Finding cheap things to see and do when traveling is great, but it’s even better when they don’t cost anything at all.

One of the best ways to stretch a traveling budget is to find things to do that are free. Here are tips on how to do that.

Free Music


Almost every town or city will have someplace where local musicians play. Bars in college areas are especially likely to have local bands playing with no cover. Ask around music stores or find the free rack of local alternative newspapers, which will usually have music listings.

A web search for the city name and “local bands” or “live music” will also yield some free results.

Open mic nights are fun and free and can be a mini-American Idol showcase where you privately vote for your faves.

Free Club Nights

In major metropolitan areas, the nightclub scene can cost plenty, with cover charges of $20 and up. Sometimes, though, clubs won’t start charging until a certain time in the evening. Arrive and get past the doorman before that and admission is free.

Also, sometimes there are special promotion nights like Ladies Free, usually mid-week. As an added bonus, the club might not be so busy that it takes an hour to get to the bathroom.

Free Culture

From symphonies in the park to dance shows at local schools, there are ways to enjoy a night of free cultural activities. Festivals during the warmer months are also a great place to find free things to do, plus they are usually tied to cultural activities.

Local art galleries are also a great place to spend a few hours for free. It’s an extra bonus if they have an artist showcase with free drinks and hors d’œuvre.

Check with local bookstores for author events or poetry nights at area venues. These are usually completely free.

Free Museums


It’s surprising how many museums around the world are either totally free or free on select days. Sure the Mustard Museum in Wisconsin may not hold a lot of fascination, but such heavyweights as the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., and the British Museum in London are free every day.

Even the Louvre in Paris has one day a month where there is no admission charge. Of course, the lines are huge, but if cost is the bottom line, it is possible to get in for free.

Free Animals (To Look At)

Many zoos around the world do not charge admission, and for families looking for a fun day out that doesn’t cost anything, a day at the zoo can’t be beaten.

Free Talks and Lectures

College and universities often have lectures and talks that are free to attend. Check the school’s website for a schedule. Local bookstores and coffee shops are also good places to find free events like these.

Free Walking Tours

Walking Tours

Sure, just walking around and exploring a city is free, but many city visitor bureaus offer free maps and walking tours to visitors. Do a web search for the city name and visitor bureau to find any online walking resources, too.

Free Historical Monuments

Another free and educational thing to do with the family is visiting historical monuments. For instance, in Washington, D.C., many of the national monuments are always free to visit, as are the ones in London’s Trafalgar Square.

Free Parks


Take a breather and find a park to play in or just sit and people-watch. In larger cities, parks like Central Park in New York or Millennium Park in Chicago offer more than green grass and a few trees.

There are sculptures and garden areas, and more, and most of these are completely free.

It does take a bit of research, but with a little planning, it’s completely possible to spend very little, even nothing, to enjoy a destination.