10 Budget-Friendly and Free Activities in Washington D.C.

Cities are often considered expensive to visit, but there are a wide range of low-cost and free activities in Washington D.C.

Here are 10 of our favorites, including arts, history, and nature. Use the list to plan your itinerary the next time you head to D.C., or maybe it will inspire a vacation here!


  1. Meander through a museum – Amazingly, almost all of the Smithsonian’s 19 museums and galleries are free and cover a wide range of topics, from art and culture to history. Not sure which to visit? Start with the full list here.
  2. Monkey around at the National Zoo – The National Zoo is also part of the Smithsonian Institute, which means it’s free, too! It’s home to 400 different species and is a popular destination for kids and grown-ups, too.
  3. Visit memorials – You can easily spend hours visiting D.C.’s many memorials and monuments while learning history and seeing the city. Many are also open at night, which offers a different perspective and great photo-ops. This overview and map will help you plan which to see.
  4. Walk the African American Heritage Trail – Explore some of the 200 sites important to local and national African American history and culture. Learn more here, including a list of sites plus locations where you can pick up a free printed guide.
  5. Catch a performance – The Kennedy Center offers free performances on Millennium Stage every evening at 6 p.m., and you don’t need tickets or reservations. The performances cover a wide range, including dance, theater, jazz, opera, and much more. View the calendar of upcoming events here.
  6. Get classical – From June to October, the National Gallery of Art offers free classical concerts in the West Garden Court on Sundays at 6:30 p.m.
  7. Attend an event – Use Ticketplace to score half-price and discounted tickets to performing arts and theater events throughout the metro D.C. area.
  8. Be judicial – Visit the Supreme Court for informative exhibits, a film, and free 30-minute lectures about the history of the court and building. And on some Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays from October to April, you may be able to listen in to a court session.
  9. Feel presidential – To tour the White House, you need to request tickets from your congressional representative several weeks in advance. But even without tickets, you can enjoy the White House Visitor Center, which has interactive educational exhibits and a gift shop.
  10. Get back to nature – The options for free activities in Washington D.C. include some that are off the beaten path. This includes Theodore Roosevelt Island, which serves as a unique, forested memorial to the nation’s 26th president. It is run by the National Park Service and features miles of wooded trails.


When you’re ready to enjoy all the free activities in Washington D.C., don’t forget that professional car services from DCPath are budget-friendly, too! We can get you to and from the area airports and around town in comfort, convenience, and style at rates that just may surprise you. Get a free instant rate quote to see for yourself!

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