Commemorate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., at a national park—free—on January 21.
On Monday, January 21, the Department of the Interior will waive entrance fees at all national parks in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., Day. For those of us fortunate enough to have the day off, the fee-free day is an excellent reason to commemorate the life of the visionary leader in one of America’s most inspirational places.
Monday is also Inauguration Day. For those who plan to be in the Washington, D.C., area, a trip to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial near the Tidal Basin on the National Mall is worth the short walk from downtown. The memorial, officially dedicated in 2011, is a majestic, larger-than-life tribute to the Civil Rights hero that allows visitors to travel through a symbolic “Mountain of Despair” to see a 30-foot replica of King himself, known as the “Stone of Hope.” (Both quotes are from King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech from 1963.) The statue is surrounded by a 450-foot granite wall inscribed with memorable quotes from throughout King’s career.
If you’re not planning to be in D.C., however, it’s worth noting that this memorial is always free to the public—as is the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site that preserves his childhood home, his tomb, and the Center for Nonviolent Change founded in his name by Coretta Scott King in Atlanta, Georgia—so you can plan a cost-effective trip to either of these historic places when it suits you.
Learn more about parks in the National Park System that showcase African-American history, including pivotal people and places in the Civil Rights movement.
About the author
Jennifer Errick Managing Editor of Online Communications
Jennifer co-produces NPCA's podcast, The Secret Lives of Parks, and writes, edits and moderates online content.