Washington D.C. is home to 17 free Smithsonian museums as well as hundreds of other excellent museums. As a local, my favorite time to visit Washington D.C. museums is in January and February. The winter months are the calmest time in this busy city that is often filled with tourists and tour groups.
Here are 10 Washington D.C. museums that families will enjoy in any season.
The Air and Space Museum located on the National Mall explores all things related to the history of air travel and space. Check out an early 1903 Wright Brothers flyer, the Spirit of St. Louis, and a Hubble Space Telescope test vehicle.
The Air and Space Museum is located at 600 Independence Ave SW. Free admission.
The International Spy Museum is one of the most fun museums in Washington D.C. For detailed tips, check out Tips for Family Trip’s review here. Take on a spy persona and wend your way through exhibits without blowing your cover. The James Bond exhibit featuring the car from the movie Goldfinger is especially exciting.
The International Spy Museum is located at 800 F Street, NW. Paid admission.
The Natural History Museum is one of my kids’ favorites. The Hope Diamond and precious gems are hard to navigate with a stroller because of the crowds, but they are a highlight worth seeing. Other favorites here include the butterfly pavilion, the dinosaurs, and the fossil lab. This museum has many hands-on mobile science stations where you can touch, feel, and learn about different exhibits.
The Natural History Museum is located at 10th St. & Constitution Ave. NW. Free admission.
The National Geographic Museum was a hit with my kids last summer. This museum has rotating exhibits, making it a great museum to return to. The highlight for me was the wall of magazine covers from the beginning of National Geographic Magazine. My kids loved 11-foot globe and interactive maps to play with.
The American History Museum is filled with interesting artifacts that children will learn about in history classes. Check out the original Star-Spangled Banner that Betsy Ross sewed, dresses worn by First Ladies, and Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz movie.
The American History Museum is located at 14th St. and Constitution Ave. NW. Free admission.
The Newseum is a museum that displays the history of the news. Anyone with an interest in current events will love this museum. Highlights include a large section of the Berlin wall and a section of the radio tower of the Twin Towers that was destroyed on 9/11. I’ve taken toddlers before, but this museum is more interesting to children over 8.
The Newseum is located at 555 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Paid admission.
I enjoyed taking my kids to the National Portrait Gallery more than I thought I would. They loved the American Presidents exhibit, and I loved how few people where there so we could really spend some time talking about the art. The courtyard cafe was a great place for children to eat a snack when my little ones got restless.
The National Portrait Gallery is located at 8th and F Sts NW. Free admission.
A little off the beaten path, the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum is located in Dulles, Virginia. Housed in two huge hangars, this museum showcases large airplanes and flight-related content. Our favorites to see are the B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay and the Space Shuttle Discovery.
The Air and Space Museum – Udvar Hazy Center is located at 14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway, Chantilly, Virginia. Free admission, $15 parking.
From the smallest stamps to the most unique mailboxes, learn everything you can about the U.S. postal system at the National Postal Museum. This museum showcases America’s postal history from the Pony express to modern times. Explore unique stamp collections and don’t miss the Discovery Center.
The National Postal Museum is located at 2 Massachusetts Avenue NE. Free admission.
10. Ford’s Theater
Ford’s Theater, where Abraham Lincoln was shot and killed, will bring history to life for any child. This small museum explores Abraham Lincoln’s life, presidency, and the tragic events of April 14, 1865. The museum is in the basement of the theater and is included in your admission to tour Ford’s Theater.
Ford’s Theater is located at 511 10th Street NW. Paid admission.
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Need a place to stay? Allison has stayed at Kimpton Hotel Madera and Hotel Harrington, which are both within a short walk or Metro ride from most of these attractions. Read her review of Hotel Madera HERE. Check rates and read reviews atTripAdvisor or Booking.com.
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