Free to See: 20 U.S. Outdoor Activities

Parks, gardens, boat rides, beaches—get the most out of the great outdoors without spending a cent. We’ve got a list of 20 free outdoor activities in the U.S. Get a sneak peek of the list below, then find all 20 online. Plus, we want to hear from you. Tell us about a free outdoor activity in your neighborhood.

Stars in the Park San Diego, California

Turn your gaze to the skies above San Diego during Stars in the Park. On the first Wednesday of every month, members of the San Diego Astronomy Association set up telescopes outside Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park to offer the public a free star show and the benefit of their astronomy expertise.

The Algiers Ferry New Orleans, Louisiana

Board the Algiers ferry and see how New Orleans got its nickname—the Crescent City—as you traverse the graceful arc of the Mississippi from the foot of Canal Street to historic Algiers Point on the West Bank. The ride offers great views of old New Orleans.

Honolulu Botanical Gardens Oahu, Hawaii

The island of Oahu boasts five unique botanical gardens—and four of them offer free admission. Ho`omaluhia has geographically grouped tropical plants from around the world, Koko Crater focuses on desert-like species, Wahiawa features a tropical rain forest, and Lili`uokalani, in Honolulu, was a favorite spot of Hawaii’s last queen. She donated the park to the people.

Smithsonian Gardens Washington, D.C.

The Smithsonian Institution is famed for its museums but it also maintains an expanse of gardens on the National Mall. It takes about three hours to walk through them all at a leisurely pace. There is something worth seeing in every season, including rose gardens, butterfly habitat gardens, and even a World War II-era Victory Garden.

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Help us build our list! Tell us about your favorite (and free!) outdoor activity in the U.S. or the world. Leave the details in the comments section below.

Photo: Jay Fahlen/My Shot

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  1. PeggyCoonley/SerendipityTraveler
    October 4, 2011, 4:33 pm

    Visiting The Cape Ann Light Station on Thacher Island, a National Historical Landmark north of Boston is a fun summer adventure. The boat leaves from Rockport and reservations are

  2. Eva Sandoval
    Terracina, Italy
    October 4, 2011, 5:24 am

    The Coney Island Mermaid Parade in Brooklyn, New York. Each year on the last Saturday of June, hundreds of seafolk take the boardwalk by storm. You’ll be hard-pressed to find more bare bosoms outside of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. But don’t just go for the boobs – go to enjoy a Nathan’s hot dog and take in the incredible variety of costumes.