Main menu


Outdoor Activities in Washington, DC: Free Things to Do

 There are several free outdoor activities available across the District. Explore the greatest free outdoor activities, from national parks in and around the city to modern art on the National Mall.

You will have no trouble discovering free outdoor activities in Washington, DC. From hiking, running and bicycling routes such as the Capital Crescent Trail to great spots like Rock Creek Park, there are so many things to do outdoors in the nation’s capital. Check out some of the city’s top free outdoor activities below.

Outdoor Activities in Washington, DC: Free Things to Do

Explore Rock Creek Park

DC's largest outdoor mecca is Rock Creek Park, a 4.4-square-mile area with numerous trails for hiking, biking, and exploring. There are also other attractions in the park, such as a nature center, picnic areas, equestrian centers, tennis courts, and the historic Peirce Mill site.

Walk or run the towpath along the C&O Canal in Georgetown

Put on your walking shoes and follow the cyclists on the C&O Canal towpath, which follows the Potomac River from Georgetown, 284.5 miles north, to Cumberland, Maryland. Incredible views await you along the way.

Enjoy outdoor contemporary art

Stroll through the National Art Gallery's Sculpture Garden and admire the work of artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Alexander Calder, and Robert Indiana. In the garden, there is seating for guests and a fountain that has been converted into an ice rink in recent winters. In summer, there is alsoJazz in the Garden on Friday evenings in the park.

Walk down the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail

Southeast Washington has seen significant development in recent years, with a new continuous20-mile Anacostia Riverwalk running through the Capitol Riverfront and Anacostia neighborhoods on both sides of the Anacostia River. Run, bike, or walk the 3- to 3-meter-wide path that meanders along the revitalized waterway.

Visit to Roosevelt Island

Accessible via a pedestrian bridge over the George Washington Memorial Parkway, Theodore Roosevelt Island pays homage to the great conservationist. You'll find nearly two miles of hiking trailsthrough forests and wetlands, as well as a five-foot statue dedicated to a historical figure.Enjoy beautiful views of the Potomac River from the hiking trails.

No stairlift, no problem

Head to the Watergate Steps near the Arlington Memorial Bridge near the National Mall and Foggy Bottom, then walk up and down the famous steps. Georgetown is also home to the infamous Exorcist Staircase, made famous by its appearance in the 1973 DC horror classic.

Visit Great Falls Park on days off

, home of the famous Billy Goat Trail, Great Falls Park is the perfect place to explore the great outdoors and is only a 30 minute drive from DC. The scenic 2,000-acre park features hiking trails, rapids, and spectacular waterfalls. While regular admission to Great Falls Park is typically $20 per vehicle and $10 per person by foot or bike, park admission on the Martin Luther King Jr. site is free.Day, the first day of National Parks Week, National Public Lands Day and Veterans Day (see Great Falls website for more information).

Check out Walkingtown DC

Cultural Tourism DC offers an incredible opportunity to visit the nation's capital with a week-long public tour program held every September. Walkingtown DC offers more than 70walking tours of the neighborhood, introducing participants to the city's art, culture, and history. Tours vary widely, from after-work happy hours to long weekend tours. Historians, licensed tour guides, community leaders, and entrepreneurs, among others, organize tours that will take you to Washington's known and hidden gems.

Enjoy the beauty of the U.S. National Arboretum.

The popular US National Arboretum is open Monday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.until 5 p.m. Please note that the Tropical Conservatory and Exhibition Gallery of the National Bonsai Museum and Penjingare closed until further notice. The aim of the arboretum is to increase the aesthetic, ecological, and economic importance of landscape and ornamental plants. The magnificent 446-acre estate makes for an inspiring and visually arresting visit any time of the year.

Get some fresh air at Kenilworth Park & ​​​​​​​​​​Gardens

About five miles northeast of Anacostia, you will find this natural wonder.Visit us, and you'll likely share the park with photographers, bird watchers, and even dog handlers. Take advantage of the summer flowers that bloom from late May to September. The morning is the best time to see the famous water lilies and lotus flowers. Be wary of wildlife from October to March, as the lack of foliage makes hunting sea eagles easier. The best way to get there from Anacostia is via a ride-sharing app like Uber, Bike, or Metrobus V2.Alternatively, you can take the Orange Line to nearby Deanwood tube station.