Free Wi-Fi Seekers Unite: Don’t Be Ashamed to Scrounge for the Service

Hurricane Sandy is said and done, but the storm didn’t depart without leaving behind a path of destruction and damage in the $20 billion ballpark as it blew across the Northeast. Although millions were left without power, the clearing of roads and public transportation’s slow return to normalcy means it’s time for many to head back to work (if you even had a day or two off)–and for those who can work remotely, it’s time to get the keys clicking. But what if power still hasn’t been returned to your area and you’re left to scrounge for free Wi-Fi?  First hand, I know the struggle. But like I say, if it’s sans cost, it’s for me. For those needing to connect, check out where you can get online for free:


Free, unlimited wireless with your grande caramel macchiato? (Yes, please!) Just bring your laptop, tablet or mobile device of choice and park it at a table to charge up and use the global coffee company’s Wi-Fi free of charge. Once in-store, you will have to connect to “attwifi,” where you will be prompted to agree to the company’s terms of use. Once you accept, you will be on the Starbucks Digital Network.

Quick tip: Get to Starbucks early if you want to get a good spot near an outlet. While charging your device is priority, bringing a power strip may not only guarantee you get to charge your device, but it might even score you a free cup of joe. Trust, I saw it happen.

Whole Foods

While normally all Whole Foods locations offer free Wi-Fi across their NYC locations, Hurricane Sandy has affected the wireless systems in various spots in the city. “We’re working to restore it [service] to all stores,” says Michael Sinatra, public relations and public affairs manager for Whole Foods Market’s Northeast region. “The absolute goal is to have it working.” Although some stores are still running on generators and with additional support, Sinatra is confidant stores will be back to normal soon. Currently, the Upper West Side, Columbus Circle and Midtown East locations have Wi-Fi, but, as of this morning, Tribeca and Union Square stores were without wireless. For the latest post-Sandy updates, check out the Whole Foods Market NYC Facebook page.


The fast food chain is one of the pioneers of free Wi-Fi, offering the service since 2004. McDonald’s now provides wireless to more than 11,500 of the corporation’s hamburger joints. To see whether or not your local restaurant has free Wi-Fi or other details, visit the McDonald’s website.

Panera Bread

Besides having amazing pastries and bread, this bakery-café chain’s free Wi-Fi will have you surfing through gourmet sandwich and emails at the same time.

Apple Stores

I would only suggest using the Wi-Fi in Apple Stores if you’re doing a tech drive-by, meaning you’re stopping in briefly to check your email on one of the store’s Macs. I’ve even heard of people picking up on the strong signals outside of the store. Why not give it a try?

Barnes and Noble

Like McDonald’s and Starbucks, the book retailer ditched the annoying subscription fees and opted for the gratis option. And we’re thankful!

While this list doesn’t include each and every free Wi-Fi spot, it is a start. Churches, colleges and universities and libraries are also viable options. If you know of any other spots with free Wi-Fi, feel free to share in the comments section below.