Like most of the cities in the USA, Washington DC can also be expensive. However, there are various free things to do in Wahington DC. There are a lot of free activities that you can take part in, and there are museums as well, which you can visit for free.

So, if you have plans to visit Washington, DC, you should know about the free things to do in Washington DC, as well. Accommodation is a little pricey in the city, but you can easily manage it and balance it if you plan it properly. 

Best free things to do in Washington DC 

Washington, DC is a place that attracts many tourists, and people come to the place all through the year. The city has people from all over the world, and there are plenty of things that you can do here and see here. There are some incredible bars, world-class restaurants, and natural attractions. 

But what people mostly look for are the free things to do in Washington DC. Let’s see some of the best free things that you can see and do here. 

The supreme court 

Needless to say, the Supreme Court is the highest court in the land. The court sessions are also available to the public but on a first-come, first-serve basis. So, you have to stand in the line before the court session starts. It starts at 10 am and 11 am and takes place in two-week intervals on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays from October to April. 


There are also 30-minute lectures in the hall for free, which explain the functionality of the court. Guided tours are not available here, but if you wish, you can take advantage of the lecture, the special exhibitions, and the visitor film. 

Address: First Street NE, Washington DC, DC 20003 

Review: “This is a fantastic building to see. You can visit the court when it’s open. I am not sure if you can go in when a case is being heard, but it’s a very powerful place to see. You can peek inside of the courtroom, and they also give court lectures to people. When court isn’t in session, you can still see lots of busts and paintings of former justices. The building is massive and I recommend people check it out!” 

Capitol building 

This is the place where the U.S. Congress meets to discuss their work. The Capitol offers tourists free tours throughout the day. If you miss one tour, you can catch the next one in ten minutes. 

If you wish, you can reserve a place on the tour online for free in advance. You can get to the spot early and get a same-day pass as well. They are available from 8:30 am and are given on a first-come, first-serve basis.  

You can also book the tour in advance from a member of Congress or your local senator. 

Address: East Capitol St NE & First St SE, Washington DC, DC 20004 

Review: “The tour of the Capitol Building was unlike any that I’ve done before. To think elected officials are able to move freely throughout this space while discussing the next steps for our country is awe inspiring and puts my office space to shame. The tour guides are engaging and informative and the art/statues are breath taking! Highly recommend embarking on this tour when in the area!” 

Smithsonian museums 

The Smithsonian Institution is basically a group of galleries, museums, and research centers that the US government mainly administers. It was founded back in 1846, and all the museums are free to visit. But popular ones like the National Zoo, the African American Museum, and the Space Museum require you to book time slots in advance. 


Address: 1000 Jefferson Dr. SW, Washington DC, DC 20560-0008 

Review: “This is easily the most striking building in the Smithsonian complex. To avoid disappointment, it’s good to know going in that this is not specifically another museum, but rather more administrative in function, so there’s not as much to see inside. If you’re more interested in the curating side of museums than the displays themselves, this may be more your speed than mine.” 

Visit the National Zoo 

The zoo was opened back in 1889, and it is spread across 160 acres of land. It is home to more than 1,800 animals. Pandas, lemurs, reptiles, great apes, elephants, and many other species are residents here.  

This zoo was the first of its kind and had a scientific research program in it. If you are traveling with family and kids, this is a spot that you cannot miss. This is also one of the free things to do in Washington DC, so enjoy your day here free of cost. 

Address: 3001 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington DC, DC 20008-2537 

Review: “This is a good zoo, but in general not really any better than any other zoo. It seemed like there were a lot of animals that are at most zoos that are missing at this one, but I am cutting them some slack on that because they have pandas. They also have a nice reptile house and indoor section of small mammals and several gift shops. The best part is that admission is free.” 

Take a tour of the White House 

The White House is among the most iconic buildings the world has ever seen. It was built back in 1972, but most of the building got burned down in 1812 by the British during the war. Before that, the building was not actually white.  


However, arranging a tour here can be tedious, and you might have to book it weeks before your visit; the place is fun and provides an educational experience. Tours here are self-guided, and you can stay inside for an approx of 45 minutes. 

Try not to bring a lot of items with you, as there is a long list of items that are prohibited inside the building. There is no place where you can keep your stuff and enter the building, so if you get something that you cannot take with you, they will send you back. 

Address: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington DC, DC 20500 

Review: “The favorite part was having a driver take us around to see the sites. I found that the listed tour companies were not so responsive, but having a private tour and driver is always a much better bet. This can be arranged even by hiring a cab driver if necessary.” 

Visit the Library of Congress 

The Library of Congress is the largest in the world. There are over 16 million books in this library and over 120 million other media and historical items. It was established in the 1800s, and more than 3,000 staff helped the place run successfully. 

