Having Fun on the Cheap - Washington, DC
Use PSJD's "Having Fun on the Cheap" pages, which are compiled by locals, to learn how to stretch your paycheck and maximize your fun while completing an internship or working in a big city. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have resources to contribute. Thanks.
Free Things to Do
The National Zoo: The Zoo currently has a record number of lion cubs, giant pandas and baby apes. Admission is free, and if you go early, you can avoid the crowds.
The Library of Congress: In addition to being a working research library for members of Congress, the library features guided tours of its historic collections, special exhibitions, and a variety of concerts, lectures, and other events.
The National Archives: The Archives are home to the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and other priceless pieces of the United States' textual legacy.
The White House: This one takes some planning, but is well worth it. Self-guided tours are available by request from 7:30 am to 11:30 am, Tuesday through Thurday and 7:30 am to 1:30 pm Fridays and Saturdays. Requests must be submitted no less than 21 days in advance.
The Capitol: Open to visitors 8:30 am to 4:30 pm most days of the week. Book tours in advance online or through the office of your Congressional representative.
Arlington National Cemetery: Right across the Potomac, across the bridge behind the Lincoln Memorial. Give yourself the official smartphone app or check the calendar to learn when special ceremonies are being held.
Frederick Douglass National Historic Site: The National Park Service has preserved the statesman's home in Southeast DC, across the Anacostia River.
Jazz in the Sculpture Garden: In the summer, the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden is a great place to spend a couple of hours. In the summer you can enjoy Jazz in the Park on Friday afternoons after 5 PM.
Freedom Plaza: A focal point for political protests and civic events in the District. Check their webpage to see if anything is happening while you're in town!
Monuments in the Dark: When the sun is out in Washington, so are the tourists — especially at the monuments. That is why it is best to see them at night. Not only will you avoid the crowds, you will also get to enjoy the beautiful lighting.
Smithsonian Museums: Take a cultural and historical day to explore the Smithsonian Museums scattered around Washington.
African American Civil War Memorial & Museum: Located away from the mall, in the historic U Street neighborhood.
Outdoor Movies for Free: One of the more well-know is Screen on the Green. Every Monday night starting in mid-July, there are free movies on the National Mall (an outside area of land in the middle of the district). Bring a blanket, some snacks and a friend to enjoy an outdoor movie… for free!
Art Galleries in Dupont Circle: From 6 to 8pm on the first Friday of each month, art galleries in Dupont Circle are open for the monthly gallery walk.
Supreme Court: Take a tour, sit in on a case, or go early and witness swarms of people in front of the courthouse.
Washington National Cathedral: Take a spiritual journey to the National Cathedral, or just stop by and admire beautiful architecture.
Tour Embassy Row: Washington is dotted with embassies, but many of them are clustered along a stretch of Massachusetts Avenue running northwest from Dupont Circle. National Geographic has an excellent guide.
Walk Up the "Exorcist Stairs": If you haven’t seen The Exorcist, firstly, go see it. Georgetown alumnus William Peter Blatty wrote the 1973 thriller and he included the dark stairs in one of the most chilling scenes of his movies. On the brighter side, Georgetown athletes use the stairs to train.
Cheap Things to Do
Saturdays and Sundays at Eastern Market: By far, one of the best places to eat great food, people-watch and sample local arts and crafts in DC on a Sunday. The market first opened in 1873 and is on Capitol Hill. Plan to spend the whole morning as there is plenty to enjoy.
Take in a show at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company: Keep your wallet full with Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company’s “Pay-What-You-Can” tickets for the first two performances (usually Monday and Tuesday) of every main stage subscription series production. Tickets are sold at the theatre 90 minutes prior to showtime. Two per person, cash or check only. Check the individual show calendars for specific dates, times and locations.
Farmer’s Markets: The DC area has several excellent options for locally grown, fresh produce. The White House Farmer's Market is located at 810 Vermont Avenue, NW (between H St, NW and I St, NW), Thursdays from 11am to 2:30pm. Another large and popular market is located in Dupont Circle on 20th Street, Sundays from 8:30am to 1pm. If you’re looking the get out of the city, the nation's oldest farmer's market (and the one where George Washington’s vegetables were sold) takes place at 301 King Street, Alexandria, on Saturdays from 5:30 to 11am.
Kennedy Center: If you’re going to take in a show, you might as well go all out and see it where presidents do. The Kennedy Center has plenty of free events, and discounted young adult tickets. The theater is a beautiful monument in itself- with a rooftop view that can’t be beat!
Happy Hour Roundup: check out The Washington Post‘s Guide to Intern Happy Hours for inexpensive HH suggestions!
Washington Post’s Intern Guide covers everything from Happy Hour to theater tickets on the cheap.