Free Things to Do in D.C.

Washington D.C.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival is certainly one beautiful, uplifting reason to visit Washington, D.C. But travelers arriving in this city during or after the floral festivities may be surprised to discover that there are a lot of wonderful free things to see beyond the pink-trimmed Tidal Basin.

Here are our favorite free things to do in DC (plus a great train discount) to make your getaway to the capital even more enjoyable—and affordable.

What to do

1. The city offers plenty of free reasons to visit year-round, including excursions to the National Archives, the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and The United States Botanical Garden.

2. Freer Sackler and Galleries of Art, a Smithsonian Museum of Asian Art, is always free and worth a visit to see renowned works by Asian artists and events like a Korean Film Festival. Check the site for upcoming exhibits and events.

3. The DC Jazz Festival takes place July 5-16, and will include over 100 performances throughout 50 venues in the capital. The Main Stages will feature the free two day event Jazz ‘n Families Fun Days, as well as the Grammy Award-winning Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, and The Roots.

4. Fans of photography and this publication won’t want to miss The National Geographic Museum’s current free exhibitions, Gardens by Night, and Beyond the Story: National Geographic Unpublished 2012 (through July 7, 2013). Fans of cuteness should catch Meerkats 3D.

5. History buffs and conspiracy theorists will love Ford’s Theatre’s latest performance, “History on Foot: Detective James McDevitt.” For only $15, guests help reenact the fateful night of the Lincoln Assassination with on-duty detective James McDevitt, putting together clues and finding out what really happened at the famed theater.

For more ideas on things to do and where to stay while in town, read District of Deals: Where to Save (and Spend) on Everything D.C. and Capital-ize on Spring: Outdoor Activities in Washington, D.C.

How to get to DC from NYC

Save 25% off your Amtrak trip when you book 14 days in advance. Consult oM’s public transit guide to DC for alternatives.

Photo: Freer Sackler and Galleries of Art

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