10 Free Things To Do in 10 U.S. Cities

This summer, across the country, there are plenty of ways to have fun with your wallet closed

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Starting from Alaska’s largest city, take a scenic drive on the Seward Highway to gape at glaciers, moose, tundra, mountains and other treasures of the landscape.

© Nicole Geils/ACVB


Tour Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthplace, his pulpit at the Ebenezer Baptist Church and other monuments to the American civil rights movement.



Bat watching is big in this self-styled “weird city”: Every day at sunset, from March to November, watch what’s billed as the world's largest colony of urban bats fly above the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge.

© Matthew Carroll


At Millennium Park, the city’s amazing, newish green space, listen to Music Without Borders, an international festival.

© Patrick Pyszka

Los Angeles

Stroll the Venice Ocean Front Walk and, in addition to the Pacific, see the eccentrics, including a man who walks on glass. Then check out Venice’s winding, canal-lined streets.

© Mlenny Photography


At the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, walk among works by Claes Oldenburg, Sol LeWitt and others in this 11-acre park adjacent to the Walker Art Center.

© Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board

New York

For simple pleasures in a complicated city, escape to Governors Island: Board a ferry on summer weekends and cruise past the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the Manhattan skyline before disembarking at the historic Governors Island. Among the free offerings are Free Bike Fridays and a 14-hole minigolf course created by an arts group.

© Maria Burns



Tour the stomping grounds of Benjamin Franklin—the fun Founding Father—as well as the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, Betsy Ross’s flag, the U.S. Mint and the Liberty Bell.

© David Liu

Portland, Oregon

Gawk at the specimens in the International Rose Test Garden, the oldest continuous public rose garden in the U.S.

© Courtesy of Portland Parks & Recreation, Portland, Oregon

Santa Fe

On Fridays from 5 to 8 p.m., two essential city sights offer free admission: the New Mexico History Museum and the New Mexico Museum of Art, both of them on the lovely Santa Fe Plaza.



For tips for finding last-minute travel deals, click here. For a slide show of last-minute summer vacation destinations, click here.


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© John Tomaselli

First Published Tue, 2011-05-24 12:03

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