1. Rocket Launch - Cocoa Beach, Florida
Jump-start your adventure by observing a NASA shuttle or rocket launch on Florida's "Space Coast." Locals celebrate launch day at Cocoa Beach Pier, though the better view is from Space View Park in Titusville, 30 miles away. Watching is free-and to see a launch is to remember it forever.
2. Flight Check - Kitty Hawk, North Carolina
As you greet the sunrise on the dunes, you'll have the same Atlantic Ocean view Orville and Wilbur Wright enjoyed the morning they pioneered flight. Admission to the museum at Kitty Hawk is free for those 15 and under, and the beach is open to all.
3. Citizenship Ceremony - Charlottesville, Virginia
Every Independence Day, an event guaranteed to inspire lumps in the throat and warm feelings of national pride takes place at Thomas Jefferson's home. Since 1963, the highlight of Monticello's July 4th festivities has been the swearing in of new American citizens. Over the years, some of the most poignant sentiments have come from foreign-born guest speakers (architect I. M. Pei, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright). Filmmaker Ken Burns will speak at this year's event.
4. Cemetery Walk - Arlington, Virginia
Veterans of every armed conflict from the Revolutionary War to the war in Iraq are buried at Arlington National Cemetery, as are astronauts, explorers, Supreme Court Justices, and Presidents. John F. Kennedy, his wife, Jacqueline, and brother Robert are buried near the Tomb of the Unknowns. At the top of the hill is Arlington House, Robert E. Lee's former plantation, plus a panoramic view of Washington, D.C.
5. Gallery Tour - Washington, D.C.
Monuments and museums dot the capital, with free entry to almost all of them. Don't overlook one of the lesser-known showpieces: Part of the Smithsonian Institution, the National Portrait Gallery stands as visual testimony to American greatness, with images ranging from sports heroes to movie stars.
6. Panda Party - Washington, D.C.
Plenty of American cities have a zoo. Only four have giant pandas. On July 9, Tai Shan, the panda cub born to great fanfare at the National Zoo, celebrates his third birthday. To ensure a glimpse of the cub and his parents, arrive in the early morning or late afternoon, when pandas are most active.
7. 9/11 Memorial - Shanksville, Pennsylvania
On September 11, 2001, passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 tried to gain control of the plane. They lost that fight, and their lives, but saved many others. The memorial being built in the field where the jet crashed is not yet permanent, but your memories of the visit will be.
8. Afternoon in the Park - New York City
Central Park is full of free fun, with its walking paths, softball games, open-air concerts, and 21 children's playgrounds. The Central Park Conservancy offers basketball clinics on Thursdays and Saturdays for kids 9 to 17-no preregistration required. Admire the miniature remote-control sailboats on the pond, visit the Strawberry Fields memorial to John Lennon, or take in one of the many no-cost dance, theater, and film events run by Central Park SummerStage.
9. Ancestor Search - New York City