In a city with so much going on, it’s hard to keep up; not only for you, but for your wallet.  Luckily, there is never a shortage of free things to do it DC.  And not just the touristy stuff, we’re talking about the good stuff: the art, the music, the food and most importantly, the “refreshments.”

FIND NEW ART FIRSTHillyer free things to do in DC washington DC

Whether you’re an art enthusiast or you have trouble remembering the difference between primary and secondary colors, First Fridays at this contemporary art gallery is the place to be.  The first Friday of every month, Hillyer Art Space plays host putting out complimentary wine and light snacks in celebration of new exhibit openings.  Kick off your weekend feeling a bit more art savvy.

Location: Dupont – 9 Hillyer Court, NW
When: First Friday of every month, 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
The Fine Print: Suggested $8 donation in support of keeping DC’s art scene alive.
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Jazz in the graden WAPO free things to do in DC washington DC

The perfect way to end your summer work week is with a free outdoor concert and perhaps also with a pitcher of sangria.  That’s why Jazz in the Garden at the National Gallery’s Sculpture Garden is a must do.  No, Ian Anderson is not headlining the summer series, but among the diverse fifeteen scheduled acts there is sure to be something that feeds your musical appetite.  Grab your friends, bring a blanket and be sure to get there early.

Location: National Mall – Between 7th St. & 9th St. along Constitution Ave. NW
When: Every Friday beginning May 22 and ending August 28 from 5:00 pm – 8:30 pm
The Fine Print: Concert is free.  Sangria, beer and snacks available for purchase.
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Usually the phrase “end of an era,” refers to the close of something that will be missed; but that was not the case for the close of a more than six decade era in which there was no brewing production within district limits.  In fact, this finale was most welcomed.  In 2011, DC Brau put district brewing back in business, opening the city’s first brewery since 1956.  Since then several other breweries have filed suit, including: 3 Stars Brewing Company, Atlas Brew Works, Bluejacket and Hellbender Brewing Company.  Want to learn more about DC’s finest brews?  No problem, all of these breweries offer free Saturday tours.  Hint: tours are best enjoyed with a brew in hand (available for purchase in brewery tasting rooms).

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Location:  Woodbridge – 3178-B Bladensburg Rd. NE
When:  Saturday tours only at 2:00 pm, 3:00pm & 4:00 pm with valid ID
The Fine Print:  Closed-toe shoes required for tour.
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Location:  Takoma – 6400 Chillum Place NW
When: Saturday tours only at 2:00 pm & 3:00 pm with valid ID
The Fine Print:  Closed-toe shoes required for tour.
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Location: Ivy City – 2052 West Virginia Ave. NE #102
When: Saturday tours only at 2:00 pm, 4:00 pm & 6:00 pm with valid ID
The Fine Print:  Hungry? No worries, there is usually a food truck right outside the brewery.
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Location: Navy Yard – 300 Tingey St. SE
When: Saturday tours only at 11:00 am, 12:00 pm & 1:00 pm with valid ID
The Fine Print:  Tasting Tours are $29 per person and offered Saturdays at 2:00 pm & 3:00 pm, as well as Sundays at 2:00 pm.
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Location: Takoma – 5788 2nd St. NE
When: Saturday tours only at 2:00 pm, 3:00 pm, 4:00 pm & 5:00 pm with valid ID
The Fine Print:  Under 21 guests must be accompanied by a legal guardian.
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Chances are you’ve never been to Ivy City.  Or maybe you thought you were there when you rented that U-Haul or that you passed through that time in an Uber on your way to Echostage.  As one of the District’s smallest neighborhoods, it’s easy for Ivy City to not surface on Google Maps.  But this industrial nook is home to DC’s sprouting distillery scene, anchored by the city’s first post-prohibition distillery, New Columbia Distillers, and the more recent One Eight Distilling.  Within-in walking distance of each other, both distilleries offer free tours and tastings every Saturday afternoon.  And if you want to continue the party back at your place, you can pick up a bottle of gin, whiskey or vodka on site.  But that’s not all, Ivy is just getting started.  Soon to join the block party is Joseph A. Magnus & Co. Distillery and Republic Restoratives.

