10 Free and Fun Things to Do in Washington, D.C.

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Washington, D.C., is a must-visit city for travelers both domestic and international. The nation’s capital offers so much to see and do, including historic sites, art and culture, a thriving culinary scene, parks, gardens, and more. 

What visitors may not know, however, is that many of the best parts of D.C. can be experienced without spending a dime, making it a great place to live and one of the best places to visit on a budget— and giving locals plenty of affordable things to do with their leisure time. 

Things to Know About Washington, D.C.

Our nation’s capital is full of eclectic neighborhoods, each with its own vibe. Each part of town has something unique to offer, from the business- and politics-driven downtown scene to the quiet, suburban feel of the Upper Northwest. 

Every change of season in D.C. brings new activities. Catch the famed cherry blossoms in the spring, attend an outdoor concert in the summer, tour fall foliage in autumn, and shop at holiday markets in the winter. Getting around D.C. is easy, with several affordable transit options such as the metro rail system, Lyft or Uber, bike shares, and walking. 

10 Free Things to Do in D.C.

Those looking for free activities in Washington, D.C. are in luck, as there might not be another place this loaded with such things to do for people of various interests. Here are just a few of many:

1. Explore the Smithsonian Museums

D.C. has some of the best museums in the country, and the best part is that most of them are free. The Smithsonian’s collection of museums has something to suit everyone’s taste and interests. From the National Portrait Gallery to the contemporary Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden to the National Museum of Natural History, one could spend several days or even a whole week touring these world-class cultural institutions. 

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2. Walk Around the National Mall

The National Mall is one of the top attractions for visitors to D.C., and for good reason. You can tour famous monuments such as the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans memorial. Rangers with the National Park Service offer a variety of free mall tours if you’d rather not explore on your own. These guided adventures – whether you’re walking, biking, or touring by nighttime – are an excellent way to get the most out of your National Mall visit. Check the online schedule for further details. 

3. Take a Walking Tour 

There are many free guided experiences, such as those offered by DC by Foot, that offer experiences such as strolls through Georgetown and Arlington National Cemetery. You’ll need to reserve your spot in advance, and although payment isn’t required, tipping your guide is highly recommended. If self-guided tours are more your thing, or if you can’t find a tour that suits your schedule, DC by Foot also offers free audio tours. 

4. Admire the Washington National Cathedral

The Washington National Cathedral showcases stunning architecture that is described as an American interpretation of the 14th Century English Gothic style. The house of worship, which is the world’s sixth-largest cathedral, has hosted many official ceremonies for past presidents and welcomes over 400,000 visitors each year. The surrounding grounds also provide a welcome respite, with beautiful flower gardens, an oak and hickory forest, stone footpaths, and manicured lawns.

5. Visit the National Gallery of Art

This expansive museum is not part of the Smithsonian Institution, but it is also free to the public and welcomes all people “to explore and experience art, creativity and our shared humanity.” The permanent collection includes more than 150,000 paintings, sculptures, photographs, prints, and decorative arts that span the entire history of Western art. It’s the kind of museum where you could visit several days in a row and still not see everything, but you’ll still be able to experience plenty in one afternoon. 

The Capitol in DC. one of the free things to do in dc

6. Enjoy Nature at Rock Creek Park

There’s no shortage of things to do in Rock Creek Park, with hiking trails, bike paths, forests, a tennis center, a golf course, and horse stables. The park, which was founded in 1890 as a recreational area and peaceful respite from the bustle of urban life, has continued to fulfill its mission for more than a century. Pack a picnic lunch and make a day of it. 

7. See a Shakespearean Play

The Shakespeare Theater Company offers free shows to Washingtonians and visitors alike every summer. It’s a beloved yearly tradition that started in 1991 and continues to attract diverse audiences. Past seasons have featured some of Shakespeare’s most well-known works — including Hamlet, Measure for Measure and King Lear — all performed by Shakespeare Theater Company actors and guest artists such as Shia LaBeouf and Harry Hamlin. Tickets are typically distributed through an online lottery system, so visit the Shakespeare Theater Company’s website for more information. 

