Gray Line DC Guide: Which Washington museums are free?

Washington DC is home to some of the United States’ most fascinating historical sites, buildings, memorials, and folk stories. It seems fitting that the nation’s capital should have such a rich cultural heritage and it means that any history buff travelling to Washington DC is guaranteed to have an incredible time. While we proudly encourage visitors to take our Washington DC tours, such as our DC Twilight Tour and our Taste of DC/VA Tour, we also want to help visitors take advantage of everything Washington DC has to offer! As such, we’ve put together a list of Washington’s free museums! Keep reading if you’re looking for a little help planning your next big trip to Washington DC!

The National Museum of American History

Many people come to Washington to learn more about American History, and the National Museum of American History arguably the best place in which do this! Approximately five million people visit the National Museum of American History each year and it’s hard to believe that such a huge, comprehensive museum offers free entry. In the museum, you’ll find over three million artefacts paint the complex picture of America’s history. The museum’s pride and glory is Abraham Lincoln’s famous stovepipe Hat! 

National Museum of Natural History

As Washington is the nation’s capital, there’s a trend of many of its museums have names with the format “The National Museum of…” and this includes several museums on this list, including the National Museum of Natural History, which is the most visited natural history museum in the world. Visit the National Museum of Natural History if you want to see the legendary Hope Diamond, Egyptian mummies, and a vast array of dinosaur and various other animal fossils. This is a fantastic day for families with young kids


The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian

Another national museum — this time the National Museum of the American Indian. If you’re fascinated by American history, then this museum is a must as it delves back long before European settlers made their way to America, bringing African slaves with them, followed by Asian settlers. This museum explores the art, society and cultural heritage of the indigenous people in North and South America.

National Museum of African American History and Culture

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the only one of its kind. The modern, European-settled United States is a relatively young country when compared to many European countries and the ancient African civilizations. This means that we have a much better chronicle of this young country’s history than most other countries have. African Americans have had an incredibly important role in American history — both before and after the abolition of slavery and the Civil Rights Movement. This museum tells their story and offers a fresh perspective on American history.

(Image Credit: Commons Wikipedia: Fuzheado)

The National Gallery of Art

We’ve covered more than enough museums with a heavy history focus, so we’re more than confident that the history buffs will be happy with their next trip to Washington. In the interest of balance, we’d also like to recommend the National Gallery of Art. This incredible museum spreads across two buildings: one is dedicated to classical art and the other is dedicated to modern art. The classic art building has works by Calder and Leonardo da Vinci, so there are plenty of artworks from big artists for you to appreciate.  

We hope this guide has been useful for a few readers planning their next big trip to Washington DC. If you’d like to book one of our Washington DC tours and have a few questions, please feel free to get in touch!