Free Vacation Attractions
5 Ways to Get the Best Value for Your Travel Dollar
The Frugal Road Trip
Fun Factory, Brewery and Winery Tours
This page was created to provide information regarding free and nearly free vacation attractions. Please tell your friends about this page. Who knows, maybe they'll take the money they save and buy you one of those goofy tourist t-shirts!
If you know of a free (or nearly free) vacation or tourist attraction, please send us a note with the location, name, and any additional information you can provide to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit the National Parks. 264 of your 397 national parks never charge an entrance fee. So start planning your visit! If you're planning a trip that includes multiple national parks, you might consider the $80 annual pass that provides entrance to all national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests, and many other Federal lands, more than 2,000 in all. The America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass is offered free to all active duty military members and their dependents. Information on these and other pass options is available online.
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
- WASHINGTON, D.C.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens - There is free admission and parking all year long. You'll find beautiful gardens and walking paths, a picnic area with tables and chairs, and whimsical statues throughout that are fun for the kids. Pick up a free scavenger hunt at the information area.
Vulcan Park and Museum - You'll find free parking, park area, and museum area during daylight hours. There is a small fee ($3 the last time we went) to go at night, but it's worth seeing the city all lit up at night. You can also go up inside Vulcan to the observation deck, but that also requires a fee.
Cook's Natural Science Museum - 412 13th St SE - Enjoy a vast collection of wildlife including rare displays of a bald eagle and golden eagle. Monday - Saturday 9 am - 5 pm (closed Noon - 1 pm for lunch) - Sunday 2 pm - 5 pm - Phone 256-350-9347 -
DeKalb County, AL
Little River Canyon National Preserve - It's free. You can drive around the canyon and find beautiful scenery year-round, hiking trails, and picnic tables. Visit here for more information.
Associated with this park is Mouth of the Canyon Park. There is a minimal parking fee of $3 for day use or $10 for a season pass. There is a picnic shelter with loads of tables, running water, bathrooms, nature trail, and the most spectacular swimming hole in North Alabama. However, there is no "beach."
DeSoto State Park - There is an entrance free, cabins for rent, campgrounds, nature trails, picnic facilities, play ground, nearby swimming pool for a fee, sports area with items for rent (volley ball, baseball), limited playground, lovely natural flora year-round. Visit here for more information.
DeSoto Falls offers swimming, picnic areas and hiking. Entrance is free. Visit here for more information.
The Depot Museum houses railroad memorabilia, dioramas handcrafted back in 1913, Indian artifacts, fashions from the early 1900s, a player piano, local history and more! There is a small admission fee, which is used to maintain the collection and run the museum. The old Fort Payne train station now serves as a museum dedicated to the history of Fort Payne. Visit here for more information.
Fort Payne Hosiery Museum at 514 Gault Ave N. is dedicated to the history of the sock industry in Fort Payne. You'll see machinery and other items relating to the sock industry in Fort Payne over the years. You'll find free entrance with guided tours. Visit here for more information.
Buck's Pocket - There is free entrance to a 2,000-acre park in northeast Alabama, which is secluded in a natural pocket of the Appalachian Mountains chain. The park's picnic area offers a canyon rim natural vista into the pocket below. The pocket itself, on an upstream tributary of Lake Guntersville, hosts an improved campground, complete with tables, grills, shelters, laundry, comfort station, playground, picnic area and hiking trails. It is located two miles north of Grove Oak in northeast Alabama. Visit here for more information.
For other events in Alabama, visit here.
Alabama is a beautiful state and has many other attractions, but the above are ones within a close area of North East Alabama. Being in the NE corner of Alabama also means you are within easy driving distance of Red Stone Arsenal, Chattanooga Aquarium, Rock City, Noccaloula Falls, Collinsville Trade Day, the Tennesse River (lots of fishing and boating) and other places or events of interest.
Turkey Creek Nature Preserve - All natural swimming hole with a natural rock slide. Nice hiking trails and picnic area. Rated one of the cleanest waterways in Alabama. Closed to the public on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Denali National Park
Glacier Bay National Park
Grand Canyon, AZ
Grand Canyon National Park
2nd Fridays Street Fairs - On the 2nd Friday of each month, there is a street fair along the sidewalks in old downtown Mesa. Each month there is a different theme. Artists and vendors set up tables along the sidewalks, and there is always live music somewhere. Find more info here.
Petrified Forest, AZ
Petrified Forest National Park
Phoenix 1st Fridays Art Walk - Held on the 1st Friday of each month from 6-10pm usually. You can tour galleries and venues for free. Visit here for more information.
Saguaro National Park
In Tucson a drive to "A" Mountain. Gives a great look at the city. Also a drive to Mt. Lemmon. If you plan to stop along the way there is a fee (a yrs pass is $10). Its very cool in the summer months, and a stop at the Mt. Lemmon Cafe for pie is a must.
Desert Sonora Museum
There's a small fee. It's a zoo of sorts; the animals are in their natural habitat instead of cages. You walk thru the park and tunnels to view nocturnal species.-from Alice
Davis Monthan Air Force Base "Airplane Graveyard"-from Alice
This is a huge underground natural cave.-from Alice
Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon are truly awe-inspiring places to go. They're in northern Arizona. Sedona is known for its UFO sightings and energy vortexes. The shops are pricey, but you can get pretty souvenirs of different rocks and crystals at most New Age stores. One fun, free pastime is visiting the "Airport" at dusk or at night. You can sit in your car or step out and watch the skies for unusual activity. Even if you aren't interested in aliens or healing, the distinct coloration of the huge rocks surrounding the town are impressive enough for a visit. Oak Creek requires you to buy a one time or year long pass to stop along the road or at an official park. The fee is nominal, especially if you come back again a couple of times within the same year. The creek has narrow and wide parts, and is tucked into the forrest. Most of the spots I've visited are a small climb down. Even on crowded days there are always more secluded places within easy walking distance. - from Ilana
Altus Heritage House Museum. Free admission. Open 10 - 2 every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday except holidays. Also open when activities are going on in the city park across the street. 102 N. Franklin Street
Free tours and tasting at all local wineries. There are 4 in the area: Post, Mount Bethel, Wiederkehr and Chateau Aux Arc
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is a free attraction in Bentonville, Arkansas. This is also the home of Walmart Home Offices. There are other free things in this NW corner of the state. - from Dede
Fort Smith, AR
Located on the Arkansas/Oklahoma border, Fort Smith was the gateway to the West and governed the Indian Territory. Home to Belle Starr and Hanging Judge Parker. The Tourist Center is located in one of the original bordellos that lined the Arkansas River. You can see the site of the original fort and Judge Parker's gallows. There is a wonderful museum to tour for a nominal fee.
Hot Springs, AR
Hot Springs National Park
(501) 624-3383, ext. 640
Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia - 214 California Drive - (650) 347-2301 - Open Tues. - Sat. 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. - burlingamepezmuseum.com - The world's only museum dedicated to the history of the Pez candy. Hundreds of dispensers are displayed and an interactive exhibit provides access to clips of Pez from T.V. and the movies.
Crescent City, CA
Redwood National Park
Death Valley, CA
Death Valley National Park
If planning a trip to Southern California, check out the cost of annual passes. The annual passes may cost less than 3 or 4 days admission. At Disneyland there is a picnic area outside the park. Fill a cooler and leave it in your car. Meals "out" can get expensive. --from L.C.
The Herman Goelitz Candy Company Tour
Take a treat filled tour of the company that makes Gummi Pet Tarantulas and Jelly Belly Beans.
Guest get free samples and can buy discounted Belly Flops (jelly bean rejects)--from D.J.
La Purisima Mission. During the summer every other week there is a special event. There are volunteers who work the mission as if it were the early 1800's. There are samples of foods eaten, and other activites that children and adults can participate in. The mission also has many animals that live on the property. It is a very interactive experience. The cost is $5.00 per car $4.00 for seniors.--from Steven V.
Los Angeles, CA
Getty Museum - virtualtourist.com/vt/b80ac/4/23/?o=3&i=3 - Amazing art museum and architectural marvel. Free, but $15 parking. Not to be missed. Great for kids!
California Science Center - West Coast's largest hands-on science center. Free admission to permanent exhibits. - casciencectr.org/
Los Angeles County Museum of Art www.lacma.org is right next door to the Natural History Museum, and they have a Next Generationfree admission deal that is just fantastic. Children get a free membership, and can bring an adult with them for free. I checked online and it does not say it is for California or Los Angeles residents only. In addition to the NexGen program, LACMA also has free admission after 5 p.m. and the 2nd Tuesday of each month. There are paid parking lots, but parking can often be found free on Sundays on 6th Street behind the museums.
Menlo Park, CA
U.S. Geological Survey Western Region Center - 345 Middlefield Road - (650) 329-4390 - Earth Science Information Center Open Mon. - Fri. 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Library Open Mon. - Fri. 7:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. usgs.gov - At the Information Center you can view numerous maps, pick up pamphlets on anything from dinosaurs to volcanoes and check the "Free" box for maps or posters to take home. Highlights of the library are the globe collection and the Aerial Photo Room.
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Orange Empire Railway Museum - There are acres of trains, trolleys, and electric trams. Some have been in movies. They recently received money to build a museum/library for all the papers they have and a museum dedicated to the Harvey Girls. It's a really interesting place to visit and very relaxing. Visit oerm.org for all that they have to offer. It does cost if you want to ride the trains and there is an entrance fee for special events. Otherwise, it is free to wander and gawk.
Phipps Ranch - 2700 Pescadero Road - (650) 879-0787 Open 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Seven days a week. - On the 50-acre farm you can view exotic birds, a plant nursery, lots of farm animals, herb and flower gardens and play on antique farm equipment. There's also two picnic table areas, a produce market and berry picking from mid-June through September.
