Washington DC is home to 19 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 DC museums that families will enjoy in any season.
National Air and Space Museum
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. Click the button to read all our tips for this museum.
The Air and Space Museum is located at 600 Independence Ave SW. Free admission.
International Spy Museum
The International Spy Museum is one of the most fun museums in Washington D.C. 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. Click the button to read all our tips for this museum.
The International Spy Museum is located at 700 L'Enfant Plaza SW. Paid admission. Included on Go Washington D.C. Pass.
National Museum of Natural History
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.
National Museum of American History
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.
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.
Related: Tips for Visiting Ford's Theater
National Geographic Museum
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 National Geographic Museum is located at 1145 17th Street, NW (17th and M). Paid admission.
National Portrait Gallery
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 uncrowded the museum was. 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.
National Postal Museum
This museum is more fun than you might expect. From the smallest stamps to the most unique mailboxes, learn all 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.
National Air and Space Museum – Udvar-Hazy Center
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.
How else can we help?
Need a place to stay? There are lots of great hotels and vacation rentals in Washington D.C. for families. Allison has stayed at
- Kimpton Hotel Madera
- Omni Shoreham
- Hotel Harrington
All are within a short walk or Metro ride from most of these attractions. Click the button to check rates and read reviews at TripAdvisor.
Do you know about the Go Washington D.C. Pass? Save up to 40% on admission to the International Spy Museum, plus other attractions of your choice. Click the blue button to read all my tips for using the Go Card. Click the red button to visit the official site and check prices.