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Free/ Cheap places to go, do n see for a 21 year old in USA

Travel Forums North America Free/ Cheap places to go, do n see for a 21 year old in USA

1. Posted by BentBanana (Budding Member 22 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!


I'm travelling from East to West of America in a few months and was wondering what there is to do for free or cheap. Im 21 and going with my mate whos also 21 (we're both lads).


2. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 2003 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Where is vegasmike? He has the list of Cheap Charlie's things to do--hopefully he can send them to you.

Here's one thing to know--while all the national parks charge an admission fee of around $7 to $18 per car (or per person), generally there is no charge to go to the state parks, national monuments or national campground areas (although that may soon change in California).

Also, there are many places to camp that are essentially free if you don't use the "improved" campsites at these places. Lots of times, the "improved" campsites involve having electrical hookups for RVs (recreational vehicles), and local port-a-potties and running water and charge $10 to $25 per site--but if you camp just down the road a short ways in a "non-improved" site, there is no charge.

Some of the cheap things to do at some locations involve things like fishing, canoeing, tubing (riding a tire innertube that has been filled with air down a river), going to a natural hot springs, or building a bonfire on a beach (getting the wood and matches is the only tough thing with this last one). If you build a fire in a forest, be real careful on where you locate it though--we don't want any forest fires.

In certain cities, there are cheap things to do.

For example, in Los Angeles, going to a TV show is free (I've posted on this previously, so just search my posts).

In Las Vegas, they have an outdoor free show at the Treasure Island (a pirate ship versus a British ship cannonball barrage), outdoor at the Mirage (where a live volcano blows up and spews out lava every 45 minutes or so), outdoor at the Bellagio (where massive fountains do a dance to piped-in music), indoor at the Venetian (where gondolas go through the shopping and restaurant areas), and indoor at Caesars (where statues at the fountains come to life and start talking to each other--and to you about the current Caesars and ancient Rome--and then the fountains start going off). In addition to these, almost every casino in Vegas has at least one bar where for the price of a single drink you can sit and listen to the house band. Also, the buffets in Vegas are cheap compared to what you get--but they make it up on what people lose while gambling. Speaking of which--they will "comp" you the drinks when you are gambling--but make sure you tip the waitress.

In New York, the free things that most people do is (a) go to Times Square, (b) go to Rockefeller Center where the ice rink is in the wintertime, and (c) pay a small fee to ride the Staton Island Ferry--which allows you to see the Statue of Liberty without waiting in the long lines to get a boat over to the island where the statue is.

In Washington, D.C., all of the Smithsonian museum is free to visit (it consists of about 14 buildings)--and the Air/Space Museum is said to be the most visited building in the entire world (although I'm not with the Guiness World Records group--so they would know better than I). Other free spots you can visit are: (a) the Capitol building, (b) the White House--although you need to get a reservation for this--and normally you contact your Congressman/woman--so I don't know who foreigners contact, (c) the Train station (which strangely enough is probably the most impressive building in Washington besides the Capitol--and it's just a couple of blocks north of the Capitol), (d) the Washington Monument, (e) the Lincoln Memorial, (f) the Jefferson Memorial, (g) the Franklin Roosevelt Memorial, (h) The Archives building (where they keep the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution), (i) the Bureau of Printing and Engraving--my favorite since it is where they print all the money--and the tour is quite amazing as they show you all they go through to do this, (j) the Vietnam War memorial, and, across the river, the Arlington Cemetery.

In San Francisco, you can visit the Palace of Fine Arts and Embarcadero area and Golden Gate Park, and Golden Gate Bridge, Ghiradelli Square and Fisherman's Wharf all for free--although the food you buy at these last two are, of course, not free.

In Monterey, you can walk along the Cannery Row or Old Fisherman's Wharf area for free.

Also, in California--visiting all the old missions are free--although some suggest you make a minor contribution to aid in their restoration (like $1 or $2)--and all the beaches, except state ones, are also free.

I'm sure there are many other free things to see and do--but the ones listed above are the ones that come quickly to mind.


3. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 2003 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Forgot to mention (although this doesn't apply too much to the 21-year olds) that at Circus, Circus in Las Vegas, they have free circus acts on the upper level above the casinos for kids. Also, up there are arcade games. The idea is that one parent can gamble while the other parent is with the child watching the circus--and then the two parents can trade off (take turns). Circus Circus also had a roller-coaster out back (although i heard that might be taken out).

There is also a roller coaster at New York, New York Casino in Las Vegas--and an arcade downstairs for the kids at the Excalibur Casino.


4. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3580 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

I sent 'BentBanana' my cheap charlie tips on March 13th. It is still showing 'unread'. Little hard to continue to offer advice to a member who does not bother to read a PM that I spent a fair amount of time composing.

Hats off to you Gary. That is a very impressive list of things to do for free all across the country. Sad to say, the Mirage Hotel volcano is being renovated. I saw Danny Gans last week, for FREE! by the by, and no flames coming out of the volcano. I asked security and found out it will not be belching fire again until October. You will have to delete the free volcano show from the list.

5. Posted by BentBanana (Budding Member 22 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

That is some seriously good advice!!!!

