Ten Places to Find Free Public Wireless Internet (WiFi)

Being on the road and without an internet connection is tough. Even worse is when you move and are waiting for those dreaded two weeks that it takes for your DSL activation date to arrive. Like it or not, the internet has become a part of our lives and you notice it the most when you’re unable to connect. Fortunately, there are many places, public and private that offer free wireless internet. Here is a list of ten places that are known to offer free WiFi that you can use when you need to connect.

1. Your Local Public Library:
Did you know that about 99% of all public libraries in the US offer free wireless? You don’t even need a library card to connect, unless you are using one of their desktops. Best of all, with a WiFi enabled laptop, you don’t have any time limits that desktop users are subjected to. While the connections may vary in speeds and filtering, this is by far my favorite place to go when I need to get online and work in peace. If you need free wireless, this is the first place to look.

2. Public Parks of Major Cities:
In the last few years, many cities have taken the initiative to create open air outdoor public networks in their parks. If its a nice sunny day, head to the park and see if there’s a connection.

3. University Campuses:
Colleges and Universities also go to great lengths to have their students connect to the internet. You can take advantage of this as well. Many of the networks are “mesh” which means anywhere on campus, indoors or out, is wireless enabled. Do note that some universities don’t allow anyone to enter their property, and the network itself may be monitored and filtered.

4. Independent Coffee Shops and Cafés:
At least 75% of independent coffee shops offer free WiFi to paying customers. Just don’t sit there all day drinking only one coffee. If the store gets crowded, you may be asked to leave. If you really need 8 hours of internet time and an interruption free place to work, go to your public library.

5. Panera Bread:
Panera Bread offers free Wifi in over 1,200 locations. All day long, customers can use their WiFi. Like a local coffee shop, be aware to buy more than one coffee or you may be asked to leave when it gets crowded.

6. The Apple Store:
Did you know the Apple Store locations offer free WiFi? I didn’t. With all the iPhones and iPod Touches on display, the network could get a bit saturated but if you are in a pinch, it’s a good place to go. The Apple Store on 5th Ave in Manhattan is also open 24 hours.

7. Whole Foods Stores:
Whole Foods is known to have Wireless internet hotspots in store locations. If there’s one local to you, check and see if they have a free connection. Unfortunately, the Whole Foods website doesn’t give you this info and I think free WiFi may not be in the majority of stores. I would recommend looking at other locations first.

8. Select Staples and Office Depot Stores:
Although they may not advertise it, both Staples and Office Depot are known for free wireless. In my research, I found Office Depot is more likely to have free wireless hotspots than Staples but check with the individual store before going there.

9. Hotels and Motels:
Most hotels and motels do like to charge for wireless internet, especially in the rooms. However, in common guest areas and lobbies, there is a good chance of free wireless. Some national chain hotels / motels that are known for free wireless are: Best Western, Econo Lodge, Hampton Inn, Select Hilton hotels in major cities, Holiday Inn, Marriott Courtyard and Residence Inn, and many more.

10. Car Dealerships:
While not every car dealership offers free wireless and it’s not exactly a place to hang out, many dealerships do offer free WiFi in their waiting areas. If you have to take your car in, its a nice to know they may have wireless internet. Especially if you have to sit there for 3 hours while they fix something.

Of course, these ten locations aren’t the only place in the world where you can access free wireless. many places can be located at WiFi Free Spot. In addition, if you are an AT&T Pro and Elite DSL subscriber, you are eligible for free wireless access at any AT&T hotspots located at various Starbucks, Barnes and Noble, McDonalds, airports and many other locations. Just login with your account username and password.

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