On a tight budget, adventurous and looking for some fun? Maybe you’ve seen everything on the National Mall has to offer and want something just a little bit different. Look no further than some of D.C.’s oddest free events and attractions. Spice up your weekend, bring a camera along and see a few of DC’s more offbeat attractions. The weather is fine for many of these outdoor activities.
1) Examine the DEA’s bong collection
You read that right. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has no doubt collected some interested paraphernalia over the years, and in this creative display at the DEA Museum, you can view some of its collection. The exhibit has info and videos about psychedelics and an impressive display of bongs and pipes. Find it at: 700 Army Navy Drive, Arlington, VA 22202
2) Check out Art at The Fridge
Accessible art, street art and events take place in this hidden spot — all you have to do is find it. Get involved in hands on workshop and view the city’s coolest graffiti, group shows, art displays and more. Take a workshop with DC’s most infamous graffiti artists. The latest exhibit is on until March 29th-catch it! It’s on Barracks Row at 516 1/2 8th Street, SE.
3) Tour The Anderson House
Want to experience an afternoon like the rich and famous? That’s right, on select days and hours, you can visit the Anderson House, a National Historic Landmark and property of the Society of the Cincinnati, who preserve the memories of those patriots who built our country. This amazing 50-room mansion was home to Larz and Isabele Anderson, diplomats who entertained royalty here for 30 years. Make a day of it: dress up, and then go to a fun speakeasy after to feel a little royal yourself.
4) Spend the Day in Theodore Roosevelt Island
Bike, stroll, run or walk in this wilderness preserve dedicated to late president, Theodore Roosevelt. Spanning 91 acres, this wooded island is the perfect semi-getaway that has gorgeous views of Georgetown University and the Kennedy Center for a nice day outside.
5) Attend the Smithsonian Folklife Festival
This annual event is held for two weeks every summer around the Fourth of July. It’s billed as “an international exposition of living cultural heritage.” Learn about other cultures, listen to great music, learn a new skill and get a nice tan.
6) Visit the United States Botanic Garden
Talk about one of the oldest and most prestigious Botanic Gardens in North America, you will have a day of awe where you can view, photograph and sketch the plants of the garden. When George Washington had a vision of this 200 years ago, he wanted to emphasize the importance of plants on Americans.
7) Go to First Fridays at Hillyer
Not 100% free, but a $5 cover will get you into an evening of a gallery crawl, live music, art shows and more. Great for a date or with friends, First Fridays, are a gallery crawl in which all of Dupont’s art spaces put out wine and crackers. You just can’t go wrong with art and wine, can you?
8) Spend Friday evenings listening to jazz
Every Friday afternoon beginning at 3 p.m. from May to September, you can listen to jazz under the stars with the Jazz in the Garden Series hosted by the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden. May is right around the corner!
9) Visit the hidden “glass” forest in Palisades Park
Blair Witch revival, anyone? For the mystics or those who want a good scare, venture through the Glass Forest, an area of the park ornamented with old bike parts, decorative mirrors, twig tangles and more. here’s the directions, which are fun in themselves…Park at Palisades Park and walk toward what looks like someone’s backyard, where something shiny will let you know which way to go. The trail into the woods is on the right.
10) Visit the Technicolor Church
D.C. shows its true artistic colors with the revamp of this historic church into a street art mecca. Artist Alex Brewer, known as HENSE, the mastermind behind the project, has been creating colorful street art and abstract painting for nearly two decades.
11) Eastern Market
D.C.’s oldest continually operated fresh food public market is Eastern Market, where you can enjoy live music, local farm-fresh produce, handmade arts, jewelry and crafts from more than 100 merchants, right along with the locals.
So get out one afternoon or on the weekend and see some of the lesser known spots off the beaten path!