8. Tour the White House

You can indeed tour the White House for free, but you’ll need to plan ahead. U.S. citizens can request tours through their members of Congress, and it’s advised to submit a request at least 21 days in advance. Tours are filled on a first-come, first-served basis, are self-guided, and include parts of the East Wing such as the State Dining Room, the China Room, and the Library. Guards are staffed in each room to answer questions about the history and architecture of each space. 

9. Stroll Through a Market

D.C. has many year-round markets with food, art, home goods, wine, and more. Eastern Market has been a community hub in the Capitol Hill neighborhood since 1873, offering fresh produce, gourmet food, and flowers from local farmers and producers. Further uptown you’ll find Union Market, an indoor collection of food vendors and shops with a beautiful rooftop bar for relaxing and enjoying views of the city. 

10. Watch a Movie Outdoors

Those visiting D.C. in the summertime may be able to catch an outdoor film screening. Screen on the Green takes place on the National Mall between 7th and 12th Streets and typically shows classic movies such as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and E.T. For a full list of upcoming screenings, check out DC Outdoor Films.

This list illustrates how long someone could stay busy in Washington, D.C. without spending much money, and it’s one reason the city is such a great place to visit. Those whose activities include hunting for a new home will find that adventure more pleasant with the help of experts on the area.

Find the Right Home in Washington, D.C.

Anyone considering buying property or renting in the D.C. area can count on the team at Nomadic Real Estate for expert guidance and assistance. We work with landlords to find quality tenants and with individuals to find the right homes, plus offer a range of real estate services and work with investors, property managers, homeowners, and tenants. 

Contact Nomadic Real Estate today to discuss your residential real estate leasing, property management, and sales needs. 

Alternatively, if you are looking for a place to rent, check out our DC rentals.

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Enhanced Reporting

Your portal includes a selection of extremely useful reports. Reports are available in the “Reports” section, and are distinct from the financial statements. Unlike financial statements which are static records, Reports are dynamic real-time records that will update with current data every time you view them. 

Scroll down to learn more about Reports:

Navigate to the "Reports" module in your portal:

Owner Portal Reports
  • Keep in mind, these reports are dynamic records. They will refresh to display current information every time you view them. 

Enhanced Rent Roll Report:

Enhanced Rent Roll Report
  • The Enhanced Rent Roll Report will show the rent amount, last payment date, move-in date, lease expiration date, and security deposit amount for each of your tenants. 
  • It will also show a portfolio summary with occupancy percentage, vacancy loss, and more!

Unit Comparison Report:

Unit Comparison Report
  • If you own multiple units (or buildings) with Nomadic, you’ll get access to the Unit Comparison Report. 
  • This report enables you to quickly compare financial performance between your units at a glance without toggling between individual reports. 

Income Statement Month-Over-Month:

Income Statement by Month Report
  • The Income Statement Detail – Monthly Report serves as a month-over-month record of portfolio performance. You’ll see itemized income and expense categories and can track monthly. This report will update with fresh data every time you view it. 

Financial Statements

Financial statements will be published to your portal on a monthly basis. The statements are found in your Documents library, and provide a historical record of all financial performance. The statements serve as a snapshot of financial performance over a given period, and are static documents (unlike Reports, the statements do not update/change in real-time). 

Scroll down for more info about the Financial Statements in your Documents library:

The Documents area contains monthly financial statements:

Owner Portal Documents
  • The statements in the Documents are are static documents. They are posted to the portal once a month to serve as a historical record of financial performance. 

Download a statement to see month and YTD financials:

Owner Portal Property Statement

You'll also find a month-over-month operating statement:

Month over Month Statement

Portal Communication Tool

You can use your owner portal to communicate with our team. Any messages you send through the portal will go straight to your Account Manager. When we reply, you’ll get an email notification and you’ll also see the message in your portal next time you log in. 

