North America

5 Things To Do in Washington DC on a Budget

Today’s blog is brought to you by STA’s Alice Tolson, who spends her time pretending that living in Melbourne is amazing, while actually planning on escaping at every opportunity.

So you’ve decided you want to visit the home of  American politics and, more importantly, ridiculously addictive political dramas. If you’re hoping to meet Frank Underwood you’re both a sucker for danger and very silly. He’s far too busy for the likes of you.

Fictional politicians aside, there are so many free attractions in DC, is really is perfect for the budget conscious traveler. Read on for our pick of the best things to see, do and eat in the capital of the US of A.


DC is chock full of  monuments and most are, not only free to visit, but open 24 hours a day. For a less crowded experience try visiting after dark. Not only do the monuments look beautiful lit up by spot lights, rangers are available to answer questions until 11:30pm. Also means you can sleep in. Bonus.

Highly recommended: Lincoln Memorial. A favourite among locals and tourists, it’s located at the end of the reflection pool aka the pond that Forest Gump ran through. Climb up the 87 steps for some of the best views in Washington D.C.

Tip: Download the free National Mall and Memorial parks app. Use it as your ‘free’ tour guide so you won’t get lost. It’s way too intelligent to do that to you.

Arlington National Cemetery

There is something quiet breathtaking about this moving place, even for those who do not hail from the USA. Arlington National Cemetery is located across the Potomac River from Washington D.C. at the end of Memorial Avenue. While you’re there you can visit J.F.K’s final resting place and the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It’s beautiful to just take some time out to reflect; history is all around you.

The White House

Yeah, you probably shouldn’t skip this one. The token white house selfie isn’t going to take itself…


It would be very easy to spend at least three days experiencing the wonders of all the world-class museums that are on the National Mall. Do your research, go early and beat the crowds. Our top picks are:

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History: A museum that has something for everyone. Skipping this museum, would be like going all the way to Egypt and not seeing the Pyramids.

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum: Go and see the real Apollo 11, touch a moon rock and take another giant leap for mankind.

National Museum of Crime & Punishment: This one is just plain fun! Get your fingerprints taken, try and ‘break out’ of jail and participate in a one hour workshop in which an experienced CSI walks you through the steps of solving crime! Seriously, we’re on the plane already.

It’s Food Time

Kenny’s BBQ Smokehouse: In preparation for your trip to DC you’ve obviously been watching House of Cards, and boy, is Frank making you want some ribs. We hate to break it to you, but Freddy’s BBQ joint doesn’t exist at all. They don’t even film that scene in DC, it’s in Baltimore. Kenny’s is a great second place though, (how can it not be when Obama has been spotted there eating BBQ chicken) and you can grab a bite for just $8 per person.

Bake & Wired Cupcakes: So now you’re craving something sweet?. Forget Georgetown Cupcake, any local will tell you Bake & Wired is the way to go. Just reading the cupcake menu is enough to make you drool. They have over 20 different flavors including the Chocolate Cupcake of Doom. What’s not to love?

Power going to your head? Get cheap flights to Washington Dulles Airport with United and go make your mark on history. Or at least go and see the history