Sightsee with locals—for free!
How about a walk around a city led by a local who knows all the hidden wonders, free of charge? That's the premise behind Global Greeter Network, which believes the best way to get to know a city is to get to know a local. It's active in more than twenty cities across the globe and is now continuing its freebie visits in Moscow, one of Global Greeter's newest iterations.
From Argentina to Australia and Houston to Marseilles, greeters show visitors the "other" side to their city, filled with hidden alleyways and lesser-known landmarks. They aren't professional tour guides, rather enthusiastic volunteers who love their city and apply, interview, and then go through orientation if selected to become a greeter. The first Greeter site was New York's Big Apple Greeter in 1992, which sought to rid travelers of the pre-set NYC itinerary and script, and instead supply them with informal visits of New York through the eyes of actual New Yorkers. Meaning, skip the Empire State Building, ditch the Statue of Liberty, and head to Chinatown, Brooklyn Heights, Greenwich Village, or Harlem. Big Apple Greeter then joined forces with the Chicago, Houston, Fairbanks, and Toronto sites to create the Global Greeter Network in 2005.
And now, Moscow Greeter leaves out the Kremlin and St. Basil's Cathedral and takes visitors to markets, hidden courtyards, and even hospitals and schools. All visitors need to do is fill out a request form at least two weeks prior to the desired tour date and stay in Moscow for at least two days. Visitors list the places they want to visit, as well as their preferred language, and are put into groups with no more than six people. The local greeters—who are usually foreign language students or retired teachers or professors—then take visitors on a walking tour lasting two to four hours, depending on what the visitors want to see and do. The tour can only be used once per stay while in Moscow.
All Global Greeter sites are free of charge, while some are non-profits and greatly appreciate donations (like Big Apple Greeter) and others are a part the regional tourism office (like Chicago).
To see if there is one near you, click here, or Google "Global Greeter" and your city.
Does a free-of-charge walking visit with a local interest you? Tell us below.
MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL
Outdoor summer theater across the country
This week marks the start of the 2011 Shakespeare in the Park season in New York City, with free performances of All's Well That Ends Well and Measure for Measure playing through July 30 at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. Since the program began in 1954, the Public Theater's famous—and famously free—productions have attracted stars like Anne Hathaway and Al Pacino. And all you have to do to snag a seat is wake up early and wait in line. In fact, an online lottery system has made the system even easier—simply sign up, enter the drawing in the morning, and check back at 1pm to see if you've been selected for a free seat for the evening. But you don't have to come all the way to New York City to see exciting live outdoor theater this summer! Last month, the New York Times compiled a comprehensive lineup of summer theater across the country. Here are some regional standouts from their list: Houston Houston Shakespeare Festival July 29–August 7 Othello and Taming of the Shrew houstonfestivalscompany.com San Diego The Old Globe May 29–September 25 Much Ado About Nothing, Tempest, and Amadeus oldglobe.org Santa Cruz Shakespeare Santa Cruz July 18–August 28 Henry IV, Part 1 shakespearesantacruz.org Spring Green, Wisconsin American Players Theater June 4–October 16 Taming of the Shrew, Tempest, Glass Menagerie, and Of Mice and Men americanplayers.org Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts Vineyard Playhouse July 20–August 14 Comedy of Errors vineyardplayhouse.org Check here for other shows in your area. SEE MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL Video: How to Get Broadway Tickets for Less Finally! Affordable hotels in New York City have arrived London: Pop-up theater
A pool floating in New York's East River?
Even though New York City is surrounded by water (Manhattan is an island, after all) New Yorkers don't seek respite from the summer heat by jumping in the nearby rivers. We lie on a pier, or go to a city pool, or nearby beaches like Fire Island, the Jersey Shore, or the Hamptons, but we don't hop in the Hudson or East Rivers because they're just…dirty. Gross. Luckily, that could all change by next summer with the (hopeful) construction of +Pool, a pool that uses and filters the dirty river water it rests in. Created by Dong-Ping Wong, Archie Lee Coates IV, and Jeffrey Franklin, the pool essentially acts like a giant strainer dropped into the river with a filtration system that is designed to remove everything from large objects, like floating trash, to microorganisms, like bacteria and viruses. +Pool is not separate from the water or pumped full of chlorine; rather, it is the river…just clean. The idea came about last year during a scorching hot NYC summer. Wong, Coates, and Franklin wanted to cool off in the water, but no one would take the plunge. So they came up with the concept to use the city's natural resource surrounding them and and provide a clean and safe way for the public to enjoy it. They refer to +Pool as a "floating pool in the river for everyone," which is why it's shaped like a + so it can accommodate four distinct types of swimmers and their pools—children, sports, lap, and lounge. And +Pool isn't limited to New York City; any city with a dirty body of water can have one. The creators have teamed up with the global engineering firm Arup to try and make this pool become reality by summer 2012. (Arup is also the firm behind the Sydney Opera House and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.) But first, they need to raise a bit more money to test the filtration materials and methods before they can start construction. Would you like to see +Pool in your local river? Tell us below. MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL The world's most amazing hotel pools Summer lake towns 2010 Great surf spots you've (probably) never heard of
Great surf spots you've (probably) never heard of
