10 Free Family Activities for Washington D.C. & Metro Area

A large part of my childhood was spent living just minutes outside of Washington D.C.  Spending Saturdays at the National Gallery of Art, or riding the metro to the National Zoo were common place.   Even now that I’m a grown up (at least, I think that I’m a grown up ;)) I love that my family and I live within driving distance of our nation’s capital.

You know that I love a freebie and a deal; especially since I find free stuff and great deals for homeschoolers all day long at FreeHomeschoolDeals.com.  It’s no different with homeschool family travel, which I  call roadschooling.  We load up our big van and take advantage of all the free, or almost free, opportunities we have so close to us.

10 Free Family Activities for Washington D.C. & Metro Area

  1. National Zoo – Our goal is to explore the National Zoo at least twice per year.  It’s FREE, and open everyday except Christmas.  You do have to pay for parking. We usually buy the ZooGoer pass for $40.  This gives us free parking for an entire year. It also gives us free or discounted admission into many zoos and aquariums nationwide. Last time we visited parking was over $22.   We found the parking savings + the additional free/discounted admission to other locations was well worth the small investment – especially for a growing family of seven!

    Our children always have to have their picture taken in the TREX head.

  2. National Museum of American History – Next up, we love the American history museum.  You will find full-size trains, Abraham Lincoln’s hat, Thomas Edison’s light bulbs and journals; and even this guy: Here is the information on the museum exhibitions, and information to plan your visit. Don’t worry, it’s free
  3. Washington Monument: I love watching our children run around The Washington Monument.  It’s a free landmark, surrounded by waving American flags, and towering at over 500 ft. One fantastic free event is the Cherry Blossom Festival. There’s also the Cherry Blossom webcam to keep an eye on the blooming! 
  4. Lincoln Memorial
  5. National Air & Space Museum
  6. National Air & Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center: Hear me on this; the National Air & Space Museum in Washington D.C. is amazing.  However, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is even better – it’s a warehouse!  This facility is in Sterling, Virginia – just outside of DC.  It’s the massive storage facility for the Air & Space Museum at the National Mall.  We like to spend an entire day at this location to explore. Not only do they have every kind of aircraft, including space shuttles, that you possibly would want to see; they have an airplane take-off/landing observation tower!
  7. National Portrait Gallery
  8. National Gallery of Art
  9. NRA Museum: The Nation Firearms Museum hosts firearms spanning hundreds of years. This is the perfect free museum to take kids (and dads)  who love hunting, history and action!
  10. National Museum of Natural History
  11. Free Washington Walking Tours are offered by DC by Foot


Additional Free Washington D.C. Resources:





  1. says

    We LOVE Washington, D.C. It’s particularly wonderful that a family can go to our nation’s capital and see all that history, all those historical documents, all the physical evidence of the founding of our country, without paying museum admission.

  2. says

    My son requests we got to the Museum of Natural History every year for his birthday. We love the Washington DC zoo. I agree the Udvar-Hazy museum is a lot better than the one in DC. We have been thereabout 6 times now.It’s nice being close to our nations capital. Skyline drive is a beautiful place to vsist in the fall!

  3. says

    Oh my word. I have been searching for THIS exact post. We’re headed to DC for our family vacation next month and I’ve been desperate to find a simplified list of the best free things to do for a REAL family! So excited, and pinned it!

  4. cwaltz says

    Do you have any recommendations in terms of food? We just got a Metrobus and one of the destinations is DC.

    • says

      Since we drive to DC now (we use to take the Metro, but it’s just not practical with a big family), we pack food. We usually picnic on the mall.


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