Beyond food and lodging, there’s no reason a tourist visiting Washington, DC, need spend any money. Get a hotel near the National Mall, and you’re within walking distance to dozens of free activities suitable for the entire family.
Stop by one or more of the (mercifully air-conditioned) Smithsonian museums to see objects from the Apollo 11 moon landing, the infamous “puffy shirt” from Seinfeld, or a nearly complete Tyrannosaurus rex. Take a stroll through the US Botanic Garden or survey the city from the Washington Monument. Visit the Library of Congress for year-round public tours and lectures. The National Gallery of Art (pictured above) has outstanding examples of both US and European art, and during the summer months you can enjoy a free, live concert at the NGA’s Jazz in the Garden. At the nearby US National Archives, you can view this country’s most-important documents as well as the only copy of the Magna Carta on display in the US. Visit in the summer and you can take part in Screen on the Green–a beloved DC tradition–or come during the winter to see the national Christmas tree at the White House.
No matter when you visit, DC has something free–and fun–to enjoy. Pay a visit to the US’s surprisingly affordable capital city today!