Top 12 Free Things to Do in Washington DC
By Dejan B.. Published on May 14, 2017
Washington DC is famous for offering a number of free attractions to see all year-round. There is no admission charge to enter more than 15 museums of the Smithsonian Institution and you can also visit plenty of other sightseeing spots without reaching for your wallet. Take a look at our list of top 12 free attractions and things to do in Washington DC.
The National Gallery of Art
First on our list is the awesome National Gallery of Art. The entrance to the gallery is free and visitors can go on several guided tours and check out the amazing collection of modern sculpture, Italian artwork, and paintings from artists like Picasso and Monet. Some of the signature paintings at the National Gallery of Art include Ginevra de'Benci from Leonardo da Vinci and A Lady Writing a Letter from Johannes Vermeer.
Rock Creek Park
Rock Creek Park is one of the largest parks in the country and has over 25 miles of hiking trails, bicycle paths, several picnic grounds, a tennis center, and an amphitheater. There is also a fantastic planetarium with free star-gazing sessions, as well as a Nature Center that offers nature walks. It's a perfect place to have a picnic or rent a bike and explore the area.
Lincoln Memorial is home to the 19-foot tall marble statue of the former president Abraham Lincoln that was designed by Daniel Chester French. The 16th president led the United States of America through harsh times and many visitors come here to read Lincoln's unforgettable words and view the sculpture from different angles.
One of the must-visit attractions while visiting Washington DC is definitely the famous Kennedy Center. The good news is that the entrance to the center is free and every day from 6 p.m. there are performances on the Millennium Stage. If you wish to unwind with a drink or have a meal, there are three rooftop restaurants that offer spectacular views from the terrace. Keep in mind that it's hard to find free parking spots, especially during live concerts.
The best thing about visiting Washington DC is that the entrance to more than 15 museums is free of charge. I guess you'll have to thank the Smithsonian Institution for this kind gesture. Some of these museums such as Hirshhorn Museum, Air and Space Museum, and American History Museum are on the National Mall.
Located in Capitol Hill neighborhood, Eastern market was built in 1873 and attracts large crowds of visitors daily. It is home to merchants who are selling flowers, meats, pastries, and cheeses. If you decide to visit the Eastern Market on weekends, you will have a chance to see several farmer's stands, art vendors, and people selling furniture. Try to come early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
Perfect for families with children, the National Zoo in Washington DC houses over 400 different species of animals and since this place is part of the Smithsonian Institution, the entrance is free. It is situated within the Rock Creek National Park and features animals such as elephants, gorillas, orangutans, pandas, and many others.
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery is located close to the Memorial Bridge and honors everyone from the military service who was killed in action or served their country for 20 years. You will find the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial here, as well as the gravesite of John F. Kennedy and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. An interesting fact is that Arlington National Cemetery was originally used for burying soldiers from the Union forces in 1861.
There are many people who think that it is impossible to visit the White House as an ordinary American citizen, but that is not quite true. Yes, it takes a couple of weeks and some planning to arrange the visit, but you can send a request to the offices of the members of the Congress and ask for a free tour. Keep in mind that request needs to be made not less than 3 weeks before your trip and not more than six months in advance. The tour will take you to the East Wing with a pit stop in the East Room. It also includes a visit to the Library, State Dining Room, and the China Room.
United States Botanic Garden
Located close to the Capitol building, United States Botanic Garden is home to 4,000 plants from all over the world. There are plants from tropical rainforests and regional plants, as well as several outdoor gardens where you can sit down and relax. Don't forget to check out the amazing orchid collection and the fountain that was designed by Bartholdi.
If you wish to learn how this nation was born and how it grew, make sure to go to the National Archives where you can take a look at the original maps, photos, documents, recordings, and a number of objects. Some of the highlights include the Japanese World War II document of surrender, Louisiana Purchase, and the Watergate tapes. This place also houses the gun that shot John F. Kennedy and one of the Magna Carta original copies.
Unfortunately, there are no guided tours that will take you through the offices of the Supreme Court; however, visitors may view sessions on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. Keep in mind that seating is limited and given on the first-serve basis. You can also explore the first and the ground floor of the building and attend Courtroom Lectures on weekdays.
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