You may be in a new city to work or intern, but that doesn't mean your summer has to be all work and no play. We've found the best free events in New York, Boston, D.C., Chicago, and Los Angeles this summer, so you can spend more time having fun and less time worrying about stretching your budget. Whether you're into salsa lessons or modern art, have a fabulous, free night on the town!
Summer concert series: Good Morning America and TODAY both have a free summer concert series. “My friends and I have seen Taylor Swift and my husbands (aka One Direction). Not only is seeing these artists amazing, but the atmosphere is so much fun!” said Kelsey Mulvey, a Boston University sophomore who lives close to NYC. GMA's shows take place every Friday morning from 7-9 a.m., which means you can catch a show and make it to your internship on time. This year, their lineup includes LMFAO, Neon Trees, The Wanted, and Demi Lovato. Here's their full schedule. TODAY's concerts are located at 49th Street and Rockefeller Plaza. Stars featured this year include Justin Bieber, Maroon 5, Flo Rida, and Jason Mraz. Click here for their full schedule.
GMA concerts: 72nd Street and Fifth Avenue. 7-9 a.m. every Friday; arrive at 6 a.m. to ensure a good seat.
TODAY concerts: 49th Street and Rockefeller Plaza. 7-11 a.m. every Friday; arrive at 6 a.m. to ensure a good seat.
Movies at Bryant Park: Bryant Park is a beautiful, grassy spot in Midtown, just a short walk from Times Square. During the summer, the park hosts free movie screenings every Monday night. “Two summers ago, my friends and I went to a showing of Rosemary's Baby. We even had a little picnic!” says Kelsey. In honor of the tradition's 20th anniversary this summer, the most popular films of the past 20 years will be shown. The full list of titles is here.
Bryant Park (40th - 42nd Streets between Fifth and Sixth Avenues). Grass opens at 5 p.m., movies start at sunset (between 8-9 p.m.).
Cooper Union events: Cooper Union, a prestigious science and arts college, offers free events and exhibitions year-round. Although the full schedule isn't up yet, past events have ranged from film screenings to poetry readings to panel discussions on a variety of topics. If you're staying in NYU Housing this summer, you're in luck – Cooper Union is in Greenwich Village.
7 E. Seventh St., between Third and Fourth Avenues.
Yoga to the People: Life in the city can be hectic. Treat yourself to an hour of yoga to calm your mind and kick your tush into shape. Most NYC yoga studios charge an arm and a leg for classes, but Yoga to the People's St. Marks location (just steps away from the Astor Place, Eighth Street, and Union Square subway stations) is donation-based. Instructors thank you for your presence, not your donations – whether you donate $10 or nothing at all. Don't think low prices mean low quality, either; this studio is one of the best in the city.
July Fourth at the Charles River Esplanade: What better way to celebrate the Fourth of July than at the Esplanade alongside the scenic Charles River? Enjoy a free outdoor concert at the Hatch Shell featuring the Boston Pops Orchestra and Jennifer Hudson, followed by fireworks over the river. The Esplanade gets crowded, so guests are welcomed in on a first-come, first-served basis using a wristband system beginning at 9 a.m. Check the event's website here for more information.
Take the T to Charles-MGH on the Red Line, or Arlington Street on the Green Line.
Movies at the Hatch Shell: Indulge your inner child with a series of free, family-friendly movies (hey, remember when Mom and Dad paid for your movie tickets and popcorn?) every Friday night at the Hatch Shell. Spread out a blanket and enjoy a picnic while the sun sets; the movies start precisely at dusk. For specific times and movie titles, check out the event's webpage here.
Take the T to Charles-MGH on the Red Line, or Arlington Street on the Green Line.
Boston GreenFest: You don't want to miss this event! This free outdoor concert at Boston City Hall Plaza is sponsored by the mayor's office. This year, the 225 performers and vendors are expected to attract more than 100,000 people! The three-day event kicks off with a free concert on Thursday night, followed by a variety of acts on four stages throughout the weekend. Expect a little bit of everything, from pop music to belly dancing to a lightshow. “It's made just for our age group and past acts have included John Legend, Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller, and Moufy (before they blew up!),” says Sidney Madden, a Boston-born sophomore at Hofstra University. For further details, check the concert's website.
August 16-18, 1 City Hall Square.
Institute of Contemporary Art: Boston's ICA is one of the coolest spots you can imagine. Regardless of whether you “get” modern art, the unusual, eclectic collections on display are sure to make you think. The museum offers free admission on Thursdays from 5-9 p.m. While you're at it, check out high-end boutique Louis Boston next door; while it's a technically a clothing store, not a museum, the wares are truly works of art that are equally praiseworthy!
100 Northern Ave. Take the T from South Station on the Red Line to the Courthouse or World Trade Center stops on the Silver Line. Free on Thursdays, 5-9 p.m.
Quirky Museums: Our nation's capital is home to dozens of museums. You might have been dragged to the Smithsonian on a family trip, but some of the smaller, lesser-known museums are even cooler. “I had a ball going to the National Postal Museum!” says Harper Yi, a sophomore at the College of William & Mary. If the National Postal Museum doesn't pique your interest, try the International Spy Museum, the Hillwood Museum (slogan: “Where Fabulous Lives”), or the Octagon House (reportedly one of the most haunted locations in D.C.). Most D.C. museums are free, so visit as many as you can while you're in the city.
