We tend to overlook a lot of things that come free to us in life, but when something unexpected is presented to us it tends to be a pleasant surprise and one that can really make our day. Quite often there are plenty of hidden gems that can be experience for free everywhere we go and Washington, DC is certainly no exception. So allow us to convince you that the best things in life are free and see what you can add to your next visit!
First on your list should be the Smithsonian's National Zoo, where you can visit two of DC's most famous residents: Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, the zoo's two giant pandas with their adorable offspring Bao Bao. See these incredible creatures as well as their smaller neighbours, the Red Pandas who have recently given birth to seven adorable cubs! See them and many more, all for nothing!
For a taste of history and a genuine bit of family fun, we recommend a visit to the National Mall were a number of free tours are held. Gratuity is recommended for these tours, but DC by Foot's guides do incredible work at including and engaging kids on the tours with fun facts and games scattered throughout, especially for the Ghosts of Georgetown Tour. For a look beyond the National Mall and greater independence, Cultural Tourism DC provides free self-guided walking tours, telling the historic stories behind some of the local neighbourhoods.
You can also enjoy some free star-spotting (in more ways than one) whilst you're here. First, get a good look at those who have stood in front of the world, representing the famous stars and stripes of America. Head to the National Portrait Gallery for a good look at all of the Presidents in the nation's only complete collection of presidential portraits outside The White House can be found. Alternatively, look to the skies at Rock Creek Park where the National Park Service will give you a tour of the night sky for free in their impressive planetarium.
Look in awe at the local green space to be found at the National Arboretum, where you'll be embraced by a vibrant spectrum of different colours. A living museum, this was the setting for the original U.S. Capitol, which was burned during the war in 1812. However, the original pillars still stand tall today and make for a powerful destination to visit.
And now for a few ideas that are almost free...
Washington, DC serves up some delightful cheap eats for visitors, some of which come with free entertainment on the side. We've told you before about the delightfully legendary grub at Ben's Chili Bowl, but head to Little Ethiopia where a host of restaurants will offer to cook you up a treat of a spiced stew. Head there on a Wednesday night for a traditional show full of dancing and music.
If you're after a drink to accompany some grub, then the Brasserie Beack will impress with it's half-price draft beers between 5 and 7pm on weeknights, otherwise be romanced by the cultural offerings of the Alliance Francais de Wahington, where you can take in some French wine to accompany a movie or a talk for as little as $5 in total.