Travelling on the cheap can seem like a near impossible feat, especially when travelling to somewhere as large as the United States. For those that wish to see all, but not spend all, we’ve done the legwork and put together the top ten FREE things to do during your visit to the USA. Want to scale national parks and tick-off cultural landmarks? We’ve got you covered.
Boston Common, Massachusetts
Famed as America’s first park, Boston Common is historically significant as the first stop on the Freedom Trail. Explore along with the field of flags and the famous Frog Pond—which doubles as a splash pool in the summer and an ice rink in the winter.Then stretch out and relax on the lush grassy fields or get amongst a game of sports.
Millennium Park, Chicago
Located in the center of Chicago, Millennium Park is where you’ll find interactive art pieces Crown Fountain and Cloud Gate aka ‘The Bean’. There’s a skatepark and two outdoor music venues where you can enjoy free performances, and in winter an ice-rink is added into the mix. All this is only steps away from Lake Michigan, another fun spot to visit.
Grand Canyon, Arizona
Famed for making grown men cry, this colossal hole in the ground is high on the list for anyone visiting the States. Be amazed by layers upon layers of red rock revealing millions of years of geological history sure to make you feel both insignificant and inspired at the same time. Make sure to catch the sunset here to feel the magic of this momentous place.
Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California
Going to San Francisco? You’re going to want to check out at least some of the 80,000 acres that makes up The Golden Gate National Recreation Area—first off for an amazing view of the famous red Golden Gate Bridge, but also to appreciate centuries of history spanning from the Native American settlement of California to the bustling cityside of San Francisco. You’ll find the recreation area just north of the Marine Headlands and depending on the season, you might be able to spot whales at the Muri Beach Overlook. Get ready to hike, bike, or ride to the ocean on the Tennessee Valley Trail. Hot tip: camp at Kirby Cove and wake up to a panoramic view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Salvation Mountain, California
There’s a reason the insta-famous travel deep in the California desert to visit Salvation Mountain, and believe it or not—it’s not just for the photo. Seeing the fascinating hillside monument which will just stun you. Completely man-made over a span of 28 years, Salvation Mountain is the pinnacle of folk art. Check out the various dome like structures that house numerous colourful murals painted with Bible verses and intricate artworks. It’s a feast for the eyes as well as the Insta.
Pike Place Market, Washington
One of the oldest running markets in the US, Seattle’s Pike Place Market first opened in 1907! Aside from being an amazing place to eat, the grand location overlooks the Elliot Bay waterfront and hosts fun events all year round. Join an art walk or catch a cabaret show or live improv performance. Don’t miss a walk through the famous ‘gum wall’ and why not add to the mighty collection while you’re there—all it costs is a piece of gum and some chewing power!
Central Park, New York
What’s more famously New York than Central Park? Known as being one of the biggest parks in the world—there’s so much to do without a price tag. Pack a picnic lunch, visit the zoo, stop by the Strawberry Fields memorial to former Beatles member John Lennon, take a stroll through the Conservatory Garden among so much more.
The Heidelberg Project, Michigan
The Heidelberg Project is widely unknown but well worth your time. Created in the late 1980’s, this incredible outdoor art installation transformed abandoned buildings in the McDougall-Hunt neighbourhood of Detroit. On the streets you’ll find salvaged items adorning trees and kids toys pinned and park fences. There’s found-object sculptures in grassy fields and old storefronts covered in quirky handmade clocks. The installation spans several streets and is a must see if you find yourself in the Midwest.
Yosemite National Park, California
You can’t make a list of must-see sights in the USA without including the most epic national park of all. Feel utterly dwarfed and amazed by the famed giant sequoia trees, lap up iconic vistas and marvel at the bold granite cliffs. If you’re into camping, load up a classic all-american RV and spend some time exploring all the park has to offer from hiking to cycling, rock climbing and more—it’s the ultimate place to connect with nature.
Quarter Festival, Louisiana
Sure, Mardi Gras gets a lot of attention—but it’s not the only reason to visit New Orleans. The French Quarter Festival is a free four-day music festival that happens every year in early April in New Orleans. The French Quarter comes alive with stages et up on every corner and food is on offer from local restaurants. The festival kicks off with a parade down iconic Bourbon Street. You can get involved in dance lessons, lectures, art, crafts and more!