Those of us in the DMV are lucky enough to have some phenomenal national parks right in our backyards. What’s even better, on a handful of dates every year these spots have free entry. In 2021, the entrance fee-free dates are Martin Luther King’s Birthday (Jan. 18), the first day of National Park Week (April 17), the one-year anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act (Aug. 4), National Park Service Birthday (Aug. 25), National Public Lands Day (Sept. 25) and Veterans Day (Nov. 11). Here are some ideas on where to hike, sightsee and explore in the area.
Visit this historical spot in Baltimore where the defense of the namesake fort during the Battle of Baltimore on Sept. 13 and 14, 1814 inspired Francis Scott Key to write the words for the song that would become the United States’ National Anthem.
At this National Seashore, visitors can sunbathe on sandy beaches, explore salt marshes, maritime forests and coastal bays and spot the ponies that call the area home.
One of the DC area’s most popular landmarks, this park that straddles Virginia and Maryland is where the Potomac River falls over a series of steep jagged rocks before flowing through Mather Gorge. The 800-acre park has both easy and challenging trails as well as the remnants of the Patowmack Canal, which offers a glimpse into the early history of this country.
Located in Triangle, Virginia, this forest park that dates back to 1936 as Chopawamsic Recreation Area is a bit of quiet, calm oasis near a major metropolitan area. Its fragrant woods and sparkling streams continue to welcome hikers, campers, bikers and other nature lovers.
Located near Luray, Virginia, 75 miles from Washington, DC, this impressive 200,00-acre park has it all, from gorgeous mountain vistas to cascading waterfalls. A summer trip rewards visitors with wildflowers in bloom, while the leaf peeping in autumn is second to none.
Learn about the last major battle of the Revolutionary War at this landmark that’s part of the triangle including Jamestown and Williamsburg, where in the fall of 1781, General George Washington besieged General Charles Lord Cornwallis’s British army with the help of allied forces.
The fee-free days are a great deal, but visitors can also purchase an annual America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass for $80, which allows unlimited access to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas including all National Parks that normally charge an entrance fee. Free and discounted passes are also available for senior citizens, the military, families of fourth-graders and disabled citizens.
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