Take a Free Walking Tour on Your Next Trip

French Quarter
French Quarter. Photo © Flickr user Phil Roeder

Looking for something fun to do on your next vacation that doesn't cost money? Then, consider taking a free walking tour. It's a great way to learn about the history, architecture and other little quirks that make a city special. Take a self-guided tour, and explore at your own pace, or go on a guided tour, and let a pro show you around. Either way, you're sure to have a great time and learn a lot.

Here are some free walking tour options to consider:

FreeToursByFoot - Take a free tour with a licensed, freelance tour guide. Tours typically last around two hours and explore a mile of the city by foot. They operate tours in a dozen cities, including New York City, New Orleans, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia. At the end of the tour, you pay the tour guide as much as you'd like -- even nothing at all. Spots are limited, so you need to make a reservation in advance.

For free European tours, check out: Sandeman's New Europe

National Park Service - Get to know national parks and historic sites managed by the National Parks Service by taking one of their free tours. They offer ranger-guided tours, cell phone tours and even virtual caching (like geocaching, but without the treasure), and they operate in some pretty surprising places. There's the Freedom Trail Tour in Boston and the French Quarter Tour in New Orleans, for example.

To explore their offerings, do a web search for "free tours offered by the National Park Service," or if you already have a travel destination in mind, just visit the official website for that particular park or monument.

Sponsored Tours - Lots of cities, historic sites and botanical gardens have put together free walking tours for visitors.

To see what's available at your travel destination, just do a web search for the city or site that you'll be visiting and "free walking tour." Some offer free printable maps or tour guides, others offer free audio tours via free apps, still others post a schedule of guided tour times.

If you're headed to New York City, be sure to check out these free tours.

Tour Guides - Check out a tour guide from the library before you hit the road. Then, use it to create your own self-guided tour. Another good book to reference as you plan your tour: 1,000 Places to See Before You Die.

Tip: Download an eBook copy, so you won't have to lug a heavy book around.

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