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Free Things to do in DC


50 Free (and almost free) things to do in D.C.

Around Town

  1. Pick up the free City Paper every Wednesday for a comprehensive guide to local events (many of which are free!).
  2. Act like a tourist - check out the Monuments on the National Mall. Free.
  3. Visit the Capitol of the United States. Free.
  4. Travel the world on Embassy Row a.k.a. Massachusetts Avenue (adjacent to the UCDC Center!).
  5. For an aerial view of the city (without the wait at the Washington Monument) visit the Old Post Office Pavilion on Pennsylvania Avenue. Free.
  6. Get intellectual by attending a book talk at Politics and Prose, a bookstore and coffeehouse in Van Ness. Events are free.
  7. Stop by Kramer Books & Afterwords Cafe & Grill at Dupont Circle to pick up a new book, grab a meal or hear free live music Wednesday through Saturday nights.
  8. Visit Eastern Market on weekend mornings to browse the work of local artists, explore the flea market and sample local produce.
  9. Take a breath of fresh air while learning about DC neighborhoods on a Washington Walks tour. All tours are just $15 per person, and themes range from Memorials by Moonlight, a nighttime encounter with the National Mall memorials, to The Most Haunted Houses, featuring a look at the Octagon, DC's most ghost-filled residences.
  10. Visit Union Station for shopping, dining or travel.
  11. Eat at the famous Ben's Chili Bowl, a Washington Landmark. Under $5.
  12. Grab a freshly-baked empanada at Julia's Empanadas in Dupont Circle. $4.
  13. If money doesn't grow on trees...where does it come from? Tour the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to find out. Free.
  14. Window shop in the waterfront neighborhood of Georgetown. Free


  1. Visit the Smithsonian Institution, the world's largest museum complex and research organization composed of 19 museums and the National Zoo. Free admission.
    • African American History and Culture
    • African American Art Museum
    • Air and Space Museum
    • Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center
    • American Art Museum
    • American History Museum
    • American Indian Museum
    • Anacostia Community Museum
    • Art & Industries Building
    • Freer Gallery
    • Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
    • National Zoo
    • Natural History Museum
    • Portrait Gallery
    • Postal Museum
    • Renwick Gallery
    • Sackler Gallery
    • Smithsonian Institution Building ("the Castle")
  2. Visit the National Gallery of Art for a combination of classical art, modern art and traveling exhibitions. Free.
  3. See the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States at the National Archives. Free.
  4. Visit the largest library in the world - the Library of Congress. See the Gutenberg Bible and many more important documents in their rotating exhibits. Free.
  5. Visit the National Geographic Museum , just a few steps from the Center!
  6. Check out The Phillips Collection in Dupont Circle, America's first museum of modern art. Admission to the permanent collection is free.
  7. Head to the National Museum of Women in the Arts on Free Community Sundays (the first Sunday of each month).
  8. Visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum . Free.
  9. Explore the artistic merits and cultural importance of the world's textiles at The Textile Museum. Free.
  10. Learn about health and medicine at the National Museum of Health and Medicine . Free.
  11. Visit the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum , the nation's first and only national memorial to colored troops in the Civil War. Free.


  1. Attend the National Theatre's free performance series on Monday evenings and Saturday mornings. Free.
  2. Take in a free performance at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage every evening at 6 p.m. Free.
  3. Head over to George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium , where free shows are sprinkled throughout the performance calendar. The GW Orchestra concerts are all free and open to the public. You might even catch a live performance by the United States Air Force Band’s Jazz Ensemble.
  4. Get half-priced, day-of-show or advance sale tickets for the Signature Theatre, the Kennedy Center, the Folger Theatre and more at or at their booth in person.
  5. Watch Shakespeare for just $10 at the Shakespeare Theatre Company .
  6. Defy convention at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company for under $15.
  7. Listen to free live music at the National Gallery of Art - indoor concerts and jazz in the Sculpture Garden. Also, you can attend free film series every weekend. Free.


  1. Visit the U.S. Botanic Garden to explore various habitats. Free admission.
  2. Explore the great outdoors at Rock Creek Park. $3.
  3. Ride along the historic C&O Canal in a boat pulled by mules in Georgetown. $5.
  4. Catch a Washington Nationals game. Value Games $10-$15.
  5. Visit Meridian Hill Park, a 12-acre site situated in northwest Washington, D.C. Free.
  6. Visit Arlington National Cemetery . Watch the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and visit Robert E. Lee's house. Free.
  7. Explore 2.5 miles of foot trails on Theodore Roosevelt Island commemorating the 26th President's contributions to the conservation of public lands. Free.
  8. Tour Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, the last natural marsh in Washington, D.C. Free.
  9. Escape the concrete jungle at the National Arboretum. Free.


  1. Sit in the lobby of the Willard InterContinental Hotel - the hotel where Julia Ward Howe wrote: "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", where Present Ulysses S. Grant popularized the term "lobbyist" and where Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote his "I Have a Dream" speech. Free.
  2. Watch history being made by sitting in on a Supreme Court ruling. Free
  3. Learn about history beyond the National Mall by walking along Cultural Tourism DC's free self-guided walking trails. Free.
  4. Take a tour of Frederick Douglass's home at Cedar Hill - $1.50/person.
  5. Visit the last pre-Revolutionary building standing in Washington, D.C., the Old Stone House, in Georgetown. Free.
  6. Tour Tudor Place, the estate built for Martha Washington's granddaughter, Martha Custis Peter and her husband, Thomas Peter by the architect responsible for the U.S. Capitol. $3.
  7. Check out Washington, D.C.'s only presidential museum housed in Woodrow Wilson's House . $3.
  8. Visit the Charles Sumner School , located near the Washington Center (17th and M Streets, NW). The building now houses a museum and archive. Free.
  9. Catch a play or visit the museum at Ford's Theatre, the site of President Lincoln's assassination. Free.