Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

#4 in Best Things To Do in Washington, D.C.
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum picture
PictureNet/Getty Images

Key Info

600 Independence Ave. SW

Price & Hours

Free
10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

Details

Museums, Free Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.6scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 4.5Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

Attracting millions of people each year, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum contains a trove of celebrated aircraft, including Amelia Earhart's Lockheed Vega 5B, Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis and Wilbur and Orville Wright's 1903 Wright Flyer, among others. Exhibits include a flight simulator, an IMAX theater and the Einstein Planetarium. And parents beware: The three-level gift shop is huge, so get ready for pleas from your kids.

Visitors recommend arriving in the morning to avoid the heaviest crowds, which are sure to pour in, especially once summertime rolls around. Some say parts of the museum are also starting to look worn but insist this is a must-visit site for families and aviation enthusiasts.

There is no fee to visit the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, but the IMAX theater and planetarium do charge for shows. However, a free show is offered at the planetarium every day at 10:30 a.m. Tickets for other shows cost $9 for adults and $7.50 for kids ages 2 to 12. The museum can be found on the eastern end of the National Mall and is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily, excluding Christmas Day. The closest Metro station is Smithsonian, accessible via the Blue, Silver and Orange lines; the National Mall bus route for the DC Circulator also has a stop by the museum. For more information about this Smithsonian, visit the attraction's website.

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More Best Things To Do in Washington, D.C.

Lincoln Memorial1 of 25
Vietnam Veterans and Korean War Veterans Memorials2 of 25
Type
Time to Spend
#1 Lincoln Memorial

Although the Lincoln Memorial is just one of the District's many monuments, the larger-than-life Honest Abe is also among travelers' favorites. History buffs might enjoy the man of few (albeit powerful) words' two famous speeches, the second inaugural address and the Gettysburg Address, which are both etched into the memorial's opposing walls. Meanwhile, art history and architecture aficionados will enjoy admiring the building's striking design by Henry Bacon, complete with 38 Doric columns, 36 of which signify the states in the Union at the time Lincoln passed away.

Though most agree the Lincoln Memorial is worth checking out during the day or at night, many recent travelers say the most captivating time to visit is after dark when the attraction is lit and less crowded. Plus, evening temps will make peak summer visits more comfortable.

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