Attractions, Museums and Libraries

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Free/Cheap DC

In Washington, D.C. there is no shortage of free and cheap entertainment. The only problem you’ll have is figuring out how to fit it all in. Many museums, memorials and government building are free and open to the public. For some sites such as the White House, The Washington Monument, the “Mint” and the Holocaust Museum, you must get your free tickets in advance, either by writing to your congressman with the date(s) of your visit or by waiting in line at the attraction on the day that you want ticket. Other sites have reduced rates with a student ID card. This list is by no means exhaustive. While we have tried to include everything, please remember some things may have been accidentally left out. We have included Metro stops, but if you need bus service, please visit the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority. FYI you can download WMTA maps to your IPOD.

Near the convention center

Government Buildings

Bureau of Engraving and Printing, aka “The Mint” -

Location: Entrance located on 14th & C Streets, SW

Admission: Free, tickets required, see below

Getting There: Metro – Orange/Blue Line to Smithsonian

Bureau of Engraving & Printing public tours can either be reserved in advance by calling (202) 874-2330 or tickets can be picked up at 8 am on 15th Street on the side of the building. One person can retrieve up to 8 tickets. Tours during the summer are from 10 am - 2 pm and from 5pm - 7 pm.

The Library of Congress -

Location: First and Independence Avenue, SE

Admission: Free

Getting There: Metro- Orange/Blue Line to the Capitol South Metro Station

Public tours are offered at the following times: Monday–Friday 10:30, 11:30, 1:30, 2:30, and 3:30; and Saturday at 10:30, 11:30, 1:30, and 2:30. The tours begin in the Ground Floor Visitors Center of the Thomas Jefferson Building. Hours vary by building and collection.

The National Archives -

Hours: Rotunda and Exhibit Halls 10:00AM – 7:00PM, Research Rooms 9:00AM – 5:00PM

Collection: The United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence are on permanent display. The collection also contains federal records from the 18th century to the present.

U.S. Capitol -

Location: First Street, SW and Independence Avenue

Admission: Free, tickets required, see below.

Getting There: Orange/Blue Line to the Capitol South Metro Station

Tours: Monday through Saturday from 9:00AM - 2:30PM. The tours are given free of charge, but tickets are required and can be obtained the same day of the tour on a first-come, first-served basis. Ticket distribution begins at 8:15 am at First Street and Independence Avenue. Guided tours last approximately thirty minutes and are organized in groups of 40 people.

For information on free, guided tours, call (202) 225-6827. To obtain passes to see the House and Senate in session, call your representative or one of your senators at (202) 224-3121.

The White House -

Location: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave (near the National Mall)

Admission: Free, tickets required- see below

Getting There: Metro: Blue and Orange Lines to Federal Triangle, or McPherson Square

Blue, Orange and Red Lines to Metro Center

The White House only offers tickets to groups of 10 or more people. It does not offer individual tickets. You must request tickets through one’s Member of Congress one to six months in advance. These self-guided tours are available from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday (excluding federal holidays), and are scheduled on a first come, first served basis approximately one month in advance of the requested date. Please submit your request as early as possible since a limited number of tours are available.

Historic Buildings

Anderson House - Dupont Circle

Location: 2118 Massachusetts Ave, NW

Admission: Free

Hours: Museum hours are 1pm-4pm, Tuesday through Saturday Library hours are 10am-4pm, Monday through Friday

Anderson house is a stunning example of Gilded Age architecture, constructed by Larz Anderson and his wife Isabel between 1902 and 1906. The house was used by the Andersons to entertain their diplomatic friends during the congressional season. In 1937, following Larz's death, Anderson House became the headquarters of the Society of the Cincinnati--the oldest American Patriotic Society. Today, Anderson House serves as a house museum, and houses the headquarters and library of the Society of the Cincinnati. The library collections focus on the American Revolution and contain manuscripts, early printed material, maps, and engravings. In addition, the library houses the archives of the Society, including correspondence between founding members including George Washington, Henry Knox, Pierre L'Enfant, and others.

