Top 4 Budget-Friendly Things to Do in Washington DC

The capital city of the United States, Washington DC, may not be the first choice when looking for the best travel destinations in America.

Compared to the more popular destinations in the States like New York or Los Angeles, people probably only know the White House or the Capitol as some of the best American attractions in DC. In this post, Savanna from The Yes Project wants you to think otherwise. 

After visiting DC, she wants to highlight some of the budget-friendly things to do in Washington DC and ensure you that the city is worth visiting and you should include it as a part of your US trip itinerary!

4 Best Things to Do in Washington DC on a Budget

When people think of the places they wish to travel in the United States, usually places like New York City, beaches in Florida, Los Angeles, or hiking the Grand Canyon are at the top of the list. Believe me, Washington, D.C. was not at the top of my list either, but now that I have been, I cannot wait to go back!

After graduating college, I accepted an internship in Washington, D.C. I packed up everything I owned and either put it in my take to DC pile, move to MO with my parents pile, or my give away pile.

Then I moved nearly 1000 miles away from home to Washington, D.C. for 4 months, and leaving D.C. afterwards was one of the most heartbreaking things I have ever had to do.

Living in Washington, D.C. is expensive and since I was there for 4 months, I had to really stick to a budget and watch my money.

While living in D.C is crazy expensive, I was pleasantly surprised to find that being a tourist in D.C did not have to be expensive! Here are the top 5 things I recommend doing in Washington, D.C. for $10 USD or less!

Visiting Museums and Art Galleries

I haven’t been to many major cities, but I can confidently say Washington, D.C. is probably right at the top of the list for most affordable museums and art galleries and by most affordable, I mean… FREE!

To name a few of my favorites: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, National Museum of American History, National Museum of Natural History, National Gallery of Art East Building, and Renwick Gallery to name a few. I didn’t go to any that require a fee, but there aren’t very many of those anyways.

Stopping by Historical Monuments, Buildings and Murals

Everywhere you turn, there is something new to look at!

This was my favorite thing to do while in D.C and the best thing is that you can go at different times of days and in different seasons and they look completely different. The best part? ALL FREE!

Walking around the capitol and visiting all of the monuments, buildings, and art murals really teaches you about the history in D.C. and the culture of D.C. Alternatively, you can also join this Washington DC must-see sights with a tour guide.

My favorites include the Lincoln Memorial, WWII Memorial, Capitol Building, United States Supreme Court Building, Library of Congress, Colette Miller’s Angel Wings Project, and heart wall at Union Market.

Exploring the local culinary scene

At least once a week during my lunch break, I would go to the food trucks at Franklin Square on the corner of K St and 13th St but you can find food trucks almost everywhere.

A lot of the trucks offer combos that include an entree, side, and drink. My personal favorite is Philly cheese steak combo with fries and a Diet Coke for $9.99 which is offered at multiple food trucks so you get a taste of an American favorite with flavors from all over the world. My favorite came from an Indian food truck.

I also loved eating tacos in Washington DC. My favorite taco place is District Taco where you can get 3 tacos for $8.

I frequented their Metro Center location. I also loved El Centro D.F for their $2 tacos on Taco Tuesday and ½ priced margaritas during happy hour. You can’t beat a margarita and a couple of tacos for $10! I went to the 14th street location but there are 3 locations in D.C.

Wander around the CityCenter DC

At every season, CityCenter changes their walkway. While in DC I got to see the walkway decorated in beach balls, fall leaves, and snowflakes and Christmas lights.

Also in CityCenter is a modern bakery that offers a unique take on desserts. I got their cake truffles, which come in a package of 3 for I think around $8, and OH MY GOODNESS. They taste like dessert heaven.

When I make my way back to Washington D.C, which I hope happens during the Cherry Blossom Festival in the spring, I am sure I will visit quite a few of these places again.

Washington, D.C. is a place like no other and there is a lot to see, do, and eat whether you are in DC for a day, month, or longer.

You will never not have something to do or see or a place to eat at, but these are the top places I highly recommend for anyone visiting Washington, D.C. which allows you to visit without spending all of your savings.

Contributor: Savanna from The Yes Project

She is a blogger learning to live life one yes at a time. She used to be afraid of leaving home and traveling until she took the leap and traveled almost 1000 miles away from home and lived for 4 months and now there is no looking back!

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13 thoughts on “Top 4 Budget-Friendly Things to Do in Washington DC”

  1. I love that the museums and monuments are free in DC – super traveler and resident friendly. In my childhood, I visited several times, but haven’t been back only once as an adult. I’d love to see the CityCenter decorations and try the food truck tacos.

  2. Nice idea with the under $10! We went to DC last year and really enjoyed the food scene. Some good choices here in your guide

  3. My kids always choose DC as a top destination, which is awesome because so many of the attractions are free. We love visiting in April when the cherry blossoms are blooming. it’s so magnificent!

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