Where Will You Go For Free Museum Day?

Whether you are traveling in the U.S. or having a staycation this Saturday, be sure to include some culture. September 28 is Museum Day Live! (aka Free Museum Day), when museums all over the country open their doors without charging admission.

The annual event is inspired by the Smithsonian museums, which offer free admission every day. You’ll have to register and download your free ticket in advance, which will get two guests in free to participating museums.

A few of our favorite museums participating:

Smart Museum of Art
The University of Chicago’s art museum is always free, but this weekend is also the Hyde Park Jazz Festival, and museum-goers can also enjoy free concerts in the sculpture garden.

Dallas/Ft. Worth
American Airlines C.R. Smith Museum
Regular price: $7 adults
Serious airline nerds, frequent flyers and those on a long layover can check out this museum of aviation and American AIrlines history, just a few miles from DFW airport. Exhibits include a rare Douglas DC-3 plane.

Las Vegas
Burlesque Hall of Fame
Regular suggested donation or gift shop purchase: $5)
What’s Sin City without a little strip tease? See costumes, props and photos documenting the history, traditions and stars of burlesque dance.
Los Angeles
Grammy Museum
Regular price: $12.95 adults
Pop music lovers can check out four floors of music exhibits and memorabilia. The current exhibition features the career of Ringo Starr, including an interactive drum lesson with the Beatles‘ rhythm man himself.

New York
Museum of Chinese in America
Regular price: $10 adults
Learn about the immigrant experience in New York’s Chinatown in a building designed by Maya Lin. Current special exhibitions on the glamour of Shanghai women and the role Chinese-American designers in fashion. Follow it up with dim sum in the neighborhood.

San Francisco
Cartoon Art
Regular price: $7 adults
Take your comics seriously? This is the art museum for you, with 6,000 works of cartoon cels, comic strips and book art. Best. Museum. Ever.

Washington, D.C.
Museum of Crime and Punishment
Regular price: $21.95
Value the free admission and your freedom at a museum dedicated to criminals and police work. Fans of police procedural TV shows will enjoy the CSI lab and the filming studio for “America’s Most Wanted.”

Free Admission to National Parks

Free Entrance Days to America’s National Parks are coming up next month during National Park Week. During that time, admission fees are waived as a special welcome to Americans visiting their national parks.

The National Park Service offers free entrance to the system of over 100 parks several times each year, starting with Martin Luther King Jr Birthday weekend in January. The no-fee admission period also applies during National Park Week, April 16-24, on September 24 (Public Lands Day) and over Veterans Day weekend, November 11-13, 2011.

During those times, concession operators providing food, transportation, lodging and other services in and around U.S National Parks are offering special opportunities and discounts.

At Buck Island Reef National Park in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, an exploration package that includes snorkeling equipment, flotation, snorkeling vest and lessons is half-price at $65 per person and special discounts are available at Mount Rainier National Park in Washington has a Stay and Play package with rates starting at $110 per person per night.

The National Park Service has been caring for U.S. National parks since 1916. With the help of volunteers and park partners, they safeguard nearly 400 places and share their stories with more than 275 million visitors every year.

Flickr photo by Wolfgang Staudt

All U.S. national parks free next weekend

While the U.S. celebrates a long, three-day weekend this week, the National Park Service is giving us all something to look forward to next weekend as well. The NPS has announced that it is continuing its very popular free admissions program, and on June 5 and 6, more than 100 parks will throw open their gates and waive the entrance fee to all guests.

The complete list of parks that will be free next weekend can be found by clicking here, and there are certainly some great places to visit on the list, no matter what part of the country you are in. For example, if you’re in California, Yosemite is always a great place to explore, although the crowds might be a bit smaller in Death Valley. Similarly, Yellowstone is an amazing place to visit as well, but it is one of the most popular parks in the system. If you’re in that area, you might find Big Horn Canyon offers more seclusion.

So, while we’re enjoying the Memorial Day holiday this weekend, which generally marks the unofficial start of the summer, it is never too early to start making plans for next weekend as well. With the entry fees waived, there are no excuses to not go outside and play in one of these great parks.

[Photo Credit: The National Park Service]

Disney offers free park admission to volunteers

Volunteer one day of your time next year, and you could receive a free day of admission at a Walt Disney theme park in return. The Disney company has announced that one million people who volunteer with the HandsOn Network can get into any Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California, or into Walt Disney World near Orlando, Florida, for free in 2010 through the “Give a Day, Get a Disney” promotion.

The HandsOn Network works with 70,000 agencies across the country, including Habitat for Humanity and local food banks and churches. After volunteers gets their service verified with the agency, they get a voucher for free admission. The work must be done in 2010 and the voucher needs to be used by December 15 of that year. Volunteers must be 18 or older to sign up, but kids ages 6-17 who complete volunteer work with their parents can also get into the park free.

Those who have multi-day annual passes can use their free-day voucher for up to six FASTPASS tickets that will get them to the front of the line for certain rides. Only residents of the US, Canada and Puerto Rico are eligible to redeem the free admission vouchers.

This isn’t the only deal Disney has offered recently. All of the US Disney parks offered visitors free admission on their birthday this year, and many Disney resorts offered “stay two nights, get a third free” promotions as well.

Madrid’s Reina Sofia museum is now free every day

Here’s some good news for budget travelers in Madrid. Following the lead of the Museo Nacional del Prado (which has been offering free hours each day it is open since 2007), the Reina Sofia will now offer a few hours of free admission every day as well.

Previously, the museum had charged €6 admission, except for Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings, when the fee was waived. But now it will offer free admission for a portion of each day that it is open, which is every day except Tuesday. Free hours will be from 7pm to close (9pm) on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, from 2:30pm to 9pm on Saturday, and from 10am until the 2:30pm closing time on Sunday. If you’re looking for just a small sampling of the modern and contemporary art housed at the Reina Sofia, swing by for a few free hours of browsing. If you’re a dedicated art-lover, spread your visit out over a several evenings to get your art fix without spending a single euro. Either way, you’ll get more art for less money, almost any day of the week.

Travel to Spain is down this year, except in Madrid, where it actually increased by about 6%. With cheaper opportunities for viewing art, Madrid’s tourism numbers may continue to increase, especially among travelers on a smaller budget.