(Lonely Planet, $22.99). “There’s a feeling around the world that to travel you have to spend a lot of money, but it shouldn’t be off-limits to anybody. You can have these fantastic experiences.” She shares some favorite free or low-cost activities with f
KAYAKING NEW YORK
Sure, you can find great views from skyscraper observation decks, but for a completely different vista of the city, it’s hard to beat the sight of it from the water. Several Big Apple boating clubs offer complimentary rides from spring through early fall. “You can get a free 20-minute paddle on the water with this milliondollar backdrop,” Cole says. Find details on club websites. licboathouse.org, manhattancommunityboathouse .org, downtownboathouse.org
BAT EMERGENCE AUSTIN
On summer and fall evenings, crowds gather near the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge to watch the world’s largest bat colony start its day. The one-million-plus Mexican freetail bats emerge from their roost underneath the bridge to dine on mosquitoes and other bugs. Some visitors even rent kayaks to watch from the water or order batthemed cocktails from bars, “It’s a completely natural phenomenon, a free show for anyone to see,” Cole says. austintexas.org
VIERNES CULTURALES/ CULTURAL FRIDAYS MIAMI
Miami’s always-bustling historic Cuban neighborhood hosts a huge street party the last Friday of every month. “It takes over the heart of Little Havana and there’s loads going on, and it’s completely free,” Cole says. Highlights include street markets, dancing, food vendors and walking tours. viernesculturales.org
FREMONT STREET EXPERIENCE LAS VEGAS
Even in a city known for flash, the hourly Viva Vision light show at Downtown Las Vegas’ Fremont Street Experience impresses. Projected on a video screen stretching 1,500 feet long and suspended 90 feet above a casinolined pedestrian mall, the show is accompanied by music from bands like The Who, Heart and Imagine Dragons. “It’s a trippy light and sound show, a real exciting thing to do,” Cole says. vegasexperience.com
IMPROVBOSTON CAMBRIDGE, MASS.
For a mere five bucks, visitors can watch aspiring comics at a weekly Sunday night Comedy Jam. “People just turn up not knowing what to expect because the show isn’t written until you arrive,” Cole says. For just a few dollars more, the theater’s Mainstage show features more seasoned comedians. ImprovBoston.com
NATIONAL ARCHIVES WASHINGTON
While they may be some of the most famous documents in the world, you don’t need to pay a thing to see the Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States and Bill of Rights. And that’s just the start. “There are loads of original records, from Lincoln’s telegrams to recordings from the Oval Office. It’s a real hub of amazing stuff,” Cole says. archives.gov
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