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London has so many good free attractions and experiences, suggests the appropriately free Lonely Planet eBook, Recession-busting Britain, that you can “forget all those stories about how expensive London is.”
It’s hard to forget those stories, though. There are so many of them. But while chatting the other day with Lonely Planet U.S. Editor Robert Reid, he noted that on-the-ground expenses in London “can be easily less than what you’d spend in New York,” which had never occurred to me. But Reid, a New Yorker who once spent about a year and a half living like a local in London, has given it some thought, because he loves London and wants other travelers to love it, too – and not overpay while they’re there.
Summer may be peak season in Vancouver, but a full calendar of free events means a lot less stress on your wallet once you arrive in this idyllic coastal city. Moreover, many of these festivals highlight Vancouver’s distinct international flavor and diverse population that makes it so unique.
Starting this weekend, the Rio Alcan Dragon Boat Festival on June 15-17 draws 100,000 spectators for multi-cultural food, music, and dance performances, as well as the signature boat race.
At the International Jazz Festival taking place June 22-July 1, many of the 150 concerts are free, including performances downtown at the Vancouver Art Gallery and on Granville Island at the Public Market.
Where can you see 181 Renoirs, 69 Cezannes, 59 Matisses, 46 Picassos, and 7 Van Goghs – for free? This Sunday, June 3 you can enjoy those masters and more incredible artwork without paying a dime as part of the Free First Sundays program at the new Philadelphia location of the Barnes Foundation.
Opened to the public on May 19, the Philly home for this amazing collection took nearly eight years to come to fruition. The 93,000-square-foot building, designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, includes 12,000 square feet of gallery space as well as 5,000 square feet of special exhibit space and indoor and outdoor gardens. The museum sits on 4.5 acres with landscape design by OLIN.
If you need another excuse to get outside and enjoy the beautiful spring weather, the National Park Service is offering free admission to all National Parks – all 397 of them! – from April 21 through April 29, 2012 during National Park Week.
While most parks are free and open to the public year round, over 100 parks charge a fee to enter. The National Parks that usually charge admission include the Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, Yosemite, the Everglades, Yellowstone, Bryce Canyon, Arches National Park, and many more. But during National Park Week, all entrance fees, commercial tour fees, and transportation entrance fees are waived. Read more
Last summer Marriott was among the chains pushing free breakfast, and that’s still the case at their Residence Inn, Fairfield Inn & Suites, and SpringHill Suites properties. Likewise, select JW Marriott and Marriott Hotel & Resorts will feed breakfast to a couple of adults and all kids under 12 through September 5 for stays booked before August 22.
My kids’ problem with breakfast, especially on the road, is that it’s the meal that commands the least amount of interest, so by 11:30am they’re lobbying for lunch, and for my brood that’s easily sixty bucks. If your family’s like mine, then you might already be a fan of Holiday Inn, where up to four kids 12 and under eat free any time of day at the hotels’ on-site restaurants.
The Holiday Inn deal has three terms that are fairly typical of such offers: Kids need to order off the children’s menu; at least one grown-up has to order a qualifying entrée off the regular menu; and room service is not part of the deal.
Free is a relative term, of course. Once on the island, a former military stronghold turned national monument, you can certainly shell out for a meal and drinks and a bike rental. But with just a bit of advanced planning, you can budget the day far better than I did. Here’s what to expect.
With many ski resorts dumped with snow after the recent barrage of blizzards, the slopes are certainly calling. But, if you’re like me, so are the credit card bills, which means it will be a while before I can indulge in some schussing sans guilt.
Good timing, then, on several free outdoorsy offerings sure to get you outside and into high gear, burning off some of that holiday pudge (but not money) in the process. Another bonus? They take place across the country, so no matter where you are, you won’t have to travel too far to take advantage.
The first: This Saturday, January 8, is the 16th annual Winter Trails Day, which aims to get cross-country skiing and snowshoeing newbies out on – you guessed it – the trails. Nearly 100 resorts and Nordic centers in 21 states are participating in the event (photo above courtesy of RDB Events), which last year attracted about 11,000 visitors, according to event spokesperson Reese Brown. It’s also a great way for downhill junkies to get a taste of a new means of moving across the snow.
This time of year, despite all the cheer, we have one thing on our mind: vacation. That and since we’re based in the bitter northeast, sunshine and warmth, and if we really want to get specific, sand and surf and gay times and (ironically) frozen drinks. In other words, Hawaii!
Now thanks to Aqua Resorts (AquaResorts.com) – a mid-to-high-end gay-friendly operator with 15 properties throughout five of Hawaii’s islands – our dreams can become your windfall. One lucky ShermansTravel.com reader will win a free five-night stay at the Aqua Bamboo on Oahu from January 1 till December 8, 2011 minus some select blackout dates around Easter, Independence Day, and Thanksgiving. Located in the buzzing heart of Honolulu, a leisurely six block walk from gay hub Hula’s Bar, winners will also receive two free passes on their popular Saturday afternoon catamaran cruise, a chill way to see the tropical sites and meet other LGBT folk over a mai tai (nude sunbathing permitted). Read more
On December 15, Megabus will expand its service to and from Washington, D.C., and to celebrate they’re giving away 10,000 seats for free! The free seats are available now with the promo code ILUVDC for use between the nation’s capital and all 10 new routes, which include Boston, Mass.; Buffalo, N.Y.; Charlotte, N.C.; Raleigh/Durham, N.C.; Hampton, Va.; Richmond, Va.; Harrisburg, Pa.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Toronto, Canada. These free rides are valid between December 15 and January15, 2011, but are subject to availability on select dates and routes. But even as the free seats are filled, many routes during this period are still selling for as little as $1 each way!
THE VALUE: Competitors rates on many of the same routes can start as high as $66 each way!
THE CATCH: Free seats are not available on the old routes to and from D.C. which include Baltimore, Md.; Philadelphia, Pa.; and New York, N.Y.
THE DETAILS: To book your free seat, visit www.megabus.com.
WE’VE GOT MORE: Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the perfect hotel during your vacation.
Read our Washington, D.C. Travel Guide to find out about all the best attractions.
With several of the big ski resorts out west already reporting significant snowfall, it’s time to start thinking about your ski and snowboard plans for the winter. Hitting the slopes on vacation doesn’t have to mean a hard hit to your wallet, however, with these “ski free” packages from hotels in some of North America’s premier ski destinations.
Limelight Lodge, Aspen This family-owned lodge in central Aspen sits at the foot of the namesake mountain. The hotel’s Ski Package offers two free lift tickets for each day of your stay minus one (e.g. two 2-day passes for a three-night stay). Including the ski passes and accommodations, a three-night stay costs $915 and a four-night stay costs $1,315 – a savings of 30 percent. Three-night minimum stay required; some blackout dates apply. www.limelightlodge.com
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