Point Reyes, CA
Point Reyes National Seashore
Lincoln Memorial Shrine/A.K. Smiley Public Library
West Vine Street
Redlands, CA 92373
Contact: Mr. Don McCue, Archivist
The A.K. Smiley Public Library and the Lincoln Memorial Shrine are two hidden gems in the Inland Empire town of Redlands. Located off of the 10 FWY between LA and Palm Springs, in a bucolic park setting, sits the Library and Shrine. The Shrine contains a vast collection of Civil War items. The Library is an architectural marvel. Redlands also has many great examples of Victorian and Craftsman architecture. Also, there is a wonderful Farmer's market which is held each Thursday night.--from S. G.
Located in Old Sacramento, the California State Railroad Museum is a complex of historic facilities and unique attractions. Widely regarded as North America's most popular railroad museum, there is something here for everyone! Throughout the year, experience lavishly restored trains, engaging exhibits, and unique special events. Every weekend April-September, ride behind a real locomotive! Visit csrmf.org for more information.
Experience a one of a kind visit to Old Sacramento. The unique 28-acre National Historic Landmark District and State Historic Park is located along the beautiful Sacramento River. Bustling with activity, the district is alive with shopping, dining, entertainment, historical attractions and world-renowned museums set within the time of the California Gold Rush and the Transcontinental Railroad. Visit OldSacramento.com for more information.
Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge - It's located 10 minutes south of Sacramento, near Elk Grove. It has free guided nature walks, October through May. It also has free wildlife observation paddle tours June through September. Bring your own canoe or kayak, etc.
San Diego, CA
The San Diego Natural History Museum offers free admission to San Diego County residents (with photo ID) on the first Tuesday of each month. Great place to take the kids and adults will enjoy it too. The address is 1788 El Prado, Balboa Park, phone is 619-232-3821.
For a listing of free activities at Balboa Park click here.
San Francisco, CA
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
San Francisco Zoo and the Museums at Golden Gate Park are free the first Wednesday of every month. You may want to confirm this before you visit to verify the correct date.- from K.L.
Muir Woods State Park - Beautiful walking trails (strolls) through the redwood forest. --from C.S.
Cantor Arts Center - On the Stanford University campus at Lomita Drive and Museum Way - (650) 723-4177 - Open Wed. - Sun. 11:00 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thur. 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. Closed Major Holidays - stanford.edu/dept/ccva -features over 20 galleries, a Rodin sculpture garden and modern and contemporary art from all over the world. Pick up the "Animals In Art" or "People & Places In Art" pamphlets at the entrance so your children can go on an art hunt. Parking in most areas is free after 4 p.m. and on weekends.
Strybing Arboretum & Botanical Gardens - 9th Avenue & Lincoln, Golden Gate Park - (415) 661-1316 - Open Weekdays 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Weekends and holidays 10:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. strybing.org - The 25 special gardens at this sanctuary feature over 7000 different species of plants. Every day there are free guided walks at 10:30 a.m. and on the weekend an additional walk at 1:30 p.m.
Palo Alto Baylands Preserve and Duck Pond - Go to the end of Embarcadero Road East, turn left and follow the signs - Visitor Center: (650) 329-2506 - Preserve open 8 a.m. to sunset every day, Visitor Center hours vary - Bring lots of bread to feed the ducks, geese and other birds at the large duck pond. The numerous bayland trails are fun to explore on your own or join a free nature walk offered through the Visitor Center. Call ahead for the current walk schedule.
You can picnic on the beach and play in the surf. --from C.S.
Point Reyes National Park
There are numerous beaches and the lighthouse you can visit at the end of the point.--from C.S.
Twentynine Palms, CA
Joshua Tree National Park
The Nethercutt Collection - Private collection of classic cars, pipe organs, antique furniture, and porcellin belonging to the Nethercutts (of Merle Norman fame). Visitors can take a guided tour and tour a separate bldg. housing classic cars only plus a historic train.
Three Rivers, CA
Kings Canyon National Park
On the western slope of the Sierra Nevada, Kings Canyon--along with Dequioa to the south--is known for its granite peaks, deep canyons, and high-country lakes (accessible via trails, not roads). It's also known for its stands of sequoia. The oldest of the trees are hundreds of feet tall and have 30 foot wide trunks.
The Woodside Store Historic Site - King's Mountain and Tripp Roads - (650) 851-7615 - Open: Tues. and Thurs. 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Weekends 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. - Meticulously restored to its appearance in the 1880s. The former country store, post office and community center is a hands-on museum. Features from the 1880's include a dentist's office, blacksmith shop, old-fashioned appliances, tools, clothes, maps and historic documents and photos. In the store you will find many examples of goods that were available to customers during the store's heyday alongside postings of 1880s prices. The staff will gladly answer children's questions about what life was like 100 years ago.
Yosemite National Park
Swetsville Zoo in Fort Collins - This makes a good day trip or addition to your tour of Colorado. A zoo of scrap metal animals and dinosaurs donations only
Mission Wolf in Silver Cliffs - Wolf Refuge the wolves are in large pens, and there is no fee (do leave a donation). You can camp there for free, too
Great Sand Dunes National Monument in Southern Colorado - Giant sand dunes right next to beautiful mountain trails. $3 entrance fee. Camping in the park is $12/night
The Denver Art Museum - You'll find it free on Saturdays.
Mesa Verde, CO
Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
The Barker Character, Comic and Cartoon Museum is a great place for the whole family, though grownups will probably have the most fun as they relive their childhoods! Next to the museum is an Animation Art gallery and a sculpture gallery. The museum and galleries are a few miles from Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden, CT.
"Car Cruise Nights" - Located at Marcus Dairy off Route 7 in Danbury, Ct. The event is usually held every Saturday night during the summer and early fall. The event is free.--from Stephanie
Nautilus Museum. Free admission. Real submarine (in the water) that you can board and learn about. Great stuff on Naval history and a periscope kids can play with. Located right outside the Groton Naval Sub-Base (off Rte 12). Outdoor and indoor exhibits.from Pamela A.
Gillette Castle. It is free admission to the grounds itself and it has nature walks and picnic areas. There is a minimal fee to go inside of the castle. from Heidi
Kent Falls Park - There is a gorgeous waterfall with picnic tables and some open grassy area. No admission but there is a parking fee. The park is located along Route 7 in Kent, CT.--from Stephanie
Harkness Memorial Park - There is a small fee for entry but they have expansive grounds, picnicing, fishing, ornamental gardens, and a gorgeous restored mansion. It is a state park. from Heidi
Blue Springs State Park
Here you can see manatees swimming.--from S.S.
Bradenton Beach, FL
One of the nicest in the state. Parking is free, lots of long sandy beach, plenty of picnic area and a playground for the kids. But, sorry Fido isn't allowed.
Brevard Community College
They host a two-day Seminole Indian & Florida Pioneer festival every fall. The event features Native American dancers fold singers, cloggers, craft vendors, and indian food vendors. It also typically includes airboat rides, "cracker" cattle whip demonstrations, and wildlife exhibits. Admission is free. For information call (407) 632-1111 ext. 63720 or email email@example.com KCHP
Gulf Breeze, FL
Gulf Islands National Seashores
Everglades National Park
Paynes Prairie State Preserve, FL
Here you can see migratory sandhill cranes and other unusual birds. Florida has a very large number of wonderful parks and you can pick up brochures that describe them at any visitor center.--from S.S.
Naval Aviation Museum on board NAS Pensacola. Pensacola has been the cradle of Navy Aviation for over 75 years and is home to the Blue Angels. Here is a great web site I found with alot of information about what you can see there.
Pensacola also has several historical forts as well as a historical section of downtown.
Punta Gorda , FL
Peace River Wildlife Refuge is free to visit daily from 11am to 4pm. It is a refuge for injured sea and birds that frequent the coast. It is clean, and a free guide is available to answer questions. It is located on Charlotte Harbor in Ponce De Lion Park. Swimming and fishing are also free of charge as well as parking.
Canaveral National Seashore
Andersonville National Historic Site - The Camp Sumter military prison at Andersonville was one of the largest Confederate military prisons during the Civil War. During the 14 months the prison existed, more than 45,000 Union soldiers were confined here. Of these, almost 13,000 died here. Today, Andersonville National Historic Site is a memorial to all American prisoners of war throughout the nation's history.
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (770) 399-8070
Martin Luther King Center - Admission and parking are free. Most of the park is self-guided; therefore, no special arrangements are needed. However, you must register to tour the birth home of Dr. King. For questions or more information, visit here.
First Thursdays - ArtsWalk - Self-guided tours of Downtown galleries occur the first Thursday of every month throughout the year starting at 5 pm and ending at 8 pm. It is a great way for art-lovers to view the arts and tour historic districts of Downtown at their own pace. This event has surpassed simply being known as a gallery tour. It is a great meeting place for singles, has fostered friendships, and is a great way for business people to unwind. Don’t forget to stop to enjoy discounts at Downtown restaurants in between visits. Free parking 6-9 pm at Lanier Parking Deck behind the library; tickets stamped at library front desk. There is also free evening event parking at United Way parking garage.
National Archives and Records - The Southeast Region of the National Archives is a destination for those longing to trace their southern ancestral history. With archival documents dating back to the early 1700s, it is an excellent point for those interested in genealogy or history in general. These documents are not only composed of textual records, but there are photographs, architectural drawings, Civil War records and maps kept on file too. Located ten miles from Hartsfield Jackson Airport, their hours are Tuesday - Saturday, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. They are closed Sundays, Federal holidays, and Saturdays that precede any Federal Holiday which is observed on a Monday.
Fernbank Science Center - Created to foster the wonder and a love of science, Fernbank offers one- and two-hour programs for adults and families on the first Thursday afternoons at 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m of every month. No registration or reservations are required. The programs are free of charge and are open to the public. Programs and times may change. Call ahead first. Just come to the reception desk ten minutes before the program! The Center’s display and forest area are also free.
