Free Things to Do in Washington DC: Visit the Capital on the Cheap
Looking to have a great vacation but need to stick to a budget? Look no further than these great free things to do in the nation's capital!
Vacations can be great if you spend a lot of money. Deep pockets allow you to feel like royalty in a 5-star hotel, eating every night at 5-star restaurants. Sure, this kind of experience is what many tourists and vacationers want to have. But, with the economic hard times that have recently plagued the world, many people cannot afford vacations at all. This is true to a certain extent. Vacations do not have to have fancy hotels, restaurants, and nightclubs. In every city you can visit in the United States there are a plethora of free things to do. Free sounds great to any bank account, and a lot of people go out of their ways to find a city’s free features.
Some may feel like “Free” makes a vacation too minimal or unsatisfying. This isn’t true in a city like Washington D.C. Besides being one of the hottest tourist spots in America, D.C. has many free venues and experiences that will make every vacation a memorable one. That’s what we’re talking about today: the free things to do in Washington D.C. We all love free, and even if you claim that you don’t, somewhere deep inside you do. Perhaps a trip to D.C. will help you change your mind? If you want to take up that challenge, then check out a few of these free things to do around D.C.
Not all of D.C.’s museums are free, but many of them are, including all of the Smithsonian museums. That’s 17 museums and art galleries just waiting for you to walk in and soak up everything they have to offer. Check out the American Art Museum or the Natural History Museum. They have plenty for you to learn, whether it’s through interactive media or tours. They are open every day of the year, except for some holidays. So, there’s no reason not to check one out during your D.C. trip.
They are great fun for the entire family, and you won’t have to spend a dime. Many parents do not want their children playing video games or watching television during their vacation. They want to take them out into the city and help them experience new and fun things. You can do just that throughout D.C., but the museums are the #1 source of knowledge and history in the city. So, I’d start there with my family. You never know if one portrait or one artifact will spark something in your child’s mind, inspiring them to be an artist or an astronaut.
I’ll go ahead and list the contact information for some of the more popular Smithsonian museums & galleries in the city.
National Gallery of Art
Address: 6th Street & Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20565
Phone: (202) 737-4215
Natural History Museum
Address: 10th Street & Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20560
Phone: (202) 633-1000
National Air and Space Museum
Address: 600 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20560
Phone: (202) 633-2214
The National Zoo
Zoos are great places for seeing thousands of animals. The National Zoo provides free admission and plenty of educational opportunities for all ages. Visit during your next trip and walk around the beautiful grounds. Find yourself being transported to every corner of the globe, seeing wildlife you never thought you’d see in your lifetime. While you’ll see plenty of animals at the National Zoo in D.C., they are most famous for their giant pandas.
There’s a lot more to experience than just walking around and looking at animals. Their conservation center and laboratories will really open your mind to the preservation of threatened wildlife. The National Elephant Herpesvirus Laboratory is located at the National Zoo, and it’s the leader in research of the deadly virus that threatens one of the world’s favorite animals.
That’s just one aspect of the National Zoo that makes it great. They have about 1,800 animals for you to see, ranging from Amazonia to Invertebrates. If the free admission doesn’t draw you here, then hopefully the educational and entertaining opportunities will. This is one D.C. attraction you do not want to miss out on.
Address: 3001 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
Phone: (202) 633-4888
Parks are always a great option when you need to save a bit of cash. D.C. has plenty of parks for you to visit, including the National Mall in front of the Washington Monument. Take a stroll through the crisp D.C. air, and feel electrified after gazing at the skyline from across the Potomac. If you need to work out and don’t have the funds for a gym, a pair of running shoes and a D.C. park is all you need. Runs are better outdoors, in my opinion, and being surrounded by the lush landscapes of D.C.’s parks will make even better. Not much of a runner? Me neither, but D.C.’s parks are still excellent for yoga, pilates, and strolls.
Some of the local favorites are Battery Kemble park, Crispus Attucks park, and Meridian Hill park. Check these out, but don’t forget about the other parks around the city. The Metro stations are one of the best sources for finding information on the locations, but an Internet search is your best bet. Researching these parks are easy, and they are even easier to get to through D.C.’s public transportation system. Parks are free opportunities for fun, relaxation, and comfort, so don’t miss out on them.
Batter Kemble Park
Address: Chain Bridge Road, Washington, DC 20016
Crispus Attucks Park
Address: 63 U Street NW, Washington, DC 20001
Meridian Hill Park
Address: 2500 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
Phone (202) 895-6000
Monuments & Memorials
This one is a no-brainer, but I can’t shove it away like one. The city’s monuments and memorials are its biggest attractions. Sure, the museums and art galleries are world class, but the monuments and memorials are timeless. If you’ve never been to the nation’s capital before, they are the first things you see, piercing out of the skyline. It’s like your history textbook has re-opened and turned into a pop-up book. They are so surreal and gorgeous that you won’t know what to think for a few minutes.
I’m serious. These monuments and memorials are some of the best things you can visit in the city. Plus, they are all free to look at. Some have tours that may cost you a few dollars, but you don’t really need those in my opinion. All you need to do is walk up the cobblestone steps or past the luxurious fountain and embrace the magnificence. The monuments and memorials are dedicated to several people and international wars, so there’s a lot too learn at each one. There’s too much information for a one-day trip. You can even create an entire week-long vacation by just visiting these great attractions.
You can’t miss these during your time in D.C.; it’s literally impossible. Take the time to visit them and learn their history. I’ll provide the locations of some of the city’s more popular monuments and memorials, but make sure to check out all of them during your stay.
Address: 2 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20007
Phone: (202) 426-6841
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Address: 5 Henry Bacon Drive NW, Washington, DC
Phone: (202) 426-6841
Thomas Jefferson Memorial
Address: 13 East Basin Drive SW, Washington, DC 20242
Phone: (202) 426-6841
Yes, you can go to a farmers’ market without buying anything and still have a good time. These are great opportunities for meeting new people and sampling fresh produce. D.C. is a heavily urban city with its national landmarks, sports teams, and high population. Walking through the streets of D.C. is kind of like walking through the streets of ancient Rome. There’s lots of stone, lots of people, and lots of culture. So, it’s great to see some vibrant colors come to the city on the weekends.
Local farmers and artisans bring their best produce and flavors for you. You should check one of these out during your stay. One of the most popular ones is the Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market, which only opens on Sunday mornings and afternoons. You’ll find yourself within a mixing bowl of cultures, produce, and personalities. Remember, you’re not the only tourist in this city, so farmers’ markets are a great place to meet people from all around the world.
Sometimes getting out of the hotel or apartment is enough for us to enjoy a vacation. D.C.’s farmers’ markets will make your stroll around the city even better, so make sure you do not miss out on the opportunity.
Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market
Address: 1500 20th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036
Phone: (202) 362-8889
This is the ultimate free thing to do, and D.C. is the perfect city to do it in. While the public transportation system is excellent, there’s nothing like a walk around the city. You’ll find yourself distracted by the city’s beauty and elegance, and then you’ll accidently come across one of the city’s free museums. Take that opportunity to check it out, or you can continue with your walk. You’re bound to run across another free attractions at some point. It’s nearly impossible not to.
Every city has their own free things to do, but D.C. has too many free-viewing national landmarks and free admission museums to even compare. D.C. takes the cake and will continue to do so until the end of time.
A lot of money doesn’t need to be spent to have a great vacation. Getting a hotel in D.C. and then walking around the city is all you need to do. You’ll indulge in so much history, culture, and beauty, and your bank account will remain happy. So, take the trip to D.C. and try every single one of the free things I’ve mentioned here.
Thanks for reading,
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