Visit The African American Civil War Memorial And Museum
TripSavvy / Rachel Cooper
The historic theater where President Lincoln was assassinated is a national landmark that still functions as a theater. Visitors can listen to a talk by a National Park guide and learn the fascinating story of the events surrounding President Lincolnâs untimely assassination. On the lower level, the Ford’s Theatre Museum displays exhibits about his life and explains the circumstances of his tragic death.
The Petersen House and Education Center, located directly across the street from the theater, features two floors of permanent exhibits addressing the immediate aftermath of Lincolnâs death and the evolution of his legacy, plus a lecture and reception space and two levels of education studios. Note that while entry to Ford’s Theatre, the Petersen House, and the Education Center are technically free, there is a $3 convenience fee charged when you order an advanced reservation online.
Basilica Of The National Shrine Of The Immaculate Conception
Second only to St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, this is the second-largest church in the world.
It has 81 chapels and sacred images that you can tour with a dedicated docent to learn about the background of this Catholic Church, as well as the architecture and mosaic artwork.
You can visit most days of the week.
Stroll Or Bike Around The National Mall
There’s nothing quite like going for a walk or bike ride around the National Mall, a five-mile trip if you decided to do the whole circuit, lined with memorials, monuments, Smithsonian museums and gardens, and long stretches of sandy pathways reminiscent of Tuileries Garden in Paris. Some portions may be more crowded than others depending on when you visit, while other areas closer to the U.S. Capitol Building are less so. On the Lincoln Memorial side, stop by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial near the north end and the Korean War Veterans Memorial near the south end. Near the center, visit the World War II Memorial and view the Washington Monument.
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Soak Up The Atmosphere At The Wharf
Head just south of the Mall to The Wharf, DCs newest neighborhood, a mile-long stretch along DCs Potomac River. The waterfront is lined with funky eateries, elegant hotels and several boutiques. Browse in Politics & Prose, a fabulous book store, before dining at one of several high-end restaurants that overlook the river. Grab a water shuttle from here to Alexandria or Georgetown waterfronts.
Gather Fellow Art Lovers And Head To Glenstone
Located just outside of DC in Potomac, Md., Glenstone Museum combines art, architecture and landscape to create a seamless, open museum-going experience that you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. Post-World War II art fills marvelously designed indoor and outdoor spaces on a 100-plus acre plot that also features paths, trails, streams and meadows. The museum’s exciting expansion opened to the public on on Oct. 4, 2018 with an all-new building and new outdoor sculptures. Glenstone is open from Thursday Sunday from 10 a.m. 5 p.m., with visits scheduled on the hour. Make sure to book yours before you go.
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National Air And Space Museum: Large Collection Of Historic Air And Spacecraft
If youre interested in learning about aviation history, then this is your spot. The National Air and Space Museum boasts the worlds most extensive collection of historic air and spacecraft. You can expect to find actual astronaut suits and moon rocks.
You will also find the original 1903 Wrights brothers airplane, which is a sight to behold. All of this is set up in a beautifully designed building.
Theme: Historic air and spacecraft Opening times: 10 am 5:30 pm, Monday Thursday
Visit The Smithsonian Institution’s Many Museums And Galleries
Start counting the individual museums and galleries that are part of the Smithsonian Institution and you double this freebie list. The Smithsonian comprises 20 museums and galleries , with the majority of them in the Washington, DC area and all are free to visit. See the website for a complete rundown of what’s on offer.
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Into The Living Memorial That Is The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum – Washington, DC
Dedicated to one of the worst tragedies in world history, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum educates its visitors on the dangers of hatred and the atrocities of genocide, as well as how society can confront challenges to freedom and human dignity. Its in-depth exhibits form some of the most essential viewing that DCs museums have to offer.
Picnic At East Potomac Park
TripSavvy / Rachel Cooper
East Potomac Park is where you’ll find many of Washington D.C’s famous cherry trees and offers terrific views of the city from its 300-acre perch on the river. The park’s proximity to both the Tidal Basin and the National Mall makes it a go-to spot for picnics, biking, running, and fishing for visitors and residents it’s also home to a golf course, tennis center, and swimming pool. Hains Point, located at the tip of the island, is the perfect place for spotting airplanes as they take off and land at nearby Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
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Best Museums In Washington Dc
Some people might consider a museum trip to be boring, but they probably havent visited the ones in Washington DC. The museums in DC are on a different level. Each one delivers its specialty of history, art, or technology in a way thats intriguing, immersive, and story-driven.
You can easily hit multiple museums in one day if you plan it right. Or find one you love and immerse yourself for a few hours. No matter what your preference is, there are museums in Washington DC on this list that are sure to spark your interests.
Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. Thank you!
