Museums, Landmarks, & Destinations: Washington, DC

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The DMV boasts plenty of museums, landmarks, planetariums, and more that appeal to a wide variety of ages and interests!

Check out these Washington, DC destinations:

Washington, DC

Located directly across the street from the National Park Service’s African-American Civil War Memorial, the African-American Civil War Museum highlights the enormous contributions of the almost 210,000 members of the United States Colored Troops during the Civil War. It details their historic role in the abolishment of slavery and keeping America united under one flag. // Updated Apr ’22

Washington, DC

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing, part of the United States Department of the Treasury, has been the sole producer of US currency since 1877. While they do not produce coins (all coinage is produced by the United States Mint), guests are invited to visit and see millions of dollars being printed from a gallery overlooking the production floor. // Updated Apr ’22

Washington, DC

The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution’s goals are historic preservation, education, and patriotism by collecting, preserving, exhibiting, and interpreting pre-industrial America’s material culture and social history. At their museum, visitors are invited to enjoy galleries, exhibitions, and a look into 31 different period rooms that illustrate American interiors from the 17th- to the early 20th-century. // Updated Apr ’22

Washington, DC

Located in the heart of Washington, DC, the George Washington University Museum is home to The Textile Museum and the Albert H. Small Center.

The Albert H. Small Center boasts the Washingtoniana Collection, which documents the formation, development, and history of Washington, DC from the eighteenth- to the mid-twentieth century. The collection includes more than 1,900 manuscripts, books, newspapers, broadsides, photographs, postage stamps, paper currencies, and a remarkable collection of prints and maps. // Updated Apr ’22

The Textile Museum highlights the significance of the world’s textiles and boasts more than 19,000 textiles for the public to view. The museum is also home to the Cotsen Textile Collections, one of the world’s most significant private study collections of textiles. // Updated Apr ’22

Washington, DC

Adjacent to the National Mall, the Hirshhorn is one of the most visited modern art museums in the US. Home to one of the most important collections of post-World War II American and European art in the world, this Smithsonian Institution museum offers a space where people encounter 21st-century artists through groundbreaking exhibitions, events, and more.

The building’s architecture itself is an attraction — boasting an open cylinder elevated on four massive “legs” and a large fountain occupying the central courtyard. Before the architect designed the building, Smithsonian staff reportedly told him that if it did not provide a striking contrast to everything else in the city, then it would be unfit for housing a modern art collection. // Updated Apr ’22

Washington, DC

Do you have a James Bond fan in the family? Then enter a whole world of intelligence and espionage! The Museum lifts the veil of secrecy on the hidden world of intelligence and espionage — exploring its successes and failures, challenges, and controversies. In addition to their permanent exhibits, guests are invited to enjoy scheduled programs and unique interactive experiences in the shadowy world of spying; see their full calendar here. // Updated Apr ’22

Washington, DC

As one of Washington, DC’s newest museums, the Museum of the Bible documents the narrative, history, and impact of the Bible. Showcasing rare and fascinating artifacts spanning 3,500 years of history, its exhibits intend to offer a scholarly perspective on the impact of the Bible in history — each of their six floors contains a different exhibit that emphasizes different aspects of the Bible’s history or impact. // Updated Apr ’22

Washington, DC

The National Air & Space Museum, part of the Smithsonian family, showcases the history and science of aviation and spaceflight as well as planetary science and terrestrial geology/geophysics. The second-most visited museum in the United States, this top destination boasts artifacts, displays, and exhibits that include popular attractions like the 1903 Wright Flyer, Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, Apollo 11’s command module Columbia, and a real lunar rock! The Air & Space Museum also has a public observatory with high-powered telescopes, virtual reality and flight simulators, and an IMAX Theater.

The museum has a second location — an annex in Northern Virginia (Chantilly, VA) — called the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. Commonly known as the Udvar-Hazy Center, this location wows visitors with two large hangars that display thousands of aviation and space artifacts, including a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, a Concorde, and the Space Shuttle Discovery! // Updated Apr ’22

Located in the National Air & Space Museum, the Albert Einstein Planetarium is one of the most technologically advanced planetariums in the country. This planetarium’s ultra-high-definition visuals are 16 times the resolution of your high-definition television! Guests are invited to enjoy shows and opportunities that get you a little closer to the stars and beyond! // Updated Apr ’22

Named for Phoebe Waterman Haas, an extraordinary woman of the early 20th-century (Haas was among the first women in the United States to achieve a Ph.D. in astronomy), this public observatory is located on the National Air & Space Museum’s southeast terrace. Guests are invited to visit and even participate in stargazing opportunities using the observatory’s 16-inch telescope which boasts its own rich history. // Updated Apr ’22

Washington, DC

The National Archives Museum, the nation’s official record keeper, is home to the stories of the American journey. This nonpartisan institution has been safeguarding and providing public access to billions of records from all three branches of the United States government, including our country’s most important documents: the official Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights!

