While many think saving up for a vacation requires a larger-than-life budget to ensure happy memories, America boasts thousands of incredible attractions at absolutely no cost to travelers. The Land of the Free holds up to its name with zero-cost museums, zoos, science centers, theaters, parks and more, and we've chosen our top ten to help relieve your travel-budget stress.
Smithsonian Museums, Washington, DC
One of America's oldest museums, dating back to 1846, the Smithsonian has grown to also claim the title of world's largest museum and research complex. With 19 museums, 9 research centers and the National Zoo, visitors come to learn about African-American history, air and space technology, American art, natural history and so much more -- for absolutely no cost. Free knowledge is power!
Staten Island Ferry, NYC
60,000 passengers per day can't be wrong -- this 5 mile, 25-minute sail provides a beautiful view of the New York Harbor. Pass the Statue of Liberty, Staten Island, the tallest skyscrapers in the city, the bridges of Lower Manhattan and more on this world-class free ferry.
Royal Hawaiian Center, Honolulu
At Hawaii's largest shopping center, complimentary cultural programming is the central mission. Try a Lomilomi Hawaiian massage, hear a Mea Ha'i Mo'olelo (master storyteller), make a Lei, or learn Ukelele or the art of Hula dancing, all at no cost!
National Sept 11 Memorial, NYC
Occupying 16 acres at the site of the World Trade Center, visitors can pay tribute free of charge while viewing the names of every victim of the attacks, as well as viewing the two enormous waterfalls and reflecting pools, each about an acre in size, set within the footprints of the original Twin Towers.
Olympic Training Center, Colorado Springs, CO
The flagship training center for the U.S. Olympic Committee and the Olympic Training Center programs is open to visitors year-round. Tours throughout the complex can sometimes be offered by professional athletes, and certain attractions are set up for your group to get in on the action. Definitely a must-see for all aspiring athletes!
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, AL
Many botanical gardens throughout the country have beautiful sights to see, but few can offer that magical scenery at no price to visitors. Birmingham Botanical Gardens is home to over 12,000 different plants with 12 different gardens, and includes a delicious restaurant, a children's center and an ampitheater for summer concerts among thousands of gorgeous plants.
Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD
Much like the botanical gardens, plenty of cities boast fantastic art museums, but very few offer them for free. This museum has the largest collection of Matisse paitings, as well as works by Picasso, Manet, Degas, van Gogh, Renoir and many more notable artists.
Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee
Though this park hardly needs an introduction, one of it's most notable features is that visitors are welcome to enjoy the thousands of acres of natural wonders for free. Enjoy a massive array of wildlife, natural wonders, outdoor activites, mountain views and more.
Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago
35 acres of incredible wildlife smack in the middle of the Windy City provides a zoo experience unlike any other in the country -- and you get it all free of charge. More then 1000 animals walk these grounds, as well as a burr oak tree dating back to 1830.
The Muny, St. Louis
World-class theater and opera can be found anywhere, but in the Lou, it's available to everyone of any economic standing. With a summer schedule full of fan-favorites (this season's shows include Billy Elliot, Tarzan, Addams Family and more), the free section of the Muny is a St. Louis tradition for family and friends alike.