Comprehensive list of free attractions and the cheapest flights (from £238 direct) to Los Angeles, New York & San Francisco
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Comprehensive list of free attractions and the cheapest flights (from £238 direct) to Los Angeles, New York & San Francisco

45
Posted 19th May
I posted a thread similar several months ago, but I feel this thread will be of even more relevance now as more people will be visiting the US in the coming months for their holiday. Here is a comprehensive list of the cheapest flights and the best free things to do in 3 of the most visited US cities: Los Angeles, New York & San Francisco. I hope you enjoy. Of course please post other great free attractions / events and I will add them to the thread in due course. Flight costs are based on screening prices on Skyscanner, with these prices being typical for a 1-2 week trip.



New York

3232546.jpg
Flights:

The cheapest flights at the moment are £238 (departing London Gatwick) with Norwegian

Average current flight costs:
June - £
300
July - Start of month ~ £350
; End of month £500
August - £370
to £470
September, October and December - £250

November - £
240


Free things to do:
Brooklyn Heights -A park located just off the Brooklyn Bridge on the Brooklyn side of the bridge. From there great views can be had of Manhattan and of course the Brooklyn Bridge.

Bronx Zoo - With 4,000 animals, the Bronx Zoo, which opened in 1899, is one of the largest in the world. There is also a butterfly house. On Wednesdays admission is free (instead of 23 dollars), but donations are welcome.

MoMA - The entrance fee to the Museum of Modern Art is usually $ 25 per person. Most visitors do not know that the museum is almost deserted on Friday from 4pm to 8pm and entrance is free!

National Museum of the American Indian - Features exhibitions on the history and society of the indigenous people of North America, open from Monday to Friday. Admission is free.

Brooklyn Bridge - Built in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most visited attractions in the American metropolis. A walk on the bridge is always worthwhile and of course, is free.

New York Public Library - At 42nd Street, 5th Avenue, you'll find one of Manhattan's oldest libraries. The entrance to the large reading room is free, ideal for switching off and reading.

Staten Island Ferry Boat - This 25-minute ferry ride to Staten Island is free. The ferries depart from Battery Park on the southern tip of Manhattan.

National 9/11 Memorial Museum - Access to the 9/11 Memorial Museum is usually $ 24. However, on a Tuesday from 16:00, entrance is free on a first come first served basis.

Open-air cinema at Bryan Park - The city regularly hosts free concerts in the city's green spaces, whether in Central Park or movie nights at Bryant Park. See the link for more details.


Los Angeles

3232546.jpg
Flights:
The cheapest direct flights can currently be found in November for roughly £280 @ Norwegian. Prices rise substantially in the summer, and if you decide to travel in August, the fare is likely to cost in the region of £600.

Average current flight costs:
June - £
420 to £500+
July - Start of month ~ £550; End of month £700
August - £540 to £700
September - £320

October, November and December - £
280 to £290

Free things to do:
Venice Beach - A walk or bike ride along the three-kilometer Venice Canals Walkway will take you past magical gardens and bridges with there also being plenty of eateries and bars in the area too. Venice Beach is a wonderful opportunity to recover from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis.

Santa Monica Pier - Close to Venice Beach you will find another highlight of the Los Angeles. On Santa Monica's city beach, the Santa Monica Pier, which opened in 1909, towers out into the sea on its wooden planks and features a popular theme park called Pacific Park (the park does not cost admission, only usage of the rides does).

Los Angeles County Museum of Art - Free entry every other Tuesday of the month (instead of $ 25).

UCLA Hammer Museum is free - Free entry to a decently reviewed museum

Ever wanted to be in a movie, check this out... - good opportunity if the dates of your stay align

USS Iowa - one of the largest warships ever built, and is now a museum. On some public holidays, admission is free (otherwise $ 20). Previously served up to 1,800 soldiers at the same time.

California Science Center - The free center is located in the middle of the Exposition Park. A special attraction is the old Space Shuttle Endeavor, which has been on display since 2012.

Hollywood Walk of Fame - The Walk of Fame should not be missed! There are over 2,600 stars that have been embedded in the sidewalks on both sides of Hollywood Boulevard, in honor of the greats of the film and entertainment industry.

Rose Garden (Exposition Park) - The rose garden is one of the city's best kept secrets. It was created in 1927 and features more than 20,000 rose bushes.

Griffith Observatory - The impressive Art Deco building is in itself worth a visit, and inside you will find free scientific exhibits and guided tours. Please note however that the planetarium costs to enter.

