Visiting Washington, D.C. is such a fun experience, but since it’s the nation’s capital, it can get really expensive. We found tons of free museums in DC you can visit without worrying about your budget!
We found free museums in DC!
The DAR Museum is one of the free museums in DC that supports historic preservation and provides free information on it. You can visit different period rooms, the gallery or any of the current temporary exhibits at the museum. The museum even has toys from the Revolutionary War that are perfectly preserved. Fun fact: all of the people who run the museum are direct descendants of Revolutionary soldiers!
Folger’s Shakespeare Library provides information on Shakespeare’s works as well as other things that are related to the work. You can even see period pieces while you’re there. Parking is close by, but it may be costly so getting there on public transportation is the best way to do it!
Ford’s Theater is a theater with a museum in it! While you can attend free shows at the theater, you can also visit the museum for free during different hours.
The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden provides free access to all the exhibits and sculptures. Each of the sculptures is different and were commissioned for different reasons. You can learn the history behind them as well as more about the artist.
The Historical Society of Washington DC provides information on free museums in DC, but it also has a museum of its own! It’s a great place to start in DC if you don’t know what you want to see or where you want to go. While you’re there, you can learn the best way to plan your free museum trip!
The Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens are unique because they are the only ones of their kind in the city. They are different from what most people would expect in a garden tour. While they are open year-round, they are best to see during the warmer months.
Here are more free things in DC.
St. Matthew’s Cathedral is not necessarily a museum, but it is one of the must-sees in DC. It has a lot of information on religion and the influence it’s had on this country. The cathedral also features artwork that is better than you would find in many museums.
Have you ever wanted to visit the Supreme Court? You can do it without ever even having to escalate a court case. You can visit the outside and some parts of the inside. You might even be able to sit in on some select cases. We definitely recommend getting a selfie or a family picture on the outside of the building as it’s one of the most beautiful and iconic in DC!
The African American Civil War Memorial Museum is one free DC museum that nobody should miss! The museum provides information not only on the Civil War, but how African Americans played such a crucial role in the war. The museum features war artifacts and some images that might be disturbing for younger visitors.
The Air and Space Museum is one of the free museums in DC that’s part of the Smithsonian collection. You can visit to learn more about how the United States has done different things involving air and space. You can learn about planes, rocket ships and even see real-life examples of both.
The American Art Museum offers free admission and provides you with exhibits that are constantly changing. The art is all done by American artists, but it is a melting pot of information just like the country!
The Anacostia Community Museum is one of the main Smithsonian free museums in DC. It’s one of the museums you should definitely visit to learn more about the community and the culture in DC.
Visit these free attractions in DC.
The Dumbarton Oaks Museum is always free. The actual Dumbarton Oaks are not free, but during the winter months they are!
The Anderson House is a free experience you can do in DC. It offers information on the culture of the city and the journey the city had to take to get where it is now. The historical society that runs the house provides information on different sights you can see throughout the house.
The Brookside Gardens are always free and offer a chance for you to take a tour outside. Since this free attraction is outside, prepare for the weather. It’s open all year, but it may be more enjoyable during the spring and summer months.
While you can’t visit the DC mint headquarters for a tour, you can visit the Bureau of Engraving and Printing for a free tour. There are different things you can learn about engraving, printing and how it relates to currency in the United States.
The Embassies in DC offer different museum-like tours during different times of the year depending on which one you visit. Nearly all of the embassies open up for free tours during embassy week which usually occurs during May!
The Franciscan Monastery offers free tours and information sessions. The monastery does not operate as a museum, but it does offer information and even some artifacts that are museum-like.
The Frederick Douglass House is a free DC attraction you can visit during any time of the year for free! It has information on Frederick Douglass and his influence on the United States.
The Freer is one of the free museums in DC that focuses on art and other information related to Asian art. You can visit the museum for free, but some special events may require tickets or a purchase.
Check out even more free museums in DC.
The Holocaust Memorial Museum is free and is one of the things in DC that most people should take their time to see. You can visit the museum at any time during the year and all ages are welcome, but there are disturbing images that might be difficult for younger guests to understand. The museum is an extremely somber experience.
