Free Things to Do in Washington DC

Stop #6 – Washington DC | Cross Country

One day in DC is not enough. We walked around the beautiful town that is borderline pristine for about 6 hours straight and yet, I still wanted to see more.

My husband is the history buff, not me. But there was something infectious about walking around a city  that is engulfed in history. I couldn’t help feel excited as I walked through our national history, passing monuments and buildings erected as our country slowly became a great nation.

I was unexpectedly in awe.

Presidential Monuments

We walked to the Reflective Pool from our parking garage – a little bit of a hike from our parking garage, but the city was so vibrant and clean that we didn’t mind the exercise, especially with the need to stretch our aching legs and butts from hours sitting in a stuff car.

The Reflective Pool was unfortunately drained for repair at the time, and my spirits sank with the gaping hole that swallowed up the water that was once there. But, I needed to only look beyond the empty pool to see the Washington Monument looming over the other side that normally glistens in the afternoon sun.

On my other side, grand steps to the Lincoln Memorial were in such grand appearance (both in height and appearance) that I felt like I was entering a memorial for a god. Seeing President Lincoln sit upon his giant throne of a chair only enhanced this feeling.

The Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.

I soon came to realize that all the presidential monuments we’d witness that day were practically royal in their architectural structures resembling pantheons –  Lincoln Memorial, FDR Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, etc. They all exude greatness, including the non-presidential memorials, like Martin Luther King Jr.

When I read the giant quotes scrolled along the walls of their buildings, their wise words were just as inspiring to me as they must have been to the lucky ears who originally heard them. I had goosebumps along my arms and up my neck more times than I could count that day.

“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal.” – Thomas Jefferson

Words we refer to, but often take for granted in their simplicity and magnitude.

DSC00629While our nation may be young in comparison, Americans revered our presidents and founding fathers almost in the form of holy men.

War Memorials

While the presidential monuments left me feeling like a small spec of a person, the war memorials had a much more sobering effect. A grateful and humbling effect.


Walls of names for fallen soldiers and lifelike statues representing men in combat brings a strong realism to the stories many of us have only read about in text books. Seeing the Korean, Vietnam, and WWII memorials made the events more real to me somehow. I knew they’d happened in history, but for that day, walking through the memories, I carried a weight in my chest that cannot compare to the burdens these men and women carried in determination of defending their nation. Our nation.

Other Sites

Since we were on a schedule (as the whole trip was) we stuck to viewing monuments since they were free attractions. We didn’t have time for museums or indoor activities anyway.

Of course we visited the Capitol Building, and even stood in front of the White House gates, among other historic locations and sites.

At the White House, I was startled and impressed to see a giant of a man exiting an SUV within the gates, strapped with giant artillery over both of his arms. Nice to see security is so well stocked at the capitol building.

With every turn leaving me wide-eyed like a child on a field trip, it’s easy for me to say that I LOVE DC.


Arlington DCWe had to drive to see Arlington National Cemetary, as well as the Iwo Jima statue. They were less than a 10-minute driven from central DC, and they were free to see and enter.

Arlington is so vast it is overwhelming. Cemeteries always make me feel down, and the only difference with this one was the feeling of respect as we walked along the graves of our fallen heroes. I knew none of them, but I felt a connection with all of them,

Arlington Cemetary DCWe took the opportunity of watching the last changing of the guard for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It may sound dull, but it was beautifully symbolic in remembrance of the heroes who have fallen.

Sucked in by the cemetery, we missed Kennedy’s eternal flame since the grounds close to the public at 7pm. We kicked ourselves a little over this oversight. Yet another blunder in our poor planning.


As I look back on all of the monuments strewn throughout D.C., I marvel at what our country is based on. Our monuments and statues stand as a tribute to remember how our country and government were built. More importantly, these monuments stand as a means of remembering all of the people who sacrificed and risked their lives for the advancement of our nation.

Travel Tip

  • stay in a hotel outside of DC
  • monuments are free exhibits

Washington DC is an expensive town. If you plan on visiting, you’d be better off staying in a hotel outside of DC to save money. Additionally, if you’re going to be eating out while you tour the city, you can still save money with the sites since there are more than enough free monuments to fill your schedule. With so many cheap/free sites to see in DC, you really don’t need to empty your wallet if you’re site-seeing for the first time.

There are plenty more museums for my husband and I to visit on a later date, but those will require a larger budget.


  1. Great read and photos!

    I haven’t been to Washington and realise I should really see more of the US.
    Many thanks for stopping by my travel and photography blog. 🙂

    1. Thank you! I love finding fellow travel bloggers to share stories with.

  2. Beautiful photos, Ama. I really like the one of you sitting between Roosevelt and his dog. You certainly make a good travel guide, I’m quite tempted.

    1. Thank you, Cath! I don’t get to travel as often lately, but I try 😊

  3. vkahleranderson says:

    Oh, what a fun time you had! Thank you for sharing, and I hope that you and your husband get the opportunity to continue your country cruising, and so later share your adventures here. 🙂

    1. Thank you for reading! I still have more to share, so stay tuned 😊

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