MONEY Travel

163 Free Things to Do in America’s Top Travel Destinations

Travelpix Ltd—Getty Images San Francisco skyline at sunset as seen from the Bay Bridge.

Great spots to visit that don't cost a dime.

They say the best things in life are free, and for every avid traveler, it’s a sentiment worth keeping in mind. We combed the streets of some of America’s biggest tourist destinations, keeping a list of our favorite gratis activities in each one. The biggest takeaway? You can enjoy the spoils of just about anywhere without spending a dime.

Read on for our ever-expanding list, or jump ahead to your city of interest: Chicago; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Nashville; New York City; Portland, Oregon; San Francisco; and Washington, D.C.


Izzet Keribar—Getty Images

1. Get up close and personal with the new Mangalitsa piglets at the Lincoln Park Zoo’s “Farm-in-the-Zoo.”

2. Experience the sounds of the Chicago Jazz Festival in Millennium Park.

3. Squeeze in a workout in the sun on Saturday mornings, with free yoga, tai chi, and pilates classes on the Great Lawn in Millennium Park.

4. Check out one of more than 200 free concerts that the Chicago Cultural Center hosts every year.

5. Make an appointment with a Chicago Greeter, and get one of three dozen insider tours of neighborhoods throughout the city.

6. Look over the three millennia of Middle Eastern treasures at the Oriental Institute, part of the University of Chicago in Hyde Park.

7. Learn about social reformer Jane Addams at the Hull-House Museum on the University of Illinois at Chicago campus.

8. There’s flora for everyone at the Garfield Park Conservatory, which contains spectacular aroids, a lush fern room, and a fine children’s garden, complete with play area.

9. Experience a sunset along The 606, Chicago’s elevated park, which has excellent views of the skyline.

10. From ancient Chinese pottery to Picasso, the Smart Museum at the University of Chicago is a great place to spend an afternoon.

11. Located just north of the Lincoln Park Zoo, theAlfred Caldwell Lilly Pool is a perfect respite from the surrounding bustle in any season.

12. With galleries profiling everything from North Korean society to monumental architecture from around the world, the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College is a gem.

13. To explore the National Museum of Mexican Art is to know the breadth of the Latino experience, in Chicago and beyond.

14. Visit the Crystal Gardens on Navy Pier. Look up and view 80-plus palm trees, “leapfrog” fountains, and a range of distinctly non-native foliage.

15. The original Water Tower’s City Gallery is a tiny marvel on Michigan Avenue, and you might find a photographic tribute to Charlie Trotter or an exploration of Chicago’s printmaking traditions within.

16. Inside the Harold Washington Library Center, visitors can make their way through more than 50 pieces of public art.

17. You can hear John C. Reilly as Abraham Lincoln or David Schwimmer as the Bean (a.k.a. Cloud Gate) via the Statue Stories Chicago program. Just swipe your phone on the statue’s tag to hear more than two dozen sculptures come to life as you visit them around the city.

Want to know more about the above? Read the full scoop here.


18. The honky tonk bars on Lower Broadway offer live music daily. Favorites like Robert’s Western World, Rippy’s, and Legend’s rarely, if ever, charge a cover.

19. Hike the high trail at Radnor Lake—the site has 1,200 acres and hosts canoe floats, wildflower walks, and aviary tours, all free and open to the public.

20. Located within the Country Music Hall of Fame, the legendary letterpress studio Hatch Show Print offers tours for $15 a person, but if you stop by the shop, you can see right into the work space and watch the posters printed, free of charge.

21. Built in 1897 as part of Tennessee’s centennial celebration Nashville’s Parthenon is an exact copy of the Athenian one. While there’s a charge to enter the museum inside, viewing the façade is free.

22. Take in the Bluebird Cafe Early Show. Reservations are free and tickets become available online about a week before the show.

23. Meet your favorite author at Parnassus Books, Ann Patchett’s neighborhood bookstore. Free readings, signings, and children’s events happen near daily.

24. Make the pilgrimage to CMA Music Fest, a weekend-long celebration of country music’s biggest fans that offers of a plethora of budget-friendly things to do, from free concerts to meet-and-greets, giveaways, and more.

25. Open-house days at Vanderbilt’s Dyer Observatory (the first Tuesday of every month, from 9 a.m. to noon) offer visitors the chance to try out the site’s solar telescope, free of charge.

26. Stop by a practice of the Nashville Predators, the city’s hockey team, at the Centennial Sportsplex, which are always open to the public.

27. Live on the Green happens every summer in Public Square Park, and features established performers as well as emerging artists.

28. The Tennessee State Museum is a must-see for Southern history buffs. It’s open six days a week, and admission is always free.

29. Nashville’s Centennial Park has several free entertainment offerings, from plays to outdoor film screenings.

30. Come the holidays, keep your eye on the Nashville government website. In early December, that’s where they’ll announce the winners of the Ann Chapman Holiday Lights Contest, which you can visit for free.

Want to know more about the above? Read the full scoop here.

Los Angeles

Naphat Photography—Getty Images/Flickr RMGriffith Observatory Museum

31. Immerse yourself in art and music at LACMA, where during the summer they offer open outdoor jazz concerts on Friday nights, as well as gratis access to the museum on the second Tuesday of every month.

32. Indulge your inner birder and take a complimentary bird walk with the L.A. Audubon Society in the city’s many woodlands, lakes, shrubs, and salt water marshes.