Docent led tours of the house are available Tues. - Sat. at 1:15pm, 2:15pm, and 3:15pm. The library is open to all researchers by appointment. Call (202) 785-2040 x411 to schedule an appointment. ALA attendees are most welcome!

Dumbarton House – Georgetown -

Location: 2715 Que Street, Georgetown


Adults - $5.00

Students – Free with valid ID

Senior Citizens - $5.00

Hours: Tours only, see below

Getting There: Metro – Red Line to Dupont Circle, Q Street North Exit. Walk 6 blocks west on Q over the bridge and into Georgetown.

According to the website, the Dumbarton House “offers guests a distinctive look at Federal period architecture, furniture, and decorative arts, as well as life in Georgetown, during our nation’s earliest days.”

Docent-led tours are available Tuesday through Saturday beginning at 10:15 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 12:15 p.m., or 1:15 p.m. Tours last approximately 45 minutes. Dumbarton House is closed on all Federal holidays.

Ford’s Theatre -


Admission: free

Hours: Daily 9:00AM - 5:00PM

Location: Metro – Orange/Blue Line or Red Line to Metro Center

The theatre where President Lincoln was shot, which is across the street from the “House Where Lincoln Died”


African American Civil War Memorial Freedom Foundation and Museum

Location: 1200 U Street N.W. Admission: Monument (free), Museum

Hours: Museum - Monday to Friday 10:00AM to 5:00PM, Saturdays10:00AM to 2:00PM

Getting There: Metro – Green Line to the U Street/African-Amer Civil War Memorial/Cardozo

Honors African Americans who fought in the civil war and document’s the African American's heroic and largely unknown struggle for freedom.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial -

Location: West of the Jefferson Memorial and South of the Washington Monument

Admission: Free, no tickets required

Hours: open 24/7 park rangers on site 9:30AM - 11:30PM daily

Getting There: Metro - Orange/Blue Line to Smithsonian It is a long walk to the Jefferson Memorial, but it is on the Tourmobile stop for a fee

Jefferson Memorial -

Location: South of the Washington Monument

Admission: Free, no tickets required

Hours: open 24/7 park rangers on site 9:30AM - 11:30PM daily

Getting There: Metro - Orange/Blue Line to Smithsonian It is a long walk to the Jefferson Memorial, but it is on the Tourmobile stop for a fee

Korean War Veterans Memorial -

Location: National Mall- eastern end

Admission: Free, no tickets required.

Hours: open 24/7 park rangers on site 9:30AM - 11:30PM daily

Getting There: Metro- Blue and Orange Line to Smithsonian

Lincoln Memorial

Location: National Mall- eastern end

Admission: Free, no tickets required.

Hours: open 24/7 park rangers on site 9:30AM - 11:30PM daily.

Getting There: Metro- Blue and Orange Line to Smithsonian

Viet Nam Veterans Memorial -

Location: National Mall

Admission: Free

Hours: open 24/7 park rangers on site 9:30AM - 11:30PM daily

Getting There: Metro- Blue and Orange Line to Smithsonian

Washington Monument-

Location: National Mall

Admission: Free, tickets needed, see below

Hours: 9:00AM - 5:00PM, daily

Getting There: Metro- Blue and Orange Line to Smithsonian

Tickets are available on a first come, first serve basis, beginning at 8:30 am. You can order tickets in advance online for a service fee of $1.50 at or by calling 1-800-967-2283.

World War II Memorial -

Location: National Mall

Admission: Free

Hours: open 24/7 park rangers on site 9:30AM to 11:30PM daily.

Getting There: Metro- Blue and Orange Line to Smithsonian


Newseum -

Location: 555 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.

Admission: Look for a 50% off coupon in the ALA ActionAd Booklet!

General Admission - Good for admission on two consecutive days.

