Written by Pat DiFrancesco, Program Advisor – Institute on Economics and International Affairs
Here in Washington DC, it’s hard to believe the saying “the best things in life are free.” By the time you ride the metro into work, grab a coffee at Starbucks, buy lunch, ride the Metro home, and purchase groceries for dinner, you’ve spent a pretty penny. To help keep the entertainment expenses down here are a few recommendations for free or cheap weekend activities
The Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum and research complex, consisting of 19 museums and galleries, including the National Zoological Park. Explore the history of the United States at the National Museum of American History or view the original Constitution at the National Archives and Records Administration. All information about these experiences and more can be found here.
Theater and the Performing Arts:
Located only a few blocks from Shenkman Hall, enjoy a free performance at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage every evening at 6 p.m. Acts include everything from performances by the National Symphony Orchestra to poetry slams.
Throughout the summer, you can head over to George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium to see various free shows. The GW Orchestra concerts are free and open to the public. You might even catch a live performance by the United States Air Force Band’s Jazz Ensemble.
Arts and Culture:
Tuesday through Friday, swing by the The Phillips Collection, America’s first museum of modern art, in Dupont Circle. Visitors can view pieces by Renoir and Rothko, Bonnard and O’Keeffe, van Gogh and Diebenkorn along with many other stunning impressionist and modern works. Access to the permanent collection is free of charge.
You can also follow Georgetown’s cobblestone streets to the Old Stone House, DC’s last pre-Revolutionary building standing on its original foundation.
Dining: As Close to “free” as you can get!
The handwritten sign above the register at Ben’s Chili Bowl claims Bill Cosby and Barack Obama are the only customers who can eat for free. However, you can grab a rather inexpensive meal at this city signature.
For something sweet, check out the DC cupcake scene. Visit Baked & Wired in Georgetown to get handcrafted espressos and delicious deserts made from family recipes. Get a full list of choices by visiting their website.
It doesn’t take a full wallet to have fun in Washington. With an open mind and an appetite for adventure you never know where you might end up in the nation’s capital.