The Federal Reserve Bank - The Fed provides free tours of their facility Monday through Friday at 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m., and 1 p.m. The website firmly states that tours are by appointment only, but I know some people who simply walk in during those times and can participate. However, to cover your bases, go ahead and make a tour request anyway. You will have to go through security to get a temporary badge and no photography is allowed. Also, individuals or groups of fewer than ten people may participate in self-guided tours of the Visitors Center and Monetary Museum from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Self-guided tours are limited to visiting the Visitors Center and Monetary Museum and do not need to be scheduled. During the tour, you will be shown various types of antiquated currency, get to hold real gold bricks, be shown how to spot counterfeit money, the bank’s vault and the cash processing area where you will see money being counted, sorted and destroyed. The Fed is located right across the street from the Margaret Mitchell house, by the way. At the end of the tour, you will be given a bag of shredded money as a souvenir.
Lasershow Spectacular at Stone Mountain Park - This wildly popular light show practically requires you to show up early to claim a spot! Find a place midway in the center of the lawn so that you will be able to view the colorful rays of light being shone on the face of Stone Mountain. The entire show starts at sundown and lasts about 40 minutes where you will be serenaded with patriotic and southern music from artists like Lynyrd Skynyrd. If you want to make a day of it, arrive early and take the sky lift (for $5.00) to the top of the mountain to treat yourself to some fantastic views. The show is free. However, they do charge $10 a car for parking, so the more people that you bring, the merrier.
The Atlanta Jazz Festival (Piedmont Parrk in Midtown Atlanta) is one of the country’s largest free jazz festivals which lasts the full month of May. There are free performances throughout the month with manyrenown artists. The festival also has a health fair and jazz film festival. There’s something fun for kids of all ages. It is the mission of the Atlanta Jazz Festival to expose and entertain a diverse audience of Jazz aficionados, young Jazz enthusiasts and aspiring musicians to the rich heritage and variety of Jazz as an authentic form of traditional music.
Atlanta Motor Speedway - Take a van tour of the inside pit and even get to ride on the track. Adults $4.00, children $2 or $3. If you have a big group then the coordinator gets in free and everyone leaves with a souviner die cast car (HotWheels sizes). Very cool for NASCAR fans.
Dauset Trails - Self guided tour of local animals in rehab. Picnic area available. No charge but donations accepted
Locust Grove, GA
Noah's Ark Animal Rehabilitation Preservation- paved walking tour with guides (on some days) and self guided on some days. Monkeys, bintorongs, lions, bobcats, wolves, exotic birds, farm animals, ostrichs,emus, bears, tigers and amphibians. It is free however they do accept donations since they are privately funded.
Hawaii Volcanoes, HI
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Haleakala National Park
This is a list of things that are either free or cheap to do on Oahu. You will have to call for specific information on times or prices.
*Sunset Beach (winter surfing. NOTE: these two beaches have extremely strong undercurrents during winter months and are definitely not for small children).
*Malaekahana State Recreation Area (Makuauia Bird Refuge)
* Blow Hole ( Whale watching in the winter)
* Diamond Head Crater (you can hike this one to the top)
*Fort De Russy Military museum
* Hale Koa Swimming Pool
* Hilton Hawaiian village (free show Friday evenings, music, hula, fireworks)
*Kodak Show (Kapiolani Park, Waikiki Shell, Tues thru Thurs. 10:00 am) This is a GOOD one, and it is FREE.
* Punchbowl National Cemetery (FREE)
*Foster Botanical Garden (this is free on Saturdays (but check to be sure) and a small fee other times).
* Aloha Stadium Swap Meet (Wed, Sat, Sun). Good year sale venue and also new items for souvenirs.
* Arizona Memoria, Pearl Harbor (this is one of the best sites here on the island, the tour includes a very informative movie on the bombing, a shuttle boat ride over the Arizona, and its all FREE).--from Janine
Turtle Beach - The name isn't on maps but ask any resident and they can probably give you directions. It's past Waimea Beach and has giant turtles that come up during the day and rest on the beach. I've never been there when there weren't several. There's always a volunteer there who answers questions about the gentle giants. Very interesting for all ages.
Chicago Children's Museum
Free Thursday nights, 7 to 9 p.m.
Otherwise, $6.50 per person, but use your Fresh Values card from Dominick's to get 2-for-1 admission at any time! Also a charge for parking unless you take public transportation! TONS of things for children of ALL ages to do. There's also a huge ferris wheel on the pier for a bonus! (There is a fee.)
Navy Pier also has a free stained glass museum. The Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows is a permanent display of 150 stained glass windows housed in an 800-ft.-long series of galleries along the lower level terraces of Festival Hall. Open since February 2000, it is the first museum in the United States dedicated solely to stained glass windows. It showcases both secular and religious windows and is divided by artistic theme into four categories: Victorian, Prairie, Modern and Contemporary. All of the windows were designed by prominent local, national and European studios and most were originally installed in Chicago area residential, commercial and religious buildings.
Lincoln Park Zoo
2200 North Cannon Drive at Lake Shore Drive
Free Everyday, Parking is $5.00
Hours: 9-5:00 --from D.J.
The Chicago Academy of Sciences
435 East Illinois Street at Lakeshore Drive
Free on TUESDAYS
Hours: 9:39-4:30 --from D.J.
The two indoor plant museums are free. One is Lincoln Park Conservatory and the other is Garfield Park Conservatory. Garfield Park has koi and turtles and artwork by Dale Chihuly. Open 365 days a year until 4 p.m.
Elk Grove Village, Illinois
Free - Playground slash water park! Water only on in the summer months, of course. Non-residents: $1 per person.
Ancient rock formations offer breathtaking vistas along an easy, clean, rock-paved walking pathfrom J.
Fort Massac Annual Encampment (mid-Oct.)
Set right on the Ohio River, there is a standing fort (not original) and the remains of the original fort. Beautiful setting and the end of the major rendezvous season. -- from KM
Prairie du Rocher, IL
Fort de Chartres annual encampment
Historical reenactment on during the first week of June (every year, depending on the flood situation). There is a standing fort, although not an original.-- from KM
Spring Valley Nature Center
Many free events including nature walks and feeding the animals.
Cosley Animal Farm
Free, but donations accepted Also, $3 tour available (price is per child, adults are free)
Located 7 miles north of town on Route 37. Beginning January 2, 2012 there is a nominal tasting fee for the Oliver Winery wine tasting experience. No reservations needed. For $4.67 (+ tax), receive a guided wine tasting of up to 8 wines, or for $2.80 ( + tax), try a dessert wine tasting of Creekbend Late Harvest Vignoles and Vidal Blanc Ice Wine.
Located in town on College Ave. Offers free tastings.
It offers a nice hiking trail, as does Lake Monroe (which is a huge and spreads all over Monre County and surrounding areas). Both lakes also offer boating, fishing, etc. though usually for a fee. There is a firetower at Hoosier National Forest just southeast of town that has a great view and is a nice place for a picnic or hike.
The Indiana University Art Museum
Located on the campus of Indiana University. Mosst of the art is on loan so you can't carry a cost or bag other than a purse.
Mathers Museum on Indiana Avenue
Features exhibits about different cultures. It is a good place for kids and adults alike.
Located on Second Street. This was the house of Andrew Wylie, first president of IU. It is open for tours Tues-Sat. 1-4 pm and has really nice gardens.
The Jordan Greenhouse
Located on the Indiana University Campus. They give tours or you can browse on your own.-from M.F.
Many people already know about Columbus' neat buildings. It is intentional on the part of the city to make sure the buildings are aesthetically pleasing.
Hesston Steam & Power Show
Located in LaPorte County. Observe antique farm equipment in operation or ride through the countryside by rail. Hesston Steam Museum 1201 E. 1000 N., Heston, IN 12pm-5pm; fee for rides, but no admission fee for show.
Fort Ouiatenon, Feast of the Hunter's Moon (last weekend of September, but check for sure)
There is an entrance fee. It is HUGE! Tens of thousands of visitors to this event. Lots to see: fife and drum, fashion shows (18th century), dancing demonstrations, black powder demonstrations, Native American dancing and music, more stuff than you can see in one weekend. -- from KM
Luhr County Park, 3178 S. 150 West, Laport, IN
A unique 73 acre outdoor area with a nature center hiking trails and a natural prairie area. An observation platform allows a birds-eye view of the mammals that inhabit the area. Countless bird species, small woodland animals, deer, and waterfowl predominate. -- from A. W.
A gorgeous carousel that was hand-carved in the 1800's by Gustav Dentzel. It has been painstakingly restored and housed in a beautiful building in a city park, Riverside Park. It only costs fifty cents to ride the carousel, and as you ride, you try to "grab the brass ring". Dozens of rings are dispensed, and the rider who grabs the brass ring gets a free carousel ride! The carousel was modified during restoration to accomodate wheelchairs, and the local nursing home residents are some of the most faithful riders.
Michigan City, IN
Concerts in the Park
Listen to the sounds of Michigan City Municipal Band as they perform a summer series of concerts in Washington Park. Buy Foreman Bicentennial Amphitheater, Lakefront; 8pm-9:10pm; no admission fee (219) 879-9165.--from A.W.
Ball Jar Museum
Located at Ball Corporation at 345 S. High St. Muncie, IN.
Phone: (765) 747-6100
The exhibit of Ball Canning Jars is free to the public and open Mon-Fri 9:00-4:00. The Ball Corporation no longer makes these canning jars, but the museum of the jar's history is still maintained at the corporate office.--from D.J.
Ball State University Museum of Art
Located in the Art Building on campus
Phone: (765) 285-5242
Admission is free and the museum is open Mon-Fri during the semester (closed during school breaks)--from D.J.
