Most Washington, DC museums are Free seven days a week. Crowds and parking are always an issue in the Capitol, so some planning and patience will make your visit more enjoyable. Also, see transportation and parking info below the list.
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Washington DC Museum Free Days
National Air and Space Museum – Free 7 days a week
National Air and Space Museum, Independence Ave at 6th St, SW Washington, DC 20560
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, 14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway, Chantilly, Virginia 20151. Parking at Udvar-Hazy $15.
National Gallery of Art – Free 7 days a week
4th and Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20565
National Museum of Natural History – Free 7 days a week
10th St and Constitution Ave, NW in Washington, DC 20560
National Portrait Gallery – Free 7 days a week
Eighth St and F St NW, Washington, DC 20001
National Postal Museum – Free 7 days a week
2 Massachusetts Ave, NE, Washington, DC 20002
National Zoological Park – Free 7 days a week
National Zoological Park 3001 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008
SAVVY TIP: The Zoo is a very popular destination, and parking lots often fill up early in the day, especially in spring, summer, and during ZooLights. Parking rates are $16 for the first three hours, and $22 for more than three hours. Parking is free for FONZ members. Street parking in the neighborhood is quite limited. Save yourself time and stress with a new option – you can now reserve a parking spot by calling FONZ Guest Services at 202.633.4486 Monday to Friday between 11am-3pm. Minimum of 48 hours’ notice required, $30 non-member/$20 member.
Smithsonian American Art Museum – Free 7 days a week
Smithsonian American Art Museum – 8th St and F St, NW.
Renwick Gallery – 1661 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W., at 17th Street, Washington, D.C. 20006
Smithsonian Museums of Asian Art: Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery – Free 7 days a week
Freer Gallery of Art – Jefferson Drive at 12th St SW. Arthur M. Sackler Gallery – 1050 Independence Ave SW. Washington, D.C.
U.S. Holocaust Museum – Free 7 days a week
100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, SW Washington, DC 20024
SAVVY TIP: During the busy months of March through August, a free pass is required to enter the Permanent Exhibition, ‘The Holocaust – a chronological history’. Passes are available online or in person. The Museum has no public parking facility. Paid parking is available on D St, SW, between 13th St and 14th St. Also, some metered parking is available along Independence Ave. Expect to walk a minimum of three to five blocks to the Museum entrance if you are traveling by car.
U.S. National Arboretum – Free 7 days a week
3501 New York Ave, NE Washington, DC 20002
SAVVY TIP: There is ample free parking. Large lots are located near the Grove of State Trees, near the R Street entrance, and near the New York Avenue entrance. Smaller lots are scattered throughout the grounds.
U.S. Navy Museum – Free 7 days a week
Washington Navy Yard – 805 Kidder Breese St SE, Washington, DC 20374
SAVVY TIP: Individuals above the age of 16 are required to have a valid government-issued ID card, such as a driver’s license, State ID, passport, or Common Access Card (CAC). Guests accompanied by children under the age of 16 will be responsible for those children. Large handbags and backpacks may be searched by Security. Personal vehicles are permitted on weekends ONLY. Vehicle registration and proof of insurance or rental agreement are required. During the week, parking is available for a fee in the lot adjacent to the Navy Yard at the intersection of 6th and M St SE.
Folger Shakespeare Library – Free 7 days a week
201 East Capitol Street, SE Washington, DC 20003
Free docent tours of the Folger Shakespeare Library are available on Monday – Friday at 11am and 3pm, and on Saturday at 11am and 1pm. Ticket required performances most evenings.
National Building Museum – Free access to the Great Hall, and free historic building tours. Exhibition access requires admission: $8/$5/$3. 401 F Street NW Washington, D.C. 20001.
More Washington DC Area Museums
American Visionary Art Museum – The official national museum for self-taught and intuitive artistry, located on a 1.1 acre wonderland campus on Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Three renovated historic industrial buildings house works of art by everyday people — farmers, housewives, the disabled, the homeless…and the occasional neurosurgeon — who create extraordinary things. “One of the best museums ANYWHERE in America,” raves CNN. On top of Travel + Leisure magazine’s list of “Ten Places to See Before You’re Ten.”
Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum - Highlights the life and times of George Herman “Babe” Ruth, Baltimore’s native son who became America’s first sports celebrity and international icon. Located in altimore, MD.
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation – Established in 1926, this not-for-profit educational institution preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Located in Williamsburg, VA.
Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center – Through film, artifact-filled galleries and outdoor living history, these museums engage visitors in nearly two centuries of our nation’s history – from the founding of America’s first permanent English settlement in 1607 to the decisive Revolutionary War victory in 1781 and implementation of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Maryland Science Center – Science Live! Science under the stars. Science on the big screen. Travel the planet, or visit other planets. Dinosaurs. Planet Earth. The Human body. Outer space. Chesapeake Bay life. The Kids Room. Three levels of Exhibits. Located in Baltimore, MD.
Mount Vernon: George Washington’s Estate & Gardens – Mount Vernon, the most popular historic estate in America, now features 25 new theaters and galleries in an underground museum and education center that illuminates George Washington’s remarkable life. A tour of the 45-acre historic estate includes the Mansion house as it appeared in 1799, more than a dozen outbuildings, four distinct gardens, a Forest Trail, and a four-acre exhibition farm. Located just 16 miles south of DC at the end of the George Washington Memorial Parkway.
National Geographic Museum – The exhibitions, and the scientific fieldwork and expeditions on which they are based, are supported by National Geographic’s Mission Programs. Located at 17th and M Streets NW in downtown Washington, D.C.
Newseum – Go behind the scenes to experience how and why news is made. This 250,000-square-foot museum of news offers an experience that blends five centuries of news history with up-to-the-second technology and hands-on exhibits. The Newseum features seven levels of galleries, theaters, retail spaces and visitor services.
Tudor Place – This National Historic Landmark is a house museum distinguished for its neoclassical architecture, decorative arts collection including over 100 objects from George and Martha Washington’s Mount Vernon, and 5 1/2 acres of gardens. Tudor Place presents the history of Georgetown, the Federal City, and the nation. Completed in 1816, Tudor Place was the home of Thomas Peter and his wife, Martha Custis Peter, granddaughter of Martha Washington. Tudor Place was designed by Dr. William Thornton, the first architect of the U.S. Capitol, and was home to six generations of the Custis-Peter family for 180 years. Located in Georgetown’s historic district.
Washington DC Parking and Transportation
You’ll find a limited number of free, 3-hour limit, on-street parking spaces near National Mall museums along Jefferson and Madison Drives. Visitors often find it more convenient to use public transportation, including taxis because free parking is limited and posted times are generally enforced. Metrorail, Washington’s subway system, and Metrobus link the city with nearby communities in Maryland and Virginia.
The Federal Triangle and Smithsonian stations, on Metrorail’s Blue and Orange lines, are located near the Mall. Every subway station is equipped with an elevator and most with escalators. There is no public parking facility at the Smithsonian on the National Mall.