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50+ Free Things To Do In Washington, DC (2022 Update!)

Museums, parks & churches are some of the free things to do in Washington, DC. Check out this list of over 50 things to do, with addresses, hours, and more listed to help you plan your DC trip.

For more inspiration for your next adventure, check out all our travel posts.

The Washington Monument and an American flag in Washington, DC with the words "50+ Free Things To Do In Washington, DC" digitally written above them.

A couple years ago, Pete and I went to Washington, DC for his Spring Break. I hadn’t been there in years, so when I was putting together our itinerary, we wanted to see everything. That could get expensive. But not in DC. There are so many free things to do in Washington, DC.

We kept joking about how it’s our tax dollars at work.

But really, that’s great if you’re on vacation. You do have to pay for your room and transportation, but once you get to our nation’s capital, you don’t have to open your wallet too much.

So you can enjoy so much for so little. That’s a great vacation if you ask me.

Four images of Washington DC - the White House, the Korean War memorial, a bowl of soup, and the Lincoln Memorial - with the words "24 Hours In Washington, DC" digitally written between them.

This post is filled with all the free things to do in DC, but not all the things to do there.

If you’re planning a trip, our 24 Hours In Washington, DC post can help you choose the perfect itinerary. There are hotel and restaurant recommendations and more.

Free Things To Do In Washington, DC

This list is filled with our favorite free things, ones we saw and ones we didn’t have a chance to see. It’s as comprehensive as we could have made it, and everything is free at the time of this posting (of course, that’s all subject to change).

We didn’t have a specific order for these, and I wasn’t sure how to group them together, so the list is just alphabetical.

Be sure to confirm any local ordinances or travel advisories before you go based on the ever-changing state of the world.

African American Civil War Memorial Museum

The African American Civil War Memorial Museum honors the service of African-American soldiers (plus white and Hispanic soldiers) and unsegregated Navy sailors who fought for the Union in the American Civil War, primarily in the United States Colored Troops (USCT).

Address: 1925 Vermont Ave NW
Phone: (202) 667-2667
Hours: Monday to Saturday: 11 am to 4 pm; Closed Sunday.

Anacostia Community Museum

Anacostia Community Museum began as an offshoot of the Smithsonian as an attempt to get residents near the Anacostia area into the Smithsonian. Keeping with that, its exhibitions reflected the community of Anacostia and examines, documents, and interprets how historical and contemporary social issues impact urban communities.

Address: 1901 Fort Pl SE
Phone: (202) 633-4820
Hours: Daily: Tuesday to Saturday: 11 am to 4 pm; Closed Sunday and Monday.

Art Museum of the Americas

The Art Museum of the Americas exhibits modern and contemporary works of art from Latin America and the Caribbean.

Address: 201 18th St NW
Phone: (202) 370-0147
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday: 10am to 5pm; Closed Monday.

Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, also referred to as the National Museum of Asian Art, is an art gallery that focuses on Asian art.

Address: 1050 Independence Ave SW
Phone: (202) 633-1000
Hours: Thursday to Sunday: 10 am to 5:30 pm

Bureau of Engraving and Printing

Free 40-minute tours are given at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing where you learn about U.S. paper currency.

Currently, due to the demand for printing currency, tours are unavailable. When they return, the BEP will update its website and we will update this post.

Address: 14th and C Streets, SW
Phone (for tours): 1-866-874-2330 (toll-free); 202-874-2330 (local)
Hours: Monday through Friday, hours vary.

Congressional Cemetery

The 35 acre Congressional Cemetery is a historic yet active burial ground.

Address: 1801 E St SE
Phone: (202) 543-0539
Hours: Daily: 8 am to 8 pm

DAR Museum

The DAR Museum is an art and history museum run by the Daughters of the American Revolution (who, side note, gave me a scholarship for college when I won an essay contest).

It has has 31 period rooms and two galleries with furnishings, paintings, textiles, and more.

Address: 1776 D St NW
Phone: (202) 879-3241
Hours: Monday through Friday: 8:30 am to 4 pm; Saturday: 9 am to 5 pm

Dumbarton Oaks Museum

Once a private residence, the Dumbarton Oaks Museum is now a garden and museum that’s open to the public.

Address: 1703 32nd St NW
Phone: (202) 339-6401
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday: 2 pm to 5 pm

FDR Memorial

The FDR Memorial is a national memorial with four outdoor “rooms” to symbolize FDR’s historic four terms, plus waterfalls and fountains.

Address: 1850 West Basin Dr SW
Phone: (202) 426-6841
Hours: Open 24 Hours.

Ford’s Theater

Ford’s Theater is famous for being the location of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.

A limited number of free tickets are given out daily; advanced purchased tickets incur a fee.

