D.C. is full of free things to do beyond the Smithsonian museums. The Smithsonian has created an atmosphere that fosters easy -often free- access to cultural activities. If you are looking for something to do in D.C. and you do not want to spend a bunch of money, here are some ideas.
If the weather is nice you should enjoy the variety of activities outside. There are precious few days in D.C. that are the perfect temperature for outdoor activities and you should enjoy them. Rock Creek Park is gorgeous and full of trails to hike. You can feel like you are miles outside the city without ever leaving the Beltway. The Park is scattered throughout the city, but the largest tracts of land are in Northwest between Connecticut Avenue and Sixteenth Street. Another great option to get out of the house is to check out the National Arboretum. If you go check out the Arboretum you should find the original columns from the U.S. Capitol.
Another beloved outdoor activity is strolling through the farmers markets throughout the city on weekends. The largest, and most popular, of these is Eastern Market. It is located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, right beside the Eastern Market Metro Station. Eastern Market is open six days a week, Tuesday thru Sunday. On Saturday and Sunday the shops spill out of the market and into the street. Local farmers sell their harvest and local artists have booths to sell their crafts. The farmers market in DuPont Circle is another large market that is easily accessible via Metro. This market is only open on Sunday. The times change during the year, so check their website before heading over.
Theater can be a very expensive outing, but the Kennedy Center offers free performances on their Millennium Stage. The show is nightly at start at 6:00 PM. Some of the shows are plays and some are musical performances. Check out the website for to learn about upcoming performances. It is recommend to get there early as it is a free show and there is limited seating.
During the warm weather months, generally starting around June, the outdoor movie series starts. Almost every night of the week there is a free movie playing somewhere in the city. There is a wide variety of movies from classics to new releases that play. Find a movie you want or just see whatever is playing in your neighborhood.
If you are feeling like being a classic D.C. tourist, but want to up your game a little, The National Parks Service offers free tours around most of the most popular attractions. Some of the tours have a theme and are more than just walking around the monuments. For more information about upcoming tours, visit the National Park Service website. A lot of D.C.’s neighborhoods have self walking tours as part of the Neighborhood Heritage Trails. It is a great way to find hidden gems, tucked away from the heavily trafficked tourist destinations.
Check out your local gym to see if they offer a free introductory trial. Almost every gym in D.C. has some kind of free or reduced rate for your first class, if not your first week. Try out a new workout and see if it is for you. Most of the gyms will have details about their introductory offers on their website or stop in and talk to someone. This is a great option for locals and tourists alike.