A busy place in the Summer months, there are many free or cheap kids activities in Washington, D.C. and the surrounding area for every season.
Since we lived in Northern Virginia two separate times for a total of 4 years, we have a lot of familiarity with the Washington D.C. area. I have gathered activities for kids in the Washington, D.C. area. If you are a local and know of even more free or cheap kids activities in Washington, D.C. feel free to submit them in the short form at the end of this post.
Traveling to the D.C. area can be a bit tricky depending on what festivals are going on. During the Summer it is a packed place-especially around Fourth of July, but Sara at Sunshine Whispers shared some travel tips for heading to D.C. with kids. They are very helpful for Summer visits to Washington, D.C.
If you do not live in the DC area, we may have a list of free or cheap kids activities in your area. View all of the location-based lists of free or cheap activities for families to see if your town has been shared. If not, let me know so I can get on it! Click the image to view the series.
Free or Cheap Kids Activities in Washington, D.C.
From butterfly gardens, to hands-on science and outdoor fun, this list of 16+ Free Family Friendly Activities in Washington, D.C. is a great place to start looking for free or cheap activities for kids.
If music outdoors sounds like a great way to get out and about with kids, this list of outdoor concerts in the DC area should be on your list.
Check out the Drum Circle at Meridian Hill Park on Sunday afternoons (weather permitting).
Play, laugh, learn and discover through free interactive performances, puppets, dance and music that are designed to light up the imagination and celebrate a world of wonder at The National every Saturday morning.
The National Gallery of Art has many free events for different age groups, but registration may be necessary.
Every evening at 6pm the Kennedy Center holds a free concert. You can view the website for family friendly shows.
The Smithsonian Museums are all free to enter for children and adults.
Tour the National Mall at day or night. Just walking around and seeing the surrounding buildings, buses, and taxis can be a free or cheap kids activity in Washington, D.C.!
For older kids, visiting sites of American history and heritage give kids the chance to visualize and appreciate US heritage.
Visit the Dupont Circle Farmers Market for fresh local foods and a walk on Sunday mornings.
Hike the trails and take in natural scenery at Rock Creek Park.
If you are military, all the national parks and a big list of museums nationwide are free during the summer months.
Have middle school or high school kids? Take them to the Supreme Court to listen in on oral arguments.
Take a boat ride on the C&O Canal, or hike or ride bikes…whatever floats your boat.
If a stroll through gardens sounds like a kid-friendly idea (maybe not with toddlers), try the Kenilworth Gardens. It’s free to enter.
Catch an outdoor movie. Not all of these are appropriate for kids (in my humble opinion), but look through the convenient calendar format to pick which movies will work or your kids.
Little kids get enamored with little things, and mini bonsai trees just may keep your kids attention. They are found at the National Arboretum.
The Cherry Blossom Festival is a must-do if you are in the DC area at the right time in Spring. The flowers are beautiful and the walk is very picturesque.
Kids love fountains. Take a visit to Bartholdi Park in the US Botanical Garden for a beautiful fountain display.
The National Zoo has free admission and you get to see pandas!
My kids loved just taking a ride on METRO trains in the city. This alone was exciting for them-great for a rainy day and always handy for saving you from driving into DC and looking for parking.
If your kids want to get up close and personal with the military, grab a tour of the Pentagon.
During warmer months, walking around the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden is one of many free or cheap kids activities in Washington, D.C.
The National Harbor Carousel is only $7 to ride all day for kids. Adults ride free with a paid child. There is also a little beach nearby for wading and playing in the sand. (I know technically National Harbor is in Maryland, but it is so close to DC I had to include it here.)
Did you find any great free or cheap kids activities in Washington D.C. that are not listed here? Let me know in the form below and I will add them to the list!