Address: 511 10th St NW
Phone: (202) 347-4833
Hours: Daily: Wednesday to Monday: 8:30 am to 5 pm; Closed Tuesday.

Frederick Douglass House

You can tour the house that Frederick Douglass lived in from 1877 until he passed away in 1895.

Address: 1411 W St SE
Phone: (202) 426-5961
Hours: Daily: Friday and Saturday: 9 am to 4:30 pm

Freer Gallery of Art

The Freer Gallery of Art is a museum that showcases Asian art including objects dating from Neolithic times to the early 20th century.

Address: Jefferson Drive and 12th Street, SW
Phone:  (202) 633-1000
Hours: Thursday to Sunday: 10 am to 5:30 pm; Closed Monday to Wednesday.

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden features international modern and contemporary art.

Address: Independence Ave SW & 7th St SW
Phone: (202) 633-1000
Hours: Daily: 10am to 5:30pm.

Historical Society of Washington, DC

The Historical Society of Washington, DC is a museum that focuses on preserving and promoting the history of Washington, DC.

Address: 801 K St NW
Phone: (202) 516-1363
Hours: Thursday and Friday: 2 pm to 7 pm; Saturday: 12 pm to 6 pm; Closed Sunday to Wednesday.

Jefferson Memorial

The Jefferson Memorial, its iconic rotunda with a bronze Jefferson inside (which was added later), sits on the shore of the Tidal Basin.

Address: 16 E Basin Dr SW
Phone: (202) 426-6841
Hours: Open 24 Hours

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Though you do have to pay for many of the performances at the Kennedy Center, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (which is its official name) hosts a daily free performance as part of its “Performing Arts for Everyone” initiative at 6pm.

Tickets are not required, but seating is limited.

Address: 2700 F St NW
Phone: (202) 467-4600
Hours: Varies

Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens

The Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens are a 700-acre park containing water gardens, a marsh, ball fields, and recreational facilities.

Address: 1550 Anacostia Ave NE
Phone: (202) 692-6080
Hours: Daily: 8 am to 4 pm

There are so many free things to do in Washington, DC. Check out this list of 50+ free things to do in this post from www.drugstoredivas.net.

Korean War Veterans Memorial

The Korean War Veterans Memorial is my favorite memorial in all of Washington, DC because it honors the Korean War veterans. And that’s the war my grandpa was stationed in Japan during … which is when he met my grandma.

Address: 900 Ohio Dr SW
Phone: (202) 426-6841
Hours: Open 24 Hours.

Library of Congress

The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world and officially serves the United States Congress.

Address: 101 Independence Ave SE
Phone: (202) 707-5000
Hours: Daily: 8:30 am to 5 pm

There are so many free things to do in Washington, DC. Check out this list of 50+ free things to do in this post from www.drugstoredivas.net.

Lincoln Memorial

The iconic Lincoln Memorial and it’s long, steep steps honor the 16th president of the United States.

Address: 2 Lincoln Memorial Cir NW
Phone: (202) 426-6841
Hours: Open 24 Hours.

Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool

Located in front of the Lincoln Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool is the largest reflecting pool in the city.

Address: 2 Lincoln Memorial Cir NW
Phone: (202) 426-6841
Hours: Open 24 Hours

There are so many free things to do in Washington, DC. Check out this list of 50+ free things to do in this post from www.drugstoredivas.net.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

The 4-acre Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial was the first to honor a man of color and only the fourth to honor a non-president.

Address: 1964 Independence Ave SW
Phone: (202) 426-6841
Hours: Open 24 Hours.

National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution

The National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution covers everything about the history of flight, from planes to spaceships (and, during renovations: Star Trek).

It is currently closed until March 3, 2022. The National Air and Space Museum’s building on the National Mall will temporarily close on March 28, 2022 until fall 2022 for renovations.

Address: 600 Independence Ave SW
Phone: (202) 633-2214
Hours: Daily: 10am to 5:30pm.

National Arboretum

The over 400-acre National Arboretum, operated by the USDA, is a garden, park, and research institution.

Address: 3501 New York Ave NE
Phone: (202) 245-2726
Hours: Daily: 8 am to 5 pm

National Archives Museum

The National Archives Museum is home to the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights.

Address: 701 Constitution Ave NW
Phone: (202) 357-5000
Hours: Daily: 10 am to 5:30 pm

National Gallery of Art

The National Gallery of Art museum is supported via a private-public partnership and, despite most thinking the contrary, it is not part of the Smithsonian museums.

Address: Constitution Ave NW
Phone: (202) 737-4215
Hours: Daily: 10 am to 5 pm

National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

Adjacent to the National Gallery of Art, the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden is home to an outdoor skating rink and outdoor sculptures.

