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25 Free Things to Do in Washington DC


11. Take a free tour of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing

© Emrah Turudu

Everyone loves to watch real money being printed! See how U.S. paper currency is printed, stacked, cut and examined for defects. Free tours are every 15 minutes, Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

12. Explore the U.S. Botanic Garden

© Rachel Cooper

The state-of-the-art indoor garden is located next to the U.S. Capitol Building and displays approximately 4,000 seasonal, tropical and subtropical plants. The Gardens holds special events and educational programs throughout the year.

13. Tour the White House

© Rachel Cooper

To arrange a free tour of the White House you must make a request through a member of Congress. Group tours are held Tuesday through Saturday from 7:30 a.m. through 11:30 a.m. and are scheduled one month in advance. Without advance planning, you can visit the White House Visitor Center, located at the southeast corner of 15th and E Streets, which is open daily from 7:30 a.m. until 4 p.m.

14. See historic patriotic documents at the National Archives

© VisionsofAmerica/Joe Sohm

See the original Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights at the National Archives. There is also a state-of-the-art theater and a special exhbit gallery devoted to document-based exhibits on newsworthy and timely topics.

15. Attend the Saturday Morning Children’s Series at the National Theatre

The free performance series features shows ranging from puppet and magic shows to music and ballet. Seating is limited and tickets are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis 30 minutes prior to showtime.

16. Explore the Library of Congress

© Rachel Cooper

Unknown to many, the Library of Congress is one of the most beautiful buildings in Washington DC. There are interactive exhibits and the re-creation of Thomas Jefferson's original library. Free lectures, concerts, exhibits, and poetry readings are held regularly.

17. Take a free self-guided neighborhood tour

Learn about the history of Washington DC's neighborhoods by following one of Cultural Tourism DC's walking trails.  The illustrated signs combine stories, historic photos and maps. Explore a variety of neighborhoods including Adams Morgan, U Street, Barracks Row and themed trails like the Civil War to Civil Rights Downtown Heritage Trail.

18. Stroll along the C&O Canal Towpath

© Rachel Cooper
The historic canal begins in Georgetown and stretches 184-miles to Cumberland, Maryland. The towpath is a beautiful and interesting place to walk, jog, bike or rollerblade.

19. Take a walk or a bike ride along Mt. Vernon Trail

© Kieran Scott
The Mount Vernon Trail runs parallel to the George Washington Memorial Parkway and follows the west bank of the Potomac River from Theodore Roosevelt Island to George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate. The trail offers wonderful views of the Potomac River and Washington DC’s famous landmarks.

20. Visit the National Arboretum

© Miller Taylor

The National Arboretum displays 446 acres of trees, shrubs and plants and is one of the largest arboretums in the country. Visitors enjoy a variety of free exhibits from formal landscaped gardens to the Gotelli Dwarf and slow growing Conifer Collection.

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