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Philadelphia's Headhouse Farmers Market

Authentic Food Markets Worth Traveling the World For

For me, travel is best when I engage all of my senses. Wherever you are, step into a food market and this simply happens naturally. When you can recall a taste or an aroma, you’re also more likely to hold onto the memory. That’s why I remember blindly choosing a handful of French cheeses for an afternoon picnic in the Alps, knowing each would be delicious, and ogling the enormous fish caught that very morning at a pungent stall in Singapore. Each time I’ve strolled into a food market abroad, I’ve gotten to talk to (or, in circumstances of language barriers, gesture at) local people going about their daily life, generally welcoming of but not kowtowing to tourists. And then, of course, there are the photo-worthy visuals: careful rows of flamboyant dragon fruits, racks of glistening pastries and just-baked breads, and salamis and ham hocks hung on butcher’s twine to dry.

Here are markets where you can see, touch, and smell the ingredients necessary for life in that corner of the world, and hear how the transactions between buyer and seller differ from place to place. Arrive hungry, of course, because there will be plenty to taste, too. Want to go even deeper? Our Trusted Travel Experts can arrange a market tour with a culinary expert or local chef.

Headhouse Square Farmers’ Market—Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Place: First established in 1745 (though under a different name), the Headhouse Farmers’ Market in Philly is a cook’s delight, with the city’s largest selection of locally made and grown produce, baked goods, meats, cheeses, and other specialty items.

Best Time to Go: The market is open 8am to 3pm every Sunday from May through December. Go before 11am for the best offerings (though sometimes there are events, such as cookbook signings with local chefs, later in the day).

Tastiest Treat: Pick up a box of handmade chocolates from John & Kira’s, or locally produced maple syrup from Spring Hills Farm.

Paul Bennett, Trusted Travel Expert for Cultural City Tours


Mercado de San Ramon—San Ramon, Costa Rica

The Place: The town of San Ramon has a charming, laid-back atmosphere; older generations use the park and market (which sells tropical fruits, vegetables, and flowers) as a meeting spot to go over the coming week’s events. San Ramon is located between San Jose and the famous Arenal Volcano, so stopping here breaks up the drive between these two popular destinations quite nicely.

Best Time to Go: The market is open daily year-round, but is best on Fridays (12pm–6pm) and Saturdays (7am­­–12pm).

Tastiest Treat: Make sure to try the queso arollado (rolled cheese) or cajetas (a sweet coconut milk-flavored spread).

Irene Edwards, Trusted Travel Expert for Costa Rica


Borough Market—London, England

London's Borough Market

London’s Borough Market. Photo: Michael HeffernanLondon and Partners

The Place: With tons of vegetables, fish, craft foods, and incredible cheeses—all sold by lively stallholders eager to tell you all about the provenance of what they’re selling—Borough Market is a great place to learn about Britain’s organic food movement. Located in a Victorian glass-and-ironwork building, it is also very photogenic.

Best Time to Go: The market is open Wednesday and Thursday from 10am to 5pm, Friday from 10am to 6pm, and Saturday from 8am to 5pm; it’s closed on many holidays. Get there early; the later you arrive, the larger the crowds you’ll find.

Tastiest Treat: Cheese or terrific preserves and jams.

 —Jonathan Epstein, Trusted Travel Expert for England, Ireland, and Scotland


The English Market—Cork, Ireland

The English Market, Cork, Ireland

The English Market, Cork, Ireland. Photo: William Murphy/Flickr

The Place: The resurgence of the Irish food movement started in Cork, first with farmhouse cheeses in the 1970s, and a slew of restaurants spotlighting local produce in the 1980s; there is no better way to learn about the country’s culinary scene than in this covered market, which sells everything from fish and meat to locally made chocolate and cheese.  (Wondering about the name? The market dates to the 18th century, when Ireland was still English.) When the Queen recently came to Ireland, this was one of her few stops.

