Here are 10 Free Things to Do in Washington DC Right Now
- On a mission to make the arts accessible to all, shows on the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage are absolutely free. Experience a variety of genres – everything from opera, dance, children’s choirs, comedy shows, poetry readings, to a classical quartet at these daily 6 pm. performances. No reservations or tickets are required. Proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 and photo ID required to attend indoor performances at the Kennedy Center.
- Check out the oldest home in Washington DC. Located on M Street, NW in Georgetown, the Old Stone House was built in 1765, and stands on its original foundation. It originally functioned as Suter’s Inn and Tavern, as well as a clock shop and car dealership. Today, it’s cared for by the National Park Service. The grounds and kitchen are and open daily from 11 a.m.—7 p.m.
- Go for a stroll with DC on Foot’s knowledgeable tour guides. They offer different options, such as walking tours of the National Mall, Capitol Hill, Georgetown, Arlington Cemetery and themed tours like Secrets & Scandals and DC’s Ghost Tours. You’ll learn a lot, so tip your guide what you feel the tour is worth.
- Take a self-guided tour of the burial grounds in the Historic Congressional Cemetery. Founded in 1807, the picturesque cemetery became the go-to choice for interment of members of Congress and their families. The 37-acre still-active cemetery is the final resting place for many American luminaries, like composer John Philip Sousa and FBI leader J. Edgar Hoover.
- Visit the stunning Indiana limestone-covered Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Built in 1846, the Romanesque interior and Byzantine exterior of this Catholic Church was inspired by cathedrals in the Old World. On the free one-hour tour, docents describe major works of religious art, and explains the history of the church’s partner, The Catholic University.
- Three acres of skylights illuminate the masterworks at the National Gallery of Art. On par with the world’s most important art museums, the National Gallery was established with a gift from Andrew Mellon in 1937. In this marble temple are invaluable works of art from every era, including the only Leonardo Da Vinci painting in the Americas, Ginerva de’ Benci. Check out the free concerts on Sunday evenings.
- Directly adjacent is the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. The six-acre outdoor gallery and landscaped gardens contain soaring works of sculptural art with a reflecting pool. In the winter, the fountain is transformed into an ice rink.
- President Abraham Lincoln’s unparalleled legacy remains alive and thriving at Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site. National Park Rangers provide free tours of the Theatre and the underground museum that explores events leading up to his assassination. Across the street is the Peterson House, where President Lincoln died, part of the Center for Education & Leadership.
- Take a walk through Georgetown. Originally, a key transit point for farmers selling tobacco in the 1700’s, the city of Georgetown actually pre-dates Washington DC by nearly 100 years. Georgetown’s mostly Federal and Georgian-style homes have been artfully preserved, and there are more than four hundred shopping, dining and nightlife options there.
- Wander on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal (C&O). Planned by President George Washington, this waterway was built to move tobacco and coal from Maryland into the District of Columbia. Construction began in 1828, and canal boats, pulled by mules, traveled through a series of lock systems. Learn more about the history of this 184.5 mile-long waterway operated by the National Park at the Visitor Center on 1057 Thomas Jefferson Street, NW in Georgetown.For more Washington DC insider advice, check out my guidebook The Unofficial Guide to Washington DC.
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Freelance writer and photographer specializing in vivid, deeply reported stories about food, travel and family.
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