Top 10 Free Things to do This Winter in Washington DC

By Dan Taylor | Jan 10, 2018

Travelling is an investment. An investment of time, energy, and money. But not everything you do whilst traveling has to cost money. Washington DC is definitely the place to visit if you want to travel but has a tight budget - this is the capital of free! There are endless free events, attractions and museums to make your trip the most memorable and budget-friendly. Here are 10 things that you can do this winter in Washington DC that do not cost a dime.

10. Zoolights at The National Zoo
What better way to get into the holiday spirit than taking in some elaborate Christmas lights. The National Zoo takes it a step further by offering fantastic lights displays AND a zoo. This site is best saved for the evening time where visitors can enjoy the environmentally friendly LED displays. Along with the animals and the lights, the National Zoo also has regularly scheduled live music performances that are free for all to enjoy. This is a definite must-do if you are visiting DC during the winter months. Zoolights runs from November 24th until January 1st, with closures on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Eve.

9. I Have A Dream
If you have had a dream, then you definitely must visit the Martin Luther King Jr., Memorial which is located in West Potomac Park. Here, you can take time to learn about Martin Luther King Jr and all the work that he did for America. You even have to take a picture with a statue of the man himself. This is a lovely way to learn, reflect and appreciate the work of one of America's greatest figures. You can also check out the "I have a dream' steps at the Lincoln Memorial, where Dr. King Jr gave his famous speech.

8. Goethe-Institut
Not only is DC the capital of the nation, it is also one of the most multicultural cities in the United States and the world. This is absolutely brilliant for travelers on a budget who have the chance to have worldly experiences in one city. If you are a lover of all things German, the Goethe Institut is the place for you. Located downtown, visitors are able to learn about German culture, language, and art. The Goethe Institut is also home to exhibitions by various German artists. They do have an events calendar on their website where visitors can sign up to attend various programs and exhibitions.

7. Millenium Stage at The Kennedy Center
If you want an entertainment guarantee, the Kennedy Center is the place to be - 6 pm sharp. At this time, every day, the Kennedy Center hosts a free performance at the Millenium Stage. Performances include anything from local artists, poetry recitals, to the National Symphony Orchestra. The Center also offers VERY generous discounts to young adults (18-30) and those in the armed services for their paid showcases.

6. Explore Little Rome
Located in the Brookland neighborhood of DC, Little Rome surely lives up to its name. The neighborhood is home to a number of Catholic institutions including the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, which is the largest Catholic church in the United States. There are also Roman-inspired gardens, monasteries, and shrines. The architecture in Little Rome is authentically breathtaking, and a definite bucket-list destination for lovers of religion and architecture,

5. The National Christmas Tree and World's Largest Menorah
One of DC's most notorious holiday features, the National Christmas tree simply cannot be missed. Not only is the tree absolutely majestic, there are also free nightly performances that visitors can enjoy whilst you wait to take pictures next to the tree. Located in President's Park, of the White House Ellipse, visitors can also take advantage of the location to visit the nearby white house and enjoy the park. The tree is lit from November 30th until January 1st. In the same surrounding is the World's Largest Menorah, in commemoration of Chanukah. The menorah is first lit on the 12th of December, during a free ceremony which features performances, as well as donuts and hot latkes.

4. The Washington Ballet
This is the one cheat item on this list BUT it absolutely deserves to be on this list. If you are traveling in a group of 10 or more, the Kennedy Center offers discounts of 50% or more. On top of that, if you are aged between 18 and 30, you also qualify for their additional discounts. The ballet performances are absolutely mesmerizing once-in-a-lifetime showcases, and you owe it to yourself to catch one if you are in the city.

3. National Museum of American History
One of the best things about traveling is that you always learn something new (or old). Washington DC is the best place to be if you want to learn about American History. The National Museum of American History is wonderfully curated and waiting for you to come visit. Entry into the museum is always free, and you can take yourself around the museum, or opt for a guided tour. If you are traveling with young children, they can enjoy the Wegmans Wonderplace, which is a portion of the museum specifically designed for children under the age of 6.

2. Drag Shows at Barrack Row
If you enjoy drag, live music, and LGBTQI history, Phase 1 is the place for you. This the oldest operating lesbian bar in the United States, where they host karaoke, music, drag shows and other entertainment. Phase 1 is intimately sized but packed with centuries of fun. If you are looking for a unique nightlife experience, in a safe, accepting and eccentric environment, Phase 1 will never disappoint! There's a reason they've stayed in business for that long.

1. Luce Unplugged
Located inside the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Luce Foundation Center for American Art hosts a monthly unplugged session that showcases superb local talented musicians. The performances take place on Thursdays and Fridays and pay tribute to featured artworks, whilst featuring bands, individual artists, and free drink samples from local breweries, bars, and distilleries. This is the place to catch and support all the up and coming local talent. A sophisticated happy hour-esque vibe.

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