How to Find the Best Free Things to Do in a City Near You

From live shows to group hikes, most cities have tons of free activities you can enjoy on your own or with a friend. The trick to finding these freebies is knowing where to look.

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Aug 22 2018, 5:45pm

The International Church of Cannabis in Denver and Camelback Mountain near Phoenix are both totally free to explore and enjoy. Photos by Getty Images

When you live in a big city, it may seem like everything is expensive AF—whether it’s a cocktail or a movie. But locals always know where to get a good deal without resorting to Groupon. To help you find free things to do every day of the week we scoured the best sites in the 25 largest cities in the country and picked our favorites.

It’s always good to follow a few freebie sites on social media so you don’t miss out on upcoming events and can show out-of-town friends a good time without breaking the bank. While some of the sites below list activities that are always free, others have a combination of paid and free events, and the best ones update their calendar every day with new things to do.

New York
The Skint From free outdoor movies to free food and drink at art shows and more.
Time Out NY Join the city’s longest running dance parties in Battery Park or enjoy free live performances at the Brooklyn Museum every first Saturday of the month.

Los Angeles
Time Out LA Find out where to hear free live music on Mondays or hit an iconic city park for a free workout.
Los Angeles Magazine Check out free social justice exhibits and films at the Hammer Museum or attend free lecture at the Annenberg Space for Photography.

Chicago
Time Out Chicago From classical music at the Chicago Cultural Center to karaoke at the Hidden Cove.
Chicago on the Cheap Find out how to visit the Brookfield Zoo and US Pizza Museum for no money.

Houston
Eventbrite Learn how to build an app with JavaScript or take a class on essential oils.
Visit Houston Play bingo or try your hand at stand up comedy every Thursday at The Secret Group.

Philadelphia
Uwishunu From jam sessions at the Kimmel Center to people watching at Spruce Street Harbor Park.
Meetup Philadelphia Make new friends playing board games or attend a free tech job fair.

Phoenix
Phoenix New Times Check out the Scottsdale Pavilions Car Show every Saturday or take a free swing dance lesson at The Duce.
Thrillist Phoenix Tour the Four Peaks Brewery (and get free beer) or do the gorgeous hike up Camelback Mountain.

San Antonio
Culture Map San Antonio View an awesome light show at the San Fernando Cathedral or take a free hike sponsored by REI.
San Antonio Current Play board games with new friends or chill to free jazz.

San Diego
San Diego Union-Tribune Take fly fishing lessons to hiking up to iconic Potato Chip Rock. (Tip: Go early to avoid the crowds.)
Meetup San Diego Join a photography group or see local comedy for free.

Dallas
Dallas Observer Hear some free live music or learn how to meditate.
Guide Live Stargaze with free telescopes or see a magic show at the Galleria Dallas.

San Jose
Eventbrite Join a hip hop and reggaeton party or take an interactive boat ride through Alviso Slough.
San Jose Downtown Association Line dance the night away (or learn to line dance) or meet your neighbor for free crafts, dance, and sports at San Jose Neighbor Nights.

Austin
The Austin Chronicle From free yoga and beer at the Hyatt to a free tarot reading at the Milonga Room.
Atlas Obscura Marvel in watching North America’s largest bat colony on Congress Bridge or watch the sunset in magnificent colors at the observatory at the University of Texas.

Jacksonville
Visit Jacksonville Join an art walk or take a free animatronic and dark ride tour.
Folio Tour historic Kingsley Plantation or attend a Freethought society meeting.

San Francisco
FuncheapSF From full moon bike rides to learning how to knit at the Rooftop Park.
Thrillist SF Take a scenic hike along the California Coastal Trail or enjoy the bluegrass music festival each fall.

Indianapolis
Downtown Indy From hip hop cardio on Georgia Street to touring the Easley Winery.
Nuvo Take a walking tour of Monument Circle or see The Three Musketeers in Garfield Park.

Columbus
Columbus Underground Enjoy trivia night or get free food samples at a farmers market.
Columbus on the Cheap Skate in Columbus Commons or tour a winery.

Fort Worth
Fort Worth Magazine From catching a comedy show to visiting the Fort Worth Botanic Garden.
Eventbrite Take a local brewery tour or learn to paint.

Charlotte
Charlotte Five From yoga in a brewery to strolling through McGill Rose Garden.
Charlotte Magazine Experience the Bill Graham exhibit or check out a cycling workshop.

Seattle
The Stranger See an outdoor movie or attend a poetry reading.
Meetup Seattle Learn to BollyHop or find a pickup soccer game.

Denver
Mile High on the Cheap Tour the Celestial Seasonings factory or the Coors Brewery.
Atlas Obscura Visit the International Church of Cannabis or check out a zine library.

El Paso
Visit El Paso See an Old West reenactment show or learn to knit and crochet.
Meetup El Paso From free group bikes rides to chilling with other dog parents.

Detroit
Detroit Metro Times Attend a live Motown tribute or get free admission to Cranbrook Gardens.
Thrillist Detroit See where Sanders candy is made or hit an outdoor music festivals.

Washington D.C.
Free In DC Sing your heart out at Kostume Karaoke then take a group meditation class.
Meetup DC Join a volleyball team or geek out with the Geek Nite Out club.

Boston
Dig Boston From classic piano at the Boston Conservatory to free comedy.
Boston Magazine Find outdoor movies and check out the African Festival of Boston.

Memphis
I Love Memphis Hear free opera orattend WLOK Black Film Festival.
Eventbrite Learn to speed read or hit trivia night at Memphis Made Brewing.

Nashville
Visit Music City From live music on just about every corner to a first Saturday art crawl.
Meetup Nashville Enjoy an evening of glow-in-the-dark bowling with some "outgoing introverts" or work on civic technology at an open hack night.

Follow Gina Ragusa on Twitter.