Brown County State Park just north of Bloomington is one of the nicest parks in the state. Cost is minimal for entry. There is a firewatchers tower to climb, miles of beautiful hiking trails, horseback riding (for a fee) swimming pool (small fee) and lakes for fishing. Check out Nashville for the quaint shops, several museums and loads of "atmosphere".
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Mount Baldy, US Hwy. 12
The National Lakeshore features miles of wooded hiking trails, beautiful beaches, and impressive sand dunes. Mount Baldy stands an imposing 123 feet tall and actually moves southward at a rate of four-five feet each year. Delicate wild flowers, colorful foliage, and abundant woodland wildlife inhabit this protect natural wonderland. For more information contact the National Lakeshore Visitor Center, US 12 and Kemil Road, Porter, IN; (219) 926-7561. -- from A.W.
The Amana Colonies - National Historic Landmark and one of the US's longest-lived communal societies. Founded by Germans looking for religious freedom, it was established in 1855. Original buildings with restaurants and a variety of restaurants and stores for handmade items. Find more info here.
A fun weekend celebration in Iowa is Nordic Fest. It is held the last Thursday-Saturday of July. It celebrates Decorah's Norwegian heritage with a parade, musical entertainment, sporting events, tours, ethnic foods, fireworks and more. For more information, visit NordicFest.com.
Des Moines, IA
The Iowa state capitol building in Des Moines is worth a visit if you like architecture. The dome is covered in gold leaf, and is just beautiful.
Beautiful Dutch Village with original glockenspiel and wonderful pastries.
Find all of your vacations needs at Priceline.com
Garden City, KS
Garden City boasts the largest outdoor FREE swimming pool and a wonderful, no-admission zoo with free parking (the pool and zoo are right next to each other!). It would be a great break from the road, especially for those traveling with children!
Kansas City, KS
Overland Park KS (suburb) has a wonderfulChildren's Farmstead called Deanna Rose. Free admission. There are many animals to view, including native midwestern and farm animals. You can put quarters in the machine to buy handfuls of food if you wish. You can go into the pens with mini goats and pet them. There are picnic areas and playgrounds. There is a large playground right across the parking lot, with shade and picnic tables close by. There are lovely gardens of flowers and vegetables. There is a newly opened historic area with an 1800's schoolhouse and Native American dwellings to tour. More buildings are planned for this display. There are hayrides for $2. They have rental fishing poles for catch-and-release on the pond. They sell bag lunches or you can bring in picnic food. It is just south of 135th St and Switzer. Open April 1- Oct .
Mammoth Cave, KY
Mammoth Cave National Park
Bar Harbor, ME
Acadia National Park
In the Rockland Maine area, you can spend a week and have no charges except meals and lodging (and there's plenty of campgrounds):
- Walk the Breakwater to the harbor. Visit www.lighthouse.cc/rocklandbreakwater/index.htm
- Walk the boardwalk with your dog (very dog friendly town)
- Visit the Owls Head lighthouse and picnic by the water. Visit Lighthouse.cc/owls
- Hike Fernalds Neck preserve.
- Walk the lovely gardens at Merryspring.
- Climb Beech Hill in Rockport. See the stone house and the view of all the islands in the bay.
- All of the beaches are free.
- Most libraries in Maine have free (limited) computer access for visitors.
If you have small children in child care or a school, you can arrange a field trip to go to the zoo. Admission is free for any trip associated with an educational institution that contains 15 or more persons (any age). Just give the zoo a call and ask about school trips.--from M.M.
Assateague Island National Seashore
The Discovery Museums - Free admission. Explore the museums at night on the first Friday of every month! We will gratefully accept donations for the Acton Food Pantry. Sponsored in part by Emerson Hospital with additional support from Alexander, Aronson, Finning and Company, P.C. and the Local Cultural Councils of Acton-Boxborough, Billerica, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Harvard, Hudson, Leominster, Lexington, Littleton, Maynard, Waltham, Wayland, and Westford.
The Charlestown Navy Yard Museum
The Swan Boats
Boston Public Garden
The boats run daily (weather permitting) from 1000AM-400PM, May-September. One ride is $2 ($1 for kids 2-15).
The Boston Public Gardens has lots of neat stuff in addition to the Swan Boats. This is especially nice for small children is a group of bronze statues depicting the whole family of ducks and ducklings from the delightful story Make Way for Ducklings. Little kids just love to sit on the little statues and "go for a ride." In summer, there is a large wading pool where children can wade and splash to their heart's content across the street in the Boston Commons.
The Freedom Trail is not to be missed and takes one to see all the important historical sights in the city and it's totally free. The start of the Freedom Trial begins at the visitor center in the Boston Commons. Part of the beginning part of the Freedom Trail includes the State House with its Golden Dome and a cemetery that includes the burial sites of many famous early Bostonians, including Benjamin Franklin and even "Mother Goose." The National Parks Visitors Center in Fanuiel Hall is the start point for many excellent, free tours of historic sights.
Also, free and a block from the Boston Public Gardens is the Charles River with an area known as the "Esplanade," which has free music and movies throughout the summer, as well as the Fourth of July concert by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and a major fireworks show (all for free).
The USS Constitution ("Old Ironsides")
The Knob - With magnificent views of Buzzards Bay and Quissett Harbor, The Knob is a treasure to locals and the lucky visitors who have discovered it. The Knob is open to the public from dawn to dusk for bird watching, strolling, beach combing, and swimming.
Spohr Gardens - Take a leisurely walk in this beautiful six acre Cape cod woodland garden located on Oyster pond in Falmouth, MA. This magnificent site is open to visitors year around. Spring brings thousands of daffodils, followed by azaleas, rhododendrons and then daylilies.
Cape Cod National Seashore
Cadillac, MI (northern Michigan)
This huge bronze memorial to Michigan's lumbering era sits on a high bluff overlooking the sparkling waters of the Au Sable River since 1932. Interpretive signs and exhibits tell the story of moving logs from the forests to the mills. Children enjoy climbing the log jam and using the crosscut saw. For those willing to hike 272 steps to the edge of the Au Sable, they can board the Wanigan, a replica of the floating cook shacks that followed the river drives.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
There is a number of free or low cost museums, including the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts (Interactive Gallery with games and puzzles and backpacks with Art Cards for viewing the exhibits). The Kalamazoo Air Zoo, which does charge an admission fee, is well worth the cost. It includes amazing exhibits, 60+ rare aircraft/spacecraft on display, indoor amusement park style rides, full motion flight simulators, and much, much more. There's truly something for everybody.
The Kalamazoo Valley Museum is a free "hands-on" museum and focuses on science, technology, and history. The museum has a state-of-the-art, 109-seat planetarium that screens a variety of presentations and programs for a small fee. The free Challenger Learning Center is designed to offer hands-on, fun learning that complements middle- and high-school science and math curriculum.
Area parks are open with swimming and other fun activities. There are downtown festivals on weekends, and it's only an hour to the beaches of Lake Michigan.
Sault Ste. Marie, MI
The Corps of Engineers has taken many steps to enhance the beauty of the Soo Locks. A Visitor's Center is open to the public from May to November. The center contains a working model of a lock, which illustrates the entire operation; a motion picture theater featuring a film on the history and operation of the locks, as well as many other artifacts, charts, maps, and photographs of interest.--from D.J.
Located right downtown Plymouth, MI. There is live entertainment for kids, FREE! Families can come and picnic and listen to music, storytellers, puppeteers, etc. Its great fun! Plymouth, MI is located approximately 20-25 minutes west of Detroit. For more information you can contact the Plymouth Community Arts Council at (313) 416-4ART.--from R.
Northland Arboretum - The Northland Arboretum encompasses over 500 acres in the heart of Brainerd/Baxter. The Arboretum is dedicated to getting people involved and aware of nature. Areas of interest include the Monet Bridge and Pond, the Landscaping for Wildlife project, the Girl Scout Secret Garden and the many flower beds maintained by volunteers. An orienteering course is available for amateurs and experts. 4 Seasons of fun are provided with 20 kilometers of hiking and cross-country ski trails. Admission is free, donations accepted.
Lief Erickson Park & Rose Garden - In the summer on Friday evenings, there are free movies projected on a big blow-up screen in this park! Bring a blanket or lawn chairs and have a great evening strolling through rose beds and watching a movie. The rose garden is very well kept and there are so many different varities of roses and stunning views of Lake Superior as the back drop it is truly breath taking.
Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center - Operated by the US Army Corps of Engineers, the most visited marine museum on the Great Lakes. 1,000-foot freighters pass within 200 feet of the building. Open daily throughout shipping season. Always FREE.
Superior Hiking Trail - The Superior Hiking Trail is a 275 mile long hiking trail that follows the rocky ridgeline above Lake Superior. Great for both day hikes and backpack camping.
CedarFest - In Minneapolis at the end of July or beginning of August (it changes from year to year). Admission is FREE and it is a good place for people who want to hear a variety of bands for not a lot of money (mostly local bands, but some national). For those of you with "apathetic" teens this gives them a chance to dance and work off some steam. CAUTION: they do serve alcohol and it's usually packed, so you may not want to go with younger children or toddlers. -- from M.N.
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden - One of the country's largest urban sculpture parks, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden features more than 40 works of art and the Cowles Conservatory. At the Center is a beloved Twin Cities landmark, the playful fountain "Spoonbridge and Cherry." Stroll along the tree-lined walkways through this scenic garden to view a magnificent collection of public art.
Minneapolis Institute of Arts - Ranked among the top ten comprehensive U.S. art museums. Admission, as always, is free.