33. Pay a visit to the magnificent Central Library in Downtown L.A.

34. Ears will be happy and wallets will be full, thanks to the countless free concerts offered during the summer all across town.

35. Take a stroll or bike ride down a portion of theMarvin Braude Bike Trail—a mostly-flat, well-paved 22-mile beach path running along the Pacific from Will Rodgers State Beach to Torrance.

36. Hit up one of the many donation-based yoga classes around the city, like those at Runyon Canyon or Bryan Kest’s Santa Monica studio.

37. At the Downtown L.A. ArtWalk the blossoming community convenes on the second Thursday of the month to showcase art, music, and more.

38. You can help counteract the effects the local car culture has on the environment by planing trees with the folks at Tree People, then spend the afternoon hiking Fryman Canyon.

39. Head over to Venice for Abbot Kinney First Fridays, to support locally owned businesses and peruse one of the city’s top art walks in one of its hippest neighborhoods.

40. Crane your neck at the historic Watts Towers, a series of 17 interconnected sculptural structures built over 33 years by Italian immigrant Simon Rodia.

41. There are free Metro Station art tours put on by the department of transportation called Metro Art Moves, which highlight murals, architecture, digital installations, and more.

42. Zen out at the donation-based morning meditations at Zenshuji Soto Temple in Little Tokyo, then stroll the 120-year-old neighborhood’s streets to see its restaurants, galleries, and indie clothing shops.

43. Capitalize on the complimentary, docent-led tours that take visitors through the interior space and gardens at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, designed by Frank Gehry.

44. Take a self-guided tour of the up-and-coming galleries in the unassuming alleyways of Chinatown’s Chung King Road on various Saturday nights, when they fling their doors open to the public.

45. One of the city’s most-filmed commercial buildings is also one of its oldest. The Bradbury is recognizable by its open cage elevators, marble stairs, and ornate iron railings.

46. The Los Angeles Conservancy website offers plenty of maps for self-guided walking architectural tours of the city, from locations spotted in “500 Days of Summer,” to the DTLA Arts District and more.

47. Built in 1899, the Hollywood Forever Cemeteryis the resting place for some of Hollywood’s greats, like Johnny Ramone, Cecil B. DeMille, Jayne Mansfield, Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, and more.

48. The Annenberg Space for Photographyshowcases digital and print photography from some of the world’s most renowned photographers alongside up-and-comers.

49. Angelenos love to climb the city’s staircases—originally designed to connect steep-streeted communities in the 1920s—to fit in a workout. Use the Secret Stairs app to get sweat like the locals in Echo Park, Silverlake, Santa Monica, and beyond.

50. The sights and sounds at the Original Farmers Market are a feast for the senses, and entry is free.

51. The stunning Malibu property at the Getty Villa, part of the Getty Center, focuses on Greek, Roman and Etrurian art, is also free to visit.

52. The La Brea Tar Pits in Hancock Park are home to the largest discovery of Ice Age fossils in the world. You can always wander the outdoor grounds, and on the first Tuesday of the month, they also offer free museum and active archeological site visits.

53. Griffith Park is the largest municipal park with urban wilderness area in the country. They offer free access to the building and grounds, as well as complimentary entry to their star parties and guided sunset walks.

54. The Broad Museum in Downtown L.A. opens September 20 and plans to make art democratic by extending complimentary general admission.

55. Get a dose of local Latino culture and history atOlvera Street while shopping, listening to mariachi music, and watching traditional folkloric dances.

Want to know more about the above? Read the full scoop here.

New York

56. The Museum of Modern Art offers free admission every Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 pm., and you can visit the sculpture garden for free every morning from 9:30 to 10 am.

57. The Financial District’s Federal Bank of New York holds more than 6,500 tons of gold. Anyone can sign up for a free tour of the gold vault on weekday afternoons.

58. Visit the bucolic Brooklyn Botanic Garden on Tuesdays, when its admission fee is waived

59. For a peek inside a preserved historic home, head to Hamilton Grange in Harlem, Alexander Hamilton’s former home.

60. The Dia Foundation has several art installations in New York City, but the most impressive are the New York Earth Room and the Broken Kilometer. Though closed for the summer, they will reopen in September.

61. You can go stargazing on the High Line every Tuesday starting at dusk. The Amateur Astronomers Association sets up telescopes on the section between West 15th and West 16th Streets.

62. Bryant Park is one of the city’s liveliest spots during the summer, with lots of free activities. Yoga fans should head there on Tuesday mornings at 10 a.m., or Thursday evenings at 6 p.m., for free classes.

63. A handful of NYC parks offer free outdoor movies during the summer. There’s still time to catch the end of the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival and Syfy Movies with a View at Brooklyn Bridge Park.

64. During the summer, there are few things more pleasurable than taking a ride on a boat, and theStaten Island Ferry is absolutely free.

65. There are hundreds of art galleries in Chelsea, mostly located between W. 14th Street and W. 29th Street around 10th and 11th Avenues. They’re free to visit during opening hours, and many put on museum-quality exhibits (check out Gagosian, David Zwirner, Milk Gallery, and Pace).

66. New York has plenty of public beaches that are free to visit. Brighton Beach, is near Coney Island, but is more under-the-radar and full of Russian restaurants. The Rockaways draw surfers to Queens, and Fort Tilden is a favorite among hipsters.

67. It’s easy to overlook the public library, but the Schwarzman Building on 42nd Street and 5th Avenue is one of the city’s architectural gems. It’s not only free to visit, but it also hosts exhibits, docent-led tours, and talks with acclaimed authors.