Sunset Strip Boulevard - Sunset Boulevard is one of Los Angeles' best known locations and appears in countless films. Images of her photogenic, palm-fringed splendor are the first thing most people associate with Los Angeles. Between Hollywood and Beverly Hills runs their most famous section, the so-called Sunset Strip.

Mulholland Drive - This serpentine road through the Hollywood Hills appears in countless films, series and songs.There are unforgettable views of Downtown LA, West Hollywood and the Hollywood Sign. To get here, take the 101 Freeway and exit at the Cahuenga Pass.


San Francisco

3232546.jpg
Flights:
Flights start at ~ £275 direct with British Airways and there is good availability at this price between September and December. The price is substantially higher in the summer months (£400 - £500+).

Average current flight costs:
June - £
500 to £600+
July - Start of month ~ £520; End of month £700+
August - £580 to £680

September, October, November and December- £270
to £290

Free things to do:
Golden Gate Bridge - the must visit of San Francisco. Free to cross if walking or cycling (highly recommended), although there is a $8 dollar charge to cross the bridge by car (to be paid electronically) - more info here.

Crissy Field parkrun - parkrun is a free 5km timed event with over 550 events currently in the US. Events are much more sporadic across the UK, although there is one in San Francisco. This arguably is the most scenic parkrun too with sweeping views across the bay and bridge. To take part you must print a barcode (see Crissy Field link). The run takes place every Saturday at 09:00.

Free walking tours - Local volunteers guide you through the city and its history for free! Donations are welcome, although please note if you are a group of 8 or more ou must book privately. Alternatively, just turn up in two groups of 7 and pretend you do not know each other

Dolores Mission Park - For great views across the city. Additionally, at Dolores Mission Park there are regular movie evenings and festivals where admission is free.

Pier 39 - A must visit at Fisherman's Wharf, with its many shops, galleries and museums, is one of the main attractions of the city. Hundreds of sea lions criss-cross it, and many tourists can be seen photographing the animals

Musee Mecanique - In the centre of the city is the Musee Mecanique, where old slot machines found their last home. The museum is free to enter. The Musee Mecanique is home to over 300 vending machines, making it one of the largest private collections of its kind.

Free Sailing Course - Ten times a year, the Cal Sailing Club offers free sailing lessons for sailing novices. Classes are typically held on Sundays from 1pm to 4pm. You sail around San Francisco Bay and learn about the safety of boats and water alongside the ecology of the bay.

San Francisco Art Institute - The San Francisco Art Institute is one of the oldest and most prestigious contemporary art schools in a beautiful building in the historic Russian Hill district. Please note that the Swell Gallery on the second floor can be visited free of charge on Tuesdays from 11:00 to 17:00.

Twin Hills - At 300 meters, Twin Hills is the second highest hill in San Francisco. The Twin Hills are one of the few spots in San Francisco to see the Pacific, Bay, Skyline, Downtown, Golden Gate, and San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge all at the same time.

Lombard Street - Well worth a visit, perhaps one of the most random places you will ever visit!
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I went to California with the family last year and in San Francisco we got bikes From basically free bikes. We paid about $100 for 4 bikes for the day and went on a 25 mile bike ride over Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, Ocean Beach and the Presidio of San Francisco. At the end of the journey we dropped the bikes off at “Sports Basement” shop (owners of “Basically Free Bikes”) and we were given a credit note so spend in the shop. My son got some nice Pogba Adidas football boots and my daughter got a Nike top and bottoms. So there’s a top tip for a practically free day out in SF.

Also when we stayed in Monterey a very kind receptionist in the motel where we were staying gave us a free pass for the Aquarium. Normally this would have cost us about $150. She is a volunteer and said she was allowed to let “friends” use her pass. There are lots of volunteers at the aquarium so you might get lucky and meet one like we did.

Another good tip is to sign up several email addresses (I did about 7) to US Groupon well before you go. On a couple of accounts was given free credit to spend on deals, iirc the best thing to do is subscribe to emails but don’t register an account, that’s how to get the best offers. On one account I got $20 free credit and bought a $50 “Broken Yolk Diner” gift card for $25 so I just had to put $5 of my own Money to it. I still get offers all the time and the common ones are UBER, Starbucks, Burger King and Dominos all are $10 gift card for $5. To buy on US Groupon you will have to buy a prepay credit card from Walmart that has a small fee but it’s worth it. Register it as whatever address (I used the motel address). It might be worth buying a prepay SIM card. If you plan on using UBER I think you need to have a US mobile number, just make sure your handset is compatible with their networks.

