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100 Free Things: History and Heritage


1) Sit in the lobby of the Willard InterContinental Washington and imagine history unfolding. The hotel is where Julia Ward Howe wrote "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," where President Ulysses S. Grant popularized the term "lobbyist" and where Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote his renowned "I Have a Dream" speech.

2) Millions visit the stirring Lincoln Memorial, but did you know you can tour Honest Abe’s summer home? President Lincoln’s Cottage reveals the distinctly domestic side of a historic presidency. Admission is $5 for kids, and Girl Scouts can earn a badge.

3) See the original Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights at the National Archives, then research your family's immigration records.

4) Check out the Library of Congress' interactive elements, like the re-creation of Thomas Jefferson's library. While you're there, see if you come across one of the free lectures, concerts, exhibits and poetry readings that are held regularly.

5) Visit Arlington National Cemetery to see the Changing of the Guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

6) Watch history being made by sitting in on a groundbreaking Supreme Court ruling.

7) Trace the names of loved ones lost at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, a place of reflection for many visitors.

8) Test your knowledge at the National Portrait Gallery, where the nation's only complete collection of presidential portraits outside The White House is located.

9) See America's story told through stamps at the National Postal Museum. Then walk across the street to the more-than-100-year-old Union Station and be inspired by its beautiful architecture.

10) Get out into DC's neighborhoods to learn about history beyond the National Mall by experiencing Cultural Tourism DC's free self-guided walking trails. They are marked with illustrated signs revealing the stories behind Washington's historic neighborhoods.

The lesser known of Lincoln's official presidential residences is open to visitors following a $10-million renovation.
The lesser known of Lincoln's official presidential residences is open to visitors following a $10-million renovation.
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