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List of Free Museums in Washington, DC

Free and affordable museum admission is one of the best, well-kept secrets in Washington, DC. It’s important to be mindful of a budget and keeping costs down, even when on vacation. With museums, you can find a family-friendly activity, something to span diverse age groups, interests, and activity levels. Museum visits are entertaining, educational, and budget-friendly.

  1. US Botanic Garden
    • The realization of President George Washington’s vision for a living museum of plants.
  2. African American Civil War Memorial and Museum
    • 166 regiments of Civil War troops and sailors are remembered here.
  3. National Museum of Natural History
    • Dinosaurs, primordial landscapes, African elephants, and more! Note: Fossil Hall is closed through 2019.
  4. Washington National Cathedral
    • Well-known and functioning as a national worship site, it also offers special activities for young children.
  5. US Holocaust Museum
    • The museum offers a family guide that includes age-appropriate activities for families with younger children.
  6. US National Arboretum
    • Admission is free to this park-like museum, alive with special collections like the Flowering Tree Walk, the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum, and the National Grove of State Tree.
  7. National Museum of the American Indian
    • Art and artifacts of more than 1,000 Native American cultures.
  8. DAR Museum
    • The Daughters of the American Revolution’s museum is dedicated to the preservation of artifacts that showcase American history and patriotism.
  9. National Archives
    • Visit the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom and see the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution of the United States.
  10. The White House
    • Contact your member of congress for reservations for a free, self-guided tour. Tours are subject to change based on White House needs.
  11. US Capitol Visitors Center
    • Six days a week, 45-minute tours are offered; reservations highly recommended, although some same day passes may be available, first come, first served. See the National Statuary Hall and the Rotunda on your tour.
  12. National Air and Space Museum
    • This museum houses an engaging collection of space and aviation exhibits, including Lunar Module LM-2.
  13. National Portrait Gallery
    • For more than 50 years, this museum has collected portraits of Americans – both ordinary and extraordinary – who represent our history and culture. It’s especially well-known for its “America’s Presidents” exhibition.
  14. The Lincoln Memorial
    • Dedicated to the 16th president and the work he did to guide the country through the Civil War.
  15. International Spy Museum
    • View artifacts and exhibits that chronicle the history of espionage around the world.
  16. Frederick Douglass National Historic Site
    • Visit the home of this famous American abolitionist.
  17. The Freer Gallery of Art
    • Part of the Smithsonian Institution, this museum’s primary focus is Asian art, from Southeast Asia to ancient Egypt.
  18. Ford’s Theater
    • Tours are available of this site, where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865.
  19. National Postal Museum
    • You’ll find a generous selection of artifacts related to the history of the US Post Office as well as stamp collecting.
  20. National Museum of American History
    • See the original Star-Spangled Banner that flew over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812 and the inspiration for the national anthem.
  21. National Museum of African Art
    • See an eclectic collection that includes art, textiles, jewelry, sculpture, slides, and photographs.
  22. National Building Museum
    • For the left-brained folks, seek out exhibits here on engineering, architecture, construction, and more.
  23. National Gallery of Art
    • Established with his own art collection donated by Andrew W. Mellon, this world-class art museum includes paintings, sculpture,
  24. The Wilderness Society Gallery
    • Support conservation efforts while enjoying photography exhibits that celebrate America’s natural beauty.

Before you go, get the museum’s mobile app, if there is one. It will help you plan your visit, from timing your visit, transportation and parking, planning what to see and do, and never missing a major, once-in-a-lifetime exhibit.

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