We got a free upgrade on our hire car which was a 3 or 4 point upgrade I think. We was supposed to get a mid sized car but ended up getting a Dodge Grand Caravan. We were a bit late to collect our vehicle and they ran out of the smaller vehicles so they basically said take your pick. So it might pay to be back of the line when collecting your car.

Keep an eye out on slickdeals.net for offers like you do for HUKD.

Hope this helps someone

37680110-sZRIN.jpg
Edited by: "Madchester" 20th May
Heat for your efforts
Just to confirm, you don't need a US sim for Uber. Used my UK mobile with EE several times whilst in the States
Edited by: "pinkmonkey" 19th May
45 Comments
Heat for your efforts
Heat added reindeer man, some good info/deals there, THE perfect Megathread, something that helps the community
Mrswitch19/05/2019 16:49

Heat added reindeer man, some good info/deals there, THE perfect …Heat added reindeer man, some good info/deals there, THE perfect Megathread, something that helps the community


Thanks @Mrswitch Are you tempted to now?
reindeer33319/05/2019 16:53

Thanks @Mrswitch Are you tempted to now?


To go to America, or create a Megathread?
Mrswitch19/05/2019 16:54

To go to America, or create a Megathread?


Don't go there! What with mad ol' US now banning everyone in the universe from dealing with Huawei - all those ads u posted of their phones - if u go, they won't let u come back!
captainjack19/05/2019 16:57

Don't go there! What with mad ol' US now banning everyone in the universe …Don't go there! What with mad ol' US now banning everyone in the universe from dealing with Huawei - all those ads u posted of their phones - if u go, they won't let u come back!


If it gets me a good night's sleep, away from a two year old currently in her "terrible twos" I'm all for it.!
Mrswitch19/05/2019 16:54

To go to America, or create a Megathread?


You know which

You've already done the other one several times
reindeer33319/05/2019 17:14

You know which You've already done the other one several times


OK,

off to create a Megathread 🚶 🚶 🚶 🚶
Mrswitch19/05/2019 17:16

OK, off to create a Megathread 🚶 🚶 🚶 🚶


You've been to America a lot then
Great list. I'd add The Getty Center to the LA free museums.
Decent off to San Fran and LA next month.
Wish I was allowed into America to take advantage of all the good deals that come up on here.
I went to California with the family last year and in San Francisco we got bikes From basically free bikes. We paid about $100 for 4 bikes for the day and went on a 25 mile bike ride over Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, Ocean Beach and the Presidio of San Francisco. At the end of the journey we dropped the bikes off at “Sports Basement” shop (owners of “Basically Free Bikes”) and we were given a credit note so spend in the shop. My son got some nice Pogba Adidas football boots and my daughter got a Nike top and bottoms. So there’s a top tip for a practically free day out in SF.

Also when we stayed in Monterey a very kind receptionist in the motel where we were staying gave us a free pass for the Aquarium. Normally this would have cost us about $150. She is a volunteer and said she was allowed to let “friends” use her pass. There are lots of volunteers at the aquarium so you might get lucky and meet one like we did.

Another good tip is to sign up several email addresses (I did about 7) to US Groupon well before you go. On a couple of accounts was given free credit to spend on deals, iirc the best thing to do is subscribe to emails but don’t register an account, that’s how to get the best offers. On one account I got $20 free credit and bought a $50 “Broken Yolk Diner” gift card for $25 so I just had to put $5 of my own Money to it. I still get offers all the time and the common ones are UBER, Starbucks, Burger King and Dominos all are $10 gift card for $5. To buy on US Groupon you will have to buy a prepay credit card from Walmart that has a small fee but it’s worth it. Register it as whatever address (I used the motel address). It might be worth buying a prepay SIM card. If you plan on using UBER I think you need to have a US mobile number, just make sure your handset is compatible with their networks.

We got a free upgrade on our hire car which was a 3 or 4 point upgrade I think. We was supposed to get a mid sized car but ended up getting a Dodge Grand Caravan. We were a bit late to collect our vehicle and they ran out of the smaller vehicles so they basically said take your pick. So it might pay to be back of the line when collecting your car.

Keep an eye out on slickdeals.net for offers like you do for HUKD.

