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50 Free Washington, DC Attractions

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Washington, DC is a fascinating city with dozens of free attractions. There is so much to see and do in the nation’s capital that you can easily save money by spending your leisure time exploring free museums, parks, memorials, and historic sites. Here’s a guide to Washington, DC attractions with no admission fees.

(Arranged in alphabetical order)

A - E | F - K | K - N | More N | O - Z

1. African American Civil War Memorial and Museum

© African American Civil War Memorial
1200 U Street, NW. Washington, DC. This Washington, DC attraction honors the African American struggle for freedom in the United States. A Wall of Honor lists the names of 209,145 United States Colored Troops (USCT) who served in the Civil War and the museum showcases artifacts from this time period.

2. Air Force Memorial

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One Air Force Memorial Drive, Arlington, VA. One of the Washington, DC area's newest attractions features soaring spires that can be seen from a great distance. This memorial honors the millions of men and women who have served in the United States Air Force.

3. Anacostia Community Museum

© Smithsonian Institution
1901 Fort Place SE, Washington, DC. The Smithsonian Institution’s museum of African American history and culture offers exhibitions, educational programs, workshops, lectures, film screenings and other special events that interpret black history from the 1800s to the present.

4. Arlington National Cemetery

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Located across the Potomac River from Washington at the west end of the Memorial Bridge, Arlington, VA. This popular Washington, DC attraction serves as a cemetery and a memorial to America's war heroes. More than four million people visit Arlington National Cemetery each year, attending graveside services and special ceremonies to pay tribute to veterans and historical figures.

5. Botanic Gardens

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First Street, SW, between Maryland Ave. and C St. Washington, DC. The living plant museum located on the National Mall showcases an impressive state-of-the-art indoor garden with approximately 4,000 seasonal, tropical and subtropical plants. The U.S. Botanic Garden is administered by the Architect of the Capitol and offers special exhibits and educational programs throughout the year.

6. Bureau of Engraving

© Getty Images
14th and C Streets, SW, Washington, DC. This is a fun attraction for all ages. Visitors see how U. S. paper currency is printed, stacked, cut and examined for defects. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing also prints White House invitations, Treasury securities, identification cards, naturalization certificates, and other special security documents.

7. C & O Canal

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The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, a national historic park that dates back to the 18th and 19th centuries, stretches 184-miles from Georgetown along the Potomac River to Cumberland, Maryland. The tow path is a popular place to walk, bicycle and picnic.

8. Capitol

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E. Capitol St. and First St. NW, Washington, DC. The U. S. Capitol Building is open to the public for guided tours only. Visitors learn about the work of the Senate and the House of Representatives, and the impressive architecture of the most recognizable historic buildings in Washington, DC.

9. DAR Museum

© DAR
1776 D Street NW. Washington, DC. The museum of the Daughters of the American Revolution is a small Washington, DC attraction that is often missed by visitors. The collection features more than 30,000 examples of decorative and fine arts, including objects made or used in America prior to the Industrial Revolution.

10. East Potomac Park

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The 300+ acre park features many of Washington's famous cherry trees, has terrific views of the city and is a popular place for biking, running, fishing and picnicking. There is a golf course, tennis center and swimming pool.

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