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See DC for free

Jenna Johnson

Today's guest blogger is Ethan Klapper, a rising senior at American University who is double majoring in print journalism and political science. Ethan has been a Washington Post intern (twice), and this summer he's interning as a government reporter for a specialized publication.

ethan_klapper.jpgD.C. is not the cheapest city -- especially for an intern. But there is a silver lining: tons of free attractions to visit that don't cost a dime!

Here are some of my favorites, ranging from the better-known to the off-the-beaten-path.

Smithsonian Institution
Perhaps the most well known set of free attractions in D.C. are the museums of the Smithsonian Institution. There are nearly 20 Smithsonian museums, as well as the National Zoo, almost all of them in the D.C. metro area.

My favorite (by far) is the National Air and Space Museum on the National Mall. Objects on display include the Command Module used during Apollo 11, as well as a full-sized nose section of a Boeing 747.

Metro: L'Enfant Plaza or Smithsonian

Old Post Office Tower
Want an amazing view of the city, without having to wake up early to wait in line, or (gasp) spend money to reserve tickets online for the Washington Monument? Drop by the Old Post Office Tower, on Pennsylvania Avenue. At 315 feet tall, the tower is the third-highest building in the District (the observation deck checks in at 270 feet).

The views are expansive, and the crowds are a fraction of what you'll find at the Washington Monument. The longest I've waited to travel to the observation deck was 15 minutes -- on a Saturday.

Metro: Federal Triangle

Rock Creek Park
Once you spend a day in Rock Creek Park and hike part of the park's vast trail network for a few hours, it will be very easy to forget you're still in a major city. I'm partial to the Western Ridge Trail.

Metro: Varies. Check this map to see the best station for where you'd like the spend the day.

Mount Vernon Trail
Across the Potomac River in Virginia is the Mount Vernon Trail, which follows the Potomac River for a number of miles, all the way to George Washington's home at Mount Vernon. Bonus: visit Theodore Roosevelt Island and the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial, accessible off the Mount Vernon Trail.

Metro: Rosslyn

Some of my other favorite free attractions:
National Archives
Eastern Market

Favorite (and free) memorials
Lincoln Memorial
Jefferson Memorial
Vietnam Veterans Memorial

By Jenna Johnson  |  June 9, 2010; 9:13 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. Interns  | Tags: Internships  
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