68. One of the most alluring aspects of Grand Central Terminal is the Whispering Gallery under the Guastavino-tiled arches near the Oyster Bar. When two people stand at diagonal arches and whisper to each other, their voices ring through like an old game of telephone.

69. Central Park is free and open to the public, but not many people know that the Central Park Conservancy offers free guided tours of Manhattan’s largest park.

70. SummerStage concerts in the city’s parks are ending soon, but the Harlem Meer Performance Festival will continue into September.

71. Occupying 8 out of 16 acres where the World Trade Center once stood, the 9/11 Memorial honors the lives of those lost during the terrorist attacks on the site in 1993 and 2001. While the museum is complimentary only for 9/11 survivors and their families, the outdoor memorial is always free.

72. Brooklyn Bridge Park curves around the waterfront in DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights, and is chock full of activities, from basketball to bocce, and a pop-up pool made of recycled shipping containers.

73. Stop by the pioneering Brooklyn Brewery in Williamsburg to learn about the fine art and science of beer making. There are free tours every half hour on the weekends.

74. One of Brooklyn’s best craft distilleries, the New York Distilling Company, opens its doors to the public for free tours and tastings on Saturdays and Sundays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

75. Fans of the Tonight Show can watch a taping with Jimmy Fallon at NBC’s studios in Rockefeller Center with a bit of advanced planning. Free tickets are released a month in advance, though if you’re lucky you can get standby tickets the night of the event.

76. Until mid-October, you can take a kayak out on the Hudson River at Pier 26 in Tribeca, or the Manhattan Community Boathouse locations at Pier 96 in Midtown and in Riverside Park at 72nd Street.

Want to know more about the above? Read the full scoop here.

Washington, DC

Henryk Sadura—Getty Images/Tetra images RFUSA, Columbia, Washington DC, Thomas Jefferson Memorial at dusk

77. Nearly everyone who comes to D.C. plans to stroll around the city’s famous National Mall and Memorial Parks. While the monuments are free anyway, you might not know that the National Park Service offers free tours at most of these sites on the hour.

78. One of the best things about visiting the city is its abundance of free museums. The Smithsonian Institution operates 17 museums in the D.C. Metro area that offer free admission.

79. The drum circle at Meridian Hill Park is one of the city’s longest-running traditions.

80. Just north of Georgetown, the Washington National Cathedral is one of the more recognizable landmarks in Washington; tours are free on Sundays.

81. Rock Creek Park spans more than 2,000 acres in Northwest D.C. with hiking trails, picnic grounds, an ampitheatre with a summer concert series, bicycle paths, a tennis center, and more.

82. Another key member of the free museums in the Smithsonian Institution is the National Zoo, located in the southern end of Rock Creek Park.

83. For a quick fix of nature and beauty, the U.S. National Arboretum has colorful azalea gardens in the spring, a holly and magnolia garden in the fall and winter, the Bonsai & Penjing Museum, and the National Grove of State Trees.

84. The most popular spot for watching planes land at Reagan National Airport is Gravelly Point, located just next to the airport in Arlington, Virginia.

85. Anyone can take a free tour of the White House with some advance planning.

86. The Shakespeare Theatre Company shares the famous playwright’s work with as many Washingtonians and visitors as possible through its Free For All shows.

87. Tucked among the Smithsonian museums near the Capitol building, the U.S. Botanic Gardenfeatures plants from all over the world, from desert-friendly succulents to a tropical rainforest, to regional mid-Atlantic plants.

88. Free outdoor movies are a favorite summer event in the city, especially the 17-year-old Screen on the Green on the National Mall, which generally shows classic movies.

89. The U.S. Capitol Visitor Center also offers tours of the Capitol, including the Crypt, the Rotunda, and the National Statuary Hall.

90. The Folger Shakespeare Library offers free tours of its collection, reading rooms, and Elizabethan garden.

91. Just across the Memorial Bridge from the Lincoln Memorial lies Arlington National Cemetery, which honors America’s fallen men and women of the military.

92. For an especially scenic tour of Georgetown, hop on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Trail.

93. Every summer, the National Gallery of Art hosts a concert series in its sculpture garden called Jazz in the Garden.

94. At the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, there’s a free performance very day at 6 p.m. at The Millennium Stage; there are also free guided tours of its theaters, artworks, and the Hall of Nations.

95. One of the most beautiful buildings in town is the Thomas Jefferson building at the Library of Congress, open since 1897. Free walk-in tours discuss the art and architecture of the building, its contents, and more.

96. See the original Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, and Bill of Rights at theNational Archives, which houses all three as well as exhibit rooms, a theater, and a learning center.

97. Located on the National Mall, the National Gallery of Art and its various events are free to the public, as are guided tours of the museum’s many collections.

98. There aren’t any guided tours of the Supreme Court, but visitors can hear arguments, walk around the first and ground floors of the building, and on weekdays can attend free 30-minute Courtroom Lectures.

99. Many Washingtonians have a serious love for the free Fort Reno summer concert series that features local punk bands in a relaxed park in Tenleytown.

100. As part of Passport DC, countries including Japan, Belize, Qatar, Ghana, and Costa Rica offer free admission to their embassies in the city, along with exhibitions, performances, and cooking demonstrations that highlight their culture and traditions.

101. It’s free to enter two of D.C.’s major marketplaces. There’s the more than 130-year-old Eastern Market, and newcomer Union Market in the NoMa neighborhood.