New Columbia free things to do in DC washington DC

Location:  Ivy City – 1832 Fenwick St. NE
When:  Saturday tours from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
The Fine Print:  21 and over – don’t forget your ID!
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18 Isaac James Baker free things to do in DC washington DC

Location:  Ivy City – 1135 Okie St. NE
When:  Saturday tours from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
The Fine Print:  Also, 21 and over.
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Location: Ivy City –  2052 West Virginia Ave., NE
When:  Opening in August
The Fine Print:  Set to be DC’s “first true bourbon distillery” and also the city’s largest.
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Location:  1369 New York Ave., NE
When:  Opening soon
The Fine Print:  Will launch charcoal-polished vodka, followed by its bourbon.
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Heurich House DC On Wheel free things to do in DC washington DC

While President Obama may brew a mean Honey Ale, the White House is about a mile south of DC’s original Brewmaster’s Castle.  Christian Heurich founded the District’s largest brewery, Christian Heurich Brewing Co., in 1872 which produced the then famous Senate Beer.  Fun fact, the Kennedy Center now occupies a portion of the land the brewery was once on.  Outside the brewery, Heurich made his home in the wealthy “outskirts” of town, which over a 100 years later still stands just off Dupont Circle.  Today you can take a public tour inside the castle to study how the brewmaster lived or bring your lunch to the castle garden for a quiet afternoon break.  If you’re up for splurging, stop back the third Thursday of the month for History & Hops – a ticketed event featuring a local craft brewery, tastings and a brewery-focused tour of the house.

Location: Dupont – 1307 New Hampshire Ave. NW
When: Garden is open Monday-Friday 9:00 am – 5:00pm.  Public tours are Thursday-Saturday at 11:30 am, 1:00 pm, 2:30 pm
The Fine Print:  Suggested $5 donation for the public tour, which can be reserved online.
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Piola Liquid Ladies free things to do in DC washington DC

Any economist will tell you there is no such thing as a free lunch, but what they don’t tell you is there is such thing as free food at happy hour.  In keeping with Italian tradition, this international chain ensures you never leave hungry.  Not only does Piola on 14th offer great happy hour deals, they also serve complimentary menu items at the bar so you can sample while you sip.  Mangia!

Location: U Street – 2208 14th St. NW
When: All week 4:30 pm – 7:30 pm
The Fine Print: Happy hour specials include $6 specialty cocktails, $5 house red and white, $4 beers.
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Luce free things to do in DC washington DC

If you missed the chance back in the day to see the Foo Fighters before they made it big, you now have the opportunity to catch all the rising acts in the DC area.  The Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Luce Foundation Center for American Art teamed up with Washington City Paper to curate quarterly lineups featuring local bands.  One Friday, every three months, the Luce Center hosts a free community showcase headlined by two bands and complimentary drink samples from a local brewery or distillery.  Didn’t expect that from one of the Smithsonians did ya?

Location: Chinatown – 8th St. & F St. NW
When: Next showcase is on Oct. 16 beginning at 6:00 pm.
The Fine Print: Complimentary tastings for the first hour. There is also a cash bar.
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Shake Jess Jams free things to do in DC washington DC

Finding the motivation to work out can sometimes be, for lack of a better word, hard, especially in this DC heat.  But alas, Shake Shack has found just the trick to get you off of your couch: free burgers and beers.  Two years ago the Shack launched its very own Track & Field team and the best thing is: you are guaranteed to make varsity.  DC is home to two of these free monthly community fitness clubs: one for runners and one for bikers.  Runners meet at Pacers (Pentagon Row or Logan Circle) for a three to five mile run ending at the Dupont Shake Shack.  Bikers meet at Tri360 in Arlington for a 40 mile bike ride to the Tysons Corner Shake Shack.  Both Shack locations host a post-workout social, which include specials like a burger and a beer on the house.

Starting Location for Runners:  Logan Circle – Pacers, 1821 14th St NW or Arlington – 3100 Clarendon Blvd.
Starting Location for Bikers:  Arlington – 2121 N Westmoreland St.
When:  Second Tuesday of the month at 7:00 pm (runners). First Saturday of the month at 8:30 am (bikers)
The Fine Print:  There is no fee for joining either team.  For $10 you can purchase the team’s uniform tee.
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