Presidents’ Day is just a few hours away. Where will you be spending the holiday?
If you are lucky, you won’t be working on the Congress-concocted celebration marking the birth of Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and the other former leaders of the free world. Consequently, you have the opportunity to explore the home base of our current president.
Washington, D.C. is a frugal traveler’s dream destination. Our nation’s capital is filled with free and cheap attractions that will keep family members of all ages entertained. Many of the area’s museums, monuments and other noteworthy attractions are run by the federal government and don’t charge admission, including the National Air and Space Museum.
Even if you are not a fan of aviation, the eye-popping exhibits housed in the enormous space will not disappoint. The museum boasts the largest collection of historic air and spacecraft in the world. From the original Wright Brothers’ plane to Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, the Apollo 11 command module, and 200 other aircraft, the museum’s contents are sure to impress. While you are there take time to sit in on the free Curator’s Choice Lecture Series, a 15-minute discussion held each Wednesday at noon during which the staff chats about the museum’s collection and answers questions such as how astronauts go to the bathroom in space.
Admission to the National Zoo is also free, as is entry to the U.S. Botanic Garden, which features acres of green space along with hundreds of unique plants and flowers. Likewise, the National Arboretum in northeast D.C. also offers free admission. The site is home to the original Corinthian columns from the U.S. Capitol and offers dozens of picturesque picnic spots where you can dine on inexpensive homemade snacks.
Finally, no trip to D.C. is complete without visiting 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. However, to get past the well protected outer gates you must plan in advance. To get a guided tour you have to contact your congressional representatives’ office, fill out an application, and then wait. You can apply up to six months in advance. Those who are approved by the Secret Service are notified about a month before their requested dates. Once you get the okay you will be given a free, self-guided tour that leads past the library and the Vermeil Room, then up the stairs and through the State Dining Room, the Red, Blue and Green Rooms, the red-carpeted Cross Halls and the East Room. A typical visit lasts about 30 minutes.