In search of budget thrills and spills in the land of the free and home of the brave? This extract from Lonely Planet's new edition of The Best Things in Life are Free can help you find the ideal places to go for budget adventure sports and experiences.

Bouldering, California

Another essentially equipment-free pursuit, bouldering is all about solving small climbing problems on, yep, boulders. Bishop, in California’s lower Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, is one of the world’s best bouldering destinations. 

San Francisco Parkour, California

It’s hard to keep flowers in your hair during a monkey vault, but whether you’re a trained traceur or a free-running virgin, the SF parkour scene is both developed and welcoming. Complimentary intro sessions offered.

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A stormy sky out over sea, with many jagged rocks sticking out of the ocean
Find a safe spot on Bullards Beach to watch storms unfold © Gary Weathers / Getty Images

Storm-chasing, Oregon 

The self-proclaimed "storm-watching Capital of the World", Bandon-by-the-Sea’s beaches become wind- and wave-whipped once winter riles the Pacific into a rage. Watch the action from behind the sea stacks and spires on Bullards Beach.

Canyoneering, Utah

A non-technical introduction to an addictive art, the spectacular Peekaboo–Spooky Gulch Loop and Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument in Utah can be spliced into easy 3 mile (5km) return scrambles, with plenty of slots and arches to explore. 

Trail-running, New York

In autumn, go trail-running around Lake Placid, NY, and explore the tracks that wend through vast, fantastic forests in the Adirondack Mountains to experience an explosion of leaf-turning color.  

An underwater statue of a man with his arms raised towards the camera
Make underwater discoveries in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary © Travelbug84 /

Snorkeling or diving, Florida

Armed with fins and a snorkel set, explore Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, which protects the planet’s third-largest reef and contains the submerged statue Christ of the Abyss. 

Body-surfing, Hawai'i

No board? No money? No worries! Point Panic beach in Hawai’i, in the midst of a surfing mecca, has a wave so tailormade for bodysurfing that boarders stay away, leaving it to the penny-pinching purists.

A group of trekkers on a glacier wearing bright red suits gaze down upon a turquoise icy lake
Mendenhall Glacier is near Juneau in Alaska © Ruth Peterkin / Shutterstock

Glacier-spotting, Alaska

In summer, the roadside Child’s Glacier near Cordova, Alaska, sees a collapse of ice every 15 minutes. In winter (Oct-Apr), head to the Mendenhall Glacier, a popular walking stop with free winter entry, accessible by shuttle bus from Juneau ($8).

Deepwater soloing, Utah

DWS is rock climbing without the encumbrance (and expense) of safety gear – it’s just you, the rock and the water below. Lake Powell’s extensive shoreline in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is the perfect spot to give it a try. 

Nordic skiing, Michigan

Forget expensive lift passes, extortionate accommodation rates and crowded runs, and try your arms (and legs) at Nordic skiing somewhere like Higgins Lake, Michigan, where you can ski a groomed 11-mile (18-km) network of trails for just $9 per day. 

You might also like:
20 unmissable extreme sports (and where to try them)  
Are these the craziest sports in the world?  
5 alternative winter sports and where to try them  

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