Six Places To Find Free Wi-Fi (And One Place You Won't)

Free Wi-Fi

Barnes and Noble Inc. has signed a deal with AT&T to provide free Wi-Fi in all its bookstores nationwide, which is good news for road warriors looking for another place to check e-mail or the Net. The bookstore chain joins a growing list of companies that offer free (or sometimes free) wireless signals. Here's a look at some of them.

Barnes and Noble

Barnes and Noble has had Wi-Fi available with AT&T since 2005, but previously charged for its use. As part of the deal, customers will soon be able to opt-in to receive personalized messages from Barnes and Noble, including coupons and notices on book signings.


Starbucks offers Wi-Fi at many of its coffee stores, but it's not free for everybody.

If you register a Starbucks Card and use it at least once a month, you'll receive two hours a day of free service and it's also complimentary to AT&T DSL customers. For everyone else, its $3.99 for two consecutive hours, or about the cost of one of its coffees.

Panera Bread

The sandwich/bagel chain has free Wi-Fi at more than 1,250 locations across the country. Participating stores have Wi-Fi stickers on the door, or you could search for the locations on their Web site.


McDonald's has more than 15,000 Wi-Fi-enabled restaurants, about half of its global number of locations.

Like Starbucks, McDonald's offers free wireless to AT&T, Qwest and Verizon DSL customers, while others may have to pay. Some handheld devices, such as iPhone and BlackBerry Bold, also qualify for free service. Some franchises reportedly offer free Wi-Fi coupons and other subscription deals.

Local Libraries

From Boston to Pasadena, and thousands of locations in between, local libraries offer free Wi-Fi to visitors. And you don't need to buy a coffee or sandwich either.

AT&T Park

Even road warriors need a break sometime. What better way to spend a summer afternoon, or evening, than at a ball game, in a beautiful stadium no less. And if you can't pull yourself away from your virtual office, the San Francisco park has offered free wireless to attendees since 2004.

Not In New York City Parks

New York offered free Wi-Fi within almost a dozen parks from 2005 to 2008, but the locations have since been deactivated, according to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. The city has since approached several businesses and organizations to keep wireless alive, but it's hit or miss as to whether you'll pick up a signal now.