Lakewood Cemetery & Gardens - With its Byzantine-styled chapel with domed ceiling and rich beautiful Italian Mosaic tiles that cover the interior, it is designated a National Historic site. Stained glass windows allow light to set nearly a mystical feel. All this, located near the chain of intercity lakes, with spectacular views, and close to the hip, trendy "Uptown" neighborhood. A great respite in warm weather. One of the most beautiful cemeteries in the country. Grounds are especially well-maintained and it contains the gravesites of many famous Minnesotans. The main office provides a map of the most famous people who are buried there. Along with a lot of Minneapolis history, there is also the beautiful view, peaceful setting and landscaping that makes it enjoyable. It is a currently active cemetery. There is a lot of bird and animal life to be photographed as well. Memorial day ceremonies are appropriate for families with children. All tours and activities are free and open to the public (except the $2 streetcar rides from the Minnesota Streetcar Museum.
Minnehaha Falls Park - This is one of the city's oldest and most popular parks where the famous statue of Hiawatha carrying Nokomis is located.
Keepers of the Sacred Tradition of Pipemakers - Located in the old Rock Island Depot, it is on the Historic Register and is one of a very few buildings made of yellow brick. It houses the Pipemakers gift shop, Indian art gallery, and displays of Indian items. Open in the summer 10:00 - 6:00 Monday - Saturday and in the Winter 11:00 - 4:00.
Murphy's Landing - Admission if $2 for adults and $1 for kids. This 19th century working town has demonstrations of how the pioneers settled and lived along the river (also known as ""Spookyworld": in October when they have haunted hayrides, but this is more expensive, around $7 each).--from M.N.
St. Cloud, MN
Munsinger and Clemens Botanical Gardens - This beautiful and well-known garden park is located along the Mississippi River across from St. Cloud State University. The Munsinger portion of the gardens began in the 1880s. The gardens have experienced different stages of development, with many of the improvements as a result of work during the Great Depression through the WPA. The Clemens portion is dedicated to different varieties of roses.
You are invited to stroll the winding paths and brick pathways as you experience this dazzling St. Cloud treasure with its beautiful fountains, walkways and flowering gardens by the Mississippi River. It has an area to eat a picnic lunch as well as a gift shop. During summer months, there are also free music concerts within the gardens. Admission is free and the gardens are open sunrise until 10PM.
St. Paul, MN
Como Park Zoo - Admission is FREE and includes the zoo and aquarium. There are also rides for younger children, but there is probably a cost for these. --from M.N.
Como Park Conservatory - There is a small admission fee (around $.75 for adults and children are free). This is a BEAUTIFUL indoor garden (open year round) with several different kinds of plants, trees, fountains, and they often have special tours for seniors and children. In the spring and summer there are evening concerts. -- from M.N.
Highlandfest - In St. Paul on the second weekend in August (but check on the date to be sure). This event is FREE and has a variety of bands, but it's more suitable for people with kids of all ages. They usually have facepainting, clowns, games, etc. for younger kids, and all kinds of family activities. --from M.N.
Uptown Art Fair - This event is the first weekend in August. This is a good event for older kids and/or couples. Younger children may not get much out of it. There are bands of every sort, local artisans set up booths of their wares (lots of beautiful to funky things, but beware: most things are NOT cheap). Parking is tough to find. This is a VERY popular event so be prepared to come early.--from M.N.
Powderhorn Park Art Fair - The 3rd or 4th weekend in July. This event if family friendly. This is a small art fair and is good for those seeking interesting and/or culturally diverse events. There is usually a Pow-Wow for the local Lacotah-Dakota tribes that is open to the public, and a lot of the art/crafts have a Native American, Hmong, or African influence. There are games and face painting for younger kids, and it's held in the park, so you can bring your own lunch and make a picnic of it. -- from M.N.
Lakes, Lakes, and more Lakes - Minnesota is called the "land of 10,000 lakes". Most of the lakes in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area have paddle boats, bikes (including tandem bikes -- cheaper for a family that can all ride), rollerblades, and/or canoes that you can rent for about $3-$5 for an hour (it's a little more the whole day, but it's not significantly more). Be warned though, the locals love doing this too, so the lakes will be crowded, but there's always room for more! -- from M.N.
Mickey's Diner - Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. "Malts so thick you could eat them with a fork, hamburgers so juicy you can use a spoon, and waitresses so ornery you better know exactly what you want by the time they reach you" - Neal Kaplan, The New York Times
Cathedral of Saint Paul - This is a Roman Catholic cathedral in the city of St. Paul, Minnesota. It is the Co-Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, along with the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis. One of the most distinctive cathedrals in the United States, it sits on Cathedral Hill overlooking downtown St. Paul and features a distinctive copper-clad dome. It is the third largest completed church in the United States and the fourth tallest.
State Capitol of MN - Tours of the Capitol are offered through the State Capitol Historic Site of the Minnesota Historical Society. Tour guides lead the free 45-minute tours on the hour Mondays through Fridays between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. (last tour leaves at 2 p.m.); Saturdays between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. (last tour leaves at 2 p.m.); and Sundays between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. (last tour leaves at 3 p.m.). The tours begin at the Capitol's information desk at the end of the corridor to the right of the main entrance. Brochures in about 20 foreign languages also are available there.
Zumbrota Covered Bridge - Walk through one of Minnesota’s last covered bridges. Measuring nearly 120 feet long and 15 feet wide it was built in 1869 and crosses the Zumbro River.
Ocean Springs, MS
Gulf Islands National Seashore
St. Louis, MO
In Forest Park
There is the Art Museum, the Historical Museum, the Zoo, the Muny Opera has several thousand free seats for their short season and parking is free. The free seats are very good. Paid seats start at less than $10. The Jewel Box (floral displays) has a slight charge.--from C. D.
Receive a 1 1/2 hour tour.--from C.D.
July 4th celebrations with fireworks and live music are free all around the St. Louis area from the arch grounds to various cities in St. Louis county to the St. Charles, MO riverfront on the missouri river. Check with these cities for information on their festivities.
The park itself is free, parking is $6. Grants Farm is only open April to October. grantsfarm.com
The Magic House - for $6.50 this is a great place for kids. Lots of exhibits including science, "magic", art, and a play grocery store, travel agency, restaurant, bank, etc. and fishing area and much more. magichouse.org It is also free the 3rd Friday of each month after 5:30 pm.
St. Louis Science Center could be a full day of educational fun. General admission is free, but the cost of the Omnimax movie is well worth it! slsc.org
Visit The St. Louis Art Museum in Forest Park. The art museum's general collections are free every day. The special (traveling) collections are not free, except on Friday's. Arrive early as lines can be long for the special exhibits. Parking is free.
A number of great bike trails mv24.org/trails.html including the Katy Trail, a rail-to-trail conversion that runs from St. Charles to Sedalia and passes through wine country (with wineries that offer tours and samples),
On Tuesday nights enjoy free live music at the history museum in forest park at the intersection of Lindell Blvd and DeBaliviere St. Bring lawn chairs.
St Louis has other excellent parks nearby that are free. Creve Coeur Lake is the only naturally occurring lake in St. Louis County. Enjoy great walking/biking/skating trails. Kayakers, canoers, 'crew', and fishing are all good.No swimming or wading. Lone Elk Park has drive-through roads with the opportunity to see wildlife and picnic facilities. George Winter Park is for boaters. At Simpson Lake and environs, enjoy a lovely lake and park, kayaking, fishing, etc. No motors allowed. You'll find good hiking at Greensfelder. Horses are available there for rental. Great view from Fire Tower that overlooks Six Flags.
Bellefontaine Cemetery - William Clark (Lewis & Clark) & Adolphus Busch are buried here. There is a lot of beautiful architecture spanning many periods, and it is also an accredited arboretum. The staff are extremely friendly and helpful. Visit here for more information.
Laumeier Sculpture park- Excellent large sculptures that you can get up close and personal with. My favorite is a giant bloodshot eyeball, but there are many others that are a bit more abstract. Great place for a picnic. Find more info here.
Missouri Botanical Garden - This is as beautiful as Butchart garden in British Columbia. Admission is $8 for adults, free for children 12 & under. $4 adult and $3 senior admission for locals. Find more info here.
St. Charles, MO
Lewis & Clark Heritage Days in Frontier Park. Celebrates the 5 days that Meriwether Lewis and Wm. Clark spent in St. Charles gathering supplies and personnel before they left on their journey west. 18th century military parade, colors ceremonies, skirmish, fife and drum muster and lots of friendly people willing to tell you about the history of their uniforms, clothing, crafts, etc. --from KM
West Glacier, MT
Glacier National Park
Boulder City, NV
Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Budweiser Brewery - Tour the brewery to see how the world-famous beer is made, then relax in their lodge with complimentary tastings of their various beverages with accompanying snacks. The kids will enjoy visiting the enormous Clydesdale horses in the "Old World" style hamlet within the brewery's beautifully landscaped grounds.
Cape May, NJ
Cape May County Zoo is free and open every day but Christmas
Van Saun Park/Bergen County Zoological Park - County park includes a big playground, several picnic areas, tennis courts, walking paths. The zoo is free on Monday-Thursday; a nominal fee is charged on Fridays, weekends, and holidays. A train ride around the zoo is 75 cents. Food is available for an extra charge.
Sandy Hook, NJ
Twin Lights Museum
Located on Hwy. 36, with signs showing the way once you reach the city of Highlands.
There are two lighthouses towers, only one is open for the public to see out of, the other is a working lighthouse. It is open in the summers only. Inside there is a museum with paintings and some items from the 1800's. There is also a beach at Sandy Hook that has a few museums and Fort Hancock, a turn of the century military base which is now a part of the park. There is a parking fee from Memorial Day through Labor Day, but before and after that the parking is free and bicyclists have always been welcomed. --from K.J.
There are nature walks and mountain biking trails. It is located on Hwy. 36.--from K.J.
