Top 10 Free Museums in Washington D.C.

Known as being No. 1 for museums, history, and free attractions, Washington D.C. boasts a plethora of free activities throughout the city. With so much history to absorb, explore these favorite only-in-D.C. experiences without having to take out your wallet.

1.White House & Washington National Monument

Source:, Jacob Creswick

While not technically a museum, visiting the White House and Washington National Monument is a must-see for any first-time visitors to Washington D.C. In 1884, the Washington Monument sat as the highest building in the world and now visitors can ride the elevators to the top for a 360-degree view of the city. Just to the north of the monument is the nation’s White House. Book, in advance, a tour to see the inside, to gain a peak of the State Floor, which includes the East Room, Green Room and the Blue Room.

2. National Gallery of Art

Calling all art connoisseurs… a trip to the National Gallery of Art is a must if you enjoy strolling the artfully decorated halls of a museum. With classics from Claude Monet and Henri Matisse, this museum is every art lovers’ dream and the best part is that it is completely free. Pace yourself as there is a lot to see and could easily fill up your afternoon. If you are here in the summertime, come out on a Friday evening to enjoy live jazz music in the Sculpture Garden.

3. Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum

Fly to new heights at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum. Walk amongst old relics like Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Vega 5B, Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, and Wilbur and Orville Wright’s 1903 Wright Flyer, just to name a few. Other special exhibits include a flight simulator, IMAX theater, and the Einstein Planetarium. While the entrance to the museum is free, the special exhibits do cost extra.

4. National Archive Museum

Although you will be met with long lines of people, the National Archive Museum is well worth a visit during your trip to Washington D.C. See what historic documents helped to shape the beginning of our country, including the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. While the museum is always free, it is suggested to reserve your spot online, which has a $1.50 service fee.

5. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Source:, Roberto Nickson

Learn about the history of our natural world at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. See the museum must-sees like the Hope Diamond, mummified cats, butterfly pavilion and so much more. Complete your visit with a stop at the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins, which showcases the history of human species over the past 6 million years.

6. United States Holocaust Museum

A bit more of a somber setting, the United States of Holocaust Museum is dedicated to the memorialization of those who lost their lives during the Holocaust. Visitors are given a name of someone who experienced the Holocaust as you walk through the museum and are given updates on the person’s well-being at the end.

7. Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture

As the only national museum dedicated to the documentation of African American life, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture is the newest museum of the Smithsonian Institute. Starting from scratch this museum collected antiques from across the United States from various ordinary people, who donated their unique artifacts.

8. Museum of the Bible

As one of Washington D.C.’s newest museums, the Museum of the Bible is a collection that brings the Bible to life. There are three permanent exhibits, that focus on biblical items, manuscripts, printed Bibles and books, and art. While there is no entrance fee, a donation is strongly suggested.

9. National Postal Museum

Lesser known than its brothers and sisters within the Smithsonian family, is the National Postal Museum. As a museum to honor and celebrate America’s proud postal history. See how it all began with modern showcases of how the postal system has developed overtime and developed into what it is today. Even discover the art of stamp making and design and how to start your own stamp collection.

10. National Portrait Gallery

Come face to face with America at the National Portrait Gallery. Located in the Old Patent Office building, the art museum showcases the portraits of past presidents and first ladies. Visitors will also find portraits of sports stars, musicians, and artists. Because this is a Smithsonian art gallery entrance is always free.

There are many reasons to visit Washington D.C. and these are just a few! Book directly with Vacation Rentals D.C. for the best rates and start exploring all of the wonderful things Washington D.C. has to offer.

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