"Bad times, good prices"

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Out-of-towners can enjoy U.S. city attractions at a discount, if they know where to look.

When the online edition of The New York Times ran a story this morning titled "Bad Times, Good Prices", it quickly generated dozens of travel tips from readers nationwide. Here are a few that caught my eye (in no particular order):

Columbus, Ohio:

The Wexner Center of the Arts on the Ohio State campus always has free or cheap exhibits and shows. Right now they have an Andy Warhol exhibition with fun and shiny stuff for the kids, and it's free on Thursday nights and the first Sunday of the month. There are also regular shows and performances that are usually pretty affordable. Also in Columbus is the Gallery Hop in the Short North District on the first Saturday of the month. The fall is a great time for it.

[For more tips, see Budget Travel's article from May on What to Do in Columbus]

New York City

Go to a chelsea gallery and look (for free!) at one of the infinite large canvases or photographs especially conceived for wall street lobby spaces. enjoy the fact that some of them will be most likely bought with our bailout money. Open Studios and festivals by visual and performing artists are also free. The Museum of the American Indian (part of Smithsonian) is always free. Self guided tours of architecture and public art. Art tour of the subway $2.

[Note, starting Oct. 16, the new discount Broadway tickets booth for TKTS in Times Square will finally accept credit cards. (It's been cash-only up until now.) For more info, on the booth, see our blog post about it. For more info on ticket-buying strategies, see BT's article "Psst!…Broadway Tickets for Cheap!"

St. Louis

The is blessed with free admission to the zoo, the art museum and the science museum, all located within Forest Park, the original site of the 1904 Worlds Fair. The Missouri Botanical Gardens, a world class garden, has free admission on Wednesdays and on Saturdays (before noon) for residents. The Muny Opera has approximately 1500 free seats for each show. Admission to Grant’s Farm, a family favorite, is free.

Tucson, Ariz.,

Take a hike in the Coronado National Forest ($5 in the Catalinas, Madera Canyon and Cave Creek; free in others). It's an education in how ecosystems change with elevation, natural landscapes. This time of year temperatures are reasonable, but bring water.


There are many free faculty recitals at both the New England Conservatory of Music, near Symphony Hall, and the Longy School in Cambridge near Harvard Square. Their websites have full calendars. Harvard museums free before noon on Saturdays; concerts in parks all over the Boston area, Freedom Trail, MFA free for students on weekends


The Philadelphia Museum is free on Sunday (well, pay what you want to pay). Then over to the Rodin Museum, where it's only a $3 admission, plus a free tour on Sunday.


Walking in Pike Place Market, walking through the Olympic sculpture garden, a hike in Discovery Park -- all free!


As a music lover, there's no better deal for me than Tennessee Shines, a once-monthly live radio show at the historic Bijou Theatre in Knoxville, Tenn. It features the best of local, regional and national artists in Americana, folk, bluegrass, alt-country, and other music traditions. Tickets are only $10. If you can't make it to Knoxville or can't swing the admission, listen online for free at WDVX.com.

Also, our fabulous Knoxville Museum of Art has free admission through the end of this year. Response has been overwhelming and membership in the organization has actually increased.

El Paso, Texas

All summer long, Friday evening from 6 to 8 "Alfresco Fridays" help on an open air courtyard in central city. Sponsired by the City of El Paso. Cost is free. Features a variety of live music including mariachi, jazz, tehano, and all in between. AA baseball at Cohen Stadium. $4 admission. Fantastic stadium and weather. Fireworks after some games. 25 cent hot dog night, more.


The Art Institute of Chicago is free on Thursday evenings. The Chicago Cultural Center is always free. The Chicago Botanical Gardens are always free, if you don't bring a car (parking is $15). Take the Metra and enjoy the ride!

For more cheap tips, read dozens more tips from readers nationwide:

Give us your tips for cheap travel

For some great, New York City-specific tips, read the New York Times' "Bad Times, Good Prices"


Is economic Armageddon good for travelers? [The Expeditioner]

Europe's free and cheap cultural fare [High Culture on a Low Budget]

No budget tips for travelers with modest means [Less Than a Shoestring]

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