Adults (19 to 64) $19.95 plus tax

Seniors (65+), military and students with valid ID $17.95 plus tax

Youth (7 to 18) $12.95 plus tax

Children (6 and younger) Free

Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily

Getting There: Via Metro: Archives/Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter Station, Take the Green or Yellow Line to the Archives/Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter Metro Station. Exit the station, turn left and walk toward Pennsylvania Avenue. Turn left onto Pennsylvania Avenue, walk toward the Capitol and cross Seventh Street. Walk one block to the Newseum, located at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Sixth Street.

Collection: The Newseum — a 250,000-square-foot museum of news —blends five centuries of news history with up-to-the-second technology and hands-on exhibits to take museum-goers behind the scenes to experience how and why news is made. Fourteen main exhibition galleries explore history, electronic news, photojournalism, world news and how the media have covered major historical events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

International Spy Museum -

Location: 800 F St., N.W.

Admission: Adults: $16.00

Visitors 60 and over: $15.00

Students: $16.00

Hours: 9:00AM - 8:00PM (last admission 6:00pm)

Getting There: Metro - Red, Yellow or Green line to Gallery Place/Chinatown follow the "to Galleries" signs and exit the station on 9th and G St. N.W., the museum is one block south (past the Portrait Gallery)

Collection: The International Spy Museum boasts the largest collection of spy artifacts ever put on public display. It reconceptualizes the museum experience by encouraging guests to get into the spirit of spying by choosing a cover and participating in interactive exhibits. Great for history buffs! Best time to visit is first thing in the morning when the museum opens. Tickets often sell out so plan ahead! You may purchase tickets in the museum lobby up to six months in advance or through Local concierges often have special access tickets that will allow admission even when tickets are sold out.

National Museum of Women in the Arts -

Location: 1250 New York Avenue, N.W.

Admission: Adults: $8.00

Visitors 60 and over: $6.00

Students: $6.00

Hours: Monday-Saturday: 10:00AM - 5:00PM, Sunday: noon - 5:00 p.m.

Getting There: Metro - Red, Blue or Orange line to Metro Center

Collection: The museum’s collection covers women artists from the 16th century to the present and includes a wide range of media such as photography, sculpture, painting and decorative arts. A special collection of 17th and 18th century English and Irish women silversmiths is also on display.

The Phillips Collection -

Location: 1600 21st Street, NW

Admission: $12 for adults

$10 for visitors 62 and over and students

No charge for visitors 18 and under or Museum Members.

Hours: Tuesday–Saturday 10:00AM – 5:00PM, Thursday 10:00AM– 8:30PM, Sunday 12:00 –5:00PM

Getting There: Metro – Red line to Dupont Circle

Collection: The Phillips collection was the first modern art museum in the United States, when Duncan Phillips opened his home collection to the public. It features works by Matisse, Braque, Bonner, Ryder and O’Keefe. Some of the highlights include Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party and the Rothko Room.

Provisions Library -

Location: 1611 Connecticut Ave, NW (Across from The Phillips Collection)

Admission: FREE

Hours: Tuesday - Friday 12pm-7pm, Saturday 12pm-5pm

Getting There: Metro - Red line to Dupont Circle - Q Street Exit

Collection: We offer over 6,000 books, 350 magazines and 167 DVD’s and 120 CD’s about social change topics. Our intent is to have relevant materials on hand to inspire activism that fosters peace, justice, social responsibility and sustainability. We established a list of social change related topics, which we call Meridians that help shape our acquisitions and program decisions. Key to our approach is the exploration of intersections where new ideas can integrate previously disconnected social change arenas. Programs offer us the opportunity to deepen the collection’s holdings and offer better public resources. In this way, we are able to shape the library’s collections to reflect our ongoing work.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum -

Location: 100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, SW (Independence Avenue and 14th Street)

Admission: Free.