Want to know more about the above? Read the full scoop here.

San Francisco

102. Catch Off the Grid’s popular Twilight at the Presidio campfire party every Thursday, from April through October from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

103. Every Tuesday at 6:15 p.m., Grace Cathedralfloods with urbanites toting neon yoga mats for a soothing, free yoga class that sprawls throughout the entire cathedral.

104. Several free film screenings happen in parks across the Bay Area each summer, spanning from the Mission to Napa.

105. Once a month the city’s globetrotting literati convene at the Hotel Rex bar for Weekday Wanderlust, a chance to mingle and swap stories of their travels.

106. One of the most renowned museums in San Francisco, the de Young, is free on Friday evenings.

107. There are many urban hikes throughout the city. One of the best is the Lands End trail, which begins near the ritzy Sea Cliff neighborhood, then winds around the craggy coast along the Pacific.

108. From Sansome Street, make your way up the Filbert Street Steps, a steep wooden staircase that leads to to the top of Telegraph Hill, where you’ll find Coit Tower and a 360-degree view of San Francisco and the Bay.

109. At Oakland’s monthly Art Murmur event, dozens of local galleries open their doors to the art-curious, while food trucks and street performers take over the streets.

110. Not many people know about the Wave Organ, an acoustic metal sculpture that the Exploratorium installed nearly 30 years ago.

111. In the Outer Sunset district, the aptly named Grandview Park provides vistas that span downtown to the Golden Gate Bridge and, on a clear day, even Pt. Reyes.

112. Giants Stadium is the only stadium in the U.S. that offers a designated space where fans can watch the games for free.

113. The Cal Sailing Club hosts an open house almost every month, giving free rides on their fleet from the Berkeley Marina.

114. Local figure Deleano Seymor is famous locally for his immersive and informative free tours of the Tenderloin (by appointment; donations appreciated).

115. Inside the Presidio are stunning works of art crafted from natural materials by famed artist Andy Goldsworthy.

116. You’ll find frequent live readings by best-selling authors from across the country (and globe) at City Lights, Green Apple Books, and Book Passage.

117. Every second and third Tuesday of the month,Milk Bar, a small trendy bar in the Upper Haight, hosts a free comedy night with local and national comics.

118. From July to October, the annual People in Plazas festival kicks off at squares across the city, offering more than 140 free lunchtime micro concerts.

119. The best way to see the Bay Area’s bounty of heirloom produce and flowers is at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Saturday mornings.

120. Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is coming up October 2 through 4 in Golden Gate Park. The annual festival sets up multiple stages for three days of totally free musical fun.

121. Get a free crash course in the lore of San Francisco’s most Instagramable transport system at the Cable Car Museum.

Want to know more about the above? Read the full scoop here.

Las Vegas

Mitchell Funk—Getty Images

122. Beginning in late August, the KA Theatre in MGM Grand opens its doors to the public every Tuesday between 11 a.m and 11:30 a.m. for the ultimate insider tour of the mechanics of this $165 million production.

123. The world’s largest permanent circus can be found at Circus-Circus, where you can watch death-defying stunts by unicyclists and acrobats high above the casino floor at no charge every half hour.

124. On weekends starting at 7 p.m., join the Carnival-like parade of dancers and acrobats dance down the Rio’s main course hourly during the Masquerade in the Sky at Rio.

125. The largest gold nugget in the world is right here in Las Vegas—at The Golden Nugget.

126. Local chocolatier Ethel M sits right in one of the largest botanical cactus gardens in the world, and you can take factory tours (free samples!) after a stroll of the unusual gardens.

127. Don’t want to leave the strip? Don’t missM&M’s World, a four-floor chocoholic’s haven, with a free 3-D movie starring Red and Yellow.

128. Right across the street, Hershey’s Chocolate World has opened in New York-New York, a two-story flagship featuring an 800-pound chocolate Statue of Liberty.

129. Incredible public artworks on the 67-acre CityCenter campus include 15 works by artists such as Nancy Rubin, Claes Oldernburg and Coosje van Bruggen.

130. Within Crystals, CityCenter’s high-end mall, light artist James Turrell has installed Shards of Color—four recessed geometric shapes lit in neon.

131. But the best secret in Crystals is Turrell’s Akhob—an enormous permanent installation inside the Louis Vuitton Maison flagship.

132. The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas houses some of the best free art around: there are the so-calledWallworks—murals by artists like Kenny Scharf and Shepard Fairey—on the concrete walls of the parking garage, and much more.

133. P3 Studio has hosted artists from Fab 5 Freddy to Shelter Serra, who work there for several weeks; passersby can wander in and often take part in an interactive art piece.

134. At Wynn Las Vegas, look for the 7-foot-tall, 2,000-pound Popeye sculpture by Jeff Koons right on the shopping esplanade that Steve Wynn purchased for $28 million.

135. Love Pawn Stars? Line up early to get a look inside the real Gold and Silver Pawn Shop in Downtown Vegas.

136. This fall, Rick Harrison opens a kingdom for his devoted followers in the form of Pawn Plaza, a giant shopping center made out of shipping containers with retail and restaurant tenants.

137. You could hold your dream nuptials at Denny’s, on Fremont Street, or just gawk at it with your family between the hours of 4 p.m. and 10 p.m., when kids eat free.

138. The best way to drink for (nearly) free is to play the slots at older downtown casinos, such as El Cortez, Golden Nugget and The D, where the play amounts are lower. (Still, make sure you tip, or your server will mysteriously become unavailable.)