Best Time to Go: The market is open from 8am to 6pm, Monday through Saturday. I like to go around lunchtime, either picking up a picnic of bread, cheese, and other things to snack on, or sitting down for a meal of the best Irish food you’ll find at the Farmgate Cafe. (The restaurant is not open for dinner.)

Tastiest Treat: I love the incredible selection of Irish chocolate. And make sure to learn about “buttered eggs.”

Jonathan Epstein, Trusted Travel Expert for England, Ireland, and Scotland


Marché Notre Dame—Versailles, France

Cheese at the Notre Dame Market in Versailles, France

Notre Dame Market, Versailles, France. Photo: Paris Perfect

The Place: There’s more to Versailles than the royal palace and gardens. This market is one of the best in the entire region, and one of the largest too. Dozens of stalls sell their specialties, from local and exotic produce to artisan cheese, marinated olives, and colorful spices. The best part is, it’s not far from the palace and gardens, making it the perfect warm-up to a wonderful day of exploring.

Best Time to Go: The market is open on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday morning, from 7am to 2pm. The absolute best time to go is between April and October, when the weather is warm and the palace gardens are lush and green. Grab an assortment of fresh foods from the market in the morning, then after you’ve explored the palace, find a spot in the grass along the Grand Canal for a picnic.

Tastiest Treat: Make sure to try the crepes from the stand inside the southwestern corner section of the covered halls—they’re the best crepes I’ve ever tasted, and for mere pocket change! The owner coats her delectable, crispy-on-the-edges crepes and galettes in a generous helping of salted butter, making for a mouth-watering memory you won’t forget.


Montesanto-Pignasecca Market—Naples, Italy

The Place: Montesanto-Pignasecca market, located right in the heart of the city on Via della Pignasecca, is Naples most ancient market, offering local produce from mozzarella to juicy tomatoes and fresh bread. It’s the biggest and best-supplied food market in the city center, and a very lively place, bustling with people and popular with locals since the prices are so low. You might hear the market before you see it: The voices of the barrow boys urging you to buy their goods echo down this very narrow street.

Best Time to Go: The market is open Monday through Saturday from 7am to around 2pm; I prefer to go in the morning, when it buzzes with locals doing their daily shopping and the produce is at its most fresh. The best fish comes in on Fridays, when many Italians adhere to Catholic doctrine and avoid eating meat.

Tastiest Treat: Suffice it to say, you’ll satisfy your taste buds on the spot. Naples is famous for its mozzarella made from water- buffalo milk. Another local cheese to try is Provola, produced in the area around Mt. Vesuvius from non-skimmed cow’s milk.

Paul Bennett, Trusted Travel Expert for Cultural City Tours


Ortigia Food Market—Siracusa, Sicily

The Place: This open-air market is located in Ortigia, a small island connected to the mainland of Siracusa. It is the city’s historical center, filled with ancient ruins of Greek temples, Baroque churches, and Jewish ritual baths, with wide-open piazzas and breathtaking views of the sea. The market sells locally produced cheeses, fruits, vegetables, fish, herbs and spices, wine from all over the island—pretty much anything you might need to make the freshest Sicilian meal can be found here. Walking along, you will hear local fishmongers sing out the day’s offerings in Sicilian dialect, accompanied by an assistant wielding a guitar.

Best Time to Go: The market is open Monday through Saturday from 7am to 11am, year-round. We like to send travelers with our local culinary guide, collecting fresh ingredients and then preparing a lunch together.

Tastiest Treat: Pick up sun-dried tomatoes, capers, cheeses, and other local items to have vacuum packed and brought home to share with their friends and family.

Marcello Baglioni, Trusted Travel Expert for Sicily


Olhão Market—Olhão, Portugal

The Place: Olhão’s two original market buildings sit side-by-side along the waterfront—the perfect location for the enormous variety of fish and seafood sold here, all straight off the boat. There is also fresh produce for sale. I love the ambiance and the authenticity here; at few other markets on the Iberian peninsula are you able to buy seafood straight from the people who caught it.

