Nothing can ruin a vacation faster than realizing you will be sitting in your hotel room most of the time because everything is sooo expensive. Washington DC is our nation’s capitol which undoubtedly makes it a huge tourist attraction. Unfortunately for us, the more touristy a place is, the more expensive it will be. While DC is super expensive, lucky for us, the city is full of free attractions.
Free activities are one of the key ingredients of a budget friendly trip. You are going to have to spend money on hotels and food, which can get pretty expensive.
It is often difficult to find a decent hotel at a lower price in DC and if you are looking for a suggestion, the Omni Shorham is a great option!
You can always expect a first class hotel from Omni!
Another great option is to look for a Marriott. They are one of our favorite brands and offer options with all price points.
Moving on to free attractions. Washington D.C. has so very many. Here are some of the best:
1. Smithsonian Museums
Collectively called the Smithsonian Institution, it consists of 17 museums, galleries, and a zoo. And they are all free for you to enjoy!
2. Visit Memorials and Monuments
Some of the best ones to visit include:
- The Washington Monument
- The Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial
- The Thomas Jefferson Memorial
- The Lincoln Memorial
- The Korean War Memorial
- The Vietnam Veterans Memorial
- World War II Memorial
3. Watch the Changing of the Guards at Arlington National Cemetery
It happens daily. When the ceremony is over be sure to spend some time exploring the cemetery and you can even visit the grave site of JFK.
4. Tour Ford’s Theatre
National Park Rangers provide free tours of the theatre and the museum housed underground which explores the events leading up to the assassination of Lincoln.
5. Visit the Holocaust Museum
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in DC is the United States’ official memorial for the Holocaust. It is a chilling experience like no other. I will admit this museum is extremely difficult to walk through mentally and emotionally but if you can handle it, it will be something you will never forget.
6. Visit the National Gallery of Art
The National Gallery of Art and it’s sculpture garden house one of a kind works of art from all over the world, including the portrait of Ginevra de’ Benci by Leonardo da Vinci, the only da Vinci painting you will find in the entire Western Hemisphere.
7. Tour the US Capitol
A tour of the capitol definitely needs to be added to your to do list in DC because of it’s beautiful interior. You can get group tours at the Capitol but you will get much more with a private tour which can be booked through your local congressman or senator.
8. Tour the White House
It’s the “People’s House”. The most famous house in America and you can tour it! You have to put in the request months in advance and go through extensive background checks and securities but it is soo worth it! You can request a tour through your local congressman or senator’s office.
9. Sit in on a Supreme Court Session
There aren’t any guided tours but if you want to see justice in action, the Supreme Court sessions are open to the public every day except on weekends. Just make sure to arrive early as it is first come first serve.
10. Watch Currency Being Made at the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
We all like money, right? Well now, thanks to the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing you can see all of it you want and how it is made. You can even see what a million dollars looks like in cash!
11. Visit the Largest Library in the World
The Library of Congress is absolutely gorgeous and houses an incredible collection of books, papers, recordings, maps, and so much more. A visit to the Library of Congress goes great with a visit to the U.S. Capitol as you can access it via an underground tunnel. Bonus: the security check points are less crowded through the tunnel.