Even though the Archives was established in 1934, its major holdings date back to 1775. This includes important documents that tell stories of our country, from slave ship manifests and the Emancipation Proclamation to Indian treaties making transitory promises. Guests can even see the Louisiana Purchase Treaty, bearing the bold signature of Bonaparte — a richly bound document that doubled the territory of our young republic! // Updated Apr ’22

Washington, DC

The National Building Museum, a National Historic Landmark, is dedicated to the history and impact of architecture, engineering, landscape architecture, and design. The museum itself is a large-scale example of Renaissance Revival architecture and boasts a soaring Great Hall, colossal 75-foot-tall Corinthian columns, and a 1,200-foot-long terra-cotta frieze. There are many exhibits for guests to enjoy, as well as a dynamic schedule of activities and special events too. // Updated Apr ’22

Play Work Build
A permanent exhibit in the National Building Museum, Play Work Build is a play-driven experience that kids will love! In each gallery of this popular exhibit, imagination and hands-on play are encouraged! Growing children’s interest in architecture, engineering, and design, kids will enjoy a giant table brimming with hand-sized building blocks, a dedicated area packed with supersized foam building blocks, and even a virtual block-play experience! // Updated Apr ’22

Washington, DC

New to the DMV community, the National Children’s Museum sparks curiosity and ignites creativity in children up to age 12! This family destination boasts a wide variety of touch-and-play activities, exhibits, and experiences centered around science, technology, engineering, art, and math. // Updated Apr ’22

Washington, DC

Consisting of multiple buildings and a sculpture garden with a reflecting pool, the National Gallery of Art is one of the largest museums in North America, as well as one of the most highly attended museums in the US! Home to the only painting by Leonardo da Vinci in the Americas and the largest mobile created by Alexander Calder, the Gallery boasts many permanent and special exhibits showcasing artistic talent in all forms. // Updated Apr ’22

Washington, DC

Located just blocks from the White House, the National Geographic Museum features ever-changing exhibits in the fields of exploration, scientific research, storytelling, and education. Visitors have the opportunity to get to know the work of National Geographic conservationists, photographers, and scientists through engaging, dynamic exhibitions featuring everything from iconic photography and world-famous artifacts to interactive learning stations and behind-the-scenes stories. // Updated Apr ’22

Washington, DC

The National Law Enforcement Museum is dedicated to telling the story of American law enforcement by providing visitors a “walk in their shoes” experience. Within the walls of their strikingly contemporary exterior, artifacts from their collection of more than 20,000 objects tell law enforcement’s story — past, present, and future — and engage visitors of all ages in memorable, immersive, and experiential exhibits. More importantly, they’re proud that the museum serves as a platform for constructive dialog to help strengthen relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve. // Updated Apr ’22

Washington, DC

The National Museum of African-American History and Culture is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African-American life, history, and culture. This four-level Smithsonian destination features exhibits and displays that span the centuries and capture nearly every aspect of the African-American experience, from arts and athletics to slavery and the Civil Rights Movement. // Updated Apr ’22

Washington, DC

The National Museum of American History showcases the heritage of the United States, including politics, culture, science, and the military, to name a few topics. The museum’s mission is the collection, care, study, and interpretation of objects that reflect the experience of the American people. This includes popular displays such as the original Star-Spangled Banner (1814), Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz (1939), and Michelle Obama’s inaugural gown (2013), to name a few. // Updated Apr ’22

Draper Spark!Lab, located inside the National Museum of American History, is where young museum visitors, ages 6-12, become inventors! Children and their families are invited to create, collaborate, explore, test, experiment, and invent — activities incorporate traditional science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) with art, museum, and creativity. // Updated Apr ’22

Located inside the National Museum of American History, Wegmans Wonderplace is a 1,700-square-foot interactive play space for children ages 0-6. Little learners will delight in exploring, touching, playing, and learning! Discover the collections and exhibits of this unique playspace here. // Updated Apr ’22

Washington, DC

Located on the National Mall, the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M Sackler Gallery, also known as the National Museum of Asian Art, features more than 40,000 objects that preserve, exhibit, and interpret Asian art, in ways that deepen our understanding of Asia, America, and the world. // Updated Apr ’22

Washington, DC

The National Museum of the American Indian, a Smithsonian institution, is the first national museum in the country dedicated exclusively to Native Americans. The museum is committed to advancing the knowledge and understanding of Western Hemisphere Native cultures — past, present, and future through its architecture, exhibits, special events, and collections. The museum’s collections include 800,000 objects, as well as a photographic archive of 125,000 images that represent more than 12,000-years of history. // Updated Apr ’22