Hours: 10:00AM – 5:30PM daily

(Normally tickets for the Permanent Exhibits may be obtained at the Museum on the day of your visit or in advance by calling at (800) 400–9373. Each day, the Museum distributes on a first–come first–served basis a large but limited number of timed entry passes for use that same day. No tickets/passes are needed to enter the Museum building, special exhibitions, or the interactive Wexner Learning Center.)


Location: National Mall

Admission: Free

Getting There: Metro- Blue and Orange line to Smithsonian

The Smithsonian Institute is comprised of 17 museums, the national zoo and several research centers and archives. For more information on individual hours, please visit or call202.633.1000 (voice/tape); 202.633.5285 (TTY).

Go to this link to print out a guide that details the hours, locations, collections and transportation information for all of the museums.

Except where noted, all of the museums listed here are located on “The Mall” in Washington, D.C. The mall is a park like setting between the US Capitol Building and the Washington Monument.

The Smithsonian Libraries is hosting tours, an open house, and a panel discussion during the American Libraries Association annual conference in Washington, DC in June. All are welcome to attend, but space is limited and reservations are required.

Monday, June 28, 10:00 am – noon, National Museum of Natural History: the Biodiversity Heritage Library will be holding a panel discussion of the project with staff from a range of the twelve member libraries. More information can be found at:

Monday, June 28, 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm, Victor Building: Four units for American art research will be opening their doors for an open house: Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery Library; Research and Scholars Center, Smithsonian American Art Museum; The Center for Electronic Research and Outreach Services (CEROS); The Archives for American Art. More information can be found at:

Tuesday, June 29, 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm, National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of African Art: four of the twenty branches of the Smithsonian Libraries will be having tours: the Botany-Horticulture Library, The Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History, John Wesley Powell Library of Anthropology, and The Warren M. Robbins Library at the National Museum of African Art. More information can be found at:

African Art Museum -

Hours: 10:00 AM – 5:30PM daily

Collection: Ancient to contemporary art from the African continent including, sculpture, ceramics, painting, drawings, utilitarian objects, funerary objects and textiles.

Air and Space Museum and Udvar-Hazy Center -

Hours: daily 9:00AM – 5:30 PM daily

Collection: Artifacts and objects from the first airplane flight to the space race.

American Art Museum -

Location: 8th and F Streets N.W

Hours: 11:30AM – 7:00PM daily

Getting There: Metro – Yellow/Green Line or Red Line to Gallery Place/Chinatown

Collection: American art and artists featuring colonial portraits, nineteenth-century landscapes, American impressionism, twentieth-century realism and abstraction, New Deal projects, sculpture, photography, prints and drawings, contemporary crafts and decorative arts, African American art, Latino art, and folk art.

American History Museum

Hours: 10:00 AM - 5:30 PM daily

Collection: The National Museum of American History collects artifacts of all kinds—from gowns to locomotives—to preserve for the American people an enduring record of their past.

American Indian Museum -

Hours: 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM daily

Collection: Displays art and artifacts from Native American Cultures across North America, plus items from the Caribbean, Mexico, Central, and South America.

Anacostia Community Museum -

Location: 1901 Fort Place, SE

Hours: Daily 10:00AM – 5:00PM, daily

Getting There: Metro – Green Line to Anacostia Metro Station

Take the Local exit out of the station. After exiting, turn left and go to the W2 or W2 bus stop on Howard Road. Note: the W2 bus runs only during AM and PM rush hours. The W3 bus runs every 30 minutes 9:30 AM- 4:00PM M-F, and every 20 minutes on weekends. The W2 and W3 buses stop in front of the museum.

Collection: A museum of African American history and culture, it explores American history, society, and creative expression from an African American perspective.

Arts and Industries Building - CLOSED FOR RENOVATIONS

Freer and Sackler Galleries -

Hours: 10:00AM – 5:30 PM, daily

Collection: The museums are connected by an underground exhibition space. These two galleries house one of the best collections of Asian art in the world. The collection also includes American art, ancient Egyptian art, ancient Near Eastern Art, Islamic Art and Biblical manuscripts, including the famous Peacock Room created by James McNeill Whistler.