Hope this helps someone

37680110-sZRIN.jpg
Edited by: "Madchester" 20th May
Madchester19/05/2019 18:42

I went to California with the family last year and in San Francisco we got …I went to California with the family last year and in San Francisco we got bikes From basically free bikes. We paid about $100 for 4 bikes for the day and went on a 25 mile bike ride over Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, Ocean Beach and the Presidio of San Francisco. At the end of the journey we dropped the bikes off at “Sports Basement” shop (owners of “Basically Free Bikes”) and we were given a credit note so spend in the shop. My son got some nice Pogba Adidas football boots and my daughter got a Nike top and bottoms. So there’s a top tip for a practically free day out in SF.Also when we stayed in Monterey a very kind receptionist in the motel where we were staying gave us a free pass for the Aquarium. Normally this would have cost us about $150. She is a volunteer and said she was allowed to let “friends” use her pass. There are lots of volunteers at the aquarium so you might get lucky and meet one like we did.Another good tip is to sign up several email addresses (I did about 7) to US Groupon well before you go. On a couple of accounts was given free credit to spend on deals, iirc the best thing to do is subscribe to emails but don’t register an account, that’s how to get the best offers. On one account I got $20 free credit and bought a $50 “Broken Yolk Diner” gift card for $25 so I just had to put $5 of my own Money to it. I still get offers all the time and the common ones are UBER, Starbucks, Burger King and Dominos all are $10 gift card for $5. To buy on US Groupon you will have to buy a prepay credit card from Walmart that has a small fee but it’s worth it. Register it as whatever address (I used the motel address). It might be worth buying a prepay SIM card. If you plan on using UBER I think you need to have a US mobile number, just make sure your handset is compatible with their networks.We got a free upgrade on our hire car which was a 3 or 4 point upgrade I think. We was supposed to get a mid sized car but ended up getting a Dodge Grand Caravan. We were a bit late to collect our vehicle and they ran out of the smaller vehicles so they basically said take your pick. So it might pay to be back of the line when collecting your car. Keep an eye out on slickdeals.net for offers like you do for HUKD.Hope this helps someone


That helped a great deal... Thanks a million.
Thanks - going to NYC later this year.
Just to confirm, you don't need a US sim for Uber. Used my UK mobile with EE several times whilst in the States
Edited by: "pinkmonkey" 19th May
Shame it's so expensive for May
In San Francisco my family and I stayed at Music City Hotel in the Junior suite. The price was reasonable and it was quite funky. The basement has a number of rehearsal studios with instruments and PA systems which are free to use for people staying at the hotel. At night when we came back to the hotel took a few beers down to the studios, plugged in my phone and had a jam to some YouTube videos.
Not free but the Natural History Museum in NY is donation based so you can get in for $1!
"MoMA - The entrance fee to the Museum of Modern Art is usually $ 25 per person. Most visitors do not know that the museum is almost deserted on Friday from 4pm to 8pm and entrance is free!"

As I pointed out the last time this was posted, people DO know about this and the queues are ridiculous. You can probably walk in fairly easily from 6pm onwards but be warned that the place will be packed.
Going to LA in September and would love to find tickets that low. Any suggestions? All I'm finding is £450+
The High Line in New York is free and well worth a visit.
Zombied20/05/2019 16:51

The High Line in New York is free and well worth a visit.


Yes love this! Grab some lunch at Chelsea food market then walk the high line, very nice (and easy to cover a few blocks!)
Another voucher here for basically free bikes, few of us booked a tour and it literally was free up to X amount in the shop.Managed to get some running gear and some ice cold drinks etc all for "free" if your in SF definetely recommend them!
Edited by: "Personator1234" 20th May
Murica
We booked tickets to San Fran recently, just FYI, these are basic tickets so you can only take hand luggage, cannot pick your own seat and board last and usually the leftover seat is assigned (this might mean you are at the back where you cannot recline your seat, sitting near parents with babies, near toilets but equally in a nice window or aisle seat - all depends on the flight). This is okay for some, not for others.

We checked Virgin and BA with Economy Classic (pick your own seat, take checked luggage upto 23kg) and it cost about £100pp more.

Still a great price with and without the upgrade.
Lombard Street is no longer free to driver down
Deedie19/05/2019 18:36

Wish I was allowed into America to take advantage of all the good deals …Wish I was allowed into America to take advantage of all the good deals that come up on here.


Do you want to share??
donegal21/05/2019 10:05

Lombard Street is no longer free to driver down


Since when?
frankie1g21/05/2019 11:00

Do you want to share??


I have a "supplying a prison with drugs" charge on my record. So no chance of getting in.
Just booked flights on boxing day to LA, return from San Francisco. I'll keep an eye on This thread.

