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Free Fun in D.C.

Nancy Trejos

I had been thinking of going up to New York to see my family this past long weekend but decided to stay put so that I could save some money.

I ended up spending much of the weekend hanging out with one of my best friends, Daphne. We live a few blocks away from each other in Adams Morgan, and I have to admit, we often end up staying in our neighborhood.

But this past weekend, we decided to explore D.C. and realized that there are a lot of fun — and free — things to do. We had a great time and spent little money (It also helped that our friends had a Fourth of July barbeque on Saturday then fed us leftovers for dinner on Sunday.)

So for today’s blog item, I’ve decided to compile a list of free — or nearly free — things to do the next time you find yourself with time on your hands on a weekend or evening.

1) Gather some friends, a blanket and some picnic food and head to the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery of Art. Every Friday from 5 to 8:30 p.m., there is a live performance, usually jazz. The garden is on the National Mall at 7th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, bounded by Constitution Avenue and Madison Drive.

2) For another free performance, go to the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. You can take in a free concert there every night at 6 p.m. (There’s a Hip Hop Theater Festival tonight.)

3) Go for a run or walk in Rock Creek Park. We took a trail near the Calvert Street entrance that led us to Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown, which has many pretty gardens you can walk around for $8 (or $5 if you are a senior or child.) The entrance to the gardens is at R and 31st Streets NW. If you want to walk around a pretty park for free, run over to Montrose Park, which is in between Rock Creek and Dumbarton Oaks around R and 32nd Streets NW. There are many other pretty trails you can walk or run through in Rock Creek Park.

4) Another great place for running: the National Mall. And stop by one of the monuments while you’re at it.

5) Check out the pandas at the National Zoo. We got there in time to see one of the pandas drink some water. Mission accomplished!

6) Stroll through the National Arboretum. It’s got more than 400 acres of plants. You can even have a picnic lunch there.

6) There is no shortage of free museums to explore in D.C. A couple that I have yet to see but plan to: the National Portrait Gallery and the National Museum of the American Indian.

7) A few other historical sites on my list (and Daphne was shocked that I had not been to these places yet, considering that I have spent most of the last 15 years in D.C.): The Library of Congress and the National Archives. I have yet to see the Declaration of Independence!

There are so many more free things you can do in D.C. If you have an idea I haven’t thought of, please share!

By Nancy Trejos  |  July 7, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Bargains , Nancy Trejos  
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