Best Time to Go: The market is open every day but Sunday. Go first thing in the morning, before it gets too crowded. If you can, visit in late fall, winter, or early spring, when there are far fewer tourists.

Tastiest Treat: Buy some Manna fish preserves from Conservera Do Sur; canned fresh tuna, scallops, mackerel, and anchovies are easy to carry and a treat once back home.

Virginia Irurita, Trusted Travel Expert for Spain and Portugal


Nishiki Market—Kyoto, Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan CR Flickr-Jan

Nishiki Market, Kyoto, Japan. Photo: Jan/Flickr

The Place: Strolling through this market’s more than 100 shops, all packed into five blocks, is a truly immersive experience, and the best way to understand Kyoto’s culinary offerings and the city’s traditions. You’ll find pickled vegetables, Japanese tea sweets, miso, tofu, knives, cookware, sushi, freshwater fish, truffles, chestnuts, rice cakes, and sake. The market is a regular spot for both locals and tourists; some of the stores have been in the same family for centuries.

Best Time to Go: The market is open from 10am to 4pm everyday except Sunday (and is smaller on Wednesdays). Avoid 12pm to 2pm, when the lunch crowd rolls in.

Tastiest Treat: Take away some soy-milk donuts, which are cooked on the spot and served piping hot; they are slightly sweet and deliciously natural tasting—a far cry from most American donuts. For a more lasting souvenir, buy a handmade knife from one of the oldest knife shops in Japan; one of the docents who lead our Nishiki tours is a knife maker, who can advise you on your purchase.

Paul Bennett, Trusted Travel Expert for Cultural City Tours


Mindil Beach Sunset Market—Darwin, Australia

The Place: The Mindil Beach Sunset Market gives visitors a taste of the uniquely Australian, relaxed, multicultural lifestyle enjoyed by Darwin locals. Among the nearly 200 stalls, food is the main attraction (from savory to sweet, the flavors of Thailand, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, India, China, Turkey, Italy, Portugal, France, and Greece are there for the sampling, along with Northern Territory crocodile steaks and Aussie burgers) but you can also buy local crafts, from didgeridoos to barramundi-skin belts.

Best Time to Go: The market is open Thursdays (5pm–10pm) and Sundays (4pm–9pm) during the “dry season,” which runs from the last Thursday in April to the last Thursday in October. Come early enough to purchase the makings of a picnic and secure a great spot on the lawn, overlooking the beach, to watch the sun set over Darwin Harbor (B.Y.O. wine); sunset is usually around 6:30pm.

Tastiest Treat: Of the exotic options, I like the Indonesian satay, barbecued pork balls in a banh mi, or laksa. For Aussie fare, try the burger made of kangaroo, buffalo, or emu.

Stuart Rigg, Trusted Travel Expert for Australia


Machane Yehudah Market—Jerusalem, Israel

spice bags at Mahane Yehuda Market, Jerusalem

Mahane Yehuda Market, Jerusalem. Photo: Julien Menichini/Flickr

The Place: The Machane Yehudah Market (known locally as “The Shuk”) sells farm-fresh local produce, spices, Middle Eastern fare, and traditional Jewish food. Here you’ll find the best challah, chocolate rugelach, and cheese-and-spinach burekas right out of the oven, and tahini made right in front of you using a 500-year-old giant basalt-stone sesame crusher. Though the market has been a place to buy foodstuffs for decades, it’s recently been revitalized and now includes trendy bars and restaurants as well.

Best Time to Go: Arrive soon after 9:30am, when the delivery trucks have just departed. You’ll find the freshest food and fewest crowds on Monday; Friday is a half day and at its busiest and most colorful; on Sunday, most of the stalls get taken over by the most famous granola maker in all Israel, who dries his ingredients there.

