More and more cities are offering Wi-Fi at no charge. If you're not lucky enough to be in one, don't cave in and pay for access at your hotel--or at McDonald's or Starbucks, which also charge for the service. Just stop in at one of the many chains below. (Libraries are also worth a try.) To find out other spots where there's free Wi-Fi, head to websites such as jiwire.com, metrofreefi.com, hotspothaven.com, wififreespot.com, and wifizone.org
Beaner's Gourmet Coffee
Borders Books and Music
CC's Coffee House
Dunn Bros Coffee
It's a Grind Coffee House
Panera Bread cafés
PJ's Coffee and Wine Bar
Port City Java
Hotel Chains With Free Wi-Fi in Every Room
Heartland Inns, based in Iowa, offer free Wi-Fi in the guest rooms at all their locations
Microtel Inn & Suites offers free Wi-Fi, free long distance phone calls, and free local calls in all of its guestrooms in the continental U.S.
Wingate Inns has free wireless access (as well as wired) in both the guest rooms and public areas of all its locations
As of November 2005, travelers can perform city-specific searches for hotels with complimentary wireless access through hotel discounter QuikBook.com's shortcuts tool.
Hotel Chains With Some Free Wi-Fi
Best Western hotels are all independently owned and each is required to have Internet access in some public areas and at least 15% of guest rooms. Currently, about 1,300 of their 2,400 North American hotels have either free wired or wireless in guest rooms (they don't make much of a distinction)
Choice mid-scale properties such as Clarion Hotels, Quality Inn, and Comfort Inn all have Wi-Fi or wired Internet access available in guest rooms and public areas (excluding EconoLodge and Roadway Inn)
Doubletree Inns has a list of select locations offering Wi-Fi in public areas
Hampton Inns has also a list of its participating Wi-Fi locations
Hilton Hotels have a list of locations offerings Wi-Fi (or high-speed Internet) access
La Quinta's public areas and guest rooms are wireless or wired in all locations
Marriott offers high-speed Internet access, some wired and some wireless, in all guest rooms at Courtyard, Fairfield, TownePlace Suites, SpringHill and Residence Inn properties. More than 1,900 hotels have wireless, though about 60% of those have it only in public areas
Starwood has free Wi-Fi access in the public spaces of about 300 of its North America hotels. Its mid-priced Four Points by Sheraton brand offers complimentary wired or wireless service in guest rooms and public spaces, with a fee for access in meeting rooms. All other brands charge for guest room/meeting Internet access, regardless of whether or not it is wireless or wired. About 25% of their hotels across all divisions (St. Regis, Sheraton, Westin, Four Points by Sheraton, The Luxury Collection and W) also offer Wi-Fi in guest rooms, typically for a charge.
Sure, the Rockies are cold in winter, and the gondola ride to the summit made me feel like a city slicker way out of my league. But the experience of learning to ski with my family proved much warmer than I ever could have imagined.