What are Some Free Things to do in Washington DC?

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  • Written By: Diana Bocco
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 October 2019
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Washington DC is a paradise for travelers on a budget. Most of the attractions worth visiting are either free or close to free. This includes most museums, monuments, and parks. Your first stop when in Washington DC should be the White House. Free guided tours will take you through several rooms, although you will have to endure long lines to get in, even if you arrive early in the morning.

The next best free stop in Washington DC is the Smithsonian Institution, which comprises 16 museums. Unless you are in town for a long time, choose just a few of the galleries, such as the Space Museum, where you can get a glimpse of the Apollo and touch a piece of the moon. Another great museum is the Navy Museum, where you can see World War II guns and ship equipment.


History is alive in Washington DC and you can take part by watching the Supreme Court in session, touring the FBI headquarters, and walking around the Pentagon. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing allows you an exciting peek into the actual printing of money. The Arlington National Cemetery is another must-see in Washington DC. Besides the war veterans, President John F. Kennedy and a big part of his family are buried here. Watching the guard change is an event in itself. Other free historical monuments include the Washington monument, the Vietnam Memorial, the Union Station, the I.S. Capitol building, and the National Archives, where you can see the original copy of the Declaration of Independence, among many other historical documents.

Outdoor attractions are a big part of the charm of Washington DC. For a quick picnic or a peaceful stroll, head to the Mall, a large green area on the way to the Smithsonian Museums. The Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, a natural marsh, are a great space for bird watching and a chance to see thousands of flower species. For a peek into the cultural world of Washington DC, head to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and take their free behind-the-scenes tour. Performances are paid, though, and are often sold out. The National Gallery of Art and the television and radio towers and broadcasting services are also open to the public and free.


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Post 5

Washington DC museums are a good option. The National Museum of Natural History is definitely my favorite. I could walk around in it all day.

If you have kids, I would recommend the National Zoo, the entrance is free. Just make sure to take the subway there. If you drive, you will have to pay parking. There is a National Children's Museum that I think kids might enjoy. You can also take them to Friendship park playground.

If you like live music, then you have to go to the Kennedy Center. They have a live performance there everyday and it's completely free. There is also a really cool drum circle in the evening on Sundays, that's at Meridian Hill park. It's a lot of fun to watch!

Post 4

The great thing about Washington D.C. is its proximity to Maryland and Virginia. So if you are looking for an affordable stay and free activities, you can find cheaper accommodations and activities in Virginia or Maryland as well. There are four metro lines that go through Washington D.C., starting and ending in Virginia and Maryland.

For example, in the part of Maryland that's close to D.C. (and that has metro lines going to it), you can see the National Harbor, the historic sites from the Civil War, visit NASA or look at art galleries.

If you can find nothing else, I'm pretty sure you can watch a parade. There is one happening almost every month in D.C. From the Scottish Walk parade to the Caribbean Carnival and St. Patrick's Day, I'm sure you can find one to attend during your visit. It's free to watch the festivities and usually the snacks and food are pretty cheap too.

Post 2

If you just walk downhill from the National Mall, you will reach the Potomac River Basin. It's the most beautiful sight ever! Especially if you visit during spring time, you will get to see the cherry blossoms. It's really crowded around this time of year because of the Cherry Blossom Festival. There are visitors coming in from all across the world. But it's really a great place to spend your time.

I like to go there several times a month. You can just enjoy the view of the water and the monuments across. They also have some snacks and really affordable activities to do on the basin if you feel like it.

You might also run into free

exhibitions at the National Mall. The "National Mall" is not a "mall" as the name suggests. I thought the same thing when I first visited D.C.! It's an open green area where the Lincoln Memorial is located. It's surrounded by all sorts of museums. Sometimes they have special activities and exhibits there. Like last year, there was an exhibit of "green houses"- houses built to run on sun energy, etc. Universities all across the country built their own green house on the Mall and it was open for everyone to look at.

Post 1

The Luce Foundation Center for American Art offers free coffee, tea, and Wifi along with talks on American Art Wednesday-Sunday, 1:30-3:30. Third Floor, Smithsonian American Art Museum. 8th and F Sts., NW. Gallery Place Metro station.

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