No city in the United States features as many top-tier museums as Washington D.C. Among the many choices make sure to check out these top three. They are all part of the Smithsonian Museum collection and a very good choice when visiting with children.
National Museum of American History – a Smithsonian Museum
What makes the Smithsonian National Museum of American History excellent is its staff’s ability to make engaging displays out of almost any part of the country’s past, from huge, in-depth examinations of US military conflicts to The Muppets. There’s something here to entertain every member of your family, and they may learn something along the way. Kids will love the American Stories on Floor 2 East where you can find the museum’s memorabiliaon different subjects (and often pop culture). You’re likely to see anything from Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz, to Kermit the Frog, to a piece of Plymouth Rock. The objects usually don’t have anything to do with each other, and there’s often enough variety for everyone in the family to find something interesting.
National Air and Space Museum – a Smithsonian Museum
Air and Space holds the world’s greatest collection of flying machines. Its galleries contain more of the aviation world’s “firsts”—first airplane, first to land on the moon—than anywhere else. What Air and Space does well is tell the story of the pilots and engineers whose inventions, bravery, and risk-taking took humans from their first flight of 120 feet in 1903, to the first moon landing and back in 1969.
A quick tour of Air and Space can be done in two and a half or three hours, assuming you’re willing to skip some galleries and give others a brief walkthrough. A comprehensive tour, including lunch and an IMAX movie, takes five to seven hours, depending on how much time you spend reading the details in each gallery. (Many galleries have 10- to 20-minute movies—we think none of them are mandatory for enjoying or understanding the exhibits.) Start your visit at the Independence Avenue entrance. During summer and holidays, plan to arrive 20-30 minutes prior to opening; arrive 45 minutes in advance around July 4th and Thanksgiving.
The National Museum of Natural History – a Smithsonian Museum
Here you will find world-class exhibits of dinosaurs, animals, humans, plants, and geology, and the forces that shape them. The museum has excellent coverage of evolution, including how it works and how scientists verify that it is true. Here is our ‘not to be missed’ list: First Floor Henry the Elephant (rotunda); African dioramas on evolution (Mammal Hall); Hall of Human Origins; right whale model (Ocean Hall); and coral reef (Ocean Hall). Second Floor Triceratops skeleton (Bones); T Rex skeleton (Bones); How the moon was formed (Geology, Gems, and Minerals); mine displays (Geology, Gems & Minerals); crystal color and shape displays (Geology, Gems, and Minerals); and The Hope Diamond (Geology, Gems, and Minerals). Ground Floor Easter Island Stone Figure (Constitution Ave. exit) and T-Rex skull (Constitution Ave. exit).
National Air and Space Museum: Brian McNichols
National Museum of American History: By Chris Evans from same, United States (Ruby Red Slippers – Uploaded by SunOfErat) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
National Museum of Natural History: By Brian McNichols