Martin

Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend 2012 (REUTERS/Molly Riley)

Looking for something outdoorsy to do over the Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend? How about a visit to one of the nation's 397 National Parks ... for free.

Free Entrance to National Parks

Forget about that $20 a car fee at Yosemite this weekend. For the entire Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, Uncle Sam is opening the gates to all his parks as the National Park Service (NPS) offers fee-free days at the more than 100 national parks that usually charge for entrance. Several parks are also promoting special offers on top of the free entrance.

Off-peak visits to the parks can be rewarding. January is an ideal time to see bison at Yellowstone, for example, or grey whales at Point Reyes National Seashore in California. Check out the park's Plan Your Visit page for more tips on visiting the parks in the winter.

Mark your calendar for these other fee-free dates in 2012:

National Park Week: April 21-29

Get Outdoors Day: June 9

National Public Lands Day: Sept. 29

Veterans Day Weekend: Nov. 10-12

READ ALSO: America's Best National Parks You've Never Heard Of

Celebrating MLK in the Parks

Dr. King's story and those of so many others whose efforts changed our country are preserved in the national parks, places where history happened, U.S. National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis said in a statement. I hope every American can take advantage of the upcoming fee-free weekend and visit their parks to experience their history firsthand.

Visitors can retrace King's footsteps at the Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site in Georgia, the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail in Alabama, or the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., along with several other sites that have ties to King and the civil rights movement.

Other parks will hold special events in honor of King this weekend including the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site in Washington, D.C., Fort Donelson National Battlefield in Tennessee, and the Morristown National Historical Park in New Jersey.

Free Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2012

If you're looking for more inspiration over the Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, Starbucks will replace its Pick of the Week song with a free download of Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2012 e-book. Get your hands on one of the cards (no purchase necessary) and enter the redemption code online. The book normally costs $15 for a hard copy and $10 for the e-book and lists the top 10 countries, cities, and regions to visit this year. Cards will be distributed through Monday, but the code will expire by April 1 if unused.