Tastiest Treat: Kurdish-style red kube soup—a chicken soup with beets and either deep-fried breaded meatballs or Middle Eastern dumplings—is a market favorite.

 —Joe Yudin, Trusted Travel Expert for Israel




San Sebastian Spain beach

5 Reasons to Go to San Sebastián This Year

Although it’s often overshadowed by other Spanish cities—like Madrid, Barcelona and Seville—San Sebastián shouldn’t be overlooked. Spain’s northwest city, also called Donostia, not only boasts centuries of Basque heritage, natural beauty, and cutting-edge culinary and architecture scenes, but it was also chosen as European Capital of Culture for 2016. Visitors to the city this year will be treated to more than 400 cultural activities, including exhibitions, concerts, plays, dance performances and special gastronomic events. And the best part is that most of them are free. Here’s why you should get in on the action asap.

The city’s best architecture is on display.

The opening of the Guggenheim in nearby Bilbao back in 1997 stoked the Basque country’s architecture and art scenes, inspiring the creation and renovation of several impressive institutions over the years. Since many of the Donastia/San Sebastian 2016 events are taking place at these sites, you’ll be able to appreciate the architecture boom as you’re taking in all the cultural activities.

The Tabakalera is a new contemporary art center housed in a former tobacco factory; Spanish architecture firm Vaumm unveiled the stunning Basque Culinary Center in 2011 to much critical acclaim; and the century-old San Telmo Museum has been reimagined as the Museum of Basque Society and Citizenship, with a very modern nature-inspired wing connected to the original 16th-century convent building.

San Telmo Museum, San Sebastian, Spain

The San Telmo Museum is now also home to the Museum of Basque Society and Citizenship. Photo: San Sebastián 2016

The Diocesan Museum of ecclesiastical art recently got a facelift from Spanish architect and Pritzker laureate Rafael Moneo (who also won the Mies van der Rohe award in 2001 for the Kursaal arts center, where the San Sebastian International Film Festival is held), and the Balenciaga Museum arrived in neighboring Getaria in 2011 to honor the home-grown, acclaimed international designer.

Art is everywhere.

You don’t have to stay inside to see some of San Sebastian’s best artwork (though you certainly could; the Tabakalera is hosting artists from around Europe in a series of temporary exhibits, workshops, and lectures). Stroll outside to see the public artwork for which the city is known: Jorge Oteiza’s Construcción Vacía (Empty Construction) is a landmark on the Paseo Nuevo waterfront promenade, for example, and Eduardo Chillida’s Wind Combs sculptures can be found at the foot of Monte Igeldo.

It’s a festival town.

San Sebastian is home to several annual festivals. From July 20 to 26, the international jazz fest Jazzaldia will be celebrating its 51st edition with the help of global stars such as Diana Krall and Gloria Gaynor. Classical music fans will descend on the city in August for the Musical Fortnight (Quincena Musical); and film buffs should plan to arrive in mid-September for the International Film Festival.

The DSS 2016 lineup is adding a few more events to the festival schedule. For instance, to celebrate Shakespeare400, visitors can participate in an interactive version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, where they will be guests at Hermia and Demetrius’ wedding while enjoying a feast prepared by the Basque Culinary Center (June 21–­July 24).

san sebastian spain hiking trail

Explore nearly 600 kilometers of hiking trails. Photo: San Sebastián 2016

You can surf, hike, or just lie in the sun.

San Sebastian rivals its Spanish sister cities when it comes to location, boasting both a beautiful shoreline (it’s right on La Concha Bay) and a picturesque mountain backdrop (it’s in the foothills of the Pyrénées). As a result, the area has long been a mecca for surfers in search of some of Europe’s tallest waves. Bring your board to Zurriola beach to join in, or just watch from the shore. The beach right in town along La Concha Bay can get packed in summer with sunbathers, so for a little more room roll out your towel on Playa de Ondarreta, found on the other side of the Palacio de Miramar, or take a boat out to Isola Santa Clara to admire the city from its small beach.

