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Free Things to do in DC
50 Free (and almost free) things to do in D.C.
- Pick up the free City Paper every Wednesday for a comprehensive guide to local events (many of which are free!).
- Act like a tourist - check out the Monuments on the National Mall. Free.
- Visit the Capitol of the United States. Free.
- Travel the world on Embassy Row a.k.a. Massachusetts Avenue (adjacent to the UCDC Center!).
- For an aerial view of the city (without the wait at the Washington Monument) visit the Old Post Office Pavilion on Pennsylvania Avenue. Free.
- Get intellectual by attending a book talk at Politics and Prose, a bookstore and coffeehouse in Van Ness. Events are free.
- 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.
- Visit Eastern Market on weekend mornings to browse the work of local artists, explore the flea market and sample local produce.
- 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.
- Visit Union Station for shopping, dining or travel.
- Eat at the famous Ben's Chili Bowl, a Washington Landmark. Under $5.
- Grab a freshly-baked empanada at Julia's Empanadas in Dupont Circle. $4.
- If money doesn't grow on trees...where does it come from? Tour the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to find out. Free.
- Window shop in the waterfront neighborhood of Georgetown. Free
- 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")
- Visit the National Gallery of Art for a combination of classical art, modern art and traveling exhibitions. Free.
- See the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States at the National Archives. Free.
- 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.
- Visit the National Geographic Museum , just a few steps from the Center!
- Check out The Phillips Collection in Dupont Circle, America's first museum of modern art. Admission to the permanent collection is free.
- Head to the National Museum of Women in the Arts on Free Community Sundays (the first Sunday of each month).
- Visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum . Free.
- Explore the artistic merits and cultural importance of the world's textiles at The Textile Museum. Free.
- Learn about health and medicine at the National Museum of Health and Medicine . Free.
- 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.
- Attend the National Theatre's free performance series on Monday evenings and Saturday mornings. Free.
- Take in a free performance at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage every evening at 6 p.m. Free.
- 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.
- Get half-priced, day-of-show or advance sale tickets for the Signature Theatre, the Kennedy Center, the Folger Theatre and more at TICKETPLACE.org or at their booth in person.
- Watch Shakespeare for just $10 at the Shakespeare Theatre Company .
- Defy convention at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company for under $15.
- 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.
- Visit the U.S. Botanic Garden to explore various habitats. Free admission.
- Explore the great outdoors at Rock Creek Park. $3.
- Ride along the historic C&O Canal in a boat pulled by mules in Georgetown. $5.
- Catch a Washington Nationals game. Value Games $10-$15.
- Visit Meridian Hill Park, a 12-acre site situated in northwest Washington, D.C. Free.
- 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.
- Explore 2.5 miles of foot trails on Theodore Roosevelt Island commemorating the 26th President's contributions to the conservation of public lands. Free.
- Tour Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, the last natural marsh in Washington, D.C. Free.
- Escape the concrete jungle at the National Arboretum. Free.
- 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.
- Watch history being made by sitting in on a Supreme Court ruling. Free
- Learn about history beyond the National Mall by walking along Cultural Tourism DC's free self-guided walking trails. Free.
- Take a tour of Frederick Douglass's home at Cedar Hill - $1.50/person.
- Visit the last pre-Revolutionary building standing in Washington, D.C., the Old Stone House, in Georgetown. Free.
- 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.
- Check out Washington, D.C.'s only presidential museum housed in Woodrow Wilson's House . $3.
- Visit the Charles Sumner School , located near the Washington Center (17th and M Streets, NW). The building now houses a museum and archive. Free.
- Catch a play or visit the museum at Ford's Theatre, the site of President Lincoln's assassination. Free.