If you’re heading off on a family vacation this summer, you’re no doubt looking for ways to offset the high cost of gasoline and/or air transportation. One way to save money on vacation is to take advantage of the many free things to see and do all over the country. Below are just a few ideas:

Free National Parks

394 of America’s national parks and monuments are free 365 days of the year. These include Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC; the Pony Express National Historic Trail in Colorado; the Presidio of San Francisco; Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida; the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park near Dayton,Ohio and Boston’s Longfellow House.

Other National Parks are free on fee-free days throughout the year. These parks include Grand Canyon National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park, Everglades National Park, Sequoia National Park, Acadia National Park in Maine and Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. For 2012, the fee-free days are April 21-29, June 9, September 29 and November 10-12.

For more about National Parks and Monuments near you, visit the National Park Service Web site.

Free Bank or America Museum Days

Bank of America/Merrill Lynch offers its credit and debit cardholders free museum days at more than 150 museums around the United States on the 1st full weekend of every month. Museums that have participated in this program in the past include:

  • The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan
  • The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago
  • The Miami Children’s Museum
  • New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • The NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina

For more information about these free museum days, visit the Bank of America Web site.

City Specific Free Attractions:

In addition to the above offers, there are free attractions in major cities all over the country. Below is just a sampling:

  • New York City – Museum of Modern Art (Friday evenings), Brooklyn Botanical Garden (all day Wednesday), New York Public Library, Brooklyn Children’s Museum (Saturday and Sunday from 10am to noon)
  • Chicago – Navy Pier, Chicago Art Institute (Thursday evenings), Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago History Museum (Mondays)
  • Atlanta – Atlanta Contemporary Art Center (Thursdays), Centennial Olympic Park, Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site, Georgia State Capitol
  • Miami – Miami Art Museum (Sundays), Little Havana neighborhood, Jewish Museum of Florida (Saturdays), Bayfront Park
  • Dallas – Crow Collection of Asian Art, McKinney Avenue Trolley Ride, White Rock Lake Park, Meadows Museum on the campus of Southern Methodist University (Thursday evenings)
  • Los Angeles – Hollywood Walk of Fame, Venice Beach Boardwalk, free TV show tapings, Griffith Observatory, Olvera Street
  • Denver – Red Rock Park, Colorado State Capitol, Four Mile Historic Park, Coors Brewery
  • Seattle – Pike Place Market, Frye Art Museum, Museum of Flight, KidsQuest Children’s Museum (Friday evenings)
  • Cleveland – Cleveland Museum of Art, Federal Reserve Money Museum, the West Side Market, Rockefeller Park Greenhouse

Are there any free attractions in your area that you’d like to add to our list?

Free Things to Do Around the United States