For landlubbers, the center of the city is the starting point of a new hiking route, the 2016 Bidea, a 32-stage hiking trail extending nearly 600 kilometres through the mountains. It was completed for this year’s Culture Capital event.

culinary event in San Sebastian Spain

Culinary events are part of the DSS 2016 festivities. Photo: San Sebastián 2016

You can eat your heart out.

San Sebastian’s innovative chefs have converted the city into a gastronomic mecca which now boasts 16 Michelin stars—the most per capita in Europe and second only in the world to Kyoto. Experience this gastronomic revolution at three-starred Arzak, famed for modernizing Basque cuisine, or the mountaintop Akelarre, where the tasting menus are as stunning as the views.

For a more adventurous experience, try the Basque Culinary Center. This gastronomic university has a cafeteria run by the next generation of super chefs; visitor can also choose to don an apron themselves in cooking classes (some are in English).

Alternatively, you can easily subsist on the region’s own style of tapa: the pintxo. These generally consist of a small piece of bread topped with anchovies, tuna, or egg-and-potato tortilla, and are held together by an olive and toothpick. They go down particularly well with a glass of txotx, Basque cider, or txakoli, slightly sparkling local white wines. Make your way to the old quarter’s maze of bar-lined streets, where you can carry out your own pinxtos tasting tour, sampling traditional bites at Gandarias or modernized options at Fuego Negro or Zeruko.

Of course, the DSS 2016 program doesn’t leave out gastronomy, which you can explore in activities like On Appétit!. Each month local chefs are passing their aprons to European counterparts, who will be preparing dishes from their respective regions. Plan to stop by participating restaurants or attend a series of cooking show events. Bon appetit, indeed—or, as they say in Basque, dezagun jan!

Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

Meet our writer

Lily Heise’s work in tourism and travel writing have seen her blossom hunting in Kyoto, tracking down hidden Angkor temples and getting lost in the Argentinian outback. Her writing has been featured in CondeNast Traveler.com, The Huffington Post, Business Insider and Frommer’s Guides, and she also share tips on France, other travel destinations and romance on her blog Je T’Aime, Me Neither. You can catch up with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Visiting The Great Wall

The Great Wall of China: Secrets to Seeing It Right

Great Wall, China
The view of the Wall one way.
Great Wall, China.
The view the other. Note that there aren’t a lot of other people here with me.
Mutianyu shuttle bus
Most tourists arrive at the Mutianyu welcome area and have to take an official shuttle bus up to the Wall entrance. Traveling with WildChina meant I didn’t have to.
Mutianyu, Great Wall
As you can see from this map, you can hike among 23 watchtowers on the Mutianyu section of the Wall.
Cable car at the Great Wall
Bill Clinton rode this exact cable car up to the Great Wall in 1998. Billie Cohen rode it in 2016.
Mutianyu Great Wall of China chairlift
I visited Beijing in late March, which meant the trees had only just started to wake up from winter. In a few weeks, the view out the back of the cable car will be greener but it will also be more obscured. Also, notice the lack of haze. This is a great time of year to visit Beijing for clear skies.
Great Wall of China part that juts out
See how the Wall curves to the right? Legend has it the foreman was a little tipsy when he gave the construction order.
8 lotus shaped arrow hole Great Wall of China
Lotus-shaped arrow holes were added to the Wall in the 1580s.
9 The Brickyard Mutianyu courtyard
The Brickyard resort and restaurant is a repurposed glazed-tile factory. In a few weeks, these bare trees will be full and the onsite culinary garden will be blooming.
10 Chairman Suite at The Brickyard Mutianyu China
The Chairman Suite at The Brickyard at Mutianyu maintains the feel of the original factory, and also has some retro 1960s touches.


Everyone’s seen pictures of the Great Wall of China. And it’s been around for nearly 3,000 years. But if you’ve only seen the photos or only remember the basics from your school lessons, you’ve hardly scratched the stone surface.