139. The 9-foot-tall chrome Lucky Cat at the Cosmopolitan dispenses fortunes free to those who put their hand on his paw. They vary from fortune cookie messages to free drinks and room nights.

140. You’ll inevitably end up at the Fountains of Bellagio, which recently added a three-song electronic medley by Tiesto to its lineup of Celine Dion, Andrea Bocelli and Tony Bennett.

141. Some of the best gawking in Las Vegas happens inside the Bellagio’s 14,000-square-foot, skylit conservatory, where 120 horticulturalists, engineers and designers create incredible displays.

142. Similarly, the waterfall atrium at Palazzo, with a two-floor waterfall and seasonal flowers, is a great place to experience imagineered nature, at the entrance of the Grand Canal Shoppes.

143. Inside the Forum Shops at Caesars, the newly revamped Fall of Atlantis show’s giant talking statues and pyrotechnics are fun to watch …

144. … but the nearby 50,000-gallon aquarium is even better. Enjoy this water-tainment without guilt: Vegas resorts account for just seven percent of the Las Vegas Valley’s water use: overall, some 80 percent of the Strip’s water is returned to Lake Mead.

145. The open-air Grand Bazaar Shops has opened across the street from Bellagio, mashing up the outdoor dining and retail concepts from Seattle to Marrakesh.

146. Don’t miss the massive new Swarovski Starburst, a 14-foot LED-lit crystal starburst that lights up the Grand Bazaar Shops at night.

147. Nearby you can stroll along the new LINQ entertainment corridor, which runs perpendicular to the Strip, all the way to the High Roller.

148. Don’t miss The Polaroid Fotobar, one of the best free hidden gems in Las Vegas—a museum open until 2 a.m. on the weekends, and midnight on other days, that showcases great work of photographers working in the format.

149. On the south end of the Strip, the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign, a symbol of excess once perched on a perilous median, is now solar powered and has plenty of convenient parking.

150. There’s the spewing volcano in front of the Mirage—now with flame shooters, a soundtrack, and water and lighting effects. It starts each night at 5 p.m., erupting every 30 minutes until 11 p.m.

151. Check out the Downtown Container Park, a retail, dining and play park made entirely of shipping containers. Find the free entertainment calendar, including a new outdoor family movie series, on the park’s website.

152. Do a self-guided tour of the Fremont East Entertainment District, whose refurbished vintage neon lights include the famous horseback rider from the Hacienda Hotel, a red slipper and a martini glass—and the newest addition: a new neon sign of a 30-foot-tall Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Portland, Oregon

Cultura RM/Wonwoo Lee—Getty Images/Cultura RMShop sign for Outdoor Store, Portland, Oregon, US

153. Hike in Forest Park, one of the largest natural areas in any city in the U.S., filled with fiddlehead ferns, 112 bird species and 62 types of mammals.

154. Tour the International Rose Test Garden, inhaling blooms that are being developed and evaluated for scent and color, and can’t be seen anywhere else in the world.

155. The Simpsons creator Matt Groening is from Portland, and named some of the show’s major characters after streets in Northwest Portland. From NW 2nd Street to NW 24th Street, and from Burnside to Vaughn, there are roads named Flanders (Ned Flanders), Lovejoy (Reverend Lovejoy), Quimby (Mayor Quimby), and Kearney (one of the bullies).

156. Flip through hardbacks in the Rare Room at Powell’s City of Books, the country’s largest independent bookstore.

157. Mount Tabor is a volcanic cinder cone that’s now home to a city park, where you can walk on paved or dirt trails, enjoy a picnic, or take kids to the playground. On a clear day, you can see Mt. Hood from the top.

158. Tour the Oregon Rail Heritage Center; there’s no entrance fee to see the museum’s vintage steam locomotives.

159. With 140 vendors, the Portland Farmers’ Market on the grassy campus of Portland State University is one of the largest and best greenmarkets in the country, running every Saturday of the year.

160. Tilikum Crossing opens September 12, the first bridge in the country made to carry walkers, bikers, and public transportation—but no cars.

161. Pop into galleries with the First Thursday Gallery Walk each month from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., with more than 20 participating galleries downtown.

162. The beloved young adult author Beverly Cleary grew up in town, and Grant Park has bronze sculptures of three of her characters: Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins, and Henry’s dog Ribsy.

163. Cruise along the Eastbank Esplanade, a paved 1.5-mile path with awesome downtown views. It runs along the river and links up to the 20-mile Springwater Corridor trail, if you want to go farther.

Want to know more about the above? Read the full scoop here.

This article originally appeared on Travel + Leisure and was written by Andrea Bennett, Max Grinnell, Caroline Hallemann, Laura Itzkowitz, Amy McKeever, Jenna Scatena, Krista Simmons and Sarah Z. Wexler.

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MONEY freebies

10 Great Birthday Freebies

Photograph by Hermann Platzer—Getty Images

From a tasty breakfast to dessert on the house.

You really don’t have to pay much to eat, drink or be merry on your birthday. And there are even some gifts that are yours to pick up if you sign up for a club or emails. A few other offers require only that you present identification showing that it’s your birthday. But know that restaurants and retailers are ready to wish you —or your child (and even your pet in some cases) — happy birthday with something special.

