25 Free Things to Do in December

Entertain the family with one of these free activities near you.
Stephanie Granada

ALABAMA
Hoover: Bud’s Best Cookies
Take the South’s best-smelling factory tour as you ride a tiny train through one of the country’s last family-owned cookie companies. budsbestcookies.com or 205/987-4840

Tuskegee: Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site and Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site
Listen to a recording of George Washington Carver teaching a class at the Tuskegee Institute, and then go see where the famed Tuskegee Airmen trained to fly and fight during World War II. nps.gov/tuai or 334/724-0922

ARKANSAS
Little Rock: Arkansas Arts Center

Check out the large collection of works by regional artists, as well as contemporary crafts and decorative arts. arkarts.com  or 501/372-4000

Pine Bluff: Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame
Sing along with an animatronic statue of Johnny Cash at this hall of fame that honors 79 talented Arkansans in the Pine Bluff Convention Center.  arkansasentertainershalloffame.com or 870/536-7600

FLORIDA
Apollo Beach: Tampa Electric Manatee Viewing Center

Manatees come in from the cold at this marine sanctuary between November and April. The aquatic mammals are attracted to Tampa Electric’s warm-water discharge canals. tampaelectric.com/manatee or 813/228-4289

Miami: Yoga in Bayfront Park
Work off those holiday pounds during free yoga classes in the Tina Hills Pavilion (at the southern end of Bayfront Park) every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday evening. bayfrontparkmiami.com or 305/358-7550

GEORGIA
Savannah and Atlanta: Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) Galleries

Artwork and fashions designed by SCAD students and graduates fill galleries in Savannah and Atlanta. scad.edu/exhibitions or 912/525-4727 (Savannah), 404/253-3141 (Atlanta)

Cleveland: BabyLand General Hospital
New Cabbage Patch babies are born and older soft-sculpture ones are repaired at the headquarters of the popular doll company. The new hospital opened on a scenic 650-acre site in the Appalachian Mountains of North Georgia earlier this year. cabbagepatchkids.com or 706/865-2171

KENTUCKY
Louisville: “Woman on the Run” at the 21c Museum Hote
l
Artist Tracey Snelling uses scale models, video clips, and photographs to tell the story of a woman escaping from either danger—or the law. The multimedia exhibit fills a contemporary art gallery connected to the boutique hotel. 21cmuseum.org or 502/217-6346

Berea: “Artists at Work” Tours
Watch glassblowers, woodworkers, potters, weavers, and other artisans create their crafts on a walking tour of Berea’s galleries and studios. berea.com/studio-artists-at-berea or 859/986-2540

LOUISIANA
Eunice: Prairie Acadian Cultural Center

Learn how to sing, dance, and cook like a Cajun. Located at the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve inEunice, the cultural center offers free Cajun music, dancing, and cooking classes every Saturday. nps.gov/jela or 337/457-8499

MARYLAND
Baltimore: Hampden Village Block Party

Hampden Village block party Release your inner poet during this neighborhood block party, which offers musical performances and open microphone events the first Friday of every month. hampdenmerchants.com

Glen Echo: Glen Echo Glassworks
Watch as professional glassblowers create works of art (and sign up for classes). glenechopark.org

MISSISSIPPI
Jackson: Mississippi Governor’s Mansion

Get into the Christmas spirit during a guided tour of the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion all decked out with holiday decorations. Tours are offered Tuesday through Friday (reservations required). mdah.state.ms.us/museum/mansion.html or 601/359-6421

Hancock County: John C. Stennis Space Center
See where NASA tests its huge rocket propulsion engines during a tour of the space center, and then check out scale models of spacecraft in the StenniSphere. nasa.gov/centers/stennis or 800/237-1821

MISSOURI
St. Louis: Saint Louis Science Center

More than 700 exhibits fill the state’s largest science center. Experience technology in a hands-on way in “Cyberville,” and conduct a real science experiment in the “Life Science Lab.” slsc.org or 314/289-4400

NORTH CAROLINA
Durham: Rhine Research Center and ESP Parapsychology Museum

Believe in ESP? You might after visiting this center. rhine.org/museum

Wilmington: Screen Gems Studios Tours
See where the CW television network’s drama One Tree Hill is made during a tour of this film lot. screengemsstudios.com/nc

OKLAHOMA
Oklahoma City: Holiday River Cruises

Enjoy holiday lights as you take in the city skyline from a boat’s deck (or inside its heated cabin) during a free Sunday cruise on the Oklahoma River. okrivercruises.com/holidays or 405/702-7755

SOUTH CAROLINA
North Myrtle Beach: Barefoot Landing

Set along the Intracoastal Waterway, the Barefoot Landing boardwalk connects a variety of North Myrtle Beach shops, restaurants, and hotels as it passes through acres of lakes that are home to coastal birds and wildlife. bflanding.com

TENNESSEE
Gatlinburg: Cades Cove

Located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Cove’s 11-mile, one-way loop road passes century-old buildings, hiking trails, and rolling fields. Watch for deer. nps.gov/grsm or 865/436-1200

Memphis: Center for Southern Folklore
Take a break on South Main Street at the Center’s Folklore Hall and Galleries. southernfolklore.com or 901/525-3655

TEXAS
San Antonio: Mariachi on the River Walk

Part of the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza, the free “Serenata en el Rio” performance (December 2, 2010, 6-8 p.m.) features hundreds of musicians playing on the illuminated-for-Christmas River Walk. mariachimusic.com or 210/225-3353

Dallas: Uptown Neighborhood Trolley
Ride to Uptown’s shops and art galleries on the M-Line’s electric trolley cars. The trolley connects the Cityplace West Village, McKinney Avenue area, and the Arts District. mata.org or 214/855-0006

VIRGINIA
Eagle Rock, Virginia: Blue Ridge Vineyard’s Soup ’n Sip Sunday

This month, the vineyard on the eastern edge of the Shenandoah Valley warms up visitors with its “Soup ’n Sip Sunday” (December 5, 2010, 1-5 p.m.). Enjoy a bowl of homemade soup and a cup of hot mulled wine while listening to live music. blueridgevineyard.com