The high volume of visitors that the city of Washington DC has every year has made the offer of free activities to enjoy with the family ever greater. If you travel with small children we assure you that fun is guaranteed and, best of all, without spending a penny.
When you go on a Washington D.C. one day tour from New York, you realize that this is a perfect destination for a family vacation at any time of the year, since the attractions that the city offers are adjusted to each member of the family, and to each of their tastes or preferences.
This time we have put together a list with the Best Free Things to do in Washington DC, so… Read on to start dreaming about your trip to this fantastic place!
1. Visit the monuments of the National Mall
The National Mall has two sections, so to speak; on one side a few museums are grouped and it goes from the National Capitol to the Washington Monument, and on the other side are the main national monuments that go from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Monument.
Not all the important monuments of the city nor all the museums are grouped in this area, however this is a good starting and reference point. On the sides of the National Mall you will find a wide variety of commemorative works that are free to access. Among them is:
- The United States Capitol
- The White House
- The Vietnam War Veterans Memorial
- The monument to Iwo Jima, and others.
In these places, in addition to learning about the history of the country, you can create great memories with your family or friends.
2. Visit Rock Creek Park
With 125 years of existence, Rock Creek Park is one of the oldest parks in the country and one of the most visited in Washington, especially by locals and tourists who search for adventure and outdoor activities. Rock Creek Park has over 32 miles of trails, cycling trails, free evening astronomy programs and, one of the park’s biggest attractions, the Old Stone House, where the history and culture of the first residents of the city is exhibited.
And, as if that were not enough, take advantage of your visit to Washington and visit the National Zoo, which houses more than 2000 animals and is free for all visitors to the park.
3. Climb aboard a Postal Carriage, such as those formerly used to deliver US postal mail.
This method first appeared in the country around 1820 and remained in use until the early 1900s, before the railway system was established. You can discover the full story at the National Post Museum, where children can also order packages, design their own stamps, write a postcard, and board the historic Railway Service Car.
4. Tour the President Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial
The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial (commonly known as the “FDR Memorial”) honors the 32nd President of the United States and consists of four “halls” representing each of his four terms as commander-in-chief. Also featured are bronze sculptures of the President, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and her faithful canine Fala (who was a very photogenic pet).
5. See paintings and sculptures of all American presidents at the National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery is a must-see for fans of pop culture, history buffs, and art lovers. The museum displays paintings, photographs and sculptures of the people who have come to define America as we know it today, from activists and actors to presidents and poets.
The gallery is located at 8th and FNW streets, within the Donald W. Reynolds Center. Admission is free and the museum is open from 11:30 am to 7 pm every day of the year (with some exceptions such as December 25). The building also features the beautiful Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard, a quiet place to work or relax, it has free Wi-Fi and a cafe offering sandwiches, salads, coffee or beer.
6. Hear amazing stories at public libraries in Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia.
Almost every day of the week, you can stop at local libraries to listen to stories, songs and games led by librarians, this is an activity that the little ones love and, without a doubt, you will not be bothered. Some of the local bookstores and museums also offer free story times. Do not miss them!
7. Visit museums
A must-see plan after a tour of Washington from NYC is to visit its, mostly free-entry, museums. Washington has been characterized by housing, in several of its buildings, years of culture, history and technology that is within reach of the community, so you should not miss the opportunity to visit the Smithsonian museum complex, especially the Air and Space Museum, the American History Museum and the Natural Sciences Museum. This is an attraction that adults and children love as it is one of the few opportunities where they can see, very close up, some species and elements that were only seen on television or in books.
8. Get to know the National Archives
This is a must for lovers of American history; strolling through the national archives you will find documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, the Charter of American Rights and the Magna Carta. Just be aware that photographs are not allowed from the moment you enter the building.
9. Stroll through the botanical garden
This is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the country and, undoubtedly, one of the most striking places in the city to have proximity to nature, as there are several types of flora native to the United States, like desert plants or Hawaiian plants.
Besides, see the famous Capitol Columns, walk through the Bonsai Museum, and explore the Garden of Youth at the National Arboretum. The Arboretum grounds are open every day of the year, except December 25, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The National Bonsai & Penjing Museum is open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily, except federal holidays – November to February -. This option is interesting to awaken in the little ones a lifelong love of nature and instill a passion for science.
10. Visit the Kennedy Center
Attend a free presentation at the Kennedy Center, no tickets required. Take a seat in one of the most beautiful theaters in the world to watch a variety of artists that perform every night at 6pm on the Millennium Stage. Shows range from bands and poetry readings to children’s choirs and dance companies.
11. Walk through the Smithsonian National Zoo
Dare to spend the day at the Smithsonian National Zoo, where there is a wide variety of animal species including giant pandas, elephants and the Amazon exhibit, where guests can walk through a jungle atmosphere.
12. Play at the Clemyjontri Park
Play at Clemyjontri Park, a huge playground for children with all the attractions to play, climb, swing, slide and explore together. The rainbow theme park is located in McLean, Virginia, it contains a carousel and a picnic pavilion with many learning games, maps, a globe, and a clock with moving hands.
Now, if you are in the Big Apple and you want to take the opportunity to visit the nation’s capital at low cost, you can take a fully guided Day trip to DC from NYC. It is a very complete plan that allows you to save a lot of money and avoids you having to look for transportation or hotels at the last minute, because we pick you up at the door of your hotel in NYC, we take you to visit the most important destinations in Washington and we drop you back at your hotel. An excellent plan, isn’t it?
Without a doubt, these are excellent options if you are traveling with your family, let us know which of these plans you have made and, if you think there is something else that we should include, you can suggest activities to feed this list.