It also has the U.S. copyright office inside the building, along with the research center for the U.S. Congress. If you are a bookworm, you can never miss this place. Taking a tour of the library is another free thing to do in Washington DC. 

The library does not offer guided tours, but there is always something going on inside the library. The library stays open late every Thursday for Live! This is actually happy hour in the Great Hall. There are also film screenings, daily lectures, and different performances that happen here. 

Address: 101 Independence Ave SE, Washington DC, DC 20540 

Review: “This was my first visit to the LoC, and I don’t have the adjectives to describe how incredible this experience was for a bibliophile with an interest in history. Not only is the display of tomes and miles of stacks breathtaking. The other details of the library such as the mosaics and statues, left me in awe of the craftsmanship and attention that went into building this space.” 

Visit the Lincoln Museum 

If you do not visit the Lincoln Museum, you miss something beautiful. The building is known for its beauty and has an amazing view of the Capitol building along with the view of the reflection pool. 


It was dedicated back in 1922, and it looks like the ancient Greek temples. It has a 19-foot-tall and 175-ton heavy statue of Honest Abe that is set in the center. His famous two speeches, the Gettysburg Address, and the second inaugural address, are inscribed around the memorial walls. 

Address: 2 Lincoln Memorial Cir NW, Washington DC, DC 20002 

Review: “Everything was wonderful about walking from the monument to the Veterans Memorial, along the Reflection Pool to the Lincoln Memorial, which all seemed out of reach distance wise, but it was worth the walk. The real exercise came when walking up the memorial steps…there are a lot of them, but once inside the memorial, the Lincoln Statue feels and is larger than life, and the view out toward the capitol is really something to see. I didn’t expect to enjoy this part of the trip, but I truly found it remarkable.” 

The National Gallery of Art is one of the largest museums of art in North America, and it is also one of the free things to do in Washington DC. it has an incredibly large collection of art pieces, including Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, and Leonardo da Vinci. 

The East Building consists of the gallery’s contemporary and modern art, whereas the West Building has old artwork like the classic American and European art pieces. You will come across students across the entire building painting something. 

Address: Constitution Ave NW 6th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, Washington DC, DC 20002 

Review: “I can’t say enough about how wonderful this museum is. We arrived around 10 am on a Thursday in January, and it wasn’t busy. The cafe was peaceful, with an upscale vibe and nice surroundings. I had avocado toast that was excellent and husband had a cranberry muffin that he said was good. Interesting menu – there was also Chicken Curry Toast that I might have tried had I been dining there for lunch.” 

Chill by the Tidal Basin 

You will find a lot of major memorials around the Tidal Basin. This is a man-made reservoir spread across 170 acres of land and stretches across two miles. It is also one of the popular spots for watching cherry blossoms. 


This place is home to over 4,000 cherry trees, and the first ones were planted in 1912. It was a gift from Japan to the United States. It was given as a symbol of friendship between the two nations. 

Address: E Basin Drive NW Ohio Drive NW, Washington DC, DC 20003 

Review: “The Tidal Basin is a body of water in Washington DC that is surrounded by beautiful cherry blossom trees. The cherry blossom season typically occurs in the springtime and is a spectacular display of nature’s beauty. Visiting the Tidal Basin during cherry blossom season is a must-see experience. The trees are in full bloom with delicate pink and white petals, creating a stunning contrast against the blue sky and water of the Tidal Basin. “ 

Take a tour of the National Archives Museum 

The National Archives Museum is home to the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution. It also has one piece of Magna Carta, one of the few pieces that are left in the world. 

If you are a history buff, this is a place you should never miss. It is one of the free things to do in Washington DC, and you should definitely not miss it. It is also a good spot if you are visiting with kids. 

Address: 700 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington DC, DC 20408-0001 

Review: “Wish they would make lines in the Rotunda. As it stands, you are free to move between the Founding Documents, which leads to some chaos. Although overlooked, the Magna Carta is truly a special document and laid the foundation for our Constitution. Highly recommend a visit here if only just one time. Free and open to the public. Or go online for $1 per person for a timed entry pass. The line to get in is easily 20+ minutes every time I go so pay the couple of dollars and head to the front. You can’t photograph the documents but I included one from the gift shop.” 

Wrapping up! 

There are a lot of other places in Washington, DC, to visit, but those are not free of cost. And anyway, it is not a cheap place to visit. So, looking for some places or free things to do in Washington DC is beneficial if you want to balance the cost of the trip. 


Subhasree Nag

Subhasree is a content writer who is passionate about traveling, writing, and reading books. In her leisure time, she is seen listening to music and watching web series. Writing along with music and dance are ways in which she expresses herself.

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