Fabulous and Free Winter Activities

Try out these fun things to do while it’s cold outside.

The holidays may have been brutal on your checkbook—now you’re looking for ways to keep busy without reaching for your wallet. Wherever you live, there is free fun available. Check out the websites below for information about activities that will chase those winter blahs away.

Get Your Art On Some of the country’s top museums don’t charge a penny to view their collections. In Washington, D.C., all 19 museums of the Smithsonian Institute are free (si.edu). So are L.A.’s Getty Center, a bastion of Western art, and the Getty Villa in Malibu, which boasts art from ancient Greece, Rome and Etruria (getty.edu). Entry to the Art Institute of Chicago, one of the most celebrated museums in the country, is free every Thursday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Plus, Target sponsors free and reduced-price performances in 34 different cities. Go to target.com/company and click on Community Outreach and Arts + Culture.

Go Ice Skating Some of the country’s coolest ice-skating rinks are free if you bring your own skates. In the heart of Manhattan, Citi Pond at Bryant Park is a huge hit (bryantpark.org, through February 27). Chicago’s Millennium Park offers free ice-skating lessons and late-night ice dancing parties throughout the month of February (explorechicago.org). Check out nearby rinks in your area for local skating opportunities.

Take a Tour If you think popcorn begins and ends with butter, sign up for a free tour at Al’s Delicious Popcorn, in Columbus, Ohio. The family-owned and operated business opened in 1985 and gained a cult following for its ultra-inventive flavors, including Kosher Dill, Cookies & Cream and about 60 more. Yes, the tours include free samples (alspopcorn.com).

Ever wonder how they manage to make the Chocolate Pudding Jelly Belly taste exactly like the real thing? Find out for yourself on the free tour of the Jelly Belly Factory, in Fairfield, California, about an hour north of San Francisco. You’ll get a free bag of Jelly Bellies and a trip to the sample bar to taste as many flavors as you want (jellybelly.com).

Tours aren’t just about getting free samples, though. You can sit on Harley-Davidson production motorcycles, watch a movie and watch as the parts are made at the company’s factories. Go to harley-davidson.com and click on Experience and Factory Tours to find out more about tours in York, Pennsylvania; Kansas City; and Tomahawk and Menomonee, Wisconsin.

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