Here’s an overview of using the communication platform:

Click "Communications" and navigate to "Conversations":

Commincation Dashboard Screenshot
  • The communications module will contain a record of all messages that you create through the portal. 

Click the "New Message" button and send your message:

Owner Portal New Message Screenshot

Responses will show up in the conversation ticket:

Portal Conversation Response Screenshot
  • You’ll get an email notification whenever you get a response, and you’ll also see the message in your portal next time you log in. 

You can reply in-line using the comment box:

Owner Portal Comment

Each conversation will be logged in its entirety:

Portal Conversation Snapshot

Understanding the Ledger

Your portal includes a ledger with all transactions. The ledger is populated with data in real-time as transactions flow through our accounting software. Much of this information is also available in the Reports area, as well as the Statements in your Documents library, but the ledger is the most comprehensive resource for diving into the details. 

Please scroll through the sections below to get a better understanding of how to interpret the ledger. 

By default, transactions are sorted chronologically:

Owner Ledger Dates
  • The date reflected in the lefthand column is the actual transaction date, not the “bill date”. This is the date the transaction was actually processed. 

If you have multiple properties with Nomadic, you'll see the address for each transaction in the "Location" column:

Ledger Property Column
  • You can filter the ledger to look at just one property, all properties, or specific sets of properties. 
  • If you only have one property with us, you’ll just see the ledger for that property. 

The Description column displays the transaction type:

Owner Ledger Description Column
  • BILL: this is an expense transaction, such as for repair costs or management fees.
  • CHARGE: this is a transaction  billed to the tenant, most typically a rent payment. 
  • NACHA EXPORT: this is a credit we processed to your distribution account. This type of transaction is how you get paid! 

The Amount column shows the dollar value of each transaction:

Owner Ledger Amount Column
  • Positive Amounts: if an amount is positive, it reflects a transaction that is payable to you. Typically, this will be a rent payment that we collected from your tenants. On occasion, a positive number could also signify a journal entry or credit adjustment. 
  • Negative Amounts:  if an amount is negative, this is a transaction that is either payable to Nomadic or is an amount that has already been paid to you. Typically this will be for repair costs or management/leasing fees. Owner draws (net distributions into your checking/savings account) also reflect as negative amounts, since they have already been paid to you. 

The Account Balance column shows a sum of positive/negative transactions at a given point in time:

Owner Ledger Account Balance Column
  • Account Balance should always equal zero after a net distribution has been processed. When the balance is zero, this means that all expenses have been paid and you’ve received the remainder as net operating income, leaving a balance of zero (meaning: no one is due any money, as all funds have been distributed appropriately). 

Navigating the Propertyware Owner Portal

Your portal includes some extremely useful features that help you understand your property’s financial performance at a new level, with real-time transparency into every transaction.

Scroll through the snapshots below for an overview of portal navigation! If you need more help or have specific questions about using the portal, you can reach out to your Account Manager any time for a screen share. 

You can filter all info by date range or property:

PW Portal Filters

View a snapshot of income and expenses on your dashboard:

PW Owner Dashboard View

See every transaction in real-time on your ledger:

Owner Portal Ledger View

Statements and forms will be posted to your documents library:

Owner Portal Document Library

View a suite of real-time financial reports:

Portal Reports View

See a running list of all bills, and drill down for more detail:

Owner Portal Bills View

Under Bill Details, you'll find dates/descriptions/amounts and more:

Portal Bill Details

You can also communicate with your Account Manager through the portal:

Owner Portal Communication Tools

How do net distributions work?

Net distributions keep your accounting clean and simple. Each month we’ll collect rent from the tenants, deduct any repair expenses for the previous month and any management/leasing fees for the current month, and credit the remaining net operating income to your account. 

Net Distribution

You’ll receive a statement via email each time a net distribution is processed, and can view all transaction details in your Propertyware owner portal.