Washington DC is a city rich with symbolism, power, and history. Much of our country’s accomplishments are on display in fascinating museums throughout the city. The following are the seven must-see stops you need to make.
1. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Come learn more about human evolution and the development of many mammals at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. You will see many artifacts, including tools used by early man, as well as numerous natural history specimens. Best of all, you will enjoy exploring the dinosaur remains and fossils that tell the story of our past. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and it is located on the National Mall. Grab a bite to eat in one of their two cafes, and pick up some souvenirs in the onsite shops.
2. National Museum of African American History and Culture
This museum is dedicated solely to the documentation of African American history and culture. Exhibits focus on the life of the average African American during slavery, the fight for freedom, and the years following the Civil War. You can also learn about African American life today along with the culture which includes food, languages, and art. The Museum is located on the National Mall, and it is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission is free. Food can be found in the Sweet Home Cafe, and there is a museum gift shop. Plan on three hours for exploration.
3. National Gallery of Art
The National Gallery of Art is a beautiful building on the national Mall located between the 3rd and 9th streets off Constitutional Avenue. Here you will find a large display of art in several forms such as painting, prints, and sculptures. Over 4,000 paintings are on display featuring the best works from the Renaissance period through today. The photographs are fascinating, and stories about the person behind the camera are intermixed. They even have a beautiful sculpture garden available to visitors. Admission is free. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Food can be found in any one of the four cafes, and they also have an Espresso & Gelato Bar.
4. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
This museum stands along the National Mall as a tribute to the victims and survivors of this horrific time in history. The museum will teach you how Hitler gained popularity, the struggles of all involved, and explore American witness stories. It is sure to inspire you to confront hatred and prevent anything like this from happening again. The museum is open every day except for Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission is free, and they do have an onsite cafe.
5. Ford’s Theater
A visit to Ford’s Theater allows you to stand in the building where Abraham Lincoln was shot on April 14, 1865. Your visit will include several locations in addition to the theater. Your tour begins with a stop at the Theater, which still hosts musicals and plays today. You will see the Peterson House where Lincoln died, and you can explore Lincoln’s life and legacy with the exhibits at the Center for Education and Leadership. There is a small entry fee, and you do have to purchase tickets and reserve your time slot online before arriving. Plan on one to two hours to see everything. Ford’s Theater is located at 511 10th Street.
6. National Air and Space Museum
If you have ever looked to the skies and dreamed of flight, this is the museum for you. See for yourself the Wright brothers’ Wright Flyer from 1903, as well as the Spirit of St. Louis that Charles Lindbergh flew on the first flight from New York to Paris. You can even view the Apollo ll command module capsule, Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit, and touch a real lunar rock brought back from the 1972 mission. This is just a sample of all they have on display. The Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. It is found at 655 Jefferson Drive SW on the national Mall, and admission is free.
7. National Museum of American History
You can’t visit Washington DC without a stop at the National Museum of American History. Here you will learn about the Revolutionary War, WW2, Korea, and Vietnam, but it isn’t all about the battles we have fought. The three million artifacts include the history of agriculture, advertising, clothing, coins, and even computers. The museum is on the National Mall, and admission is free Friday through Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Grab lunch at The Jazz Cafe, and pick up a souvenir in one of the two gift shops.
Don’t miss these, or any of the other wonderful museums, monuments, and historical spots when you visit DC. Schedule a walking tour with Off The Record Tours, and you will learn some of the stories you never heard before while discovering behind-the-scenes tales associated with this great city full of fun and adventure.