There are an increasing number of places around the world where you can find free Wi-Fi to let you log on to the Internet. Thanks to this, I get to watch people wandering the streets, laptops open, looking for a blip of a signal to let them online. I’ve seen people standing on the corner to keep the signal alive, sitting on the street, and all manner of other crazy places – all trying to hold that Wi-Fi signal.
To make your life a little easier, and to avoid you being that guy, here are five wifi hotspot finder sites to help you find free Wi-Fi spots near you. Whether they’re restaurants, airports, Apple stores (always a good bet), or friendly store owners, there’s sure to be free Wi-Fi near you.
There’s an increasing number of stores and restaurants that offer free Wi-Fi at most or all of their locations – these are great places to start in your search for free Wi-Fi.
Major restaurants include Panera, CiCi’s, Cosi, IHOP, and Whole Foods Markets; stores like Staples, Apple, and Office Depot are known for offering free Wi-Fi.
[NO LONGER WORKS] WeFi is one of the most feature-rich of the Wi-Fi hotspot locators. WeFi will find new connections, and automatically connect to the best one for your needs.
There’s a desktop version that will automatically add new spots your computer finds into the WeFi database. It’s also got social aspects, letting you see other WeFi users nearby where you are at the moment.
At its basest, though, it’s still a great way to find local Wi-Fi spots near you, and is definitely the best-looking app of the bunch.
For more, take a look at WeFi’s directory listing.
WiFi Everywhere, a Google Maps mashup with FON is a great way to find the closest Wi-Fi hotspots to you. You start with a map of the United States, and then can zoom in or enter an address to find the nearby hotspots.
They often come from places you wouldn’t expect, so make sure to do the search. There’s not necessarily a promise of free Wi-Fi, but by hiding FON Wi-Fi locations, as well as FON Partner Wi-Fi locations, you can weed out a lot of the paid options.
Every listing tells you what kind of establishment it is (restaurant, waiting room, etc.) as well as whether or not the hotspot has been recently active. You can also send a map to a friend – great for arranging meet-ups to not talk to each other.
OpenWiFiSpots has a ton of useful Wi-Fi finding features. There’s a Google Maps mashup that lets you search for Wi-Fi near you, and a listing of services that will offer you cheap Wi-Fi.
My favorite feature, though, is the “Fast Food Restaurants with Free Wifi” list. There’s a list of national chains – Burger King, Denny’s, IHOP and others – that offer free Wi-Fi, as well as localized listings – for instance, two Wendy’s in Anchorage, AK, offer free Wi-Fi.
The list is huge, with many different options for finding free Wi-Fi.
Free Wifi Airports
Just about every airport now offers Wi-Fi of some sort. Most of them love to charge you about $850 for nine minutes of Wi-Fi access- at least, it feels like that much. To help you avoid the exorbitant fees, SmallBusiness created a list of “Free Wifi Airports,” a list of all the airports and terminals where you can log on for free.
The list isn’t enormous, but that’s because the list of airports with free Wifi is similarly not enormous. It’s a good list, filtered by US state, and including Austria and New Zealand. If you’re going to be stuck in an airport somewhere (and if you’re flying, you probably will be), why not make it one with free Wi-Fi? Check this list before you fly.
For more options for finding Wi-Fi in airports, check out an older MakeUseOf post.
There’s Wi-Fi everywhere now, it seems. Free Wi-Fi’s a bit harder to find, but if you know where to look, you’ll be able to eat great food, buy great stuff, fly the world, all the while staying connected to the Internet.
Whose Wi-Fi do you use? How do you find hotspots? Which one is your favorite wifi hotspot finder? Let us know in comments!