One of the best things about living in our nation’s capital is having the chance to visit so many incredible Washington DC museums whenever I want. From the iconic National Museum of Natural History to the innovative Newseum, these Washington DC museums never fail to impress, no matter how many times I visit. The other awesome part? Admission at many of them is entirely free!
1. National Museum of the American Indian
Heading up my list of amazing Washington DC museums is the National Museum of the American Indian, which offers free admission throughout the year. Located on the National Mall as part of the Smithsonian Institution, this museum tells the story of tribes from centuries ago through today. Don’t miss the Our Peoples: Giving Voice to Our Histories exhibit, which highlights 500 years of indigenous history, and be sure to wander through the gift shops admiring gorgeous handmade pottery and rugs. Getting hungry? The museum’s restaurant – Mitsitam Cafe – serves up delicious Native-inspired food.
2. National Air and Space Museum – Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
Want an up-close look at Space Shuttle Discovery? Head out to the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center – sister site to the museum located on the National Mall – for a firsthand encounter with everything from planes to rockets to satellites. The Udvar-Hazy Center is located about 45 minutes outside the city, so be sure to plan ahead and allow plenty of time for your visit. You may have to pay a parking fee once you get there, but the free admission and cool exhibits will more than make up for it!
3. International Spy Museum
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be James Bond, visiting the International Spy Museum is a definite must. As you explore creative exhibits like School for Spies, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped inside a 007 thriller while learning all the ins and outs of espionage. Want more? Be sure to sign up for one of the museum’s interactive spy experiences, where you’ll have the chance to embark on your very own adventure. Admission is not free, however, and the interactive experiences also cost extra, so don’t forget to look up the current ticket prices before you go.
Are you a political junkie or newshound who’s always scouring The Huffington Post and CNN for the latest headlines? Come on down to the Newseum, where you can learn the history of news reporting, visit the special 9/11 Gallery and even take on the role of reporter in the Interactive Newsroom. Admission to the Newseum can be a bit pricey, so check the current fees online before you go. Can’t afford a visit? At least swing by the front of the building to take in that day’s display of newspapers from across the country.
5. National Museum of Natural History
By far one of Washington DC’s most iconic museums, the National Museum of Natural History is the only place where you can see the Hope Diamond, learn the story of human evolution, and discover the intricacies of Egyptian burial practices all under one roof, with no cost for admission. Bringing the kids? Be sure to visit the Butterfly Pavilion (tickets and admission fee required) and O. Orkin Insect Zoo for a truly unforgettable experience.
6. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Chronicling one of the darkest chapters in human history, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum educates visitors about the Holocaust and genocide, while also inspiring citizens to take a stand against hatred. Admission is free, but passes are required if you plan to go during the peak months of March through August, so visit the museum’s website to review the current procedures. Some of the imagery and themes presented throughout the museum may be too disturbing for young children, so consider letting them explore Remember the Children: Daniel’s Story, an exhibit specially geared toward kids in elementary and middle school.
7. National Geographic Museum
The unique National Geographic Museum, located right in the heart of downtown DC, features a series of constantly changing exhibits focusing on everything from the Titanic’s ill-fated voyage to the amazing evolution of birds-of-paradise. While admission is charged, prices are typically $10 or less – not bad for taking in some of the world’s most spectacular photos and artifacts! Visit the museum’s website to read up on the current exhibits, and get ready to have a fabulous time exploring.
Well, I could go on listing tons of other Washington DC museums I love, but then I’d never have the chance to actually get out and visit any of them, would I? Have you ever been to Washington DC? Which museums do you like best?