DC is full of free and interesting things to do! I’ve lived in DC for four years now and am continuing to be surprised by the number of things there are to do without spending a dime. With so much culture, history, and sightseeing it’s hard to run out of free things to do. I’m a teacher on a budget so I am always on the look out for free things to do and love finding the coolest things DC has to offer.. Here are my top 10 free things to do in DC.

Go To Smithsonian

All the Smithsonians in DC are free! You basically can’t run out of museums on your visit. There are over 20 free Smithsonian museums so you can get more than your fill or art and history while here. My favorites are the Air and Space, American History, African American History Museum, and American Art Museum. For a smaller museum I recommend the Renwick Gallery.

Visit the Monuments on the National Mall

This is definitely something you have to do while in DC and totally free! There are many monuments all along the national mall within walking distance of each other and most of the Smithsonian museums. My favorites are the Washington monument, Lincoln Memorial, and Martin Luther King Jr. memorial. By the way, the National Mall isn’t actually a mall – it’s a national park!

United States Capitol

You can get a free tour of the Capitol if you book in advance! Even if you aren’t able to book in advance, you can go into the lower level behind the Capitol and visit the museum. Definitely a must when in DC! Want to see a senate vote? Contact your senator or house representative for tickets.

Library of Congress

This is one of my favorite spots in all of DC! I love it because of the beautiful and colorful details throughout the building. One of the coolest things to do when visiting is to get a library card that gives you access to Jefferson’s reading room which is gorgeous. The library card is free and the whole process took us less than 30 minutes.

National Archives

The National Archives are where you will find the Declaration of Independence and other important early US documents. Try going early before the crowds or mid day while most people are taking a lunch break for a shorter line.

National Arboretum

The national Arboretum is one of my favorite spots in all of DC.It is huge and full of many different gardens you can visit year round. One of the most famous is the bonsai tree garden which includes trees that are hundreds of years old. The flowers and gardens are a great spot to escape the big city feel and learn about the different plants that live all over the world. Plus, the original columns for the Capitol are located in the Arboretum and make for a great photo op!

National Zoo

The National Zoo is a perfect place to visit. Where else can you see adorable pandas for free? It’s one of the only zoos in the US with Pandas and is free and open to the public. It is a large zoo where you can easily spend an entire afternoon.

White House

The White House is under more and more security, but you can still book a free tour by contacting your congressmen. Non-US citizens can contact their embassy for a tour. Even without a tour, you can walk the gardens behind the White House and stand out in front to enjoy the view!

Rock Creek Park

This park is famous not only because it is beautiful and runs right through DC, but also for it’s history. You can take a walk through the park and go to Pierce Mill. A historical water powered mill built in the early 1800s. Rock Creek Park is now a national park and beautiful to visit, especially in the fall!

John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts

Some of the best musicians have played in the Kennedy Center and these shows are not cheap! But, every night at six pm, a free show is put on in the atrium of the Kennedy Center. You don’t need advanced tickets, but you can look up the schedule of free performances happening at the Millenial Stage each night to plan ahead. Plus, there is a gorgeous view of Georgetown and the Potomac River from the balcony.

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