When I booked it was as cheap to do fly drive with BA. I called and enquired about some cheap flights I'd found and was told no baggage included and that no seats together. They included a convertible mustang for our trip and it worked out nearly the same price as just flights.
Edited by: "mercurystar999" 21st May
Deedie21/05/2019 11:47

I have a "supplying a prison with drugs" charge on my record. So no chance …I have a "supplying a prison with drugs" charge on my record. So no chance of getting in.


Ok then
Madchester19/05/2019 18:42

I went to California with the family last year and in San Francisco we got …I went to California with the family last year and in San Francisco we got bikes From basically free bikes. We paid about $100 for 4 bikes for the day and went on a 25 mile bike ride over Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, Ocean Beach and the Presidio of San Francisco. At the end of the journey we dropped the bikes off at “Sports Basement” shop (owners of “Basically Free Bikes”) and we were given a credit note so spend in the shop. My son got some nice Pogba Adidas football boots and my daughter got a Nike top and bottoms. So there’s a top tip for a practically free day out in SF.Also when we stayed in Monterey a very kind receptionist in the motel where we were staying gave us a free pass for the Aquarium. Normally this would have cost us about $150. She is a volunteer and said she was allowed to let “friends” use her pass. There are lots of volunteers at the aquarium so you might get lucky and meet one like we did.Another good tip is to sign up several email addresses (I did about 7) to US Groupon well before you go. On a couple of accounts was given free credit to spend on deals, iirc the best thing to do is subscribe to emails but don’t register an account, that’s how to get the best offers. On one account I got $20 free credit and bought a $50 “Broken Yolk Diner” gift card for $25 so I just had to put $5 of my own Money to it. I still get offers all the time and the common ones are UBER, Starbucks, Burger King and Dominos all are $10 gift card for $5. To buy on US Groupon you will have to buy a prepay credit card from Walmart that has a small fee but it’s worth it. Register it as whatever address (I used the motel address). It might be worth buying a prepay SIM card. If you plan on using UBER I think you need to have a US mobile number, just make sure your handset is compatible with their networks.We got a free upgrade on our hire car which was a 3 or 4 point upgrade I think. We was supposed to get a mid sized car but ended up getting a Dodge Grand Caravan. We were a bit late to collect our vehicle and they ran out of the smaller vehicles so they basically said take your pick. So it might pay to be back of the line when collecting your car. Keep an eye out on slickdeals.net for offers like you do for HUKD.Hope this helps someone [Image]


Cool story, bro.
If you get badgered for a tip and you don't think they deserve it and they wonder why, just tell them Americans never tip in UK so you are just returning the favour...
Only if you are not going back....
Was in LA in October, was a great place. Hollywood itself is a bit of a let down as it's pretty run down for something so world-famous, but worth the visit. Santa Monica Pier was fantastic, right at the end of Route 66. Seals swimming about and pelicans flying by, it was great.

So many people suggested using the multiple attraction 'Go Los Angeles CArd', but we found that most of the attractions were discounted when we got there, so never paid full prices. The Startours Hollywood homes tour, for example cost us a fraction of the advertised price just by asking the seller at his stall on the street what his best price was, then haggling a bit more.

I would add 'The Broad Museum, Los Angeles to the free attractions list, which is on the outskirts of Downtown LA. It's a stunning new museum that houses a huge collection of modern art. Entry was free. We thought it had a better collection than the Getty Centre, but the Getty is more of a day out because it is set up a mountain in the hills outside LA and has beautiful gardens and views across to the city.



It was right next door to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, a world famous building by architect Frank Gehry. This is well worth a visit too.

If you are doing Universal Studios (fantastic, knocks the spots of Disney, at least for older kids) allow time for the huge open air mall outside it - Universal Citywalk- at night it is buzzing. Has a cinema there too.


If you are hiring a car, and just using Google maps as a sat nav, use the map download facility before you leave the UK. It means you can use Google Maps for that area without needing a data connection. To be honest this applies to anywhere abroad.
Added heat, thank you for using your time on all this great info!
Recently visited San Francisco. Awesome in many ways but wouldn't recommend spending more than 2-3 days there due to serious issues with homelessness and drug use. I live in London and haven't seen anything like the problems in SF; it simply feels unsafe there, which is a pity as the city has a lot going for it.
That said, flying into SF is a great way to visit Silicon Valley, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe (if in season), and Napa Valley. Yosemite simply has to be on your itinerary if you visit SF! Car rental is super cheap there too.
Prices so cheap but no one to go with as everyone either has kids or work obligations.
Thanks OP, just bought one and managed to find a travel buddy. Will rent a car do SF->Yosemite->LA in 12 days.
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