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If you’re looking for ways to take advantage of the long weekend for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, consider the national parks. From January 14-16, entry to all 397 national parks is free. (Although the parks you’re familiar with may not charge fees, more than 100 national parks do; to see the list of parks that are fee-free only on designated fee-free dates, click here.)
Specifically MLK, Jr. and Civil Rights themed parks and monuments include the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta, Georgia (MLK, Jr.’s birthplace), the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail in Alabama that follows the route of the 1965 Civil Rights March, and the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Certain parks are also holding events to commemorate Dr. King, including tributes at the D.C. Memorial, Morristown National Historical Park in New Jersey, Fort Donelson National Battlefield in Tennessee, and Frederick Douglass National Historic Site in Washington, D.C. (where the tribute is an MLK Film Festival).
Last summer when I posted about the merits of a national park family vacation, an annual national park pass was only $80. Surprisingly that’s still the cost, and as I noted it still might be a good bet even if your brood’s only hitting one park, since per-person park admission fees can add up.
The good news is that if you’re heading next week to one of the 100-plus parks, like the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone, that do levy per-person or per-vehicle fees, April 16 to 24 is National Park Week, when all the parks that normally charge waive their entrance fees.
Also good news is that several hotels, restaurants, and shops will be offering discounts during these fee-free days, a fact brought to my attention by the not-for-profit National Parks Promotion Council (www.nationalparksonline.org), which lists a bunch of these offers on its site.
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