The gorgeous city of Washington, DC is first and foremost recognized as being the capital of the United States of America. In fact, the city is home to the US Capitol, the White House, and the US Supreme Court – the iconic buildings that house the three branches of the US federal government. So, even though the city is most known for being the capital of the US, it is also renowned for being home to many museums.
Many of the museums in the city are administered by the Smithsonian Institution. The Smithsonian Institution currently oversees a collection of fifteen museums within the city. Nine of them are located on the iconic National Mall. Not only are these museums nice, but they can also be visited for free. So, I would suggest you to go to Washington, DC for museums. Here are a few museums to visit this year in the city.
National Air and Space Museum
The National Air and Space Museum is located on Jefferson Drive SW on the eastern section of the National Mall. If you are fascinated with both aviation and outer space, this is the perfect museum for you in town. An exhibit at the museum called 50 Years from Tranquility Base tells the story about Apollo 11 in which Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin became the first humans ever to walk on the Moon.
That took place on July 20th, 1969. This exhibit houses artifacts from the historic journey to the Moon. These include, but are not limited to, the US flag that was planted on the Moon, the Omega Speedmaster chronograph that Neil used during his Apollo 11 mission, and an inflight exerciser for stretching and exercising the muscles during the mission.
Those of you who are looking for airplanes, rockets, and spacecraft on display should check out the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall exhibit. One of the airplanes on display is the Spirit of St. Louis which was piloted by Charles Lindbergh who became the first person to fly across the Atlantic Ocean solo in May of 1927. One of the spacecraft on display is the Explorer-1.
The Explorer-1 was the first successful orbiting satellite to be launched by the US. It was launched into orbit in January of 1958. Another exhibit at the museum is Explore the Universe. This exhibit explores the progress that we as humanity have developed our understanding of the universe in which Earth is just a small part of.
Our understanding of the universe has improved with the help of astronomical tools including telescope, photography, spectroscopy, and digital technology. These are on display within the exhibit. These are just a few of the exhibits you can look forward to upon visiting the National Air and Space Museum.
There are currently around nine exhibits to check out at the museum. There is also a cafe and a store onsite at the museum.
National Museum of American History
History buffs who are interested into American history will feel at home at the National Museum of American History. This museum is located on Constitution Avenue NW on the central section of the National Mall. This museum is home to over three million artifacts from throughout American history from the war for independence in the 18th century to the present day.
There are three categories of exhibits at the museum. The first category of exhibits focuses on transportation, technology, science, and innovation. This category covers the first floor of the museum. A few of the exhibits you can explore on this floor include Inventing in America, America on the Move, and Lighting a Revolution. The signature artifacts on this floor are the John Bull locomotive and the Vassar telescope.
The second category of exhibits at the museum is concerned with the American ideals. This category covers the museum’s second floor. American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith, Creating Icons: How We Remember Woman Suffrage, and Many Voices, One Nation are some of the exhibits that are available to explore on this floor.
A few artifacts from the second floor to note are the original Star Spangled Banner Flag, the George Washington statue, and the Greensboro lunch counter. The third category of exhibits at the museum shines a spotlight on the military, the public and private lives of presidents, entertainment, sports, and music. This category covers the third floor of the museum.
On this floor, you can explore exhibits such as The Price of Freedom: Americans at War, The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden, and Thanks for the Memories: Music, Sports, and Entertainment History. A few notable artifacts on the third floor include The Gunboat Philadelphia, the dresses of first ladies, and a car from the Disneyland ride called Dumbo the Flying Elephant.
Should you get hungry, there are two onsite restaurants at the museum. They are Eat at America’s Table Cafe and LeRoy Neiman Jazz Cafe. Shoppers may want to check out Main Museum Store, Mall Museum Store, and The Price of Freedom Store – all of which are located onsite at the National Museum of American History.
National Museum of Natural History
If you are curious about how our planet, Earth, came to be, the National Museum of Natural History is the museum in Washington, DC to be. The museum neighbors the National Museum of American History to the east on the National Mall. The museum is home to the largest natural history collection in the world.
It contains a collection of over 145 million specimens of plants, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, human remains, and human cultural artifacts. The museum is home to a total of twelve permanent exhibits for you to check out. I will go over a few of them. The first one is the Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals is home to a massive collection of gems, minerals, and rocks.
That include the Star of Asia Sapphire which is one of the largest sapphires in the world. Another notable gem to look out for in this exhibit is the Hope Diamond. Another exhibit to mention is the Hall of Fossils – Deep Time. This exhibit is notable for housing over 700 fossil specimens that showcase life as far back as 4.6 billion years ago.
These include fossils that once belonged to an Alaskan palm tree, early insects, reptiles, and mammals. Also of note are the fossils for a T-Rex dinosaur called Diplodocus and a giant woolly mammoth. The museum is notable for being home to an exhibit called Mega-toothed Shark. This is where you can see a giant shark that is suspended above you.
This model of the extinct shark measures at 52 feet long. The name of the shark is Carcharocles megalodon, but is referred to as just megalodon because of its giant teeth. There are two restaurants onsite at the museum – Ocean Terrace Cafe and Atrium Cafe. The museum’s onsite stores include Gem and Mineral Store, Gallery Store, Family Store, Dinos and More Store, and Natural History Kiosk.
So, these are a few museums that you should visit this year. The nation’s capital is a heaven for museum enthusiasts, especially those looking to visit the Smithsonian museums. So, I would suggest you to visit Washington, DC for museums.
Oh and before I move on to my hotel suggestion for you, I have something bonus to mention. There is that one beautiful building I would like for you to feast your eyes on and it is called the Smithsonian Institution Building. It is like a headquarter for the Smithsonian Institution itself. It is renowned for its red castle-like building design. That is how it received the nickname of The Castle.
It is built of red sandstone in the faux Norman architectural style. It is not exactly a museum in of itself, but it does contain a visitor’s center where you can sample the collections from the Smithsonian collection of museums as well as learn about the iconic building itself.
So, you will want to be sure to visit the building, even if just to appreciate its beauty. It is located on Jefferson Drive SW on the eastern section of the National Mall. Oh and I almost forgot, if you are planning a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of big city Washington, DC after visiting these museums, you may want to consider visiting Annapolis which is only 32 miles away in the US state of Maryland.
Annapolis is the closest state capital to the nation’s capital. It is brimming with charm on the shores of the scenic Chesapeake Bay. You can head to this post for ideas for what to do there if you are planning on visiting.
Washington, DC Hotel
Now on to my hotel suggestion for you. If you are in need of a hotel to stay at in the nation’s capital, I am here to help you out. Here goes my hotel suggestion.
Washington Marriott – Metro Center
This stylish hotel is located on 12th Street NW in downtown Washington, DC just a short walk north of the National Mall. The hotel houses an onsite restaurant called Fire and Sage. There is also an onsite Starbucks Coffee available. The hotel offer two breakfast types. The first one is Continental breakfast for a fee of $16. The second type is Full American with a fee of $25.
The hotel contains an indoor heated swimming pool for you to enjoy. The hotel’s fitness center is available 24 hours per day. Many hotel rooms and suites offer a nice view of downtown Washington, DC’s bustling streets. They all come with WiFi and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $171 to $516. You can head here to explore your booking options and/or view some photos.
What are your thoughts? Have you been to any of these Smithsonian museums in the nation’s capital? Feel free to leave a comment below.