Three Free D.C. Attractions Not to Miss
Updated: Aug 4, 2018
Traveling to Washington D.C. is one of the most exciting and educational vacations you can take, but it can also be costly. Hotels, taxis, and restaurants charge big city prices, and trips to the D.C.'s renowned theaters, concert venues, or pro sports arenas can set you back $100 a head and up. But there's plenty you can see in the nation's capital without paying a cent. Here's three of the best:
The Smithsonian Museums
The government-run Smithsonian Institution manages 17 museums and galleries, many of which line the National Mall between the U.S. Capitol and the Washington Monument. No Smithsonian museum charges admissions, and most are open every day but Christmas. Popular choices along the mall include the newly opened African American Museum (no entry fee but timed passes are required), the Air and Space Museum, the American Art Museum, the American Indian Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the American History Museum.
The National Zoo
This landmark in northwest D.C. is also managed by the Smithsonian but deserves a mention of its own. There's no entry fees required, though you do have to pay to park (the zoo is walking distance from either the Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan or Cleveland Park metro stops as an alternative). The zoo covers 163 acres and contains the famous giant pandas, extensive animals houses and exhibits, a petting zoo, and elephant training demonstrations daily.
The U.S. Capitol
The U.S. Capitol Visitor Center on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol is a destination in itself, with numerous exhibits and activities focused on the role of Congress in our democracy and the iconic Capitol building that houses Congress. Free guided tours of the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the Capitol dome are available but must be reserved in advance through your Senators or Representative's office (you can link to those through the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center website). When you contact your members of Congress, you may also request a free pass to go observe either the House or Senate in action and even set up a meeting with your representatives, should you so desire.
A trip to Washington D.C. doesn't have to bust your budget. With a little advanced planning, you can visit many of the city's most popular attractions for free.