Summer travel '09: Freebies across the USA

The Greek Revival beauty on Capital Street in Jackson has survived neglect, abandonment and, not least, Hurricane Katrina. Now, the building that housed the state legislature from 1839 to 1903 (and one of few in Jackson to survive the Civil War) has been reincarnated as the Old Capitol Museum. Reopened in February, it focuses on the state's early history. 601-576-6920; oldcapitolmuseum.com— Jayne Clark

Missouri

Show me some history! The brick Main Street of Saint Charles, outside St. Louis, comes alive with weekend entertainment celebrating the city's 200th anniversary. That's just one of 200 events this year in the first Missouri state capital. You can even borrow an iPod from the tourism office and take a free audio/video tour. 800-366-2427; historicstcharles.com— Kitty Bean Yancey

Montana

For the second year, Butte is playing host to the National Folk Festival, which features performances and demonstrations from more than 250 musicians, dancers and craftspeople. The three-day event runs July 10-12 and is produced by the National Council for the Traditional Arts and local partners. 406-497-6464, nationalfolkfestival.com— Chris Gray Faust

Nebraska

Imagine a replica of England's famed Stonehenge rocky pillars fashioned from … automobiles. That's the concept behind the wacky attraction Carhenge. Near Alliance in the western part of the state, the three-dozen-car sculpture was erected by an artist — who was impressed by Stonehenge while in England — as a tribute to his late father. carhenge.com— Kitty Bean Yancey

Nevada

Tiny Lovelock (pop. 2,381), 93 miles east of Reno on I-80, has taken its name to heart. Since Valentine's Day 2006, the town has encouraged couples to place padlocks— some engraved with their names — on chains at stations behind the Pershing County Court House. You can write your love story on the town's website. 800-638-2328, loverslock.com— Chris Gray Faust

New Hampshire

The Clydesdale has been a symbol of Anheuser-Busch tradition since 1933, and the bred-for-hard-work equines are an integral part of the free brewery tours at the company's scenic Merrimack Valley location (tours are offered in four other states, as well). During Budweiser Clydesdale Camera Days the first Saturday of the month, guests can pose with one of the horses. 603-595-1202; budweisertours.com/toursMER.htm— Laura Bly

New Jersey

Opened in 1857 and decommissioned in 1933, the Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City beckons visitors who want a break from the gambling mecca's buffets and one-armed bandits. It costs $7 for adults to climb the 228 steps to the top, but the history museum in a replicated lightkeeper's house is free. 609-449-1360, abseconlighthouse.org— Laura Bly

New Mexico

If alien abduction stories and space movies get your heart racing, then the quirky Roswell UFO Festival is for you. The annual event, which features everything from symposiums and book signings to concerts and costume contests to films and fireworks, will be July 2-5. The truth is out there. 888-767-3378, www.ufofestivalroswell.com— Chris Gray Faust

New York

Located a half-mile off the southern tip of Manhattan in New York Harbor and accessible by ferry on summer weekends, Governors Island offers more than five miles of car-free biking. On "Free Bike Fridays," June 5-Oct. 9, visitors can borrow a bike for up to an hour at a time. 212-440-2202, www.govisland.com— Laura Bly

North Carolina

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