Obama is asking the nation to honor King's legacy by making a renewed commitment to service. That has long been the goal of the King holiday, even if many see it as a day off.
The Presidential Inaugural Committee has launched a Web site, USAService.org, to help people find volunteer opportunities close to their homes.
"I am asking you to make a lasting commitment to make better the lives of your fellow Americans — a commitment that must endure beyond one day, or even one presidency," Obama said in a YouTube appeal last week. "At this moment of great challenge and great change, I am asking you to play your part; to roll up your sleeves and join in the work of remaking this nation."
The president-elect has a busy Monday evening, too.
He is to attend three private dinners to honor the public service of former Secretary of State Colin Powell; Biden, a longtime senator from Delaware; and Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee. Those dinners will be held at the Hilton Washington, National Building Museum and Union Station.
Michelle Obama, the future first lady, is hosting a children's evening concert.
At the Capitol on Monday morning, groups of tourists wandered around the barricades to take pictures of the viewing stands and the monuments and buildings. A few even stood and watched NFL highlights that were being shown on the big-screen TV at the Capitol.
Three teachers from Baltimore said they decided to come out to the Capitol to scope out their routes in and out for the inauguration ceremony.
"Seems like they've planed it out pretty well," said Gary Campbell, 29, of Baltimore as his group looked at the viewing stand from across the Capitol reflecting pool. Their school, Baltimore Freedom Academy, and the Homeland Security Academy planned to send four busloads of children to the National Mall to watch the inauguration ceremony.