• Peruse the Constitution: Only in Washington and only at the National Archives will you be able to read the original documents that grounded this nation in liberty. Here you’ll find the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights—all on display behind glass.

  • People-Watch at Dupont Circle: This traffic circle is also a park—an all-weather hangout for mondo-bizarre biker-couriers, chess players, street musicians, and lovers. Sit and watch scenes of Washington life unfold around you—or join in the fun: The Circle is also the setting for outdoor yoga classes, World Cup screenings, and an annual snowball fight. 

  • Attend a Millennium Stage Performance at the Kennedy Center: Every evening at 6pm, the Kennedy Center presents a free 1-hour concert performed by local, up-and-coming, national, or international musicians. And though the Kennedy Center doesn’t advertise it, you might be interested to know that the Grand Foyer’s bars near Millennium Stage host food and drink happy hours between 5 and 6pm nightly. Purchase a cocktail and head through the glass doors to the terrace, where you can enjoy your drink and a view of the Potomac River.

  • Groove to the Sounds of Live Jazz in the Sculpture Garden: On summery Friday evenings at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, you can dip your toes in the fountain pool and chill out to live jazz from 5 to 8pm. The jazz is free; the tapas, wine, and beer served in the Pavilion Café are not.

  • Pick a Museum, (Just About) Any Museum: Because this is the U.S. capital, many of the museums are federal institutions, meaning admission is free. The National Gallery of Art, the U.S. Botanic Garden, and the Smithsonian’s 17 Washington museums, from the National Air and Space Museum to its newest, the National Museum of African American History & Culture, are among many excellent choices.

  • Attend an Event on the Mall: Think of the National Mall as the nation’s public square, where something is always going on—more than 3,500 events annually, according to the National Park Service. There’s the Kite Festival during cherry blossom season in the spring; the splendid Independence Day celebration every Fourth of July; special events reserved by individuals and random organizations that have obtained a permit, from weddings to speeches to yearly jamborees of, for instance, the National Astronomy Festival; and walking tours, biking, Frisbee throwing, and assorted impromptu sports happenings year-round. See our calendar of annual events.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.