I walked the famous stretch of barricade in Mutianyu, with my history-buff guide Chris from WildChina (the company run by Mei Zhang, one of Wendy’s Trusted Travel Experts for China), and he worked three bits of magic. First, without WildChina’s special access, I would not have been able to roll right up to the entrance. I would’ve had to ride the crowded shuttle bus with everyone else from the gift shop mall at the bottom of the hill. Instead, we drove nearly all the way up to the ticket booth and didn’t have to wait for anything or anyone.

Second, he timed our visit so that we were not surrounded by massive crowds. Granted, the Great Wall is China’s biggest tourist attraction, so it’s never going to be completely empty—but by scheduling my visit on a Monday around 11am, we missed the morning tour-bus crowds and were able to stroll the Wall freely, rather than crammed in among swarms of other people. Third, the history and context that Chris knew made the Wall come alive. I almost felt bad for others at the Wall—for them it was just a spot for a bucket-list selfie.

Here are nine secrets about the Great Wall of China and how best to experience it.

1. It doesn’t all look the way it does in the photos you see online.
Various tribes contributed to its growth, building different parts out of clay, earth, stone, and wood at different times as far back as 700 B.C. The Han tribe’s Wall (as in the predecessors of Atilla) was the longest, at about 11,000 miles, but it’s almost all gone.

2. But a lot of it does.
It was Emperor Qin Shi Huang of the Qin Dynasty (the first of unified China, around 220 B.C.) who effectively stitched together the tribal sections into the more familiar stone barrier we still see today. Subsequent dynasties added to it and reinforced it, and China’s Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) extended them. There are more than 9,000 miles of the Wall left, and about 4,000 of them look the way we imagine it: built out of stone bricks. These sections were constructed during the Ming dynasty.

3. It extended beyond modern-day China and Mongolia.
There was even a stretch of the old Wall in North Korea, but Kim Jong-Il tore it down out of national pride.

4. Construction didn’t always go as planned.
If you look downhill from where the cable car lets you off in Mutianyu, you’ll see a stretch of Wall that oddly loops out from the main path. Legend has it that, in the 1500s, the guy in charge of construction got a little drunk and gave the wrong order. To this day, the Wall still juts out unexpectedly.

5. War and peace really do go together.
In the 1580s a general added lotus-shaped arrow holes to the Wall, in a reference to the Buddhist blessing for peace. In Mutianyu, look for them near your feet, where the steps meet the Wall.

6. History is still living…nearby.
The residents of the village of Mutianyu are the descendants of those who built the Wall. And during the Cultural Revolution, farmers stole stones from the Great Wall to build their houses. Even today, some of the village homes still have Walls made of appropriated bricks.

7. The Mutianyu section of the Wall has its own Hollywood sign.
In the 1960s, a giant stone sign was laid on the side of the mountain in honor of Chairman Mao; it says “Loyal to Chairman Mao.” Over the years, the brush overtook it and it was lost to sight. Seeking a way to bring attention to his village, the Mutianyu mayor in 2008 had the sign cleaned and fixed up. Look for it to the left side of the Wall as you gaze uphill.

8. You can stay overnight near the Wall and not feel like a tourist trapped in a low-budget motel.
American Jim Spears and his Chinese wife Liang Tang have long roots in Mutianyu, and are partners in The Brickyard hotel and restaurant. Built in a repurposed factory that used to make glazed tiles for palaces and temples, the whole spread was redesigned by Jim about ten years ago as a way to showcase the beauty of the area and to give back to the community he and his wife had become a part of. All 25 rooms have views of the Wall, 80 percent of the staff is local (and most are women), and 80 percent of the food is local too (with about a quarter grown onsite). Chef Ranhir Singh let me know that the tofu in my vegetable dish was crafted by a nearby villager.

