How and Where to Find Free Things to Do

Posted by Kristen on January 26, 2015

When you’re trying to save money and not spend so much, it can feel like you are doomed to days sitting on your couch. While dinner and drinks out and other types of entertainment can add up quickly, there are actually a lot of completely free things to do right under your nose. You may not realize it, but places in your community are most likely offering things to do that will not cost you a dime. However, these types of events may not be as obvious as the usual well-marketed event. But if you do a little digging, you’d be surprised at what you can find. Here are some places to find free things to do.

photo by:  Alex.T.

(Photo Credit: Alex.T.)

How and Where to Find Free Things to Do

  • Your local library
    Call your local and neighboring libraries to see what types of free events they offer. They may offer events for kids, such as mom and tot groups, story time, crafts, puppet shows and more. But there can also be events for adults including art shows, guest speakers, and live music. My local library offers a variety of free classes for adults such as classes on using computer programs, job search topics like building a resume and networking, classes on personal finance like budgeting and saving money, and more. If it’s not clear from the website, send over an e-mail to ask what types of free events are offered. Not to mention, for no cost, you can borrow books, read magazines and newspapers, borrow DVDs and movies, and more.
  • Visitor’s bureau website
    When you’re planning a vacation, you may visit the city or state’s tourism website for inspiration on finding things to do. So why not do it for the area you live? Visit the state, city, town, and county’s tourism website. Many times you’ll find a tab for free events and free things to do right in your own backyard. Every place has free attractions or things to see.
  • Online search
    As simple as it sounds, a quick online search of “free things to do in (your city)” may turn up events you would not have come across. For example here are 11 Free Things To Do in Chicago.
  • Museums
    Check out museums in your area. Many places have museums that are free every day. If not, it is quite possible that the museum has a free day a few times per month. Check the museum’s website for more information. Some museums also offer free classes on art history or instructional classes, talks from professional artists, or guided tours.
  • Entertainment at bars
    Bars and restaurants often offer live entertainment to draw a crowd. For the price of a drink or an appetizer, you can now get access to this free entertainment. Live music, poetry readings, open-mic nights, karaoke, stand-up comedy performances, and improv are just a few options you may come across. Before you head out, call the bar or restaurant to see if a minimum purchase is required.
  • Grocery stores
    Grocery stores, especially specialty grocery and gourmet stores, often offer free events. Food tastings, cooking demonstrations, wine or beer tastings, and talks by food specialists or nutritionists are just a few events I’ve seen.
  • College campuses
    College students are notoriously broke so there are generally tons of free things to do around colleges. You may find free performances from dance majors, musicians, and theatre performances. Sporting events, public speakers, art shows, fashion shows, and more may be offered as well.
  • Wine or beverage stores
    Wine stores and liquor stores often offer free tastings. There may be specialty tastings where they pair cheese or other foods with the wine. Turn it into an event by asking questions and listening to what the experts have to say about tasting the wine or beer.
  • Retail stores
    To launch a new product or just to say thank you to customers, retail stores may offer different types of free events. Each type of store may offer something different. Stores that sell specialty games may have game nights where you can come try out the new games. Clothing stores may have fashion shows, fitness stores may have trainers come in for talks, and so on. A local camping/outdoors store nearby has demonstrations and classes on how to cook while camping, how to set up a tent, and more events. Craft stores can have classes on how to scrapbook, how to make a certain craft, and more.
  • Local schools, churches or other places of worship
    Besides free worship services, these types of places often offer free activities. Family movie nights, game nights, craft fairs, concerts, carnivals, and more are some options you may find.
  • Hospitals
    It can sound a little strange to look for entertainment at a hospital, but there may be free events offered. Hospitals may offer a variety of classes on health, fitness, and nutrition.
  • Book stores
    To promote a book, many times authors will come read an excerpt of their book inside the store. You can also find book signings, guest speakers, book groups and discussions, and events for kids like story time or art projects.
  • Park district
    Your local park district has tons of free things for kids to do. They may have open gym where kids can play sports, different clubs and activities to get involved with, or various other activities for kids. But they also may have things to do for adults such as yoga, pilates, or other fitness classes.
  • Coffee shops
    Independent coffee shops may offer poetry readings, live acoustic music, book signings or readings from an author, or other events.
  • Gyms
    Many gyms offer a free membership trial so people can check the place out before committing to purchasing a membership. If you are already a gym member somewhere, you may have access to fitness classes, personal training sessions, health talks, and more at no extra cost.

What are some things out of your house that you do for free? How do you find free things to do? Which on this list would you try?

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