White Sands National Monument - Giant snow-white sand dunes! Bring a sled or a snowboard and pretend it's hot snow. Feels like you're on another planet. Cost is $4 per vehichle. (505) 479-6124
Dog Canyon - Tucked inside the Mountains of Alamagordo, where the Calvary was ambushed many times by the Indians, Oliver Lee Memorial St. Park.
Indian Pueblo Cultural Center- Indian dances, cultural displays museum. $3 for the museum but the dances (the best part!) are FREE. Call for schedules at (800) 766-4405. - from TJBC
Old Town Albuquerque Gun Fights - Re-enactments of bank robberies with the good guys shooting it out on the street. Every Sunday afternoon (around 1:00pm) and it is FREE. Old Town Plaza is a great place for windo shopping for Indian crafts and jewelry too.
Rattlesnake Museum - Located in Old Town Plaza at 202 San Felipe (505) 242-6569. Lots of live snakes and only $1 to get in.
Petroglyph National Monument and Volcanoes - Million year old volcanoes to climb, and thousand year old petroglyphs (wall drawings). FREE (505)899-0205.
Jemez Springs, NM
Soda Dam, Battleship Rock, and Natural Springs - Water from the warm to steaming and really neat rock formations. Some areas are clothing optional, so ask before you visit if that's a problem! (505) 829-3535
Located on Hwy 14 between Albuquerque and Sante Fe. Used to be a ghost town until hippie artists started squatting in the buildings in the 60's; now it's a thriving community and popular tourist stop. There's an authentic soda fountain with all the original equipment-worth the price of a root beer float just to sit there.
Sandia Park, NM
Sandia Crest - Located just over the mountains from Albuquerque. Skip the expensive and highly advertised tram ride, and take a beautiful drive up to the crest instead. The cost is $3 per car to park at the top, take I-40 to Hwy 14 North to NM 536 (Sandia Creest Road) 13 miles STRAIGHT UP through some perfectly gorgeous scenery. Visitor's Center, snack bar, hiking trails at the top, with incredible view of Albuquerque 5000 feet below! (505) 243-0605-from TJBC
Tinkertown Museum - Located on NM 536 on the way up to the Sandia Crest. The most unique and unforgettable wierd little place in New Mexico, an amazing, animated, miniature Old West Town and Three Ring Circus. Thousands of hand-carved human and animal figures and antique toys. Walls made of glass bottles, tires, you name it! And a walk-on sailing boat that went around the world. Great Gift shop! Cost is $2.50 for adults, less for kids. Open April-October. (505) 281-5233
Sierra Goat Farm - Located on South Hwy 14 (NM 337). Pet the goats, feed the goats, milk a nanny goat, sample goat's milk and ice cream. Particularly fun in the spring when there are tons of baby goats to cuddle. Free (for families-charge for large groups). (505) 281-5061.
Santa Fe, NM
Bandelier National Monument - Located 50 miles NW of Santa Fe. Anasazi Indian ruins with kivas, cliff dwellings, and tons of ladders to climb. Great for kids. Cost is $5 per car. (505) 672-3861
New York State Museum - Madison Avenue, Cultural Education Center, Empire State Plaza, (518) 474-5877, nysm.nysed.gov/. This museum includes exhibits on a variety of New York sites, culture, and history. There is a kid's discovery area and a carousel too. Admission is free; suggested donation of $2/person or $5/family. Adjacant to Empire State Plaza, an open area with reflecting pools, sculptures, and memorials.
Gateway National Recreation Area
The Karpells Manuscript Museum is free. The Karpell family has generously collected and donated some interesting old documents (historic letters, patents, etc) and is housing them in a beautifully restored ornate church in Buffalo. When we were there they let the kids hold a baptismal record from France that was printed on goatskin and was over 800 years old! There is a similar one in Duluth, Minnesota.
Letchworth State Park is a hidden oasis in NY state, an hour east of Buffalo. Locals call it the Grand Canyon of New York. It has beautiful gorges and 3 waterfalls with a total height greater than Niagara Falls. There is a wonderful walking path along the gorge. Cost is daily admission to the park. There are cabins and campgrounds available.
Just minutes east of Buffalo in Williamsville, NY is Glen Park. This park is free and has a lovely view of a waterfall and a pond, a creek and walking paths. This is a common place for locals to come for wedding photographs.
Buffalo is the starting place of the Erie Canal. There is a walking/biking path along the historic Erie canal.
Hudson River, NY
United States Military Academy at West Point - Located on the Hudson River in N.Y. is the US Military Academy. There is no admission charge for the museum. You can get a free map from the visitor's center which will guide you on a driving tour of the campus. There is a display in the visitor's center which shows what a cadet's accommodations are like. Also in the visitor's center is a short video presentation. Across from the information desk in an area where you can pick up brochures on other local areas of interests. --from Stephanie
Visit the walkway over the Hudson. It was an abandoned railroad bridge over the Hudson River and it was turned into the longest elevated pedestrian bridge in the world. It is free. It is 212 ft. high and 1.28 miles long. If you park on the Poughkeepsie side, you pay for parking. If you park on the Highland side of the bridge, it's free to park (at least for now). There is also the Hudson Valley Rail trail that is a paved walkway that runs for miles. It's perfect for walking, biking, and rollerblading. No motorized vehicles are allowed.
New York City, NY
The Staten Island Ferry goes from Manhattan (the southern tip) to the northern tip of Staten Island. It goes right in front of the Statue of Liberty and you get one of the best views of the Manhattan skyline. You also pass by Governors Island, Ellis Island and you can see Verrazanno Narrows Bridge. The ride is about 25-30 minutes long and only costs $0.50. Best of all, after July 1st, it is going to be completely free.--from S.R.
Central Park - In the summer the New York Philharmonic offers free outdoor concerts in the park. So does the Metropolitan Opera. Summerstage and Shakespeare in the Park are also free Central Park events. (Summerstage is an assortment of cultural events.) There are also free tours (ee.g. bird watching, etc.) offered by the Urban Park Rangers in the Park.
In New York City, two of our greatest museums charge a "suggested price." It is not actually a mandatory price. They include The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History. In fact, you are under no obligation to pay at all. It is really a donation. Of course, both museums usually have special exhibits that require admission, but since these museums are so huge, there is more than enough to see without ever visiting the special exhibits.
Also, the Bronx Zoo holds "donation day" on Wednesdays. Although you will be charged a parking fee if you choose to drive, the fee you pay for general admission is completely up to you. Again, special exhibits within the zoo will charge mandatory admission, but there is more than enough to see without the special exhibits.
In addition, New York State offers a State Parks Pass for $65 for the year. Many of the parks don't charge admission, but most charge a parking fee. This pass covers both. Long Island has some beautiful beaches within the state parks.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Transportation Museum - Located in Spencer, N.C. about 40 miles north of Charlotte on I-85 or 50 miles South of Greensboro on I-85.
This place has everything. Spencer used to be a major hub on the train network in the U.S. There is a restored round house, train rides, classic cars, all kinds of restored trains. And the best part, you can go in and look around as much as you want for FREE. If you want to donate you can, there are boxes around. You can also ride the train turnaround machine for a $1.00, or ride a real steam loco for $3-$4.00. You can spend several hours here. -- from B.S.
In 1950, a group of dedicated volunteers established Old Salem, Inc. as a way to begin preserving and restoring the town of Salem for future generations. As Old Salem grew, more buildings were restored and new facilities were added, including the Museum off Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA).
In 2006, Old Salem changed its name to Old Salem Museums & Gardens to better reflect the increasing importance of the garden program and to clearly distinguish that there are multiple experiences available within the Old Salem district. What used to just be known as "Old Salem" was also renamed the Historic Town of Salem, again for clarity purposes.
Today the museum site operates with more than 200 employees, a thriving retail department, a book publishing arm, a research center, and more than 11 gardens. The site also has a new focus on renting its numerous meeting spaces to local businesses and for special events, including weddings. (Information taken from the Old Salem website). They have activities, tours and horse & buggy rides that cost a nominal fee, but there is a lot of history to experience for free.
Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area
The Serpentine Wall and Bicentennial Commons Area - Located in Cincinnati along the Ohio River. The area offers a wonderful play area for children, a large wading pool during the summer months, as well as roller blading and a walking trail along the river. Throughout the summer months there are often free concerts by the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and local radio stations sponsor after work parties weekly. In addition, there is a Kid's fest during June with plenty for the family to do that is free.--from M.R.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame - It isn't free, but on Mondays it is dramatically discounted.- from L.C.M.
The Science Museum - The museum's McDonald's is worth the trip. It has garbage cans that talk to you and a robot that makes fries at standard McDonald's prices.--from L.C.M.
The Cleveland Museum of Art- It's often free during the week. - from L.C.M.
Lolly the Trolly - The trolly is free to the Galleria Mall and the drivers love to give tours. Lolly the Trolley is kind of a local phenomena around here. Cleveland has a web site at: www.cleveland.com--from L.C.M.
Columbus Museum of Art - Located at 480 E Broad Street. The number is 614-221-6801. It's free on Sundays with free parking every day.
Short North Gallery Hop - Visit many galleries and stores in the neighborhood. Some galleries offer food and beverage; some have live music. Street performers. 1st Saturday of every month
Park of Roses (in Whetstone Park) - Located at 3923 N High Street. You'll find 13 acres of roses.
Slate Run Living Historical Farm - Farm operating as it would have in the 1880s. Heirloom animal breeds. Activites throughout the year.
Wright Patterson Air Force Museum - Located about 1 hour south of I70 (follow signs to the Museum, not the base itself). The museum is free to the public and has some wonderful displays. There is an IMAX theater that does have a charge, but the exhibits are free.--from D.J.