Address: Constitution Ave NW & 7th Street
Phone: (202) 289-3360
Hours: Daily: 10 am to 5 pm

National Mall

The National Mall is not a shopping mall, but rather, a grassy area that houses the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. The U.S. Capitol, White House, and Smithsonian museums are at its corners.

Address: Washington, DC
Phone: (202) 426-6841
Hours: Open 24 Hours.

National Museum of African American History and Culture

The National Museum of African American History and Culture, which focuses on documenting African American life, history and culture, does allow requests for timed-entry passes up to three months in advance.

The rest of the ticket policy is overly complicated, so you’re best to read about it here before you go.

Address: 1400 Constitution Ave NW
Phone: (844) 750-3012
Hours: Wednesday to Monday: 10 am to 5:30 pm; Closed Tuesday.

National Museum of African Art

The National Museum of African Art is dedicated to the collection, exhibition, conservation, and study of the arts of Africa.

Address: 950 Independence Ave SW
Phone: (202) 633-4600
Hours: Daily: Saturday and Sunday: 10 am to 5:30 pm; Closed Monday through Friday.

National Museum of American History

The National Museum of American History collects, preserves, and displays the heritage of the United States, focusing on social, political, cultural, scientific, and military history. The highlight? The Star Spangled Banner.

Address: 1300 Constitution Ave NW
Phone: (202) 633-1000
Hours: Daily: Friday to Tuesday: 10 am to 5:30 pm; Closed Wednesday and Thursday.

National Museum of the American Indian

The National Museum of the American Indian is focused on the knowledge and understanding of indigenous peoples of the Americas.

It has a second location in New York City and a third in Maryland.

Address: 4th St SW
Phone: (202) 633-1000
Hours: Daily: Thursday to Sunday: 10am to 5:30pm; Closed Monday to Wednesday.

National Museum of Natural History

The National Museum of Natural History is focused on understanding the natural world, from the beginning of the planet. It’s currently the largest natural history museum in the world.

Address: 10th St. & Constitution Ave. NW
Phone: (202) 633-1000
Hours: Daily: Wednesday to Sunday: 10am to 5:30pm’ Closed Monday and Tuesday.

National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery‘s collections focus on photographs of famous Americans. As far as I know, Pete and I aren’t in there … yet.

Address: 8th St NW & F St NW
Phone: (202) 633-8300
Hours: Daily: Wednesday to Saturday: 11:30 am to 7 pm; Closed Sunday to Tuesday.

National Postal Museum

The National Postal Museum is, as the name implies, a museum dedicated to preserving the country’s postal history.

It is temporarily closed, until further notice. When it reopens, the website will be updated and we will update this.

Address: 2 Massachusetts Ave NE
Phone: (202) 633-5555
Hours: Temporarily closed.

There are so many free things to do in Washington, DC. Check out this list of 50+ free things to do in this post from www.drugstoredivas.net.

National Zoological Park

Commonly known as the National Zoo, the National Zoological Park is home to over 2,000 different animals and is one of the oldest zoos in the country.

Address: 3001 Connecticut Ave NW
Phone: (202) 633-4888
Hours: Daily: Friday to Tuesday: 8 am to 3 pm; Closed Wednesday and Thursday.

Naval Heritage Center

The Naval Heritage Center honors the American Sailor, past, present and future, including all men and women of the Sea Services.

Address: 701 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Phone: (202) 380-0710
Hours: Daily: 9:30 am to 5:30 pm

Renwick Gallery

The Renwick Gallery is a branch of the Smithsonian American Art Museum featuring contemporary craft and decorative arts.

Address: 1661 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Phone: (202) 633-7970
Hours: Wednesday to Sunday: 10 am to 5:30 pm; Closed Monday and Tuesday.

Smithsonian American Art Museum

The Smithsonian American Art Museum contains art collections, made in the United States, from the colonial period to the present.

Address: F St NW & 8th St NW
Phone: (202) 633-1000
Hours: Thursday to Sunday: 11:30 am to 7 pm; Closed Monday to Wednesday.

Smithsonian Institution Building (The Castle)

The Smithsonian Institution Building, known as The Castle, is home to the Smithsonian’s offices. There, you can see highlights from each Smithsonian museum, tour the Castle’s 19th-century architecture, and more.

Address: 1000 Jefferson Dr SW
Phone: (202) 633-1000
Hours: Daily: 8:30 am to 5:30 pm

Supreme Court Building

The public is able to see the courtroom, plus portions of the first and ground floors of the Supreme Court Building. All tours are self-guided, though.

Right now, though, all public lectures and visitor programs are temporarily suspended. That includes tours. It is open for official business though.

Address: 1 First Street NE
Phone: (202) 479-3000
Hours: Temporarily closed.