Here, we’ve tried to highlight some that are available to most of the country, but it’s smart to check for local/regional deals as well. Those can be valuable. (Example: Georgia residents can get into the Georgia Aquarium for free with a valid ID showing it’s their birthday, a value of nearly $40.) Here are a few birthday freebies that you can get simply for marking another year.

1. Perfume/Cologne

You can get a regular-size Aveda “Pure-fume” product, worth up to $25, just for notching another year (assuming you’ve registered on their site). The voucher comes by postal mail, so you’ll need to give your address (and some lead time).

2. Restaurant Dinner (or Fast Food)

You’ll need some company to use this one, but you didn’t want to celebrate alone anyway, did you? Benihana will send you a $30 gift certificate. It’s not good for alcohol, and it’s not good for weekends. If your kids 12 and younger also like Benihana, there’s a Kabuki Kids program for them. Or, you could go get a birthday burrito at Moe’s (no additional purchase required). Too many places to mention offer free dessert or appetizers. A search engine can help you find out if a favorite restaurant of yours offers freebies. We’ve even heard of restaurants that don’t (officially) offer birthday freebies giving a free meal to a regular customer who asks.

3. Movies

We don’t actually know what Cinemark will give you (a “special birthday coupon”) but if you like going to the movies, you have nothing to lose because it’s a free surprise if you subscribe to their weekly email. We know for sure what Redbox will give you, though. Sign up for the Redbox Play Pass and receive a free one-day birthday rental.

4. Breakfast or Sub With an ID

Walk into Denny’s or Firehouse Subs on your birthday with your ID, and know that you won’t be paying. At Denny’s, you can get a Grand Slam breakfast, and at Firehouse a medium sub is on the house.

5. Coffee Drink

Whether you frequent Starbucks (using a My Starbucks Rewards card) or Caribou (using Caribou Perks) there’s a barista who is ready to make you a complimentary beverage on your birthday.

6. Decadent Fruit

More From


Here’s How to Get Your Kid a Free Cookie This Week

hand holding cookie
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Parents get something out of this too—kids have to promise to be good.

The jury is out on the wisdom (or foolishness) of paying children allowances and plying them with gifts and special privileges for doing basic chores and getting good grades—stuff they should be doing without expecting a reward.

Regardless, if you’re not opposed to bribing your child—or you simply love taking advantage of food freebies—you might want to consider participating in National Bribe Your Child Week.

The new event was created by the Great American Cookies chain, which is encouraging parents to make kids pledge in writing (download the form here) to do something good this week—say, brush their teeth or clean their rooms without being asked. In exchange for their promise of “pledging to help” in some which way, kids will be thanked (or bribed, as the company would have it) with a free regular chocolate chip cookie when presenting the form. The promotion runs through Saturday, August 15, so get your bribery contract in order soon.

Word to the wise: Get your kid to complete his or her end of the bargain before (not after) the free cookie has been consumed. There are roughly 300 Great American Cookies stores around the country, most located inside malls.

By the way, according to a survey of parents conducted for Great American Cookies, 94% said that they have rewarded (or bribed, if you will) kids for good behavior. And the top tasks handled by kids that have prompted rewards were getting good grades and finishing chores, named, respectively, by 60% and 66% of parents.

MONEY deals

This Week’s Best Deals: Save Big on Outdoors Gear and School Supplies

Prime time for sales coincides with the end of summer and the start of school.

Whether you want to enhance your wardrobe or stock up on supplies for kids of all ages, here are the best bargains this week:

Price Cuts on Hiking and Camping Gear

The award for “best sale of the week” easily goes to REI, a store that specializes in clothing and equipment for outdoor and fitness activities. The vendor is slashing an extra 25% off one item from its outlet section, where products are already heavily discounted. The promo knocks merchandise from the likes of The North Face, Tretorn, and Bear Grylls to amazingly low prices, and DealNews has marked many of the sale items as Editors’ Choice deals. (You can save even more by being an REI member; click here for more details.) So right now is a great time to consider investing in new camping gear or high-end hiking apparel. Note that the discount will be taken once you add an item to your shopping cart.

Save on Back to School Supplies

As we noted in our back to school sales guide, the best way to save on supplies for your little one(s) is to look carefully for loss-leader items that stores put in brochures to attract shoppers. In order to save the most, you might want to split your shopping amongst a few supply stores like Office Max and Staples, all of which will offer a few different items for $1 or less. Case in point: Target is currently offering a 10-pack of markers for just 74 cents. And, unlike most of these offers, Target actually ships it for free. (Most of these discounts will require heading to a store, and you might need to bring a coupon with you, so be sure to read your local store’s weekly circulars.)

Get Free Money to Rent Movies

Are you still trying to get in on the streaming media trend? Walmart makes it easy (and financially attractive) to give it a go. The store’s own digital rental service, VUDU, released a streaming stick that plugs into your TV’s HDMI port. If you buy the Spark stick for $25, you’ll get $25 in free money to download and rent movies and TV. However, to receive the credit, you must set up a Vudu account with your credit card within 45 days of device activation. You will then receive five $5 credits every 30 days for five months. So you can’t use the whole $25 credit all at once. Also keep in mind that the Spark is only compatible with the VUDU player; Netflix and Hulu apps can’t be accessed, like they can on the Fire or Roku sticks.

Enhance Your Wardrobe With Designer Goods

Ending today, Cole Haan offers its best sale of the year, cutting an extra 40% off clearance items via coupon code “EXTRA40.” We recommend investing in a sumptuous leather wallet, handbag, or pair of shoes; the understated quality and design will make any outfit look more expensive overall.

