Found: The US Cities With the Most Freebies

Whether you're looking for an affordable place to live or visit, these cities offer tons of fun activities — for exactly zero dollars.

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St. Louis, MO
iStock Photo/JByard

Let's face it: life is expensive. And with the cost of living skyrocketing in many places, it can be hard to catch a break.

Luckily, some cities go above and beyond to provide a plethora of things to do that cost exactly zero dollars. If you know where to look, you can visit some of America’s top destinations and see some pretty incredible things without even touching your wallet.

Want proof? These six cities are packed with freebies for visitors and residents to enjoy:

1. Washington, D.C.

It makes sense that the capital also has the most free attractions of any city in the nation. Every year, about 19 million tourists enjoy the dozens of free attractions this city has to offer. The National Mall is a given when visiting the District, but many don’t know that you can also tour the public rooms in the White House completely free of charge — you just have to contact your congressional representative to schedule a tour. The Smithsonian museums in the city are also free, with the favorites being the National Museum of American History and the National Air and Space Museum. If you need even more, you can pretend to be Nicolas Cage in National Treasure and scope out the Declaration of Independence at the National Archives Building.

2. St. Louis, MO

St. Louis is known for many things: the Gateway Arch, the Cardinals, and beer might come to mind first, but "freebies" should definitely be added to the list. From culture to animals to beer to nature, St. Louis' roster of free activities is truly something to behold. If you’re into art, there are plenty of free galleries to choose from, including the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Saint Louis University Museum of Art, and the popular Laumeier Sculpture Park and Museum, where you can even nab a free tour on the first and third Sundays of May through October. The Saint Louis Zoo, rated as the nation’s best, also won’t cost you a dime. Similarly, an urban hike in the 1300-acre Forest Park is a must — and totally free. Thirsty? Get your brew on with free tours (and tastings!) at the Anheuser-Busch Consumer Hospitality Center and the Schlafly Bottleworks brewery.

3. Pittsburgh, PA

You’ll be seeing stars (literally) from all the free attractions in this Pennsylvania city. Make a reservation to visit the completely free Allegheny Observatory on a Thursday or Friday night, where you get a tour of the building and a chance to view celestial objects with the Fitz-Clark refractor on clear nights. Need more of Pittsburgh's great views? Head to Mount Washington, which has been touted the best urban view in the world. Once at the top, the best view can be found at the observation deck next to the Duquesne Incline. In the summer, visitors and residents enjoy free movies at Cinema in the Park and vibrant Farmers Markets.

4. Savannah, GA

A trip to Savannah would surely make any literature or movie fan happy. On the second Sunday of each month, the stunning Gothic-style Bonaventure Cemetery, made famous by the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil offers tours free of charge. 

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But perhaps Savannah’s greatest free attractions are its 24 public squares, each one with its own history. Don’t miss the Chippewa Square, where Tom Hanks sat on a bench and acted out Forrest Gump’s most iconic scene. Other free attractions include the Savannah Botanical Gardens and the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

5. New Orleans, LA

This Southern city is one of the most fun places in America, and a lively itinerary here won’t cost you an arm and a leg! New Orleans is known for its jazzy music, and much of it is free. Walk around anytime and you’ll hear incredible live street music, but Jazz in the Park (September-November) and Wednesday at the Square (March-May) offer up free, full-length concerts. It also doesn't cost a dime to explore New Orleans’ famous Garden District, where you can see beautiful and historic architecture. If you’re feeling spooky, almost all of the famed above-ground cemeteries are also free to visit.

6. Myrtle Beach, SC

Myrtle Beach might be known for its pricey tourist attractions, but this South Carolina resort town offers lots of beautiful and free activities — if you know where to look. Of course, Myrtle Beach gets its name from being, well, a beach town. Sixty miles of soft, white sandy beaches are always free to the public. 

A little bit inland, you can traipse through the marshes of South Carolina at the free Murrell’s Inlet MarshWalk. There’s always something going on downtown in the summer, but the Hot Summer Nights can’t be missed with oceanside concerts and fireworks on Wednesday nights. If you can, plan your trip around the Beach Boogie and BBQ Festival, a free-to-attend festival that features live music and lots and lots of delicious barbecue.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Emily Handy is a writer and editor from Nashville. She loves all things food; is hopelessly addicted to Diet Coke; sees way too many movies; and when she’s not writing, you can fin... more

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Tue, 07/10/2018 - 11:14