Clemyjontri Park: Interning 9 to 5 can make you feel like you're growing up too fast. Take the weekend off and channel your inner fun-loving kid. “In Falls Church, there is the famous Clemyjontri Park, one of the biggest playgrounds in the United States, which is crazy fun!” says Harper. The park features a carousel, tons of structures to climb on and swing from, and a picnic pavilion. Take a few friends, a camera, and snap a couple silly shots to commemorate the day!
6317 Georgetown Pike, McLean, VA., 7 a.m. to dusk.
Salsa Lessons: Craving a summer fling but stumped by the off-limits office romance? Head over to Cafe Citron on Wednesday nights for free salsa lessons. Pick up a new skill and meet the boy who will dance you off your feet! If you're 21 or older, come early for happy hour and enjoy drinks under $6. Once you're into the party, a salsa DJ will spin mixes until the wee hours of the night so you can put your new dance moves into practice.
1343 Connecticut Ave. NW. Happy hour: 4-7:30 p.m.; Beginners' class: 7:30-8 p.m.; Intermediate class: 8:15-8:45 p.m.
Screen on the Green: There's no reason to fork over $15 for a movie ticket and popcorn when you can see your favorite classic flicks for free. Click here for the schedule and follow @SOTGinDC on Twitter to stay in the loop.
National Mall (900 Ohio Drive SW). Movies begin at sunset (8-9 p.m.); arrive as early as 5 p.m. for the best spots.
Millennium Park: Millennium Park is every budgeter's best friend. The park hosts countless free events every day. We're dying to attend the Saturday morning tai chi, yoga, Pilates, and Zumba classes with live music, a simulated broadcast of the Paris Opéra Ballet's production of Giselle, and an eclectic summer concert series. Those are just a few of our favorites – check the calendar for the dizzying full list of events.
Between Michigan Avenue, Randolph Street, Columbus Drive, and East Monroe Drive. Take the Green, Orange, Brown, Pink, and Purple Line Express elevated lines to Madison/Wabash or Randolph/Wabash, or take the Red and Blue Lines to Monroe or Washington.
Buckingham Fountain: We can't think of a more perfect first date spot than Buckingham Fountain. Jets shoot water in stylized patterns up to 150 feet in the air, creating a mesmerizing show that's the perfect backdrop for coffee and conversation. After the initial water show at 10:15 a.m., the shows continue every hour on the hour for 20 minutes each. The evening shows, from dusk till 10 p.m., also feature a light display and live music.
Grant Park, Buckingham Fountain (301 E. Columbus Drive and 500 S. Congress Parkway). Take CTA bus lines #145 or #151 to Monroe/Michigan.
Summer Dance Festival: Blow off a little steam from your internship with the weekly Summer Dance Festival. Held every Thursday through Sunday throughout the summer, participants can take free, hour-long dance classes followed by two hours of live music and dancing. It's the best party you can find outside a college campus, so strike a pose and get ready to learn something new! Find the full schedule here.
Grant Park, Spirit of Music Garden (601 S. Michigan Ave.). Take the Red Line to Harrison, the Blue Line to LaSalle, the Orange, Pink and Brown Lines to the Library, and the Green, Pink, Orange, and Brown Lines to Adams/Wabash.
Free Admission Days: Chicago's museums, aquariums, and zoos offer regular free admission days. Some are free on certain days of the month, while others are free 365 days of the year. Check this blog to stay updated on when you can gain entry for free.
Levitt Pavilion Pasadena: Music buffs, this is the ultimate summer concert series! Every Wednesday through Sunday throughout the summer, the pavilion is packed with vendors, non-profits, performers, artists, and a free concert. Each night features a new band, spanning every genre from bluegrass to bhangra, so you'll never get bored. Check out the pavilion's website for more information, including a full concert schedule.
30 N. Raymond Ave. #212, Pasadena, CA. Wednesdays and Sundays, the festival begins at 5 p.m. and the concert begins at 7 p.m.; Thursdays through Saturdays, the festival begins at 6 p.m. and the concert begins at 8 p.m.
Catalina Express: If your birthday falls during the summer, you are one lucky girl. Fare to Catalina Island, an hour off the coast, is free on your birthday. As long as you return within 30 days, your trip home is free, too. Register here for your birthday pass! Once you're on the island, celebrate your birthday while lounging on the beach, at one of the island's spas, or hiking through the stunning scenery.
Ferries leave from Downtown Long Beach Landing, Long Beach Queen Mary, San Pedro, and Dana Point (directions here).
Be a TV Audience Member: It wouldn't be LA without TV. Game shows like Jeopardy! and Deal or No Deal offer free tickets to sit in the audience during tapings, although it's recommended to register for tickets in advance. Check out this site to register – and feel free to (mentally) play along!
Take meditation classes: Treat yourself to a little R&R with free meditation classes at one of Sahaja Meditation's several locations in and around LA. The 90-minute classes are relaxing and spiritual, not religious. Check their schedule here to find a class that works for you. Not sure if you'd be into meditation? Check out a free workshop online before you head to class.