The Library of Congress provides access during different times. You can visit for free. While there, you can learn more about Congress and the government in the United States. There are some museum displays in the library.
The National Arboretum is an outdoor experience you can enjoy in DC. There may be limited hours during the winter months, but they remain open throughout the year.
The National Archives is a great place to learn more about the United States and the history of it. You can visit the archives and search for information and documents that you might not be able to find anywhere else.
The National Gallery of Art provides visitors a chance to look at different art mediums. Whether you love looking at paintings, sculptures or other forms of art, you can do it at the National Gallery.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture provides information on African American culture and lets visitors see artifacts. The museum is always free, but it may have different hours throughout the year.
The National Museum of African Art gives African-specific artwork the center stage. If you’re looking for free museums in DC that are different from the rest, you will enjoy this museum. Make sure you check it often because the museum has exhibits that change regularly.
Still searching for something to do? Check out these free museums in DC!
The National Museum of American History is one of the free museums in DC you can visit any time of the year. The museum features exhibits related to the United States.
The National Museum of the American Indian features exhibits related to Native Americans. The museum has information as well as art work. You can enjoy exhibits both about and by Native Americans while you’re at this free museum!
The National Portrait Gallery is just what it sounds like. There are different portraits you can check out while you’re here. The museum is a fun find and a great place to cool off during the hotter DC months.
The National Postal Museum is a great way to learn more about the history of the United States Postal Service. You can learn how it went from the Pony Express to what it is today. While visiting, you can also see a huge collection of stamps!
The National Zoo isn’t a museum, but your kids are going to love it. The zoo is huge and has plenty of things for everyone to see. It’s open year-round and you can enjoy checking out different exhibits throughout the year. While the zoo is totally free, the “official” zoo parking is a little pricey. You might want to carpool with another family or use public transportation!
The Natural History Museum is one of the most popular free museums in DC that you can go to learn more about natural history and how it has an impact on everyone in the world. While there, you can learn more about natural history and what it means to modern day civilization.
Need something else to do? Check these things out!
The Naval Memorial Heritage Center is free and gives you a glimpse into the Navy and how it has grown with the country. You can learn more about the wars the Navy has been in and other ways it has helped.
The Pentagon offers some areas where guests can visit and learn about it. Getting in is always free. Check ahead of time to make sure tours and the museum portion is open as hours frequently change.
The Renwick Gallery provides art and information related to the art. It is always free and is open year-round. All of the exhibits are free to visit, but some special events may require you to pay a small fee to get into. Check ahead to make sure nothing special is going on when you visit!
Did you know DC has its own castle? The Smithsonian Castle is a free experience in the Smithsonian complex. You can learn about the history of the castle as well as the history of the Smithsonian in DC. Many of the museums on this list are Smithsonian museums. You can visit the castle to find out about how to get to the museums and even the best way to visit all of them!
The United States Botanical Garden is free and is open year-round. Since the botanical garden is open year-round and is outside, make sure to check the weather before visiting.
How close can you get to the president? The White House and White House Garden Tours are both available and free for guests! Tours are extremely limited and may require you to go through airport-style security, but they’re worth it!
Here are some attractions in DC that are almost free.
The National Building Museum is one of the free museums in DC, but it does require you to pay an admission fee for many of the exhibits that are offered there. You can learn more about the buildings and other information while at the museum. The museum features information on some of the most popular buildings in DC. It’s like getting a backstage glimpse at how your favorite buildings were built!
The Phillips Collection does not offer free admission, but they offer donation-only experiences on Tuesdays through Fridays. You can visit during this time and make a small donation to get in! The collection provides artwork. Most of the exhibits at the collection are permanent so visiting once will allow you to take it all in!
Tudor Place Self Guided Garden Tour is not one of the free museums in DC, but it is only $3 per person so it’s great if you have a little extra cash. Kids who are six and under always get in for free! The Tudor place doesn’t often do free days, but once in a while, they offer free admission or special events you can attend. Tours with a guide are always more than the self-guided garden tour.
The Heurich House offers different free days throughout the year, usually once per season. Even if you visit during one of the times where free days are not offered, admission is only a suggested donation for $5!