Amazing bargains pop up at any given moment, so consider signing up for a daily email digest from DealNews to have the best offers sent directly to your inbox.

MONEY freebies

Free Backpacks, Free Slurpees, Free Bowling All Coming Soon

girls at bowling alley
Sally and Richard Greenhill—Alamy

Take advantage of the flurry of freebies.

This Saturday, August 1, marks the beginning of a busy period for giveaways. Here are five freebies coming up in the very near future, including free backpacks, Slurpees, and games of bowling. Best of all, unlike, say, the deals offered recently for National Chicken Wing Day, there is no purchased required for any of the giveaway promotions below.

Free Backpacks & School Supplies
From noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday, August 1, some 400 participating TCC Verizon Wireless locations around the country will give away backpacks and school supplies per child in the store, while supplies last. Verizon plans on giving out 100,000 backpacks nationally, each with a notebook, folder, pencil case, ruler, and glue stick inside.

Free Fanta Slurpees
7-Eleven is hosting a special FREEkends (short for Free Weekends) promotion throughout August, in which the freebies are available only to members of its 7Rewards loyalty program who use the company’s mobile app. Every Saturday and Sunday in August, qualifying customers can show their smartphones to get a different freebie, starting with a free medium-size Fanta Slurpee on August 1-2. Free Starburst gum and Snickers and Butterginers bars are being given out later in the month.

Free Smoothies
The Juice It Up! raw juice bar chain, which has roughly 80 locations nationwide, is hosting a smoothie giveaway on the morning of Tuesday, August 4. From 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., all customers are welcomed to a complimentary small Strawberry Wave or California Cooler smoothie.

Free Root Beer Floats
Thursday, August 6, has been declared National Rootbeer Float Day—at least by A&W restaurants, which are giving away one free rootbeer float per customer from 2 p.m. until closing. No purchase is required, though restaurants will be collecting donations for the Wounded Warrior Project, which helps military veterans who have suffered service-related injuries or illnesses.

Free Bowling
Saturday, August 8, is National Bowling Day, when bowling alleys all over the country welcome visitors to a free game of bowling from 10 a.m. to noon. Bowling alleys host drink specials, contests, and prizes that stretch throughout the rest of the day.

MONEY deals

Best Chicken Wings Deals for National Chicken Wing Day

Chicken wings on plate in restaurant
Getty Images—iStock

Cheap—sometimes free—wings are up for grabs on Wednesday.

It’s time yet again for another totally made-up holiday that can benefit you in the form of cheap food. Wednesday, July 29, is being celebrated as National Chicken Wing Day, and naturally there is no shortage of pubs and wing houses happy to oblige with special deals on wings.

Here are the best offers from restaurants with multiple locations around the country:

Black Angus Steakhouse: The National Chicken Wing Day deal, announced to those who signed up for this 45-location chain’s promotional emails, is $9 for a dozen wings and a 16-ounce draft beer.

Beef O’Brady’s: Order 10 wings, get an extra five for free; order 20 wings, get an extra 10 for free; and so on.

East Coast Wings: Get six free wings with every adult entrée purchase on Wednesday.

Glory Days Grill: This sports bar restaurant with franchises in Florida, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia is hosting a special of $5 for a half-dozen wings, any style.

Hooters: An all-you-can-eat wing deal is priced at $12.99 for boneless, $14.99 for traditional bone-in wings.

Hurricane Grill & Wings: All-you-can-eat wings for $12.99.

Ker’s Winghouse: Buy 10 wings, get five free at this wing specialty restaurant with roughly two dozen locations in Florida.

Wings-N-Things: Buy one traditional wing meal with a drink on Wednesday, and a second meal (with drink) is free at this wing chain clustered around San Diego.

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MONEY freebies

You Can Now Take a Free Online MIT Class On Poker

Frazer Harrison—Getty Images

It will help you learn the basics—and get competitive.

A new free online course offered through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology gives students the opportunity to use math and applied theory to get better at playing poker.

The class is taught by finance graduate student Kevin Desmond. It’s part of MIT’s OpenCourseWare program, which opens up course materials and video lectures from many of the school’s classes to the public.

Why is MIT teaching poker? The course comes out of MIT’s Sloan business school, and the course description says poker theory and analysis can be applied to investment management and trading.

Terminology and strategy is covered in eight lectures (you can watch the first one below. Learners who prefer printed material can check out the course notes. Some commenters have noted that the class might be best for poker novices, though the coursework becomes more challenging as it progresses. Beyond basics, like the benefits of sitting at different table positions, you will learn how to calculate odds using statistical probabilities.

The class also requires that you practice your skills within online cardrooms—though you will be betting only fake cash, not the real thing.

Of course, what you do after the course is your own business: You wouldn’t be the first MIT student to make money from playing cards.

Read More: 6 Crucial Life (and Money) Lessons I Learned Playing in the World Series of Poker

MONEY deals

This Week’s Best Deals: Free Music, 50% Off Krispy Kreme Donuts

Jeff Tweedy of Wilco performs during Pitchfork Music Festival 2015 at Union Park on July 17, 2015 in Chicago, United States.
Daniel Boczarski—Redferns via Getty Images Jeff Tweedy of Wilco performs during Pitchfork Music Festival 2015 at Union Park on July 17, 2015 in Chicago, United States.

Get the new Wilco album for free, and get $20 worth of Krispy Kreme for just $10.

