If you’re headed for the American capital you will be stunned how much there is to do around this city that is free. The place is packed with monument, memorials, statues and parks to explore, as long as the weather is good. Here is our list of free (or almost free) things to see and do in Washington DC.
History & Heritage
Lincoln Memorial – this spot is a must and one of the most popular photo spots in the city.
National Archives – avoid the queues and crowds to see the original Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights at the National Archives by arriving at opening or just before closing.
Library of Congress – check out the re-creation of Thomas Jefferson’s library here, it’s pretty incredible! The library also hosts concerts, lectures and exhibits to check out.
National Portrait Gallery – this museum houses the nation’s only complete collection of presidential portraits outside the White House. How many can you name?
Bureau of Engraving – this is one of the city’s more unusual museums which shows visitors how American paper money is printed, stacked and cut. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing also makes White House invitations, ID cars and other special documents.
Art & Culture
The Philips Collection – visit the very first museum of modern art in the U.S. for free Tuesday-Friday every week.
Lunder Conservation Center – if you’ve ever wondered how the specialists preserve and restore works of art, now is your chance. This is the first art conservation centre to allow the public to see every step of the process through floor-to-ceiling windows.
If you’re wandering around Georgetown’s charming cobblestone streets, don’t miss the Old Stone House. It is a National Park Service site and is Washington DC’s last pre-Revolutionary building that is still standing on its original foundation.
Fancy taking in a play? The Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company offers “pay-what-you-can” seats on Mondays and Tuesdays. Tickets are sold (two per person max.) at the theatre 90 minutes before showtime. Check their website for more details.
National Geographic Museum – this museum isn’t free but it will only set you back $8 which is a fair price to pay for thrilling exhibits on international cultures and natural wonders.
There are 13 galleries in Dupont Circle which are free to enter on the first Friday of every month, including the Textile Museum, the Philips Collection, Jane Haslem Gallery, Foundry Gallery, among others.
Parks and outdoor spaces
Washington DC is a very green city, it’s one of the firth things you’ll notice. For a sightseeing jog, start at the Grant Memorial just in front of the U.S. Capitol and then jog the two-mile stretch to the Lincoln Memorial. You’ll pass the Washington Memorial and the WWII Memorial along the way.
National Mall – this is a great place to play frisbee on a sunny day!
National Zoo – as part of the Smithsonian Institution the zoo charges no admission fees and is home to some amazing animals.
Know any more museums and places that are free to visit in Washington DC? Share them with us below!
Like to travel for free? We’ve created dozens of free city guides on the Traveller’s Blog from Venice to Vancouver, Paris to Hong Kong.