Budget-Friendly Washington, D.C.

Whether looking for a quick and affordable weekend away or you’ve just been meaning to visit our nation’s capitol, families on a budget can have a full, fun and active weekend in Washington, D.C.

Although the mecca of wealth, power and government in this country, having a good time on a budget in D.C. is easily done thanks to the many free activities available to guests of all ages.

Renwick Gallery Wash. DC

© Tupungato | Dreamstime

Bring the family through the Renwick Gallery for a free tour of the highlights and incredible exhibits. This unique and striking museum showcases innovative works, delving into the evolution of the arts. Like most museums and public spaces in D.C., admission is free, allowing for visitors on a budget to fully explore the arts and history of the city.

Open each weekend, the Eastern Market on Capitol Hill boasts beautiful handmade arts, crafts and fresh produce and flowers. Listen to free live music while browsing the 100 merchants or more who frequent the historic market, established in 1873. The market boasts a wide array of indoor and outdoor vendors selling prepared food for a nice fall picnic, or peruse some artwork and photography to take home.

Wash. DC

© Angelique Platas

Take some photographs of your own walking along the National Mall, stopping at any one of the many memorials, monuments and museums in the area. If your feet get tired, hop on the DC Circulator Bus, traveling from Union Station and the National Gallery of Art to the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials for $1. Every trip for the first two hours after your purchase is free, so it is easy to spend a lot of time and a little money checking out the must-see historic spots of Washington, D.C.

National Zoo Elephant Washington DC

© Angelique Platas

Be sure to check out the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, located in the scenic National Zoological Park. It’s one of the oldest in the country and admission is free. Stroll the grounds visiting lions, pandas, primates and the small mammal house. Bring the kids by the farm for a close look at alpacas, donkeys and domestic animals.

For some competitive fun, head to the Capital One Arena and watch the Washington Capitols play for $11–165 a ticket. Check out prices and schedules in advance for greater savings, or on a whim as tickets can usually be purchased online the day before.

With so much free fun available for visitors of all ages and interests, Washington, D.C., can clearly hold its own as an affordable destination for families. Spend the day hopping from free activities and sightseeing onboard public transportation and feel free to indulge in a night out with the family.