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden -

Hours: 10:00AM – 5:30 PM, daily

Collection: The Hirshhorn features art and sculpture from contemporary artists. Of particular interest is the outdoor sculpture garden.

National Zoo -

Location: 3001 Connecticut Avenue NW

Hours: Grounds 6:00AM – 8:00PM, Buildings – 10:00AM – 6:00PM, daily

Getting There: Red Line to the Woodley Park/Zoo/Adams Morgan stop or the Cleveland Park stop TIP: The walk to the zoo is uphill from the Woodley Park stop.

Natural History Museum -

Hours: 10:00AM – 5:30 PM, daily

Collection: This diverse collection includes specimens from primitive life, extinct animals, gems, fossils and dinosaurs. The famous Hope Diamond is located here.

National Portrait Gallery -

Hours: 11:00AM – 7:00PM, daily

Collection: The National Portrait Gallery hosts portraits of famous Americans including, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., George Washington, Marilyn Monroe, Babe Ruth and Rosa Parks to name a few.

Postal Museum -

Hours: 10:00AM – 5:30 PM, daily

Location: 2 Massachusetts Ave., N.E.

Getting There: Red Line to Union Station

Collection: Showcases the history of the national philatelic and postal operations collection.

Renwick Gallery -

Hours: 10:00AM – 5:30 PM, daily

Getting There: Metro – Orange/Blue Lines to Farragut West

Collection: Features work from contemporary craft artists


Outside of DC

Arlington National Cemetery -

Location: Arlington National Cemetery Arlington, Virginia 22211

Hours: 8:00AM – 5:00PM

Admission: Free

Getting There - Metro: Blue Line to Arlington National Cemetery Stop

Arlington National Cemetery is home to the Tomb of the Unknown Solider, and President Kennedy’s grave, to name a few. There is also a mansion and an amphitheater on the grounds.

Mount Vernon – Mount Vernon, Virginia

Ticket prices

Adults - $13.00 Senior Citizens, age 62 and above (with identification) - $12.00 Youth ages 6 through 11 (accompanied by an adult) - $6.00 Children ages 5 and under (accompanied by an adult) – FREE Annual Pass (unlimited daytime admission for one year) - $18.00 Add a Youth to Annual Pass, each - $9.00

Getting There- Public Transportation

Metro and Bus

Yellow Line to Huntington Station

Exit at the lower level (Huntington Avenue) of the station to catch a Fairfax Connector bus to Mount Vernon.

Board the Fairfax Connector Bus #101 (Fort Hunt Line) at Huntington Station for a 20-minute trip to Mount Vernon's entrance gate. For fare information and schedules, call Fairfax Connector at (703) 339-7200 or visit

Compiled by Megan A. Davis

American Red Cross Museum

A small museum worth a visit.


National Geographic Society's Museum

It is located at National Geographic Headquarters in DC.

--- International DC Attractions


DC Parks and Gardens
See the natural side of DC by visiting the parks and gardens.

--- Navy Museum
Tour an old ship yard with planes, boats and more.

--- Elizabeth Stone Gallery
Recommend visiting the Elizabeth Stone Gallery in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. The gallery specializes in children's book illustration and features original art, limited editions, prints, and children's books. One of the representated illustrators is Gennady Spirin. His original art work from SIMEON'S GIFT, written by Julie Andrews (a keynote speaker this year) and Emma Walton Hamilton, will be on exhibit and available for purchase. Great opportunity to acquire very collectible and beautiful art! I checked and Elizabeth will be open extended hours on Thursday, June 21 - Wednesday, June 27 from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm. She also said special transportation arrangements can be made for groups of 10 or more with advance notice. Otherwise, the gallery is easily accessible by metro; it is only a few blocks from the King Street Metro on the yellow/blue line. A very cool find and opportunity since the conference is going to be in Washington, D.C. this year!