The thing about growing up in New England, and bordering on the preptastic state of Connecticut, is that while it may seem all pastel polos and lobster prints, you never have to look too far to get away from it all.
For a period during her childhood, my younger sister was obsessed with Native American culture (I had a similar Ancient Egyptian fixation; guess it runs in the family). In an effort to foster that curiosity and give us the ultimate educational experience, my parents would pile us into the car and hit up the nearest Native American powwow. With museums like the Mashantucket Pequot Museum just a short distance, it wasn't as hard to find as you might think. And we have some beautiful beaded necklaces and animal skin-topped drums as souvenirs from our youth.
So when I heard that the National Museum of the American Indian had free admission -- my sister has since grown up and is now on a grad school budget -- and had some pretty cool exhibits, I had to let her know. And really, it does make for the perfect Fabulously Frugal Friday afternoon field trip, for those who get things like Summer Fridays -- a phrase that once held a coveted place in my vocabulary.
The National Museum of the American Indian, as one might suspect, celebrates Native cultures. Housed in the historic Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House in Battery Park, the Smithsonian museum offers free daily group tours guided by cultural interpreters and museum ambassadors.
There's currently an exhibit called "Ramp It Up: Skateboard Culture in Native America" which explores the creativity and controversy (who knew?) of Native American skate culture. It's definitely cooler than the requisite life-sized teepee dioramas, though I always secretly thought those were kind of cool too.
*photo courtesy of the National Museum of the American Indian website