The U.S. is filled with “it happened here” historic sites, and many have no admission fees. Get a sneak peek at our 20 favorite spots below, then find the complete list online. Plus, we want to hear from you. Tell us about a free historic site near you.
Mesa Verde National Park Colorado
It typically costs $10 to $15 per car (depending on the season) to see these spectacular cliff dwellings of the ancestral Pueblo people. As home to some of America’s most important archaeological sites, dating to A.D. 600, Mesa Verde is worth every cent. But several times a year you can see it for free, including National Public Lands Day in September and the weekend of Veterans Day in November. (Entry fee is waved, but fees still apply for optional, ranger-led tours.)
U.S.S. Arizona Memorial Honolulu, Hawaii
The date, December 7, 1941, really does live on in infamy, and the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center makes sure the memory of Japan’s attack on the United States will never fade. Visitor center exhibits provide fascinating context on the attack, and the center is the pickup point for free boat trip tickets to the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial.
St. Paul’s Chapel, Parish of Trinity Church New York, New York
The oldest public building in continuous use in New York City—George Washington attended services here following his 1790 Inauguration—narrowly escaped destruction in the September 1776 blaze that broke out when the British retook New York. On September 11, 2001, the World Trade Center collapsed across the street, and the debris-filled but unharmed chapel became an oasis for ground zero recovery efforts. Exhibits tell the incredible 9/11 story.
Baranof Castle State Historical Site Sitka, Alaska
Sitka was the capital of Russian Alaska, and a good swath of that domain can be seen in the outstanding views from the hilltop Baranof Castle State Historical Site, where first native Tlingit peoples and then Russians erected fortifications. Russia handed over Alaska to the United States on this hill in 1867. Interpretive panels tell the story.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Help us build our list! Tell us about another historic site that’s free to visit. Leave the details in the comments section below.
Photo: Harry Segelken/My Shot
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