The Flood Wall along the Ohio River has a series of murals painted on it by artist Robert Daft. They depict the history of the area and highlight celebrities from the area such as Roy Rogers. The murals can be viewed from your car as there are parking spaces along the length of the wall. Inside the flood wall itself, there is a park with swings, etc. for children and picnic tables. The view of the river is nice and refreshing. -from Lisle
For information, you can call the Chamber of Commerce at (514) 482-9377-from C.A.
Bonneville Dam & Fish Hatchery - When you drive 1-84 to Multnomah Falls, continue past the falls (about 10 miles) to the Bonneville Dam and Fish Hatchery. Dads love to visit the dam and watch the fish swim up the enclosed fish ladder. Kids love to visit the sturgeon pond. The fish (trout) are so used to being fed they come to the surface and kids can "pet" them. "Tickle the fish" is always a winning tourist trip.
Oregon Shakespeare Festivel - An internationally known theatre company. Every day during the summer the festival puts a free "greens show" in the early evening before the productions. It's a production of renaissance dance and music (played on original instruments and sung) done in period costume. This show lasts about 45 minutes. - from C.A.
Hwy 101 from Lincoln City to Florence has the most beautiful scenery ever! So many free places to stop and look, it may take you 8 hours to drive 60 miles.
Oregon City's free municpal elevator. Free visitor passes are issued upon request. Also visit the End of The Oregon Trail exhibit, minimal cost. Great for kids and grown-ups.
Lithia Park - There's two ponds and a bandshell where the city band plays music every Thursday night during the summer. The State Ballet of Oregon gives occassional dance performances for free during the summer. There are other areas of interest; a traditional Japanese rock garden, a water fountain; a children's play area and a nearby wading/swiming area.
Astoria Riverfront Trolley - A restored 1913 trolley runs for 2.6 miles along the Columbia River in Astoria while the conductor provides interpretation of the area's history and attractions. Catch it anywhere on the riverfront between Basin and 39th streets. Roundtrip ride is $1, an all day pass is $2.
Crater Lake, OR
Crater Lake National Park
Washington Park - From downtown Portland take Hwy 26 to the zoo exit. A multitude of signs will lead you to the various attractions. You can easily spend a few days here at these points of interest:
- International Rose Test Garden (FREE) - View experimental varieties of roses and an awesome view of downtown. Bring a picnic and enjoy the sun.
- Hoyt Arboretum (FREE) - Hiking trails explore flora and fauna dedicated to our veterans.
- Veterans Memorial (FREE) - Very tranquil, manicured garden dedicated to our veterans.
- Washington Park Zoo (minimal cost) - If you have a membership to another zoo they may let you in for free. It is work asking!)
- Japanese Gardens (about $5 for adults) - This is a very peaceful place to enjoy the carefully manicured gardens. Young children and the elderly may have a hard time with this one as there is some uphill walking and some "no touch" zones.
- World Forestry Center (about $5 per adult) - Interesting museum dedicated to tree.
Mutnomah Falls - Admission is FREE. It is a very scenic drive east on I 84 along the Columbia Gorge which will lead you to several beautiful waterfall areas. Multnomah is the biggest. There are hiking trails as well. -- from S.S.
State Capital - You can tour the capital building for free.--from L.C.
Mission Mill Museum - Located in the Willamette Valley, Oregon. Admission is $1.00 per person, the grounds are free to tour.--from L.C.
NOTE: This is a great state to visit because there is no sales taxes.
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
Knoebels - "This is a great place to visit; no admission, free parking, and free stage shows." Bobbie website. Editor's note: there is a charge for some rides and attractions. please see their website for details.
Gettysburg National Park is a wonderful “free” destination. Doing an “on your own” tour of the battlefield and surrounding area is free and the town itself is very quaint and unique and a walk around it should not be missed. The Visitors Center at the Park does charge, should you choose to go there, and you can also pay for a guided tour, but there is always a free option! -from Heather
Capital Building - Touring the building is free.-from N.D.
The State Museum - Adults get in for $5 and children and seniors are $4.
Chocolate World - A free attraction that offers a ride explaining where chocolate comes from and how it is made. Within the building there are also specialty shops, clothing, souveniers, etc. Very nicely done.
Women's International Convention sponsored by Acme. This event is held once a year. Besides all the booths that are related to women there are companies such as Tropicanna, Colgate, Breyers, etc. At each booth you can receive free samples of their products. Some companies give away full size products. Tickets are $7 (or $6 if you purchased the ticket from Acme) you can eat all day and fill your shopping bag with great stuff. -- from D. W.
Furman University - Enjoy music by the lake every Thursday night in the summer 6:30PM. With a full symphony orchestra, you'll enjoy a different music theme each week. Take a chair, blanket and picnic lunch. Sit by the beautiful lake with Bell Tower. Take duck food for the ducks in the lake.
Visit beautiful downtown with 56 restaurants on Main Street and free Wi-Fi outside each restaurant. If you want to buy something to eat, eat it outside while using the free Wi-Fi. Enjoy Beautiful Falls Water Park on the west end of Main Street. There are park benches all along Main Street to sit and people watch.
Music on the Mountain at Roper Mountain Science Center outdoor theater on Tuesday nights. You'll pay $1 for parking, but the music is free.
Badlands National Park
Lemmon, South Dakota
Lemmon is home of the world's largest Petrified Wood Park. The park and park's museum are free and provide lots of great family entertainment.
Also located in Lemmon is the Grand River Museum, displaying dinosaur fossils found at local dig sites. Visits to the Grand River Museum are free. Kids can participate in a special treasure hunt. Day and week long digs are also available. The digs are inexpensive compared to most, and, unlike many digs, participants are actually allowed to participate in the excavating and preparation of fossils along side of professional paleontologists.
The Grand River Museum also contains a collection of items and displays depicting the area's Native American culture and Cowboy heritage. Stays at guest ranches are available also, for a fee.
Shadehill Reservoir provides camping, fishing and water recreation, as well as some nice areas to hike. It is a State Park and there is a small entrance fee. - Judy L.
Cades Cove - This is the most wonderful place I can think of that I've ever been. There's something so serene and magical about this place. Oh it's beautiful! It's full of history about how people, especially mountain people, had to live in the old days. On another note, it's sad how the government comes in and can forcibly take one's land. The whole community having to move so that this could be turned into a park.... A link to a website about them is below. It takes a while to get through the mountains to visit but if you like history and scenic driving, this is it! There's houses and churches still standing to see and also graveyards.... Well, I could go on and on but the site should tell a lot. It's free but there are donation boxes located throughout the park.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Fun Fest which is held the last week of July in Kingsport. The whole week is "almost" free fun. Some events have tickets ($1.00) just because of the crowds and most others are free. There are several concerts and events for children.--from L.B.
Jack Daniels' Distillery, located in Lynchburg, TN, which is about 2 hours south of Nashville. It is a free tour that takes approximately 1 1/2 hours. At the end you are given lemonade. The distillery is located in a dry county so you are not given any whiskey. Lynchburg is a very small town with lots of shops. This makes for a very inexpensive day. --from J.W.
Miss Bob's Boarding House - They serve lunch family style and reservations are required. -- from J.W.
Abilene Grace Cultural Center
102 Cypress Street, Abilene, TX (915) 673-4587
Art museum, historical museum and children's museum.
Hours: Tues, Wed, Fri, Sat. 10 am - 5 pm
Thurs. 10 am - 8:30 pm
Closed Sundays, Mondays, and major holidays
Admission is $2 adults, $1 children 12 and under
FREE ON THURSDAYS from 5 pm - 8:30 pm
Zilker Park - Frisbee, golf courses, a super playscape, and nearby famous Barton Springs Pool (which does cost but not too much), there is also a train that runs through the park which is something like a $1.00 per person.-from H.U.
Austin Nature Center - Located new Zilker Park, there is no charge to visit, however, donations are accepted. They have live animals, loads of exhibits, a nature detective trail, and also several other nature trails.--from H.U.
LBJ Library and the Texas Memorial Museum - Located on the University of Texas campus. Both of these are free and extremely interesting.--from H.U.
State Capital Building and the Governor's Mansion - Both allow you to take a free tour.--from H.U.
Town Lake concerts - Located on the Colorado River which runs through Austin. In the summer, there are free outdoor concerts and plays performed on the shores. This is also the proud home of one of the largest urban bat colonies and people flock to the Town Lake Bridge at dusk to see the bats emerge for the nightly feeding time.--from H.U.
Austin Children's Museum - Admission is $2.50 per person, but ther s a little known fact - they have an open door policy. That means that if you want to go there but are strapped for cash you just ask to be admitted under the "open door policy" and in you go!--from H.U.
Emma Long Metropolitan Park - It costs $5 a carload and has a really nice swim area with a sand area. Lots of picnic tables, bathroom facilities, and showers. You could even camp there if you wish.--from H.U.
Corpus Christi, TX
Padre Island National Seashore
El Paso, TX
Hueco Tanks State Park - Several miles east on Hwy 180, an ancient Indian settlement area, where the native Americans lived while taversing through the region. Includes hyroglyphs/petroglyphs. The fees are only a $4 dollars per car, to hike around and carry picnics in.
Mission Trail - from Soccoro to Ysleta, in the lower valley, visit the missions built by the Native Americans/Spaniards, passing from Mexico to the US.-this can then be followed up the Upper Valley area-Don Juan De Onate trail, which leads up into New Mexico. It follows the Mission trails, north. Many onion fields and Chile fields trim the small highway, and gorgeous historic towns highlight the area. This road leads to Old Mesilla, where the famous La Posta Resturant is.(Wonderful New Mexican food!)
NOAA/NMFS Sea Turtle Facility - 4900 Crockett - 409-766-3670 - Free tours offered Tue., Thurs. and Sat. at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m. - "the center is dedicated to preserving the most endangered species of sea turtle in the world, the Kemp's Ridley"
East End Historic District Tour - Historic Downtown District and Waterfront Tour, Post Office Street Tour
Galveston Island Ferry - End of Ferry Road on Highway 87 - 409-763-2386 - Free: Runs 24 Hours - "Drive aboard or park in the lot to walk onto the ferry. Thri trip from Galveston to Port Bolivar and back (2.7 miles each way offers a tour of the Intracoastal Waterway and views of Seawork Park and the Bolivar Lighthouse."