There are so many free things to do in Washington, DC. Check out this list of 50+ free things to do in this post from www.drugstoredivas.net.

Tidal Basin

The 106-acre Tidal Basin park, which is a partially man-made reservoir, is the main focal point of the National Cherry Blossom Festival held each spring.

Hours: Open 24 Hours

There are so many free things to do in Washington, DC. Check out this list of 50+ free things to do in this post from www.drugstoredivas.net.

Ulysses S. Grant Memorial

The Ulysses S. Grant Memorial depicts the two-term president on a horse, making it the largest equestrian monument in the United States.

Address: Base of Capitol Hill
Hours: Daily: 10 am to 1 pm, then 2 pm to 5 pm

United States Botanic Garden

The United States Botanic Garden, which is one of the oldest in the country, is filled with orchids, a conservatory, a desert room, and more. It was opened in 1820.

All of the outdoor gardens (Bartholdi Park, the Terrace Gardens, and the gated outdoor gardens also know as the “National Garden”) are open. are currently open, however the Conservatory and public restrooms remain closed.

Address: 100 Maryland Ave SW
Phone: (202) 225-8333
Hours: Daily: 7:30 am to 5 pm

United States Capitol Visitor Center

The United States Capitol Visitor Center is the access point for entrance to the Capitol building, which offers free public guarded tours.

Right now, the Capitol Visitor Center remains closed unless you have a scheduled tour. Visit the Virtual Capitol Tour page to reserve a tour.

Address: First St NE
Phone: (202) 226-8000
Hours: Monday to Saturday: 8:30am to 4:30pm.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is the country’s official memorial to the Holocaust.

Address: 100 Raoul Wallenberg Pl SW
Phone: (202) 488-0400
Hours: Thursday to Tuesday: 10 am to 5:30pm

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

There are three sections of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial: the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, and the Three Servicemen Memorial.

Address: 5 Henry Bacon Dr NW
Phone: (202) 426-6841
Hours: Open 24 Hours

Washington Monument

The Washington Monument monument is an obelisk (I learned that word recently, so I want to teach it to everyone now). You can see it from afar, but it’s currently closed to visitors to repair the elevator and update security.

Address: 2 15th St NW
Phone: (202) 426-6841
Hours: Daily: 9 am to 10 pm

There are so many free things to do in Washington, DC. Check out this list of 50+ free things to do in this post from www.drugstoredivas.net.

Washington National Cathedral

The Washington National Cathedral, which is a practicing Episcopal Church, holds daily and Sunday masses (which I attended and are great). You can also tour it on your own or during a guided tour without staying for a full mass.

Address: 3101 Wisconsin Ave NW
Phone: (202) 537-6200
Hours: Monday through Friday: 10am to 5:30pm; Saturday: 10am to 4pm; Sunday: 8am to 4pm.

There are so many free things to do in Washington, DC. Check out this list of 50+ free things to do in this post from www.drugstoredivas.net.

White House Garden Tours

The free, self-guided White House Garden Tours last about 30 minutes and are only available twice a year. Click that link for more information.

You can tour the White House, by request, every day.

Address: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Hours: Varies

There are so many free things to do in Washington, DC. Check out this list of 50+ free things to do in this post from www.drugstoredivas.net.

World War II Memorial

The stone architecture and bronze sculptures of the World War II Memorial, which surround fountains, honor the 16 million people who served in the U.S. armed forces during the war (including my dad’s dad!).

Address: 1750 Independence Ave SW
Phone: (202) 426-6841
Hours: Open 24 Hours.

What is there to do in DC?

If you’re looking for more to do in Washington, DC, be sure to check out the guide below to help you book tours, attractions, and more. (We may make a small commission if you book anything.)

Which of these free things to do in Washington, DC is on your list? Be sure to let us know in the comments.

kristie

Monday 23rd of September 2019

I’ve never been to Washington, DC but I would love to go. I’m especially interested in the Holocast Museum. I love it that you’re continuing to use your writing gifts. First you won an essay scholarship for college-now you’re blogging! #littlecottagekinkparty

Roseann Hampton

Sunday 22nd of September 2019

I haven't been to Washington DC since I was a kid. Would like to go back with my husband one day soon so I'm pinning this great list! Thanks for sharing with us at The Blogger's Pit Stop!

Mother of 3

Sunday 22nd of September 2019

I have been wanting to take my boys to DC for years now; it sure does sound like such a fun city to visit! Thanks so much for sharing with us at Encouraging Hearts and Home. Pinned.

[email protected]

Friday 20th of September 2019

I didn't realize that so many of these museums were free. I'm going to DC in February, can't wait #happynow

alice

Friday 20th of September 2019

wow , what a great list of resources that I am pinning for when I do get to visit Washington DC in the future. Thanks for sharing these.