Sunday, September 26, 2010

Go to University (without the student loans).

So I happened upon an interesting article about freebies, with a particular bit of info I feel must be passed on. It seems that several esteemed universities in the US and around the world offer lectures (and sometimes even textbooks) via their websites (or outside websites) for anyone to view for free. Granted, their entire catalogs of classes will not be offered (thought that would be cool), but a good deal is available, with subjects ranging from literature to astronomy.

Click the links below to get your school on:

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Becoming a local tourist, vol. 3: The Theater (Not the Movies!)

If you've been looking for that chance to see a play, this is definitely it. And go for free!

Free Night of Theater 2010 offers the ability for many locals of specific metro areas the ability to see live drama in all its glory. Click here to check out your area.

And if you aren't one to frequent the theater, this will expose you to theater companies that you might not have thought of or have experienced before. Furthermore, this will invite the opportunity for you to mingle with other locals who may have more suggestions for you concerning theater venues and the like.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Becoming a local tourist, vol. 2: Museums

There are tons of perks to living within proximity to a city. And some of them include reduced entrance fees to museums and zoos in the area on given days. These organizations like to reward the local folk with a tempting offer to visit them. Now, being members of museums and zoos are a good idea if you plan to visit often, which is ideal for families. But if you only venture out to such venues every once in a while, read up on when these places host locals at a discount, or even for free. Often times, this will greatly reduce what you'll spend on admission to special events or exhibits that may be there at the time of your visit.

Consider Milwaukee:
  • The Milwaukee Public Museum hosts a free day to County residents on Mondays. This doesn't include special/visiting exhibits, however, it will off-set the cost of entrance for such things. Normal admission is $12, with special exhibit prices varying.
  • The Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory (aka The Mitchell Park Domes) gives Milwaukee County residents free admission on Mondays from 9am to Noon. This saves you $6.50.
  • The Milwaukee Art Museum offers free entrance every first Thursday of the month. The normal admission fee is $12.
  • Milwaukee County Zoo offers Family Free days on specific days throughout the year (see their website for details), as well as discounted admission to the zoo for Milwaukee Co. residents all year, with Wednesdays a further reduced $8 admission. Parking is additional, so consider going with a group to off-set the cost.
You can also save money by buying a multi-pass to varying venues depending on the city you live in or are visiting.

For example: In Milwaukee, we have the Charles Allis Art Museum - Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museums - Pabst Mansion Pass for $12. Each of the first two are regularly $5 each, with the Pabst mansion normal admission costing $9 ($10 during the Christmas season), saving you $7.

On a side note, the Charles Allis Art Museum hosts a series of classic movies on certain Wednesday nights, perfect for a night away from the kids or an evening with the girls. It's free with admission to the museum.

The Harley-Davidson Museum offers a "Double Play" that gives you admission to the museum and a terrace seat at a Brewers game for only $16. The museum admission alone is valued at that, so it's like getting in a game for free.

Other affordable adult entrance fees include:

The Haggerty Museum of Art (at Marquette University) - free (donations accepted)
West Allis Historical Society - free (limited hours)
The Grohmann Museum (at Milwaukee School of Engineering) - $5
Mitchell Gallery of Flight (at General Mitchell Int'l Airport) - free, though there is parking fees at the airport.

Check out the many museums in your area by Googling your city, or picking up a visitors' guide. Learn about your area, have some fun, and save money all at the same time!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Becoming a local tourist, vol. 1: History

Whether or not you find yourself with bored youngsters or need an interesting place to bring a date (on a budget), consider researching your local historical associations. The maintenance of age-old properties often offers you the chance to learn more about your city or town.

The Milwaukee County Historical Society operates several properties, including a farm, that brings the past back to life for those who visit. Their main center also offers periodic exhibits to the public (not currently due to renovations that will end in August 2010). Surrounding counties, like Washington, Waukesha, and Racine counties, also have museums and other properties of note operating most if not all year, giving you the opportunity to expand knowledge of the area.

