From viewing majestic monuments to exploring historic buildings to savoring affordable meals, DC‘s collection of free things to do covers a wide variety of activities and neighborhoods.
Take In the New Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
The newest museum on the National Mall features stunning architecture, exhibitions and artifacts that tell the incredible story of the African American experience. Limited-day passes are available online at 6:30 am every day, and walk-up passes (one per person) are available every weekday beginning at 1 pm.
Experience a Free Guided Tour
Put on your walking shoes and take advantage of DC by Foot‘s free-to-join walking tours (gratuity recommended). Your options for a kid-friendly excursion are plentiful, as the company offers guided tours of the National Mall, historic Georgetown, Capitol Hill, Embassy Row, U Street and more.
Visit the Wondrous Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden
The free Smithsonian museum displays riveting modern artworks that include paintings, sculptures, photography and immersive installations.
Marvel at Neo-Classical Architecture at the Library of Congress
Head to the Library of Congress’ Thomas Jefferson Building for a free guided tour, available Monday through Saturday. The building’s Great Hall incorporates neo-classical design elements, from commemorative arches to mosaics. Visit the sixth-floor Madison Café on weekdays for sweeping views of the National Mall.
Behold the Grace of the Largest Basilica in North America
Take a guided tour of the gardens, the sweeping Byzantine-Romanesque interior and art collection of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, one of the ten largest churches in the world. Free tours offered daily.
See the Faces of America at the National Portrait Gallery
Located in the Penn Quarter neighborhood, the National Portrait Gallery displays paintings, photographs and sculptures of people who have defined America, including activists, actors, athletes, presidents and poets. Check out the renovated America’s Presidents gallery and a new exhibit focusing on American workers.
Tour the Monumental U.S. Capitol Building
The U.S. Capitol is one of the world’s most famous buildings. Admire the inside of the dome, visit the Capitol Rotunda and walk through the National Statuary Hall on a free tour. Reserve a date and time online or book a guided tour through the office of your local representative or senator. Same-day passes are also available.
Engage Your Imagination at the National Air and Space Museum
One of the world’s most popular museums, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum is a jaw-dropping tribute to aviation and space exploration. Featuring essential artifacts such as the 1903 Wright Flyer and the Spirit of St. Louis, this National Mall destination is a must-see.
Satisfy Your Appetite at a Farmers’ Market
Check out the city’s largest farmers’ market curated by FRESHFARM, located in Dupont Circle on Sundays. Peruse mid-Atlantic bounty and sample fruit, veggies, meat, cheese, herbs and beers as you meet the makers.
Treat Your Eyes to the Monuments under Moonlight
The beauty of the monuments on the National Mall only increases when the sun goes down. Make time for a fall or winter walk past the white marble tributes to Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. You will have plenty of photo ops to share on Instagram using #MyDCcool
More to see in Washington DC
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