Thanks for that.

Vegasmike6. I did you get your message through my email. I wasnt aware of that little link at the top of this page to see messages but I had already read it and im very grateful for it. Was very helpful and covered everything I wanted to know.


6. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 2003 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

As long as you liked the last list, let me tell you a few more fun free or cheap things to do:

New Orleans--Walking down Bourbon Street at night is free and is a giant party on any weekend, during the summer, or at Mardi Gras (pronounced the french way "Mardi Gra") time. You could duck in and out of about 5 different bars with musical bands for free if you wanted to--although I've never seen someone 21 or over that didn't get one of the really cheap drinks there--especially since it is one of the few places were you are allowed to drink out on the street. Buy some cheap beads to give to the ladies that strike your "fancy" or that want to "flash" you in exchange for them.
An usual but free thing to do in New Orleans is to go to the cemetary just about 2 blocks from Bourbon Street. There you can see all sorts of voodoo ceremonies that go on and the special graves of the voodoo priests and priestesses that are thought to have either come back from the dead--or that it is believed passes their power on to their worshipers.
Also, the funerals in New Orleans are unlike any other anywhere. Most of them consist of a parade of mourners marching to the grave with a small band playing very sad, bluesy music and everyone sad as can be. But once the ceremony is over, the mourners believe that the loved one is now in heaven--and it is time to party at their good fortune. So the band breaks out in a real upbeat tune and the parade returns with people dancing happily and praising the lord and the good luck of the deceased.
If you take a bus to the west side of downtown New Orleans, you can also tour some really beautiful old neighborhoods with some wonderful homes-and if you go out by the river the antebellum homes and plantations--especially the ones near Baton Rouge (25 miles north)--get even more elaborate.

Newport, Rhode Island--this is a town where lots of rich American icons used to put their summer homes when they wanted to escape from the hot days of New York. As a result, there are a lot of old mansions here--and most of them can be visited for about $10 each--or I think it is $30 to visit all of them (there's about 8 of them)--and children cost about half that. It's not totally cheap--but it's not that out of line if you really want to see how the rich families of America (the Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, JP Morgans, etc.) used to live. P.S. The Vanderbilts also had homes in Ashville, NC and in Poughkeepsie, NY--both of which can be visited. Go to (a non-profit organization) for more info.

Memphis, TN--In this town famous for jazz, you can visit the Sun Studios where Elvis first recorded his songs for free--and there are lots of fun barbeque and jazz spots that are fairly reasonably priced on Beale Street. Graceland (Elvis' home) is just south of town, but it's not that cheap to visit.

Nashville, TN--This town is the "home" of country music. You can visit the Grand Old Opry for free when there are no concerts going on, and there is also the Hermitage (the home of Andrew Jackson, the 7th US President) just outside of town--but that costs about $15--but it does include a tour of the home and grounds. Now for more free stuff. You can go inside the Opryland hotel for free--and they have special events going on inside for kids and adults all the time. Go downtown to the Wild Horse Saloon for free lessons on how to do the "two-step"--and generally, they always have country music concerts being filmed for TV and when they do, you can get the free tickets at this place. (Just like in Los Angeles, TV show tickets are free--since they need to get an audience in for the filming). One time I was in Nashville I got to see some well-known country stars for free this way. (They were doing a tribute to Elvis on what would have been his 60th birthday in 1995 and Martina McBride, Collin Raye, and Ricky Van Shelton were there, as was a then unknown singer named Sara Evans who is now a big star). Look these names up if you don't know country music. I'm not a big country fan, but these particular singers were all excellent and they are all big stars--which is why getting into a free concert with all of them at one time was quite unusual.

That's all for now--I've got to get some sleep.


7. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 2003 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Before I go to bed, let me mention two other places:

Amarillo, Texas--this is the home of the true Texas cowboy. On a ranch just west of town (along the route of the old Highway 66--Route 66) is the Cadillac ranch. Here there are 10 old Cadillacs buried in the ground leaning at the same angle as the pyramids in Egypt. Why?--who knows? It's just weird. As a result of this feat, other towns did similar stuff--and there is now a "Carhenge" in Alliance, Nebraska, and a Cars-on-a-Spike in Berwyn, Illinois. Also in town is a place called "The Big Texan" where if you can eat their big steak in an hour or less, the cost of the steak is free. Oh, I forgot to mention--the steak is 72 ounces--that's 4 1/2 pounds--or slightly over 2 kilos. If you can't eat it in one hour, then you will have to pay, but they will let you take the excess with you--and you can get a smaller steak if you want.

Santa Fe, New Mexico--this is the oldest state capital in the US (and North America)--and one of the oldest towns overall (founded in 1607, but actually settled in 1609--13 years before the Pilgrims came to Massachusetts). The town is famous for its old mission, for its wonderful American version of Mexican food, pueblo surroundings, art museums, and shopping for unusual items--like Indian jewelry or pottery or beautiful art pieces. I like to just hang around the central square, go to a pottery store and visit the art galleries--but to be blunt, I mostly like to get a great enselada or carnitas taco along with a pitcher of Margaritas and just kick back.
I think you would enjoy doing this, too.


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