COURTESY OF JOHN GIBBONS - SMITHSONIAN
There’s something innately romantic about living in the city. The bustling crowds, the “hip” neighborhoods, the freedom to enjoy your youth without the constraints of parental authority.
But then you realize: city life is expensive. How are you supposed to do anything fun without paying an arm and a leg? Luckily, D.C. is the perfect city for a student on a budget. The Scene is here to provide you with a guide for all things free in D.C.
Smithsonian Museums and National Zoo
One of the best parts of D.C. is the multitude of free museums offered by the Smithsonian. While a bit on the tourist-y side, visiting a Smithsonian museum is one of the best ways to spend a day in the city without spending a dime.
If you want to go to one of the less stuffy museums, try the American History Museum to see exhibits ranging from George Washington’s uniform to Dorothy’s ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz.” Or, if you are feeling particularly bourgeois, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden offers a fair share of modern art.
National Gallery of Art Film Screenings
Head to the National Gallery of Art for free screenings of art house films and classic cinema in the East Building Auditorium. Seating is free but is on a first-come basis, so try to show up when doors first open 30 minutes before each show.
Catch the latter half of the summer film schedule, as they wrap up this free cinema series with films like the silent movie “Erotikon” on Sept. 15 or the director’s cut of “Amadeus” on Sept. 30.
Even though it is technically a bona fide farmer’s market, you really do not need to buy anything to have a good time. Eastern Market, located at the Eastern Market Metro stop, is one of the oldest fresh food markets and cultural hubs in D.C. The surrounding neighborhoods are teeming with unique art galleries, restaurants and shops, and the art vendors at the market have some of the most richly gratifying pieces.
Eastern Market also holds a local flea market every Sunday a block away, which hosts stalls for antiques, art, food and more. The flea market at Eastern Market is on the verge of losing its space, so try visiting it one Sunday to give your support to the rich local culture of D.C.
Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage
If you are a live theater buff, you probably know that going to performances is expensive. Fortunately, as part of its “Free Arts for Everyone” initiative, the Kennedy Center offers free performances every day at 6 p.m. without any need for tickets. However, seating is limited to first-come, first-serve, so make sure to come early to the Grand Foyer where the performances usually take place.
Upcoming performances include Dance Asia 2012: Asia in Maskquerade on Aug. 25 and Annie and the Beekeepers on Aug. 31.
Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Free for All
For the avid Shakespeare fan, you are in luck. The Shakespeare Theatre Company’s annual Free for All is a summer staple, running from Aug. 23 to Sept. 5. This year’s Free for All is Shakespeare’s beloved comedy “All’s Well That Ends Well,” directed by Jenny Lord.
The free productions have been taking place to great acclaim every year since 1991. So if you are a Shakespeare enthusiast and cannot afford the big bucks a play would usually demand, the Free for All is the perfect outing for you.