Like fun? Low on cash, or just hate to part with it? It's cool; leave your wallet at home. Because despite all the pessimistic talk to the contrary, there's a whole lot of stuff you can get for nothing.
Movies are so expensive these days, aren't they? But who says they have to be? You can go to the dollar theater, but in the summer months it's an extraordinary experience to watch a movie outside. Adults can head over to Lux Lounge (666 South Avenue, 232-9030) on Wednesdays nights in the summer (weather permitting) around 10:30 p.m. Go through to the backyard, grab a seat at a picnic table, and behold The B-Movie Backyard Bonanza. That's right: it's cheesy, it's bawdy, it's made for drinking games... it's second-grade cinema.
Or you can watch more mainstream releases at Ontario Beach Park on Tuesdays July 5 through August 9. These are your old favorites: Some Like it Hot, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Jaws, Grease. They cue them up at dusk. Info: 256-4950
And for a more family-friendly experience, watch the G- and PG-rated movies shown at that outdoor amphitheater on South Avenue, the Highland Park Bowl, Thursdays July 7 through August 11. You can catch Lemony Snicket, SpongeBob, and Shrek 2 --- all a bargain at free. Info: 256-4950
Also at the Highland Bowl is our very own Shakespeare in the Park. This year, The Shakespeare Players --- a division of the Rochester Community Players --- will stage A Comedy of Errors, July 1 through 10, at 8 p.m. It's outside, it's Shakespeare, it's free... what more do you want? www.rochestercommunityplayers.org, 234-6789
But really, who can entertain you like the universe can? The local astronomy club is kind enough to organize Public Star Parties, where they set up six to 12 telescopes and answer questions about stars, planets, and spaceships. There are one to two each month through late fall, either at Northampton or Mendon Ponds Park. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 987-5330 for schedule.
And then there's music. It's printed elsewhere in this guide, but really bears repeating: You can see concerts performed by renowned Eastman faculty and students in the school's Kilbourn Hall for free many days during the week. You'll feel weird walking in and taking a seat without money changing hands, but it's all aboveboard, promise. You can hear music on guitar, violin, trombone, piano; music composed by Bach, Handel, Beethoven, Mozart; classical, choral, and jazz. Check listings for information, some concerts are ticketed. 274-1100, www.rochester.edu/Eastman
If you're going for punch, the largest musical instrument is in the Rush Rhees Library at the University of Rochester. It's a carillon, which is a three-and-a-half ton collection of bronze bells connected to wooden keys and pedals. The word "resounds" was made to describe this. For four Mondays --- July 11 through August 1 --- you can spread a blanket anywhere in the Eastman Quadrangle in front of the library and listen to a concert played by guest carilloneurs. Concerts are at 7 p.m.
Get out and play
Now, on top of it all, the "experts" want you to exercise. (What a bore.) Sure, you can charge up your credit card with the latest tightener-flexer-cruncher machine and its accompanying video, but really, who are you kidding? It can be less of an expense to hook up with a group that does some sort of activity for fun. They are willing to share what they know for free.
The Rochester Orienteering Club tramps around parks with maps and compasses in hand, looking for a set of checkpoints in order to complete a course. Finding the checkpoints can be easy or difficult, and some require you to get pretty far off the track. The best part is it's as challenging as you want, because you set the pace. You can either request a map to go out on your own or you can join in with the Club on one of its scheduled outings. Call the hotline, 377-5650, for info.
The City of Rochester organizes weekly Nature Nights on Tuesdays in the summer. The guided bicycle rides and Trees in Our Neighborhoods walks are free. The outrigger canoe paddles cost some money, so I can't mention it here. Each Nature Night activity starts at 6:15 p.m. Call 428-6770 or visit www.ci.rochester.ny.us for information on the next scheduled activity and the meeting place.
And if you like the bike riding, the Rochester Bicycling Club, in addition to its regular rides that can get up to 30 miles, holds a Slow & Easy series each summer --- "for beginners or for those who like to ride slow and easy." Who doesn't? The rides are up to 23 miles, on flat terrain, and are good for families. Important info for the nervous among us: there is a No Rider Left Behind Policy. Info: 888-857-8198, www.rochesterbicyclingclub.org
The University of Rochester is getting in on the act, too. A group has started up a guided bike ride program called City Cycles and are offering the Sunday Scenic Bike Tour every Sunday at noon. The group leaves from the Wilson Quad clocktower (on the River Campus between Wilson Commons and the Goergen Athletic Center). For information: email@example.com.
Ever try to walk the hills in Mt. Hope Cemetery? That's a workout. Distract yourself from the task by taking a tour. Every Sunday at 2 p.m. until the end of October and certain Saturdays at 1 p.m. you can pick up a free tour at the North Gate House (opposite Robinson Drive). The theme and interpretive tours cost a few dollars, but the regular ones are free. And they'll even give you cookies and lemonade. 461-3494, www.fomh.org.
Seek the cool
There's no shame in getting in out of the heat. But why not pair cool air with cool activities? Any old Joe can go to the mall.
Psst. Most galleries are free. And look at the art listings in each issue of City or the listings in this Summer Guide --- there are a lot of galleries around town. Cool little pockets of paint and clay are all over the place. There's contemporary, classic, and extreme, and every shade in between. And pretty colors. All you have to do is look. It'll give you something smart to talk about at the next barbecue and make all your friends say, "Oooh, well, la-di-da." They're secretly jealous of your culture, believe me.
And here I'm going to break my own flat-broke rule. This one costs $2. I know, I know. So return some bottles, and dig some change out from under your car's floor mats. You can scrounge it up, because it's worth it. On Thursday evenings, between 5 and 9 p.m., admission to the Memorial Art Gallery --- yes, our big art gallery, the one with all the statues and pretty pictures --- is only $2. There, I said it. Now it's gonna be mobbed. (Special fees may apply for certain exhibits, 500 University Avenue, 473-7720 ext 3058, mag.rochester.edu)
The little ones don't always understand why 85 degrees is fun. Give them a break and take them to a library for a free storytime. Check www.rochester.lib.ny.us/ or your individual branch for scheduled times (most locations have some), plant the kids in front of the storyteller, and head back into the magazines for a half-hour of cool quiet. And remember: Library cards and all they can get you (videos, books, CDs) are completely free, as long as you return on time. But then, you're cheap, not inconsiderate, right?