I’m an extremely frugal traveler, because if I weren’t, I wouldn’t be able to travel as much as I do. Rarely do I pay for anything when I arrive in a city other than the obvious – food, drink and public transportation.
I also travel off the beaten path, discovering unique locales that aren’t in a tourist book. A few noted here are typical tourist attractions; however, they are worthy of visiting.
The following lists are my recommended activities in the cities I most recently visited. I lived in Chicago for the past seven years before returning to my hometown of Madison. All venues are free unless otherwise noted.
I didn’t want to inundate the post with links; therefore, if you get stuck searching for something, just leave a comment or contact me directly.
Beautiful and serene Japanese gardens.
Numerous free activities including art, sculptures and concerts.
Garfield Park Conservatory
Lovely greenhouses and exhibition halls.
National Museum of Mexican Art
Experience authentic art and culture.
Free Walking Tours
I haven’t done this; however, many people highly recommend it.
Chicago Cultural Center
A range of activities that are free unless otherwise noted including art, architecture, concerts, exhibits and more.
Chicago Water Taxi
$3-7 per ride depending on the distance. A great way to see the city by boat inexpensively.
Landshark Beer Garden at Navy Pier
Live music under the stars accompanied by fireworks on Wednesday and Sunday evenings.
Hatch Show Print
Watch posters being made at this very cool letterpress shop, and then have fun trying to decide which posters and other trinkets to buy.
Tootsie’s World Famous Orchid Lounge on Broadway
No cover and live music all day long in an atmosphere that is way too much fun.
The Station Inn
Amazing bluegrass jam on Sunday evenings with a group of musicians playing unplugged for hours.
The AT&T Building (better known as the Batman Building)
Couldn’t stop sneaking photos.
Enjoy a stroll and admire the architecture.
Farmer’s Market/Bicentennial Mall
You can eat, drink, hike, observe memorials, and more.
Nashville Flea Market
$5 parking if you park on the grounds.
Come for the books and stay for the ambience.
Boulevard Brewery Tour
My favorite brewery tour thus far thanks to the staff and facility.
Jazz at the Majestic Restaurant
Impressive live jazz in a speakeasy-style atmosphere.
The Roasterie Factory Tour
Coffee lovers unite at this cafe where you can get a tour of the facility.
The Central Library
Well known for its unique exterior and it was cool to see in person.
Eat, shop, be entertained, and a whole lot more.
The Sculpture Garden
Stunning art on beautifully manicured grounds.
Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lodge
One of a kind venue to eat, drink and be merry.
Mill City Ruins Park
An interesting place featuring mill ruins, walking paths and raised catwalks.
The Guthrie Theater
Spectacular photo ops at the 4th & 9th floor observation areas.
Many free live music events plus a free brewery tour at this unique venue.
The largest independent record store in the world, offering weekly live music events and fantastic sidewalk sales.
Nick Metropolis Collectible Furniture
The most unique shop I have ever been to, and feel very fortunate if you are lucky enough to meet Nick.
The Getty Center
Astonishing art, views, architecture, concerts and more.
A splendid place for author events and browsing.
A breathtaking place to hike and take in a yoga class.
$10 to watch an outdoor movie with food trucks and a live band (food extra).
Intriguing exhibits and collections.
The Last Bookstore
You have to see it to believe it, especially the 2nd floor.
Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Interesting burial sites, peacocks, and beautifully manicured grounds await you.
Barnsdall Art Park
Check the calendar for lots of friendly, fun events.
Griffith Park Observatory
The place to learn about astronomy, hike and take in amazing views.
Peddle a bike for fun, exercise and a free taste of ice cream.
Outdoor concert venue near the Charles River.
Harvard University Campus
Great place to walk around and soak up the history and beauty.
Used to be a prison, an interesting place to explore.
A lovely, sprawling place to walk and when you get tired, you can hop on a swan boat (for a small fee).
Boston Common Park
The perfect place to cop a squat and do some people watching.
Harpoon Brewery Tour
$5 gets you a tour and tasting.
Historic neighborhood complete with cobblestone streets.
Charles River Esplanade
The perfect place for a walk or jog with pretty views of the Charles River.
Burnie’s Rock Shop
One of a kind wares at this awesome shop.
The Central Library
An architectural masterpiece that you won’t want to leave.
A wonderful art gallery with shared coffee shop space and a great outdoor patio.
Old Sugar Distillery
Spirits made from scratch, get a free taste and tour.
Matcha Tea House
Delicious food and tea with a selection of gorgeous tea rooms.
National Mustard Museum
Everything you need to know about mustard (and then some).
Pope Farm Conservancy
Trails, wildlife, Native American garden, and the most picturesque sunflower field you will ever see.
Mad-City Ski Team Water Show
Wildly entertaining show.
Beautiful outdoor gardens and lots of entertainment.
Memorial Union Terrace
The best patio in town, free outdoor concerts, and a great place to relax, people watch, and enjoy food and beer.
This is proof that you can have a good time, no matter where you go, for practically nothing! I hope you have as much fun exploring as I do.