When in Roam
Wi-Fi access at these locations is currently free, though many other places require daily fees or an existing account with a specific service provider. You can search for Wi-Fi nodes in your hometown and across the globe at www.jiwire.com and www.wififreespot.com. But beware: Access changes frequently, and the listings on Web sites (including the five city-specific sites listed here) aren't always up to date. Best to call ahead before lugging your laptop across town.
SAN FRANCISCO » After a soccer or Frisbee session in the Mission's Dolores Park, check your e-mail and grab a chipotle chicken sandwich across the street on the Dolores Park Café;'s patio. In North Beach, Caffe Triesteamong the oldest espresso bars on the West Coasthas sidewalk tables with just enough room for your laptop and a dry cappuccino.
San Francisco » Dolores Park Café;, www.doloresparkcafe.org; Caffe Trieste, www.caffetrieste.com; more at www.bawug.org
PORTLAND, OREGON » Oregon's dreary winters can last through May. When the sun finally emerges, techies gather at the steps of downtown's Pioneer Courthouse Square or at the Pearl District's Ecotrust Building, a renovated warehouse that's now a nexus for green stores and businesses, with Wi-Fi signals from the public atrium to the rooftop garden.
Portland » Pioneer Courthouse Square, the Ecotrust Building, and more at www.personaltelco.net
NEW YORK » The East Village's Tompkins Square Park attracts trustafarian artists and hedge-fund managers looking to hook uponline or in personalong its wireless tree-lined pathways. In the Financial District, you can refine your stock portfolio from the breezy back deck of the bustling South Street Seaport marketplace while looking across the East River.
New York » South Street Seaport, www.southstreetseaport.com; more at www.nycwireless.net
AUSTIN » Open-air browsing in sultry Austin is best done beneath a stubby oak tree in Republic Square, one of a trio of downtown wireless parks, along with Brush and Wooldridge squares. When your battery runs low, head to the sidewalk tables at Quack's, a favorite Hyde Park neighborhood coffee shop and bakery.
Austin » Quack's, 512-453-3399; more at www.austinwirelesscity.org
HERMOSA BEACH, CALIFORNIA » L.A.'s South Bay wave-riding epicenter is also a prime locale for Web surfing: 35 percent of this oceanside 'burb gets city-funded Wi-Fi along Pier Avenue. Compose that next work memo while draining a margarita at a café; on palm-tree-lined Pier Plaza until low tide draws you out for more longboarding.
Hermosa Beach » www.hermosawifi.com