National Gallery Of Art: Collection Spanning Classical To Modern Art
With two massive buildings filled with contemporary and classical art, whats not to love about this gallery? The National Gallery of Art also features a six-acre sculpture garden. In the permanent art collection, you can expect to find artworks from the likes of da Vinci and Calder.
You will often find free shows, including classical concerts and the screening of art history movies. In the winter months, theres even an ice skating rink where you can practice your pirouettes between the large-scale sculptures.
Theme: Classical and modern art Opening times: 10 am 5 pm daily Location: Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20565
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Museums Galleries And Zoo Search Results
- New York, NYSee on Map
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except Dec. 25
- New York, NYSee on Map
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day except TuesdaysClosed Thanksgiving and Dec. 25
Summer hours through September 15:10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. SaturdayWednesday11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. ThursdayFriday
10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily, except Dec. 25Sculpture Garden 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily
8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily Closed Dec. 25
Summer hours through September 15:10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. SaturdayWednesday11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. ThursdayFriday
Smithsonian National Postal Museum
Recommended by Melissa of The Family Voyage
The Smithsonians National Postal Museum is a hidden gem in the crowded pack of free museums in Washington DC. Unlike so many choices, its located several blocks from the National Mall . That location makes it far less crowded than other popular museums in DC. Its a great way to add variety to the list of things to do in DC with kids! And the best part is that DC is also a great destination for a car-free vacation for families.In addition to being generally uncrowded and free, the National Postal Museum is downright fascinating. It takes visitors through the history of mail service in the United States with life-size exhibits covering The Pony Express, high-tech mechanical mail sorting, and everything in-between. Kids will love the opportunity to sit in the cab of a mail-hauling big rig or sort letters into tiny antique post boxes.The upper level has a wonderful exhibit all about stamps. It showcases a mix of historically important stamps along with those with more cultural appeal. Theres even a station where kids can design their own stamps and retrieve them by email.
Timings: 11 a.m. 4 p.m. from Friday to TuesdayEntry Fee: The admission is free. Address: 2 Massachusetts Ave., N.E., Washington, DC 20002Museums website: Refer to the museum websiteNote: The museum is closed currently and will reopen on August 27, 2021
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Lucky Ticket Holders Get To Visit The White House
Tickets to the White House are available on a very limited basis. Chances are best for US citizens, who must request admission through their member of Congress. Overseas visitors should contact their embassy in Washington. Requests should be submitted up to three months and no less than 21 days in advance.
Enjoy A Guided Walking Tour With Dc By Foot
Go for a stroll with DC by Foot‘s knowledgeable tour guides. The company offers an array of experiences, including tours of the National Mall, Capitol Hill, Georgetown, Arlington Cemetery, as well as night-time themed tours like Secrets & Scandals and a White House Ghost Tour. Although the tours are free, tipping your guide is highly recommended.
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Us Holocaust Memorial Museum
This museum is technically free, but advanced reservations are required during peak travel dates if you want to visit the permanent exhibit.
There are still a number of smaller exhibits and events you can explore if you do not get tickets.
The USHMM explores in chronological order the events leading up to, during, and the aftermath of the Holocaust.
It is an intensely moving experience and if you have younger kids, you may want to skip the permanent exhibit and explore the children geared Daniel’s Story exhibit instead
We explain how to get tickets and what exhibits you can visit in our Guide to the USHMM.
National Law Enforcement Museum
The National Law Enforcement Museum in DC is devoted entirely to American law enforcement through educational installations, interactive exhibits, and profound programs. This kid friendly museum in DC boasts over 20,000 interesting and immersive artifacts that chronicle and visualize the history, the present, and future of law enforcement.
Visitorsof all ages can enjoy several workshops such as a training simulator, ScienceSaturdays, Story Time, group tours, special performances, and otherone-of a-kind activities in this state-of-the-art facility. For childrenaspiring to join law enforcement or those who simply want a police-themedbirthday party, this museum offers to host birthday parties.
Admissions:Adults: $21.95, Youth : $14.95, Children : FREEAge requirement: All agesMore information:
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National Museum Of American History
National Museum of American History
Over four million people make their way to the vast National Museum of American History each year. No surprise, since the museums collection boasts more than three million objects that tell the American story. Among these, a few crowd favorites include the flag that inspired the Star-Spangled Banner, the Greensboro lunch counter, Julia Childs kitchen, Dorothys ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz and Abraham Lincolns stovepipe hat.
The Hirshhorn Museum is known for its extensive collection of modern and contemporary art from around the world, including significant works by Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore and Yayoi Kusama. The sculpture garden, which is currently open, is a must-see, as it includes the famous Wish Tree by Yoko Ono. Note that the museum reopens on Aug. 20. Visit the Hirshhorn’s website for more information.