Whether you want to save on sweets, or just get new tunes for free, here are the best bargains this week:

Free Music Download
Music fans were delighted a few days ago when indie darling Wilco declared that it was releasing a new album, and that it would be completely free for a limited time. Be sure to download “Star Wars” soon, as the band has suggested that it will eventually start charging for it. Not a Wilco fan? You can still get your freebie fix by downloading the Wine for Dummies eBook. Brush up on your wine knowledge while saving $12. Or just keep an eye out for these 16 things you can always get for free.

Huge Discounts on Hip Clothing
Ladies who love trendy clothing with an edge should pay close attention, as two of the best brands in the business are having big sales. French Connection is slashing an extra 70% off sale items via coupon code “SALE70,” which is the best discount we’ve ever seen from the purveyor of chic and casual styles. Madewell, J. Crew’s kid sister, is also offering its top sale of the year, taking an additional 40% off via coupon code “EXTRA40.” Deals ends July 22.

50% Off Krispy Kreme
While we frequently see “buy one dozen donuts, get a dozen free” promotions from Krispy Kreme, this is a rare opportunity to essentially get half off anything you’d like, since Groupon is now selling a $20 credit for just $10. Plus, you can buy up to 10 credits at this price, which means a potential $100 off your donut consumption. (Keep in mind though that you must use the credit by August 26, so you probably don’t want to buy that many vouchers unless you’re buying for an event or your entire office.)

Rare Discount on the iPad mini 3
It’s been a bit odd how few deals there have been this year for the iPad mini 3; the iPad Air 2 has seen a slew of discounts, but the smaller of the two Apple tablets has barely seen a price cut. That just makes this deal on an Apple iPad mini 3 128GB WiFi Tablet all the better. It’s selling for $449.99 at Best Buy, which is a savings of $80. That’s likely the best deal you’ll see on this model, unless you wait until the fall when Apple is expected to release the next generation.

Amazing bargains pop up at any given moment, so consider signing up for a daily email digest from DealNews to have the best offers sent directly to your inbox.

MONEY deals

Applebee’s Is Giving Out Free Appetizers on Tuesday

Applebees restaurant
Betty LaRue—Alamy

Restaurant will give away two million plates of food.

Applebee’s is calling Tuesday “Taste the Change Day,” and is encouraging customers to sample the restaurant chain’s newest innovations free of charge. Dine-in customers will get free plates of Sriracha Shrimp and Churro S’Mores appetizers all day on Tuesday.

Nearly all of the roughly 2,000 Applebee’s locations in the U.S. are participating, and the restaurant chain plans on giving away something in the neighborhood of two million sampler platters of the free appetizers.

The “Taste the Change” campaign hopes to call attention to the new Applebee’s menu, which has been reworked over the past year. New menu items include appetizers like pot stickers and sweet potato fries in addition to those featured in the giveaway, as well as “Pub Plates” of Kobe-style meatballs and sweet chile brisket sliders.

Read next: 5 Fast Food Mashup Monstrosities You Know You Want to Try

MONEY deals

How to Get Free Ice Cream on National Ice Cream Day

hand holding ice cream cone
Tim Hester—Alamy

Even dogs get free ice cream on Sunday.

This weekend’s fake food holiday celebrating ice cream is perfectly timed: It’s in July, arguably the month when you need ice cream the most, and it’s being held on a Sundae (get it?). Anyway, here’s where you can grab some free ice cream this weekend—typically with the requirement that you buy another ice cream at the same time.

Friendly’s: The freebies start early at Friendly’s, which is celebrating its 80th birthday on Saturday, July 18, with buy-one-get-one-free cones—which are priced at $1.99 for a single scoop all summer long. The same buy-one-get-one-free deal is available for National Ice Cream Day on Sunday, July 19, as well. The offer is in effect from 11 a.m. to closing on both days, at Friendly’s locations in 14 states (Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Vermont, Florida, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, and South Carolina).

Carvel: All day long on Sunday, soft-serve cones are available on a buy-one-get-one-free basis—any size and flavor you want.

Dippin’ Dots: All customers at participating locations are welcome to free samples of the new Redberry Sherbet, which is made with Sour Patch Kids candy. No purchase required.

PetSmart: Yes, even pets get to enjoy the tasty benefits of National Ice Cream Day. From noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, all PetSmart locations with PetsHotel facilities are giving out complimentary four-ounce samples of dog-safe ice cream.

Lyft Partner Shops: This unusual freebie possibility requires the booking of a ride with the Lyft car service on Sunday. Show your Lyft receipt to participating ice cream shops in Atlanta, Austin, Brooklyn, Miami, San Francisco, and other cities, and you’ll get a free scoop.

Monkey Joe’s: Participating locations of this chain of indoor kids play areas will give out free ice cream to all guests who pay admission on Sunday (around $15 on weekends).

Baskin-Robbins: Instead of participating Ice Cream Day on Sunday, Baskin-Robbins is celebrating July as National Ice Cream Month. For the whole month, customers get free waffle cone upgrades on double scoops, and on Friday, July 31, all ice cream sundaes are 31% off.

BONUS FOOD DEAL: Wienerschnitzel: To celebrate its anniversary, this hot dog chain with 300+ locations in 10 states in the Midwest and West is offering Chili Dogs, Mustard Dogs, and Kraut Dogs for 99¢ apiece all day on Sunday, July 19. Take advantage of this deal plus one or another of the ice cream giveaways and you’ll probably make some folks in your family quite happy on Sunday.

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