Free Fun in Washington DC

Free Things to do in Washington D.C

Ready to get all googly eyed over the United States’ capital? I recently went on a short getaway to the home of the stars and stripes, and left feeling more patriotic than ever. Here’s how I got the most out of my two days in Washington, DC. Spring is the best time to visit Washington, as the cherry blossoms are in full bloom and the weather is pleasantly cool. Fall comes in as a close second, as it typically isn’t as crowded. I visited during summer and it was extremely hot and full of tourists. Avoid June-August at all costs.

POV rooftop image

While all of the attractions are easily accessible by foot, I recommend getting around the capital on wheels. Capital bikeshare has rental stations situated all around the city, so you can easily rent and return bikes to get around more efficiently. A day pass is just $8. If you’d rather move about the city by car, grab Ubers as opposed to taxis as the rates are usually more reasonable. I didn’t take the bus or metro, but I’ve heard they’re pretty easy to use as well.

Here are some of our favorite free things to do with kids in Washington DC:

Lincoln Memorial

A perfect place to kick off a trip to DC trip is at the Lincoln Memorial. The impressive structure houses the iconic statue of Abraham Lincoln and inscriptions of his most famous speeches. Again, the only thing that could’ve made my visit better is if it was cooler outside. The monuments tend to trap in the heat!

lincoln memorial image

Reflecting Pool & Washington Monument

Of course, the stunning reflecting pool (which is situated right outside of the Lincoln memorial) is not to be missed. In my opinion, this is the best place to view the Washington Monument as opposed to up close. If you look on the right side of the pool in the image below, you’ll see the tree covered path that I biked down to get to the Korean War Veterans Memorial and the WWII Memorial! This was one of the highlights of my day by far.

Korean War Veterans Memorial

Just south of the Reflecting Pool is this awe-inspiring display of soldiers. I was captivated by their unique expressions and the fluidity of their ponchos, which recall the harsh weather conditions they faced.

Korean War Veterans Memorial image

World War II Memorial

As the granddaughter of two WWII vets, a visit to this large memorial was a must. The impressive display, made up of 56 columns, serves to honor the 16 million people who served our country. This is also a great place to view the Lincoln Memorial from a distance.

world war II memorial image

National Zoo

This zoo seriously rocks. From the barnyard friends in the Kids’ Farm to the exotic snakes and birds of the Amazon in the Bird House, the National Zoo is tops for us. We usually pack a lunch and make a day of it. Even if it’s warm, there are more than enough spots to cool off and recharge. The silly prairie dogs, Giant Pandas, and Great Apes and Cats are on our must-see list.

The White House

No trip to DC would be complete without a visit to The White House. I recommend checking out both the front and back entrances, although the best spot for photos is the front entrance as you can get a bit closer.

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National Museum of Natural History

We love this museum because it not only holds a gazillion awesome exhibits (think huge whale, dinosaur bones, Dorothy’s ruby red slippers, and the Hope Diamond), but the Discovery Room for children is incredible. There, children of all ages can examine objects under microscopes and open dozens of drawers at their own eye-level that hold tons of cool artifacts. Kids can also pick up different shells and compare textures, and they can try on costumes from around the world.

National Museum of Natural History

Politics & Prose Bookstore and Coffeehouse

One of the District’s most beloved and popular bookstores, Politics & Prose hosts tons of free events each month. We’ve met some of our favorite authors here, and we often check the site’s calendar to see who will be stopping by next. P & P also hosts one of our favorite storytimes; every Monday at 10:30am, a group of locals gathers to listen to an enthusiastic reading of a favorite children’s book. We learn songs and meet new friends, and I get to enjoy a good cup of java while someone else reads to my kids.

Jefferson Memorial

This remarkable monument resembles the Pantheon in Rome with its massive marble columns. I didn’t have time, but I really wanted to take a little boat ride around the Tidal Basin to view the structure from a distance. You’ll see what I mean when you visit!

Jefferson memorial image

Supreme Court

You better believe I had my Elle Woods moment outside of the U.S. Supreme Court! After I was finished people watching the protestors outside, I took a free walk through the interior of the building and peaked into the roped off court room. Tours are available, but I enjoyed moseying around on my own. The only way to walk the steps is to enter the building and walk down them on your way out, so you might as well go inside.

Georgetown Waterfront

This beautiful section of town is the happening place to grab dinner and drinks. Even if you have to wait for a table, you can enjoy a stroll down the beautiful boardwalk to kill time. I met my friend Ely for “cocktail hour” at the Orange Anchor and had a blast mingling with young professionals.

georgetown waterfront image

The Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage

Every day at 6 pm, the Kennedy Center hosts a free performance on one of the Millennium Stages. No tickets are required, but spots are available on a first-come, first-served basis. From the Kennedy Center Orchestra or the wonderful Imagination Stage performing a play or musical to funky bands or a solo artist, you name it, it’s a possibility on the Millennium Stage. For us, it’s a treat to catch a show here, and who can beat the price?

United States Botanic Garden

We’ved loved each and every trip we’ve taken to the Botanic Gardens, and especially look forward to the holiday train exhibit. This awesome conservatory is entirely free and has rotating shows, festivals, and lectures. Every time we go, we leave feeling totally refreshed. There is plenty of room for little feet (and strollers) to move, and we always learn something new. There are even free programs for preschoolers each season; little ones can learn about a specific plant and listen to a story, do an activity, or take a walk through the gardens.

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