John Deere

In June: Fly there, do that

I’ve brought my monthly “Cheap, free or just plain cool” round-ups to Travel + Leisure but this month there just wasn’t enough room for all the fun stuff I found, so here’s a slightly expanded list of cool and offbeat events to head to June. 

Get the Blues – for free

Chicago hosts dozens of free music festivals year-round, but the Chicago Blues Festival, June 8-10, is the Windy City’s largest music festival and largest free blues festival in the world. The party takes place in Millennium Park with four stages celebrating the Chicago-born music tradition and Chicago blues legends.

Magic and more 

The Jewish Museum of Maryland opens Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini on June 24 and on opening day professional escape artist Dai Andrews who will recreate Houdini’s 1916 Baltimore stunt in which he escapes from a strait jacket while suspended upside down from a 50-foot crane.

Not free – but avocado-themed.

The Cado – billed as “an immersive, pop-up experience devoted to California avocados” – opens in San Diego sometime this month (the website isn’t clear…) for a three month stint. Tickets are not cheap: $27. But hey, avocados.

Live it up in LA

LA Live is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year with all sorts of free and low-cost events starting on June 8.

Farm machinery mania

2018 marks the 100th year John Deere has been in the tractor business and a big celebration is planned for June 15 and 16 in Waterloo, Iowa. In addition to live music and an exhibition showcasing 100 years of tractors and tractor innovations at the Waterloo Convention Center, there will be a tractor pull and other activities at the John Deere Tractor and Engine Museum in town. (Admission: free).

Can’t make it to Iowa? The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History features rare and classic John Deere tractors in two temporary exhibits put together for the “Year of the Tractor.” (Admission: free).

If this museum could talk, it would slur its words


It’s appropriate that the grand re-opening of the newly renovated Oscar Getz Whiskey Museum in Bardstown, Kentucky takes place June 14, which is National Bourbon Day. The museum is home to more than 5000 whiskey-related artifacts, including real moonshine stills, a 600-piece decanter and bottle collection and a mean-looking mannequin portraying temperance advocate Carrie Nation swinging her hatchet. (Admission: free).

 Grab a drum, a spoon, or a washboard and make some music

 Logan, Ohio, home of the Columbus Washboard Company, hosts the free Washboard Music Festival on Father’s Day weekend, June 14-16. Events include a parade, live bluegrass, folk and washboard-rich music, kids activities and free tours of the last remaining full-time washboard factory in the United States. Keep an eye out for the world’s largest washboard.

Want more music? June 21 (the summer solstice) is Make Music Day around the world, with more than 4,500 free outdoor concerts, music lessons, jam sessions and other music-making events scheduled in more than 70 U.S. cities. Bonus: Come evening, many any iconic buildings and landmarks around the country will be lit orange to mark Make Music Day.

San Antonio’s Tricentennial Celebration Continues

 On June 22, the San Antonio Museum of Art opens “Spain: 500 Years of Spanish Paintings from the Museums of Madrid,” an exhibition featuring more than forty masterpieces by the likes of El Greco, Goya and Picasso. Regular adult admission, with exhibit entry, is $20, but you can see the exhibit for just $5 during hours when general admission is waived: Tuesdays 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. to noon.

Renew your vows; break a world record

Considering renewing your wedding vows?

Niagara Falls USA, Niagara Falls New York

Renew your vows with 1,201 other couples on Goat Island, overlooking Niagara Falls (the Honeymoon Capital of the World) on June 23 and you’ll help break the Guinness World Record for the largest vow renewal ceremony. Registration is free, but all couples must bring photo IDs and their marriage certificates to the event. Participants will get a commemorative t-shirt, a Certificate of Participation and a free buffet at a local casino.  Cheers!