Milwaukee is also home to the Northpoint Lighthouse, a fixture in the city since the 1870's after it replaced the original lighthouse built two decades before.

My mother was born and raised in Mower County, Minnesota. Though not nearly as populated as the city she currently lives in, the area is still rich with history, including a GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) Hall built in 1891 for use by the fraternal order made up of sixteen Civil War veterans and the Women's Relief Corps. This is one of only two still in existence in Minnesota. Spring Valley, in neighboring Fillmore County is home to the Wilder homestead, the family of Laura Ingalls Wilder's husband, Almanzo.

From somewhere else? Consider Googling your county or parish's history and see if they have a historical society and what they might have to offer.

Admissions tend to be on the cheaper end of the scale, less than the cost of a movie, if not being free altogether.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Learning Experience

A friend of mine invited me to visit the Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University a few weeks ago to see an interesting exhibit of Thomas Woodruff's Freak Parade. This particular museum is free to the public and is a great way to spend some time on a lazy afternoon. You can free your wallet of a few bucks by offering a donation in the name of art at the door, but this isn't required (much like Como Park Zoo and Conservatory).

It turns out that there are a number of universities around the country that also feature museums on a variety of subjects, from science to culture. Not all of these museums are free, but admissions tend to be less than other larger or more well known museums in your area. Furthermore, you're contributing to the advancement of that particular museum through your donations.

To get more information about these types of museums, consider Googling universities in your area. Another way to find these museums is to visit the Association of College & University Museums & Galleries website and then Googling a particular museum (unfortunately there are no direct links from this website).

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Unique Concert Experience

Many cities offer a plethora of music experiences on the cheap, including jazz in the parks and local band gigs. But if you are looking for something a little different, consider attending an exhibition by a drum and bugle corps or going to a high school marching band competition.

These experiences are highly entertaining. And the tickets are going to be a lot cheaper than attending the concert of a major act.

Drum Corps International's site offers the schedule of events. Many of these will have seperate websites to purchase tickets to local events. These tickets may range from $10 up to $35 per person depending on the event.

Illinois Marching Online has a comprehensive schedule of events with links to the corresponding websites. So does Depending on the event, tickets will probably range from $10 up to over $100. I'd say that anything that costs over $20 per ticket, save your money. But many of the local events will be cheaper, so this makes it totally feasible.

Also, try googling "marching band competitions" or "marching band championships" with your state to find out more information about events in your locale.

These exhibitions and competitions will be a great addition to your cheap entertainment repertoire. And something that is great to expose your children to.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Movies on the cheap

So, I am one of those people who loves-loves-loves going to the movies. The smell of popcorn, the fading of the lights as the trailers start, the amplified sounds of the digital surround. All these things are a part of the experience that makes one wonder what could be better.

I don't know the theater chains in everyone's location, but I do know of some things around here that can help the movie-phile. It might also give others something to look into in the theater chains in their locations.

Marcus Theatres is a pretty big chain, so if you have one near you, consider this: every Wednesday and Thursday, they have what's called Spotlight Movies. Sign up to their club, and you'll receive coupons via email for four films. Bring your friends along! All of you can get into any of the four for only $5 each, whether matinee or evening shows. Marcus also has $2 Tuesdays - get $2 popcorn or soft drinks. And they also have the Kids Rule Summer Films series - only $3 and includes popcorn.

AMC Theatres has A.M. Cinema on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Any film before noon is only $5. This is good because around here, even the matinees are $7.50. They do have a summer movie camp for kids too, and concession discounts.

The budget cinemas around here have $1 Tuesdays. Look into those around you. Not first run, but these usually haven't reached DVD yet.

Most theaters will have pretty good senior discounts. Some theaters offer special discounted weekdays, especially during the school year.

Even with the rising prices, movie-going is still one of the best and most economical entertainment choices. Admittedly most people know this, but not everyone looks into the added values and discount choices available to them.


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