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and the National Archives, where you can see the original copy of the Declaration of Independence, among many other historical documents.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.