Don’t you love it when you find out something you’d be willing to pay for is actually free? It’s a rare treat when it comes to tourist attractions, as most major must-dos around the world burn holes consumers’ pockets. However, Washington DC is a bit of an exception to that rule. In fact most of the main monuments, museums, memorials, galleries and historical/cultural venues in the city are completely free of charge (or, rather, taxpayer-funded). Don’t kid yourself, the US capitol should not be considered a budget-friendly destination – your food, lodging and taxi bills will take care of that misconception. However, you do get a break when taking in many national treasures and public spaces, so you can plan several days worth of outings without depleting your wallet. Check out this list of over 15 major sights and things to do DC that don’t cost a cent. Call it the land of the free!
1. Explore the Three Branches of Government
Want to see the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the federal government in action? The Capitol, Supreme Court and even the White House are free to visitors, with a few caveats. You can’t just mosey into the Oval Office to photobomb the president, of course. In fact, the White House is the most restricted one of the three to access in this post-9/11 era. However, if you write to your Member of Congress or your country’s Embassy in Washington DC 21 days to six months in advance, you may be able to secure a spot on a White House tour. Visiting the Capitol – even watching Congress in session – is also free, but passes are required. Book online at www.visitthecapitol.gov. This impressive government building is like a living history museum, full of art, sculpture and necoclassical architecture, including winding halls, secret tunnels and that iconic dome. The Supreme Court doesn’t offer guided tours, but you are free to walk around the hallowed halls and attend oral arguments, with limited first-come first-served seating.