroll. The Gaslamp Quarter offers the nostalgia of the past. Drop into Croce’s to see a collection of his famous lyrics written on scrap paper and envelopes. Watch faux Cubans hand-roll cigars to your individual specifications. Head out for a stroll on any of the fine beaches here, including Coronado Island.
Another favorite town of ours, the Fremont Street Experience downtown is free. The Golden Gate offers its famous $1.99 shrimp cocktail. Almost every light show, music and water show along the strip are free. Of course, if you are a heavy gambler, almost everything should be free, including your room, meals, and entertainment. Sam’s Town has a free shuttle from the Strip to downtown, and on to Sam’s in eastern Vegas.
The Farmers Market has been around since 1934. It is a great place to browse, shop, and eat. The Hollywood Walk of Fame is also free. The Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach are free. Most of the TV shows that are taped here during the day are also free. Just sign up well in advance, usually through their website. A stroll through either the USC or UCLA campus is also a treat.
Here At Home
Try one of the factory tours, like Hershey’s or Jelly Belly. Most winery and brewery tours are also free. Take a new Ferrari out for a spin, no charge, if you have the guts to do it. If you have ever been to Glide Memorial Church, on a Sunday or any day, it is a free freak show of the greatest magnitude. Some people park in a parking lot near an airport, and watch the planes take off and land. I guess they must dream about where they may someday go, or a place they have been.
Whatever you do this summer, let the rest of us know about your freebie or bargain.