Many cities offer free summer concerts/events. Check your local area.
In addition, local food competitions (Fire Dept Chili Cook-Off, or BBQ Competition) sometimes have free admission and limited free samples. They hope you will buy from the vendors at the site. I know vendors who make their living travelling around the country to various events.
If you can budget a $6 sandwich, go ahead; if not, pack a homemade sub and chips and enjoy yourself.
In my opinion buying bottled water is like buying air, except you are also polluting the environment. see Free Stuff page
This is a good time to use your powdered drink mix with your re-fillable sports bottle. see Food
Water fountains are usually near the park restroom. You can re-fill your sports bottle, or one family member can re-fill all the bottles.
Tip – fill a 1 or 2 quart drink bottle half way with water and freeze it. If you are taking lemonade or juice, freeze that. Fill it the rest of the way just before you leave and your water/drink will stay cold all afternoon as the ice melts. Carry it in your backpack and the ice will help you stay cool as well. .
Most cities offer an Art and Wine Festival to promote local vendors. There is usually free entertainment and a play area for the kids. If you take your own picnic/water bottle, you won’t need to spend any money.
Colleges and Universities
Many schools of higher learning have free art galleries and museums. They are sometimes open on limited days or only have conducted tours on limited days due to budget issues. Check your local area.
Stanford Rodin Sculpture Garden – open 7 days, tours certain days http://museum.stanford.edu/view/rodin_garden.html
Historical Museums and Art Galleries
Many historic museums are free or have free days. This includes Railroad Museums, Fire Engine Museums, Children’s Museums, Textile Museum, etc. They sometimes ask for voluntary donations at a table by the door.
I have to remind the elder members in my family that voluntary means not only if you choose, but also if you can afford. There is absolutely nothing wrong with not leaving a donation and giving the staff a heartfelt, “Thank you, we really enjoyed our visit.”.
Parks and Beaches
Many parks offer free events throughout the year and free summer concerts. While state or federal parks and beaches charge admission, city parks and public beaches are free. Is there a Japanese Tea Garden in your area?
Tip – Take a picnic, or use their barbeque pits to grill a meal (unless it’s a no-burn day). For a bargain meal, grill jumbo hot dogs and serve them on buttered and grilled buns. Add salsa or chili beans to the condiment selection for an upscale dog. Grill peppers and onions too, if you like them.
Shakespeare in the Park
Various cities offer free Shakespeare in the Park plays, check your local area.
New York City http://www.shakespeareinthepark.org/
See also: Boston, Buffalo, Columbus (OH), Kansas City, Louisville, St Louis
In Northern California the Free Shakespeare in the Park offers a free play during the summer in various locations around the Bay Area. No tickets are required; there is a souvenir vendor and a food (snack) vendor.
Check their website for local dates and which play is being presented. http://www.sfshakes.org/park/index.html
San Francisco Museums, Music
San Francisco offers not only free admission to certain museums once a month and free summer concerts in the park, but also a free music festival in June.
The San Francisco Free Folk Festival is a two day event offering free 30 or 60 minute workshops in dance, song, instrument lessons, and all day concerts. They offer about 10-15 different workshops each hour.
Check their website for information and workshop schedules for the next event. http://www.sffolkfest.org/
If you are a fan and can’t afford the games/competitions, find out if you can attend a practice or workout. The local international swim center used to allow local visitors to watch the home swim team work out.
If there is a show you really want to see, but cannot afford, call to see if there are discount performances. Many theatres offer discount tickets to their dress rehearsal. It may not be the polished performance like you see at the end of a run, but at least you get to go.
Many cities offer walking tours – some are free, some charge. If they charge, there is no reason you can’t search for local points of interest and their history/stories and plan your own route before you go.
PBS did a production of a walking tour of San Francisco called Sin, Gold and the Barbary Coast that is a great blueprint if you are planning a visit to the city.
PBS also runs California Gold which gives you a tour of noteworthy places throughout California. If you record the show and then visit, you will have all the information for your own walking tour.
Yes, copyright law allows you to make a personal copy for your own use, you don’t have to spend the $30 (or current cost) to buy the DVD. .