One of the more recent permanent additions to the National Mall, the National Museum of the American Indian expresses the diversity of culture, language, history, tradition and futures of indigenous peoples of North and South America, from the Arctic Circle to the tip of Patagonia. Just outside of the museum, make sure to pay a visit to the new National Native American Veterans Memorial.
National Museum Of Natural History: Over 127 Million Natural History Pieces
One thing we can say for sure about this museum is that you wont run out of exciting pieces to see. With more than 127 million natural history artifacts, there is something for everyone here. You will find a vast collection of ancient dinosaur bones and even the Hope Diamond.
Our favorite part about the National Museum of Natural History is the Deep Time exhibit, where you can travel back in time and experience ancient history yourself.
Theme: Natural history
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Free Days At Private Museums
Washington DC has enough always-free museums to keep you occupied for weeks, but if you’re interested in some of the small specialty museums, you may want to find out how to save on admission costs to these.
- National Cathedral: free on Sundays
Each summer you can visit 5 of the smaller private museums in the Dupont Circle neighborhood during the Dupont Kalorama Museum Walk.
Anderson House, Dumbarton House, National Museum of American Jewish Military History, The Phillips Collection, and the President Woodrow Wilson House are all free of charge during this two-day event.
National Museum Of Mexican Artchicago
The National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood is home to more than 10,000 objects, and its permanent collection is one of the largest of Mexican art in the country. The accredited museum is dedicated to preserving and facilitating knowledge about Latino life and history. Exhibits focus on Mexican culture as it is represented in the US and in Mexico, and the permanent collection includes folk art, ephemera, sculpture, textiles and drawings.
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Us Capitol Visitor Center
Similar to the White House, you need tickets to enter the actual Capitol Building – but these are relatively easy to come by and are included on our Capitol Hill Walking Tour.
But you do not need tickets to enter the free Visitor Center which houses an interactive and video filled education center.
If you want to view the House or Senate Gallery, passes are required. These are still free but require contacting your congressperson or the International Visitors Desk to get them.
Watch The Action At The Supreme Court
A visit to America’s highest court lets you can see justices, clerks, marshals and attorneys strutting their stuff. Access is temporarily suspended, but when it reopens, the public is allowed to enter the court to view sessions or “oral arguments” in action . On the days when court isn’t in session, you can catch lectures about the Supreme Court.
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Free Historic Attractions & Museums
- In DC, you can view the Declaration of Independence, US Constitution and Bill of Rights at the National Archives. Then head to the Supreme Court to witness history in the making. Open to the public Monday through Friday, visitors can experience a variety of educational programs including Courtroom Lectures, a visitors film and rotating exhibits.
- The National Shrine of St. Elizabeth AnnSeton in Emmitsburg, Maryland pays tribute to the first American-born saint. It was here in 1809 that she founded the Sisters of Charity of Saint Josephs and she lived on the site until her death in 1821. Her remains are entombed in the basilica designed by Italian and German craftsmen that was built in 1965.
- The National Museum of the Marine Corps honours US marines past, present and future, beginning with the museum’s structure which evokes the image of the flag-raisers of Iwo Jima. Inside, the 120,000 square foot structure houses interactive exhibits and artefacts, including aircraft suspended from the rafter’s in the museums 210-foot tilted steel mast and glass atrium.
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See Planes Rockets And Spaceships At The Udvar
Part of the Smithsonians Air and Space Museum, the jumbo Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center collection houses all sorts of flying machines and gears, filling two enormous hangars with crafts like the space shuttle Voyager and a Concorde jet, as well as oddities like a flying car. Add an IMAX theater, an observation deck and flight simulators, and its no surprise that, along with its sister museum on the National Mall, this place draws eight million visitors annually.
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Top 10 Free Us Museums
Whether you’re looking for ancient artifacts or colorful paintings, the best things in life certainly are free at these museums.
1. Smithsonian Museums, Washington, DC
The Smithsonian has the distinction of being the world’s largest museum complex, with more than a dozen free museums in Washington, DC, alone. Many of them are located around the National Mall, including the Air and Space Museum, the American History Museum and the Natural History Museum. The National Museum of the American Indian has a companion museum in New York City that is also free of charge. The collections in each of the Smithsonian’s museums are so vast that it’s impossible to narrow down the greatest hits or appreciate the full array of artistic wonders in just 1 trip. But with no charge, you can head back as many times as you like without putting a dent in your bank account.
2. Getty Center, Los Angeles
The Getty Center may be one of LA’s best and cheapest date spots, because just about everything is free. In addition to free admission, visitors can check out special exhibits, gallery talks and even curator-led tours for no additional fee. The museum stays open until 9 on Saturday nights, and parking is reduced to $10 after 5 p.m. The cool modern architecture, expansive city views and labyrinthine gardens are just as impressive as the inside exhibits of Western art, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, photos, illuminated manuscripts and decorative arts by European and American artists.