Museums/Exhibits to See

Museums are a hard since they are dictated by interest, but I have a Best Of List for what to see when you’re in DC.

Okay, how are you judging?


a. These Museums/Exhibits are dictated by my interest, location, & exhibition space (which is HUGE for me)

b. The majority of these are Smithsonian Museums because the majority are in DC, are FREE! & are simply blow your mind

c. I’m excluding Museums/Exhibits I thought were worth seeing (like the Baltimore Aquarium) due to distance & price as well as things that are DC Must Sees that aren’t museums (like the Capitol Building)

Nevertheless, here’s my list:


10. Air and Space Museum

  • Price: FREE! 
  • What I Like: The massive planes and shuttles, some unbelievable historical planes & the Lockheed IMAX theater.
  • What I Dislike: The majority of the space stuff is a recreation/model, not the real thing.
  • What You Need To See: Spirit of St. Lewis (top right in the lobby), and the Wright Bros. Flyer (2nd floor to left of lobby).


9. Freer & Sackler Galleries

  • Price: FREE! 
  • What I Like: The space is fascinating. It’s a winding dungeon below the ground that just gets deeper and deeper
  • What I Dislike: Asian art is not a big interest. Nothing other than that.
  • What You Need To See: Peacock Room, Masters of Mercy: The Buddha’s Amazing Disciples, and delve thru the dungeons.


8. Ford’s Theater

  • Price: FREE! Just need to pick up a timed ticket at the box office of the Theater.
  • What I Like: 2 museums (1 is brand spankin’ new), a reconstruction of the theater, and interactive exhibits that really delve into the day Lincoln was assasinated
  • What I Dislike: Can get crowded easily. Go early or late to avoid huge crowds.
  • What You Need to See: The gun Lincoln was shot with, the box Lincoln was shot in, the room Lincoln died in, and leave a sticky note on the 2nd floor on your way out.


7. American Art Museum & National Portrait Gallery

  • Price: FREE! 
  • What I Like: 2 museums in 1 connected by one of the coolest courtyards I’ve ever seen (Kogod Courtyard)
  • What I Dislike: You have to carry your backpack in your hand & can’t wear it on your back.
  • What You Need To See: Kogod Courtyard, walk through the Presidential Portraits, and pick up the pamphlet they have on “The Best Things To See.”


6. National Gallery of Art & Sculpture Garden

  • Price: FREE!
  • What I Like: Two HUGE buildings, regular FREE! tours to explain the art, variety.
  • What I Dislike: Can’t walk around with water bottles.
  • What You Need To See: DaVinci’s 2 works, Thomas Cole’s Voyage of Life, & the Light Tunnel btw the 2 buildings.


5. Postal Museum

  • Price: FREE!
  • What I Like: The exhibits, how they encompass the idea of a national form of communication, and the surprise connections to the post office.
  • What I Dislike: No new exhibits/temporary exhibits.
  • What You Need To See: Walk through the whole thing to see the history of the postal service & make sure to stop by the room with all the stamps.


4. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

  • Price: FREE!
  • What I Like: The building & the rotating exhibits
  • What I Dislike: Nothing really.
  • What You Need To See:  Suprasensorial (temporary exhibit) & fountain the in the center w/ Zodiac Sculptures.


3. National Museum of Natural History

  • Price: FREE!
  • What I Like: Hall of Mammals, Butterfly Pavilion, Ocean Hall
  • What I Dislike: Crowds on Weekends (go during the week if possible).
  • What You Need to See: Hall of Mammals, Hope Diamond, Ocean Hall, Butterfly Pavilion.


2. American History Museum

  • Price: FREE!
  • What I Like: You can simply wander through and be shocked when you find that exhibit you never knew existed
  • What I Dislike: The map is bad (since it doesn’t have what’s in each exhibit labeled).
  • What You Need To See: Star Spangled Banner, Superman’s Suit, Ruby Red Slippers from Wizard of Oz, Kermit the Frog.


1. National Botanical Gardens

  • Price: FREE!
  • What I Like: Coolest setup of any exhibit, rare plants, knowledgeable workers.
  • What I Dislike: Wish it was open at night (closes at 5:30pm).
  • What You Need to See: Walk through the whole thing. It will only take an hour and you’ll enjoy every minute.

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