When accessing free Wi-Fi, please remember to practice social distancing. In some cases, Wi-Fi may be accessed from a parking lot.
- Public Libraries
- Some public parks
Skip the Wi-Fi and Try to tether
Rather than spend your time hunting around for a free Wi-Fi connection, you might find the fastest and simplest way to get your laptop online is by tethering your smart phone's data link. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon explain how to tether their devices, although doing so may require an additional fee (unless you're a Verizon customer, as mentioned below).
National Chains with Free Wi-Fi
- Starbucks - The coffee giant recently partnered with Google to bring free and unlimited Wi-Fi access to each of their 7,000 locations throughout the country.
- McDonald’s - Over 11,500 McDonald’s locations offer free wireless access to customers.
- Panera Bread - Nearly every Panera location in the United States offers free Wi-Fi to its customers. You can find details on their wireless access on their website, along with a restaurant locator.
- Dunkin' Donuts - offers free Wi-Fi to customers at thousands of locations. Check this page to see if your local Dunkins offers wireless access.
- Buffalo Wild Wings - a free wireless connection at most locations.
- Apple Store
- Local budget hotels and motels are more likely to offer complimentary Wi-Fi.
- Whole Foods
- Staples and Office Depot
- Barnes and Noble
- Best Buy
- Gyms and Yoga Studios
Please remember, be safe when using free WiFi!
Public Wi-Fi networks are great, but they aren’t always safe. Sharing a network with other people means that your personal information is in danger of being seen or accessed. Protect yourself by taking the following precautions:
- Don’t enter sensitive information. Do your banking and online shopping at home to avoid exposing yourself to identity theft or credit card fraud.
- Use ‘https’ (secure) websites as much as possible. While most frequented websites such as Facebook and email providers will automatically convert the URL to a secure connection, keep an eye on the URL to make sure. Chrome users can also install an extension that will encrypt your data with major websites to make your browsing safer.
- Forget the network. Unless you specify otherwise, your computer or device will likely remember the Wi-Fi network and reconnect to it whenever you are in range. Doing this can leave your information exposed while you’re not browsing. Avoid this by unchecking ‘Connect Automatically’ in your network settings.
- Enable two-factor authentication on frequently visited sites. By adding an extra layer of protection (i.e. entering your phone number or selecting an accompanying icon) to any password protected website, you are effectively reducing the likelihood of a hack.