Europe, Hawaii, Washington for free


If your definition of a bargain isn't just low cost but no cost, you might want to seek out a newly revised travel book series called "For Free."

The six guides -- to Europe, London, Paris, Hawaii, the Southwest and Washington -- have been updated for 1994 to include seemingly every possible way to enjoy these popular destinations gratis.

Only the guide to pricey Paris expands on the series' promise of "hundreds of free things to do" by including some activities that are merely "extremely cheap." Otherwise, everything listed in the books costs "zero, zilch, zip, nada, nothing."

All the guides contain a mix of offbeat and ordinary places. London suggestions run the gamut from urban farms situated in the middle of the East End to public spaces such as St. James' Park and Hampstead Heath.

The Europe book lists castles and concerts from Aberdeen to Zurich. The Southwest guide includes just about every ghost town in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah in the course of outlining scenic drives and also unearths some anomalies such as the Las Vegas Museum of Natural History and what it says is Nevada's only winery.

The London and Washington books also offer details on getting around inexpensively via the metro and other public transportation. And they contain helpful keys denoting if there's a Metro or bus route near the free attraction, if the site is handicapped-accessible, if it appeals to children and if tours are offered. This kind of detail would have been helpful in some listings in the other books, as well.

The Washington guide was no doubt the easiest to compile since almost every major attraction in the United States' capital is free. If you've got the city's tourist literature you won't find many surprises in the book, which also covers freebies in Washington's Maryland and Virginia suburbs.

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