Drive or walk along the Galveston Seawall to enjoy the beaches, shops, and the architecture of the hotels. Look for the gun bunkers that protected the Gulf during World War II and the Cuban Missle Crisis and the Texas Heroes Monument.
Located in Houston's Museum District, the Menil campus is anchored by Renzo Piano's first American building. This landmark structure houses one of the world's great (and growing) art collections. Here they display ever-changing exhibitions that range from antiquities to modern and contemporary art. Throughout the year, they also present a full calendar of public programs and events. Visit Menil.org for more information.
Lake Jackson, TX
Sea Center Texas - tpwd.state.tx.us - Indoor aquariums with all kinds of fish, touch tanks, outdoor ponds, breeding tanks, etc.
San Antonio, TX
The Alamo - Admission is free, but there are things inside to spend money on (tour, IMAX), but you can easily spend quite a bit of time there without spending money
Rose Gardens are free to visit. -- from M.K.
Bryce Canyon, UT
Arches National Park
Canyonlands National Park
Salt Lake City, UT
Temple Square - The famous Mormon Temple, Tabernacle and Visitors Center of the LDS Church (located at South Temple and West Temple)
The Beehive House (Brigham Young's Home) - 67 E. South Temple, S.L.C.; (801) 240-2671. Built 1854 as the principal residence for Brigham Young, President of the Mormon Church and first governor of Utah. Includes many early furnishings and toys. Free tours run every 30 minutes.
Museum of Church History - 45 N. West Temple, S.L.C.; (801) 240-3310. Located across the street from Temple Square, this museum exhibits artifacts, artwork, photographs and other memorabilia of Mormon history. Also look for special exhibits showcasing Mormon culture from around the world.
If you'll be in Utah on a Sunday Morning, you will not want to miss the Tabernacle Choir. The Tabernacle Choir performs Sunday mornings at 9:30 (you must be in your seat by 9:15) in the Tabernacle and rehearses Thursdays at 8:00 P.M. All concerts and rehearsals are open to the public. 50 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150
Zion National Park
Norman Rockwell Exhibition & Gift Shop - Historic Route 7A, Arlington, Vermont - (802) 375-6423 - Chock full of reproductions of Saturday Evening Post covers, calendar illustrations, all kinds of stuff to buy. Video presentation of Rockwell's life and art. Staffed by people who used to model for Rockwell's illustrations when he lived in Arlington. Nominal entrance fee. - from A.C.
Vermont Teddy Bear Factory - (802) 985-3001. Take a very entertaining tour to learn how Vermont Teddy Bears are made. $2 for adults; children under 12 are free.
Battle reenactments Saturday and Sunday (mid-August). This is not a historic battle, just the British and the Colonists duking it out. They take turns winning.--from KM
Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Factory - Tour the factory, receive free samples, and learn about Ben & Jerry and their business. There's even a "graveyard" for flavors that didn't work out! Admission is $3 for adults; children under 12 are free.
The University of Virginia - They offer free historical tours of the campus. There are also many local vineyards (Oakencroft, etc.) that give free tours. -from S.M.
Shenandoah National Park
I found the Route 11 potato chip factory in Middletown, VA a great and fun place to go. There is no charge and they make the chips in small batches you can watch as they make them through the glass window in the store. Of course there are free samples and they taste great! Visit rt11.com. - from Kathie
Colonial Williamsburg costs to get into the buildings, but most of the gardens are free and they often have fife and drum parades and "militia displays".--from Erica
Mount Rainier National Park
Port Angeles, WA
Olympic National Park
The Center for Wooden Boats is free and even has free opportunities to take small boats out on Lake Union in the middle of Seattle. They have opportunities for children to build a small model boat. Visit CWB.org for more information.
Fort Vancouver - Admission is FREE. If driving in to Vancouver on I 5, exit on 4th ST and follow signs. This is a really cool step back into time. Docents will take you on a tour of the buildings where you learn about the lifestyle and history of early traders of the Hudson's Bay Co.--from S.S.
Green Bay, WI
Bay Beach Amusement Park
1313 Bay Beach Road
On the Bay of Green Bay
Sumer hours: 10am-9pm
Bay Beach Amusement Park offers exciting rides for all ages. Park has main pavillion with fast food, restrooms, phones, etc. The park also geaturs a baby pool, miniature train and shaded picnic areas. No admission fee. Ride tickets cost 10 cents each and rides require 1-3 tickets. Located on beautiful Green Bay,, the park also amintains a historic pavillion from days gone by.--from TEAMK4
1660 East Shore Drive
Open year round
100 acre wildlife refuge. Hiking and cross-country ski trials, picnic area, animal exhibit and nature center. No admision fee.
The Vilas Zoo - It's free of charge and includes a children's discovery center, a children's petting zoo, a multitude of outdoor and indoor exhibits. Located next to the children's plark with facilities and a swimming area with beach.--from TEAMK4
Green Bay Area
Brown County Zoo, a.k.a. The NEW Zoo (NorthEast Wisconsin)
4418 Reforestation Road (Hwy IR) phone: (414) 448-4466
Open year round, hours April 1- Oct. 31 9am-6pm, Nov. 1 - March 31 9am-4pm.
Main gate closes 1/2 hour before closing time. Located 10 minutes north of Green Bay. Call for admission fee.
Grand Teton National Park
Yellowstone National Park
This city was mentioned numerous times for its many free admission attractions. Some of the attractions mentioned:
The National Zoo - Parking is $6 for 4 hours, but there is no admission fee. There are great exhibits which included elephants, giraffes, rhinos, hippos, lion, tigers, cheetah, leopards, bears, sea lions, camels, buffaloes, apes, monkeys, orangutans, a reptile house, small mammal house, birds, prairie dogs, and of cours ea giant panda and others, Many of the animals are in a close to a natural habitat as possible.--from A.A.
All of the Smithsonian Museums are free.--from M.F.
The Washington Monument and the other many memorials are free as well.--from M.F.
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
West Edmonton Mall - It doesn't cost a penny to go to (other than the drive to get there) and there's so much to see. There is a free dolphin show, you can walk through a pirate ship, watch the submarine descend into the lagoon, watch the various rides, etc. at Galaxyland. If you are willing to spend a few dollars there's the World Waterpark. Its like being on a sunny warm beach, which is especially wonderful during out -40 degree winters!--from Jayne
Ukraninian Heritage Village - There is a cast donation (about $5). You can step back in time and see how many of the settlers in the west got their start and the kinds of houses, barns and implements the were using.--from Jayne
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
In old Montreal, you'll find cobblestone streets, horse drawn caleches, and street amusement. It's a must-see, like being in old Europe.
Visit St. Joseph's Oratory and Notre dame cathedral. You'll find huge world famous churches with free entry.
Visit Beaver Lake. It's a man-made lake in the middle of a mountain park designed by Frederick law Olmsted, who designed Central Park in NYC. There are many lookouts over the city and paths to walk.
Summit park is in the middle of Westmount. There's a lookout and bird sanctuary with paths to walk.
There's also miles of underground shopping. The buildings are connected, so if weather is bad, you never need to go outside. Fascinating!
Nova Scotia, Canada
For information, call toll free for an information package at 1-800-565-0000. Food all over North American. - from D.H.
Point Pleasant Park - Located in Halifax, offers free Shakespeare productions on the weekends in their outdoor theatre for May - Sept.
Halifiax - Walk along the waterfront and see lots of shops, free entertainers, there's a casino for those who like it and the option of harbour cruises on private boats. A trip across the harbour on the ferry for $1.25. YOu can also take the ferry to McNab's Island (about 3/4 hour for about $8.00)
Peggy's Cove - Located about one hour outside Halifax. A great rocky abundance worth seeing. The drive along th coast of N.S. is beautiful.
Beaches - Beautiful beaches all along the coast. Risser's Beach and Hubbard's Beach along the South Shore; Cole Harbour Dyke Beach just outside Dartmouth. Also beautiful Cape Breton Island, joined to the mainland by the Causeway.
Southern Alberta, Canada
Dinosaur Provincial Park - Instead of spending money to go to the Tyrell Museum (of Dinosaurs), go directly to where they actually FOUND the dinosaur bones. Dinosaur Provincial Park, a very un-touristy place in the wild with very stunning badlands. There is a small interpretive center and spacious campground. You are free to walk in the certain areas and may even find real fossils (though not allowed to be taken out of the park, but neat to find and give to the rangers). Tours of actual digs as well as all kinds of family activities are inexpensive and VERY worthwhile. --from T. & F. H.
Stone Provincial Park - Located right near the Montana border. It's a beautiful park with the warm shallow MILK RIVER to play in with sand beaches. There are free tours of the pictographs that must be reserved ahead of time. There is a nice campground, and again very un-touristy.! -- from T. & F. H.
Saskatchewan - Don't miss the Regina Museum and Fort Walch as a companion. A very important historic site, with a fort recreated, native village, and interpretive center.--from T. & F. H.
Southern Manitoba - Don't miss the Carberry Desert, a delightful free walk. -- from T. & F. H.
Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada
Boyce Farmer's Market - Located on George Street. Admission is free and you can sample the wares of local entrepreneurs. --from A.B.
The Fredericton Flea Market - The market is in operation at eh Fredericton mall. It costs just $1.00 to get in.--from A.B.
St. John River Trail - Fredericton boasts a beautiful walking trail along the St. John River. If you follow the trail all the way you can travel through some of the older areas, with wonderful old houses to admire. It also goes through the downtown area.
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