9. When it comes to visiting the Wall, distance makes all the difference.
If you’re staying in Beijing, you have a few options for which part of the Wall you visit:

• The sections closest to central city are Badaling and Juyongguan. They’re also the most crowded and commercialized.

• The next step up is Mutianyu: This section is about 1.5 hours from central Beijing by car. It winds across low mountains at roughly 2,000 feet and you can climb stairs, take a cable car (as Bill Clinton did), or ride a chairlift up to it. From there, you can hike a stretch that connects 23 watchtowers. For those brave enough, you can ride a toboggan back down. This makes Mutianyu sound like an amusement park, but I found it to be not that crowded and, therefore, decently serene.

• The “advanced” option is Jinshanling. This piece of the Wall, a combination of restored and wild stretches, is about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Beijing. Because of the distance, it’s usually the least crowded, and because of its elevation, the views can be stunning. But if the air quality isn’t great (therefore limiting vistas), and you don’t have time for more than a day trip, it’s not necessarily worth the effort.

• Remember that it’s illegal to hike wild sections not regulated by the Chinese museum system—and they can be dangerous if you try. Visitors have fallen from rougher areas to their deaths.

Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

Disclosure: Wild China and their partners provided most elements of the writer’s trip (hotels, guides, ground transportation, and sightseeing entry fees) free of charge. In keeping with WendyPerrin.com standard practice, there was no request for coverage on Wild China’s part, nor was anything promised on ours. We agreed to this arrangement so that we could test out the services of one our Wendy’s Trusted Travel Experts and report back to you on it personally.

9/11 September 11 Memorial’s South Pool

5 Free Things to Do in America’s Cities

You know who loves free stuff? Everybody. Especially when you’re traveling. So whether you’re taking a summer vacation across America or enjoying a staycation in your hometown, you’ll be happy to know that some of the coolest and most iconic attractions are no-cost.

So put your wallets away and bookmark this list of free worldly pursuits from New York City to Los Angeles and many cities in between. You can see my full list over on the TripAdvisor blog, but here’s a sneak peek so you can start checking these American must-do’s off your travel bucket list asap. After all, it’s not like you’ve got anything to lose.


The Freedom Trail, Boston
Many Boston neighborhoods feel like outdoor museums, but the Freedom Trail is the ultimate. Follow the red line and you’re on a 2.5-mile historic trail that leads you past unique historic sites from the American Revolution. The Freedom Trail app isn’t free, but the $4.99 price tag goes to preserve the buildings you’ll see.

The Getty Center, Los Angeles
This complex of art, architecture, and gardens is rated the #1 thing to do in L.A. by the TripAdvisor community. In summertime on Fridays and Saturdays it’s open till 9:00 pm so you can enjoy the sunset and twilight views. The Getty Villa, the collection of Greek and Roman antiquities, is free too. There’s a parking fee of $15 per car, but that fee covers parking at both sites, and the sites are also accessible by public transit.

The National September 11 Memorial, New York City
Entry to the September 11 Museum costs $24, but you can take in the Memorial for free. #4 on TripAdvisor’s list of the most popular landmarks in America, it’s an eight-acre park with twin reflecting pools that sit within the footprints where the Twin Towers once stood and feature the largest manmade waterfalls in North America.

New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park, New Orleans
This is the place for free live educational jazz performances, presented both at the Old U.S. Mint and at the Park’s French Market Visitor Center. Even the park rangers perform! Concerts are live streamed; listen in here and you’ll be itching to book a trip to NOLA.

The Smithsonian Museums, Washington, D.C.
Is there any U.S. city that’s a better bargain for museum lovers than Washington, D.C.? The National Gallery of Art (rated the #1 thing to do in D.C. by TripAdvisor travelers), the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (rated #5), the National Air and Space Museum (#10), and all the other favorites on the National Mall are free, as are top landmarks such as the Lincoln Memorial (rated #2), the Washington Monument, and much more.

Read Wendy’s full list of outstanding free things to do over on her blog at TripAdvisor.