Photograph by Jerry and Marcy Monkman
Sail Boston Harbor
Sail scenic Boston Harbor with an experienced skipper during one of the Open House events held by the Boston Sailing Center. Sit back and relax or ask to take a turn at the helm once you have your sea legs. Open Houses are held in spring and early summer, and the center can set you up with lessons if the saltwater gets into your veins.
Yoga in Bayfront Park
What's more relaxing than yoga? How about yoga by Miami's waterfront? How about free yoga by Miami's waterfront? Certified teachers lead free classes every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday at Tina Hills Pavilion. Serenity now.
Ice Skate in Chicago
Embrace the chill of winter in Chicago by lacing up your skates and hitting the free, 16,000-square-foot ice rink in Millennium Park. And if you've ever wistfully watched Olympic skating events, be sure to come during February's Chicago Winter Dance festival, when ice skating and ice dancing lessons are also free.
Free Ski and Snowshoe Day
When the snow begins to pile up, Idaho's Department of Parks and Recreation holds an annual Free Ski and Snowshoe Day—a great way to learn about Nordic skiing and snowshoeing on the state park system's extensive trails. Each January clinics all over Idaho teach techniques and route-finding and even include open houses at yurts in the Idaho City system, which are available for overnight rentals all winter long.
The Women’s Wilderness Institute
Try out a new outdoor passion—from backpacking to biking, climbing to canoeing—with free women-only clinics from the Boulder-based Women's Wilderness Institute. While most events are held in the outdoor playground better known as Colorado, some are occasionally held elsewhere across the U.S.
New England Telemark
New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine
Want to free your heel but don't have a clue where to begin? Start by attending one of New England Telemark's numerous festivals in New Hampshire, Vermont, or Maine, where a regularly priced lift ticket gets you a spot in free clinics for all ability levels, as well as access to demo gear from the biggest names in the business.
Learn to Surf
Deerfield Beach, Florida
Learn to surf, skimboard, or stand-up paddleboard absolutely free on Saturdays, year-round, in sunny Deerfield Beach, Florida. The good folks at Island Water Sports love surfing, and they want you to love it too. Just register online and show up at the shop by 7 a.m. on Saturday with a suit, sun block, and a towel. You'll grab a board and head to the beach with veteran instructors—and be hanging ten before you know it.
Fly Fishing 101
Learn the art of catching fish on the fly, absolutely free, thanks to Orvis, the Federation of Fly Fishers, and Trout Unlimited. Fly Fishing 101 (and 201) courses are on offer during weekends from May through July to teach beginners the basics of rigging and casting a fly rod—as well as catching their first fish. The program is held through Orvis stores in 37 states from Alabama to Wyoming.
Newport Beach, California
Southern Californians looking for a chance to try out a kayak or stand-up paddleboard can check out a “Discover Paddlesports” event in sunny Newport Beach. These free periodic demos, held by Southwind Kayak Center, feature experienced instructors to get you off and paddling, as well as a wide variety of different boats that you can put through their paces.
Poison Spider Bicycles' Spring Thaw
Mountain bike fans know Moab as one of the world's top two-wheeled destinations, and they can't wait until its desert trails are dry and snow-free. That time typically arrives in March, and this festival takes full advantage with a celebratory vibe, free guided rides, and free mountain bike demos from Yeti Cycles and Kona Bikes.
2014 Traveler Photo Contest
Browse all the submissions and check back for the winning images.