Five Ways to Celebrate Veterans Day–Free–at a National Park
Update November 8, 2013: This year, the Park Service will again be waiving entrance fees throughout the park system for Veteran’s Day weekend, November 9-12. In addition to the suggestions below, we also recommend checking out our recent appreciation of the USS Arizona at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument as well as this informative new story by the Civil War Trust with additional suggestions for historic battlefields to visit throughout the country.
This weekend, the Department of the Interior will waive entrance fees throughout the National Park System to celebrate Veterans Day. That means we can plan a bargain getaway to any of these 398 inspirational destinations over the next three days and get in free. Not sure where to go? Here are five of the many parks that honor veterans around the country and share different parts of our military history:
- Boston National Historical Park, Massachusetts. Think you know all about the American Revolution? Walk the Freedom Trail through downtown Boston and experience 16 different historic sites, from the site of the Boston Massacre to Paul Revere’s house to the Bunker Hill Monument. You can almost feel the iconic figures from U.S. history books coming to life in one of the country’s oldest cities.
- The National Mall, Washington, D.C. The Park Service maintains a trove of iconic memorials within easy walking distance in the heart of the nation’s capital, including the World War II and Korean War Memorials honoring thousands of war heroes. Perhaps most famous is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial featuring more than 58,000 names etched into walls of granite in honor of those who died while in service in Vietnam or were still unaccounted for when the wall was constructed in 1982.
- Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County Battlefields Memorial National Military Park, Virginia. This Civil War park is not as well-known as others in the region, yet it preserves the history of four major battles between Union and Confederate troops from 1862 to 1864 and is described by the Park Service as “the bloodiest ground in all North America.” Just an hour south of Washington, D.C., visitors can experience several chapters in one of the great stories that shaped America.
- Fort Davis National Historic Site, Texas. If you’re curious about life on the frontier, this park will give insight into what it was like to serve in a remote military outpost in the 1800s. Once housing more than 400 enlisted men and officers, the views at this park are as much a part of the visitor experience as its historic buildings, and the landscape still looks much like it did to a soldier in the 19th century.
- Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park, California. Commemorate the great efforts civilians played in World War II, including the country’s famous “Rosies” who kept factories humming after soldiers left to fight in the 1940s. This Richmond park includes a historic ship, an educational center with Park Ranger tours, and a unique memorial to the hard-working women of the era, modeled after the style of a liberty ship. See a few images from this park, and portraits of a few of the nation’s many “Rosies,” in NPCA’s recent slideshow.
Of course, whether you head to Yellowstone or Dry Tortugas, Rocky Mountain or Antietam, you can feel patriotic about your trip. The Park Service released this short video earlier this week featuring a veteran of the U.S. Marines who now works at Yellowstone, to give you a little more inspiration as you pack your bags:
We thank all of our veterans and park employees for their service as we enjoy our national parks this weekend.
-Jennifer Errick, Editor, Online Communications