In honor of International Surfing Day on June 20, and another 'endless' summer (shaka!), we asked the Surfrider Foundation to put together a list of some lesser-known surf spots around the country that everyone from the novice to the experienced rider can enjoy. "I tried to pick spots that are legit from a surfing standpoint, but for various reasons don't get the attention that they deserve," explained Matt McClain of the Surfrider Foundation, an international non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of coastlines. McClain put together this list from West Coast to East: 1) Pine Trees, Kauai, Hawaii: Located off the sleepy surf town of Hanalei on the north shore of Kauai, Pine Trees offers an escape from the circus-like atmosphere of Oahu's North Shore. It's a fun break for intermediate and advanced surfers, while beginners can find gentler waves in front of the nearby pier. 2) Yakutat, Alaska: If you want to get away — far away — then Yakutat is the place. Don't let the towering Sitka spruce and bald eagles fool you. Yakutat is a bona fide surfing destination that has drawn some of the biggest names in professional surfing. 3) Cowell's, Santa Cruz, California: Located just inside the famous break at Steamer Lane, Cowell's is the perfect spot to learn how to surf. This break is renowned for its gentle peaks and long, rolling waves. A number of surf schools operate here. 4) Burnout, Torrance, California: Despite being one of the most photographed spots in Southern California, Burnout is still relatively unknown outside of the South Bay. A quintessential California beach break, on any given day pro surfers like Alex Gray and Holly Beck can be found pulling into the barrels at Burnout. 5) Trails, San Clemente, California: Technically part of San Onofre State Beach Park, Trails is often overshadowed by the park's other spots, Trestles and San Onofre. The surf itself is not the most amazing you'll ever ride, but the laid-back atmosphere and dog-friendly policy make it worth the trip. 6) Reef Road, West Palm Beach, Florida: With it's clear, warm water, Reef Road is about as good as Florida surfing gets. A popular spot with local surfers, the sandy bottom break can range from three- to six-footers, up to two times overhead on a storm swell. 7) The Cove, Cape May, New Jersey: If The Cove were located in California or Hawaii, it would probably be as famous as Malibu or Waikiki. The Cove is primarily a longboard spot and attracts surfers of all ages and abilities. 8) Alamo, Montauk, New York: Located out on the tip of Long Island, Montauk pulls in all kinds of waves and weather. The hearty souls that are willing to brave the wind and strong currents are rewarded with thick heaving lefts (waves that break from left to right when you're looking out from the beach). This spot is for experienced surfers only. There's also a whole host of activities taking place around the country, and around the world, over the coming days in honor of International Surfing Day. For a schedule of events and additional information about the day set aside for celebrating the sport of surfing, go here. More from Budget Travel: Legendary Surf Towns The Swellest Little Town in Costa Rica Movie Quest: Chasing an endless summer, finding a lifetime passion
5 best new ice pops in the U.S.
These revisionist takes on a classic summer treat will probably upset Popsicle purists. To which we say: Chill out! They may not look like the stuff of many a childhood brain freeze, but your mouth will love them all the same. 1 New York Most new-wave ice-pop artisans acknowledge at least some debt to the paleta—a frozen fruit treat sometimes made with nuts, milk, and spices that gained popularity along Mexico's Pacific coast in the 1940s. Former pastry chef and Mexico City transplant Fany Gerson of La Newyorkina has a special connection to the confection: In fact, she's publishing a book of recipes (titled Paletas) this month. There's a store in the works, too, but for now, the best place to get ahold of her avocado, hibiscus, or cajeta (caramelized goat's milk) pops is her stall at the Hester Street Fair. Hester St. at Essex St., lanewyorkina.com, from $2. 2 Atlanta Launching a cold-sweets business in a city nicknamed Hotlanta? Now that should be a no-brainer. Mining Southern culinary touchstones for his inspiration, Steven Carse has more than earned his King of Pops moniker—and his loyal following, who visit his cart in the Poncey-Highland neighborhood (a.k.a. Atlanta's burgeoning street-food center) weekdays from 3 to 8 p.m. and weekends from 12 to 8 p.m. His stick shtick? Frosty takes on Georgia peaches, Arnold Palmers (sweet tea and lemonade), and banana pudding—complete with frozen hunks of Nilla Wafers. 1079 North Ave., kingofpops.net, $2.50. 3 New Orleans It takes something truly refreshing to lure the French Quarter crowds away from Bourbon Street's slushy-dispensing daiquiri stands. At Meltdown, Michelle Weaver creates sophisticated botanical combinations—pineapple and cilantro, saffron and rose water, blackberry and sage—that are nevertheless appealing to (and healthy for) ice pop fanatics of all ages. The shop's decor also hits a wholesome note—how very un-Big Easy!—with white paper lanterns, cheery green walls, and a chalkboard in the front window listing each day's specials. 508 Dumaine St., $3. 4 Raleigh, N.C. Summer Bicknell did not open her ice-pop business on a whim. In 2004, she traveled 2,000 miles to Tlazazalca, Mexico, for an intensive, three-month paleta-making apprenticeship. She hasn't stopped moving since. In 2005, Bicknell opened the first Locopops in a tiny space near the Duke campus and has since expanded to Chapel Hill and Raleigh. Her flavors cover plenty of ground, too—crowd-pleasers like chocolate brownie share the stage with wilder styles that incorporate black truffle, olive oil, and even bacon. 1908 Hillsborough St., locopops.org, from $2. 5 Los Angeles Personal chef Michelle Sallah can take the heat, but she still likes to get out of the kitchen once in a while. So last summer, Sallah and her partner John Cassidy started L.A.'s mobile Popcycle Treats as a weekend project. With the help of a custom-built freezer bike, the pair pedal their wares through Silverlake's farmers market each Saturday and the Holly-wood farmers market on Sundays. They're clever locations in a way, since the ingredients for their next batch of salty cucumber-lime or coffee-cardamom coolers are always just a farm stall away. Twitter @popcycle treats for locations and flavors, $3. MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL Gourmet food trucks: Track 'em down with these four Web tools San Francisco: Sweet treats to try before you die Why cruise ships almost never stay in port overnight