Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture

#9 in Best Things To Do in Washington, D.C.
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture picture
Open minded in Alabama/Flickr

Key Info

1400 Constitution Ave. NW

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Museums, Free Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.3scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 4.5Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

Designed to replicate the three-tiered crowns found in Yoruban art from West Africa, with bronze-colored latticework accents that honor the United States' slave roots, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture opened on the National Mall in 2016. More than 36,000 African American artifacts are displayed inside, including photographs of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a fedora once worn by Michael Jackson.

Though you'll likely get emotional while looking around the property, past travelers said this museum is "phenomenal" and well worth a visit. But remember, this institution is still fairly new, so you'll need to obtain a free timed entry pass. Same-day tickets are available every day at 6:30 a.m., while advance passes for visits that are three months away are released on the museum's ticket page on the first Wednesday of every month at 9 a.m. Both are offered on a first-come, first-served basis until they run out. A limited number of walk-up passes are also handed out on weekdays starting at 1 p.m.

Visitors can reach the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture by taking the DC Circulator's National Mall bus or the Metro's Blue, Orange or Silver lines to Smithsonian station or Federal Triangle station. With a walk-up or timed entry pass, visitors have access to the museum's 12 galleries, plus a gift shop, restrooms and the Sweet Home Café. Guided tours are not offered, but museumgoers can download the attraction's free mobile app for audio stories about some of the museum's exhibits. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily, excluding Christmas Day. Check out the property's official website for more information about tickets, exhibits and on-site amenities.

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#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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