A Guide to Fun, Free Places to go in the Nations Capital
Washington, D.C. is a well-known tourist destination, but visiting its many nooks and crannies doesn’t have to break the bank.
There are plenty of low-cost, affordable places to check out in the U.S. capital, many of which are some of the most popular and exciting.
Whether you’re visiting from out of town or simply looking for an affordable excursion after many weeks or years of residing in the area, this quick guide will help you find some of the most iconic — and free attractions available.
Check Out These 100% Free DC Attractions!
Located just outside of Washington, D.C., the Glenstone Museum offers landscaping that includes and is inspired by architecture and Post-World War II art. It encompasses more than 100 acres of paths, trails, streams, nature, and indoor and outdoor displays, and an expansion is now open as of October 4th.
Open every day except December 25, the National Arboretum provides beauty no matter the season. Visit the grounds to see plenty of nature, trees, and paths, all of which appear differently based on the time of day and season. Visit during various times of year to watch the seasons change in an artful way.
Boasting free entrance to monuments, museums, and memorials, and under the care of the National Park Service, the National Mall is home to art, cultural, history, and religious museums — including the free-to-enter Smithsonian Institution — and more. It also includes the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Washington Monument, Reflecting Pool, and memorial monuments honoring those who served in various wars. It’s a must-see when in the D.C. area.
4. The National Zoo
Close to Woodley Park neighborhood, open 364 days a year, the National Zoo is always free and includes plenty of animals, plants, shows, and family-friendly exhibits. There are plenty of zoo-related events to take in, too, like animal feedings, scripted shows, after-hours celebrations, and holiday-related displays that change with the seasons.
For the adventurous explorer
If you’re into being outdoors, the 1,754-acre Rock Creek Park in northern D.C. includes 4.4 square miles of biking and hiking trails, a nature center, places to picnic, horseback riding, tennis courts and other athletic opportunities, a picturesque river, and historic sites. It was the third national park designated by the federal government and provides a “peaceful refuge” from the busyness of downtown.
For the modern art enthusiast.
The National Gallery of Art is home to an outdoor sculpture garden filled with works from both well-known and up-and-coming artists. It is “designed to offer year-round enjoyment to the public in one of the preemptive locations on the National Mall.”
For a scenic walk through history
With beautiful views of the Potomac River, Theodore Roosevelt Island can be reached by walking over a footbridge from the George Washington Memorial Parkway. It contains nearly two miles of trails, a 17-foot statue of the former American president and conservationist, and plenty of refuge from the hustle and bustle of the city.
For a fun, educational adventure
Guided tours may cost money, but the U.S. Capitol’s Visitor’s Center is free and offers patrons more information about Congress, the Capitol’s history, and plenty of other government-related information.