One of the most quintessential Washington, D.C. experiences anyone can have is visiting the Smithsonian Institution’s museums. With 19 total museums in the D.C. metro area, it can be hard to know where to begin. We’ve taken the liberty of picking out our favorites to get you started.
This one is a real crowd pleaser. With numerous exhibits, thousands of artifacts, and real live moon rocks you can touch, it’s fun for the whole family. There are also daily hands-on demonstrations which explain how things fly, and how the International Space Station stays in orbit. Admission is free, but tours are offered daily and encouraged for newcomers.
The title of this one speaks for itself, the American History Museum explores the richness of American history. The museum is home to more than three million artifacts including the original Star-Spangled Banner and Abraham Lincoln’s top hat. There are daily public programs including demonstrations, lectures, and immersion. Tours are offered at a cost, but general admission is free.
The National Museum of the American Indian is home to one of the most impressive collections of Native American artifacts in the world. The collections and building itself were designed in collaboration with Native American tribes from across the northern hemisphere so visitors are sure to feel the spirit of the Native American people. This museum also offers an excellent café that makes for a great stop for lunch. Admission is free.
For a more unique experience, explore the history of the United States Postal Service! Journey into the world of stamp collecting, experience how letters travel, and learn about who delivers them. The National Postal Museum is located in the historic City Post Office Building, making it’s location an artifact in it of itself. The museum also offers fun and interactive workshops for the whole family. Like always, admission is free.
Visited by more than one million visitors each year, the National Portrait Gallery is a staple in any Smithsonian tour. This museum is massive, and can seem daunting, but on the Smithsonian website they helpfully break down what to do if you have a day, an hour, have your family with you, or have all the time in the world. Tours are also offered, admission is free.
If the thought of being cooped up inside a museum makes you feel like you’re wasting a beautiful day – not everyone is a history buff – but you still want a Smithsonian experience, the Gardens are for you. Enjoy a stroll along the National Mall in full view of Smithsonian row, and enjoy the unique outdoor museums maintained by the Smithsonian Institution. Installations include the pollinator garden, Freer Gallery of Art, the Hirschhorn Museum of Sculpture, and the Katherine Dolin Folger Rose Garden. It probably goes without saying, but just in case anyone is wondering, admission is free.