The Best Free Tourist Attraction in Every State
Most of our 400 national parks and historic sites are free, and even the ones that aren’t offer several free days during each year. And don’t forget admission and tours are free at all our state capitol buildings. So, pull out a map and start planning to find out why America is the “Land of the Free” and the “Home of Happy Tourist.”
Courtesy Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)/Tor Johnson
There’s major good news when it comes to our gorgeous 50th state: All the beaches are free! Just pull over your rental car and dive (or tiptoe) in and let the Aloha Spirit begin with a dip in the Pacific Ocean. Don’t forget the sunscreen. Ready to go? Find out everything you need to know before taking a vacation in Hawaii.
Idaho: Idaho State Historical Museum
Courtesy Ryan Gerulf
Admission is free at the Abraham Lincoln Exhibition tourist attraction which is part of the Idaho State Archives in Boise. You can learn about the legacy Lincoln left behind in Idaho. It features over 200 artifacts and documents.
Illinois: Chicago Cultural Center
Courtesy Nick Ulivieri
The Chicago Cultural Center, located in the heart of the city, offers theatrical and dance events, concerts, lectures, and films all free in a stunning landmark building which boasts, among other marvels the largest Tiffany glass domes in the building that once housed Chicago’s first central library. Here’s the most iconic book set in every state.
Indiana: Indianapolis Cultural Trail
Courtesy Visit Indy
Stroll, bike, or jog through the Indianapolis Cultural Trail. You can peruse $26 million in public art and museums, restaurants, and other attractions as you wind your way along the eight-mile path. Find out the most iconic movie set in every state.
Iowa: Grant Wood Studio
Courtesy Lori Tofanelli
Grant Wood lived in Cedar Rapids where he painted one of America’s most iconic works of art, American Gothic. The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art runs the Grant Wood Studio, a tourist attraction which offers admission and tours at no charge.
Kansas: Santa Fe Trail
Courtesy Kansas Tourism
Western Kansas has very little light pollution, so as you travel along, stop once in a while and gaze at the night sky. The Santa Fe Trail went through Kansas and you can still walk the longest remaining stretch of the trail just outside Dodge City.
Kentucky: The Bourbon Trail
Courtesy Visit Bardstown
Nothing is more American than Kentucky Bourbon. Driving along the trail is free and many distilleries offer free tours (and samples). Like a lot of states, Kentucky has its share of quirky liquor laws and the famed Bourbon Trails meanders through several dry counties where it’s illegal to buy what you might sample along the way. One of the centerpieces of the Bourbon Trail is the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History in Bardstown where admission is always free at this tourist attraction.
Louisiana: Acadian Cultural Center
Courtesy Lafayette Travel
The Acadian Cultural Center in Lafayette is the best (and free) way to learn about Cajun Country via its films, exhibits, storytelling, and art.
Maine: Portland Museum of Art
Courtesy Portland Museum of Art, Maine
The Portland Museum of Art is free on Friday evenings from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., courtesy of a little local purveyor called L.L. Bean. The museum is made up of three separate but connected buildings, including one that was designed by famed architect I. M. Pei.
Maryland: Maryland Historical Society
Courtesy Maryland Historical Society
Admission is free at the Maryland Historical Society on Thursdays where (“Oh, say”) you can see the original copy of the “Star Spangled Banner” in Francis Scott Key’s handwriting. Don’t miss these U.S. trivia facts you never knew about.