Free and Almost Free in Washington DC
If you're looking for an affordable vacation, take a look at some of the fun, free and almost-free experiences that await you in DC.
Free and Almost Free Performances in Washington DCConsider "Saturday Morning at the National," National Theatre's free performance series designed for the whole family. Shows range from puppet and magic shows to showcases of music and ballet. Seating is limited and tickets are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis 30 minutes prior to showtime. Check website for performance schedule. Take in a free performance at The Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage every evening at 6pm. Acts include everything from performances by the National Symphony Orchestra to gospel groups to jazz musicians to poetry slams. Feel the beat of a local tradition: head to Meridian Hill Park on Sundays (weather-permitting) between 3 and 9pm to hear the famous drum circle, a fixture in the park for more than 40 years that brings together people together from all different backgrounds to hear drum beats and watch African dancing. For a hands-on experience, bring your own drum to join in. Check out free, live music at the National Gallery of Art on Sunday evenings at 6:30pm. Concerts feature choral, Afghan, opera music and more, and are held in the West Building (6th St. & Constitution Ave, NW entrance). Seats are available on a first-come, first-serve basis starting at 6pm. No entry after 6:30pm. Head over to George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium, where throughout the year, free shows are sprinkled throughout the performance calendar. The GW Orchestra concerts are all free and open to the public, and you may even catch a live performance by the United States Air Force Band's Jazz Ensemble. Get half-priced, day-of-show or advance sale tickets for theater seats at Signature Theatre, the Kennedy Center, Folger Theatre, Imagination Stage and more online at TICKETPLACE.org, run by the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington DC. Or, stop by their booth (7th St between D & E Streets, NW) to purchase tickets in person. It's open Wed. through Fri. from 11am-6pm; Sat. from 10am-5pm and Sun. from 12pm-4pm. Experience culture at the National Museum of the American Indian, where free programming from storytelling and dance festivals to music performances by Native composers and classical musicians is available to audiences of all ages. Check website for performance schedule. Get a taste of the Bard for a great value at the Harman Center of the Arts. Patrons 35 and under can get discounted tickets to see the Shakespeare Theatre Company's productions including Henry V, The Merchant of Venice, Candide and more for just $10. An allotment of these lower-priced tickets is released every Tuesday morning during show season starting at 10am. Enjoy free, live jazz at the Smithsonian American Art Museum's "Take Five!" performance series. It usually takes place on the third Thursday of each month, and the museum's café stays open so guests can enjoy beer, wine and light snacks during the performance.
Family Fun in Washington DCTake pictures with Fala, the famous presidential pooch, at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. Teach kids about history at the National Museum of American History. See the original "Star-Spangled Banner" that inspired our national anthem, explore the history of the American presidency, and check out Dorothy's red slippers in the permanent exhibition "National Treasures of Popular Culture." Make money (or see money made) with a free tour of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Take a Gargoyle Tour (April through October, $10/adult, $5/child, or $30/family) at the National Cathedral. See how these whimsical creatures reflect history in stone. There's even one fashioned after Darth Vader. Enjoy a picnic in the picture-perfect medieval Bishop's Garden afterwards.
Art and Culture in Washington DCGet a behind-the-scenes look at the preservation of art in the Lunder Conservation Center. It's the first art conservation facility allowing the public permanent access to views of essential conservation work. There you'll see staff from the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum hard at work through floor-to-ceiling windows. See a show for a reasonable price by taking advantage of Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company's "Pay-what-you-can," seats, offered for the first two performances of every main stage production. Tickets (two-per-person) are sold at the theatre 90 minutes prior to showtime.
And More...Visit Eastern Market on weekend mornings to browse the work of local artisans and sample farm-fresh produce and concoctions. Get your dose of history with a visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to learn about the dangers of unchecked hatred.
Based on information provided by Destination DC Photo courtesy of Destination DC