While there are plenty of fantastic attractions in Washington DC, luckily for the budget conscious traveller, there are many fascinating sights that are completely free. America's political centre can be an expensive city but for those wanting to save their pennies, there are plenty of gratis historical, educational and entertaining attractions.
Here are five of the best free attractions in Washington DC.
The Capitol Building
The US Capitol Building, with its elegant 19th-century neo-classical design, is one of Washington DC's most recognisable structures. The meeting place for the Senate and the House of Representatives, this sizeable structure is located at the opposite end of the National Mall from the Washington Monument and as such, serves as a prominent landmark in Washington DC. View political and historical works of art in the domed Rotunda, take a guided tour and watch Congress in session.
The National Mall
Start your free tour of Washington DC in The National Mall, which is an expanse of tree-lined space located between Independence and Constitution Avenues. Here, in the heart of the capital of the United States of America, you'll discover the famous Smithsonian Institute's museums, monuments and memorials, and The National Gallery of Art, all free of charge. See The Washington Monument, visit West Potomac Park and take a leisurely walk around Tidal Basin, renowned for its thousands of cherry trees.
The National Gallery of Art
The National Gallery of Art and its Sculpture Garden, located on the National Mall, is Washington DC's world-class collection of works by American, British, Spanish, Flemish, Dutch, Italian, French and German artists. Works on display include paintings, prints, drawings, photographs and sculpture, with some of the art works dating back to the 13th century. The National Gallery of Art offers free guided tours, and films, concerts, lectures and educational programs. It's easy to get lost inside the National Gallery of Art for hours of free fun.
The National Zoo
A part of The Smithsonian Institute, The National Zoo is located in the Rock Creek National Park on Connecticut Avenue in the heart of Washington DC. The zoo is home to more than 2000 animals and 400 different species on 163 acres. You'll need a map, a plan, comfortable walking shoes and several hours to explore the zoo and see all of your favourite animals. Observe training and feeding demonstrations and don't miss The Giant Panda Habitat and Asia Trail, and The Elephant Trails.
The Kennedy Center
The John F. Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts is Washington DC's premier entertainment venue, offering some 3000 performances each year and is home to the National Symphony Orchestra, Washington Opera, Washington Ballet and the American Film Institute. Performance spaces include a Concert Hall, an Opera House, the Eisenhower Theatre, the Terrace Theatre and the Theatre Lab. Free guided tours offer a look at the main theatres and the art work in the centre. The Millennium Stage, located in the Grand Foyer, features free daily performances.