Washington, DC

Open 364 days a year with free admission, the National Museum of Natural History, a Smithsonian institution, has a collection that contains over 126 million specimens of plants, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, and human remains/cultural artifacts! Dedicated to promoting the understanding of the natural world and our place in it, the museum’s collections tell the history of the planet and are a record of human interaction with the environment and one another. // Updated Apr ’22

Q?rius (pronounced “curious”) is an interactive learning space inside the National Museum of Natural History that brings the museum’s unique assets — the science, researchers, and collections — out from behind the scenes. Visitors can use microscopes, handle some of the 6,000 collection objects, solve science puzzles, enjoy touchscreen activities, and even meet a scientist! // Updated Apr ’22

Washington, DC

The National Museum of Women in the Arts is the only museum in the world dedicated exclusively to recognizing the achievements of women artists. Located just blocks from The White House, this destination not only offers a unique look at the wide variety of art created exclusively by women, but also offers specials exhibits and events, learning opportunities for all ages, and tours. Check out their calendar for more information, including Free Community Days (enjoy free admission to explore their extensive collections)!// Updated Apr ’22

Washington, DC

Located in Northwest Washington, DC, adjacent to Capital One Arena, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery invites guests to experience portraiture beyond the frame. Their collections, which present people of remarkable character and achievement, were initially restricted to paintings, prints, and the like. However, today, they’ve grown to over 23,000 items in all media, from daguerreotypes to digital. The National Portrait Gallery is also home to the only complete collection of presidential portraits outside the White House; their America’s Presidents exhibition lies at the heart of the Gallery’s mission to tell the country’s history through the individuals who have shaped it. // Updated Apr ’22

Washington, DC

The National Postal Museum, a Smithsonian institution, has a variety of exhibits and galleries that give guests the opportunity to explore America’s postal history and philately (the study and collection of stamps), from colonial times to the present. Home to the William H. Gross Stamp Gallery, visitors can see hundreds of pullout frames containing more than 20,000 objects, including noteworthy stamps that have never been on public display. // Updated Apr ’22


Washington, DC

Voted one of the top things to do in DC by Travelers Choice, the Newseum highlights how the media reported on and affected important news moments and events, including 9/11, the Vietnam War, and the Berlin Wall, as well as older events like the assassination of President Lincoln. Visitors get up-close and personal with historical artifacts and go undercover and behind the scenes in multimedia exhibits and a 4-D theater.

Washington, DC

Ignite your senses in the heart of Washington, DC as you explore the O Street Museum! This historic mansion is open for all ages to explore art and creativity throughout its 100 rooms, tours, events, and exhibits. Set up an O’Kids Playdate, travel down the windy hallways, find secret doors, and discover the art you never knew you loved. // Updated Apr ’22

Washington, DC

Ideal for all ages, Planet Word is a voice-activated museum (the world’s first!) whose interactive galleries and exhibits bring words and language to life in all sorts of fun ways. Through unique, immersive learning experiences, the museum provides a space to explore words and language that is grounded in a solid understanding of language arts and science. // Updated Apr ’22

Washington, DC

Lincoln’s Cottage was the home of our nation’s 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, for 13-months while he developed the Emancipation Proclamation. Standing on 251 acres, atop the third highest point in Washington, DC, guests are invited to visit, enjoy a guided tour, and get to know one of our country’s most influential leaders. // Updated Apr ’22

Washington, DC

Located within the Rock Creek Park Nature Center, the Rock Creek Park Planetarium uses high-tech Spitz software to project the night sky onto a large, dome-shaped ceiling while Rangers lead guests on a journey of exploration into our solar system, galaxy, and beyond! In addition to planetarium programs, stargazing opportunities are available too. // Updated Apr ’22

Washington, DC

Completed in 1855, the Smithsonian Institution Building (affectionately called the Castle) is the signature building and home to the Smithsonian Visitor Center. As such, it makes a great starting point for visitors. Here, they can get a grasp of the scope and scale of the Smithsonian, see collection highlights from each of their museums, tour the Castle’s 19th-century architecture, see what’s going on at all the museums, and consult with their in-house experts about what to see and do. // Updated Apr ’22

Washington, DC

Resembling the Pantheon in Rome, Itlay, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial is a presidential memorial honoring the founding father, primary author of the Declaration of Independence, and the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. Located on the picturesque Tidal Basin, the memorial features Jefferson’s almost 20-foot bronze statue, with his gaze toward the White House. Inside this white-columned, open-air monument, the walls are inscribed with words from his various texts, including one from the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” // Updated Apr ’22

Washington, DC

More than a mansion with a beautiful view of the Potomac River, Tudor Place is steeped in history! Dating back to 1805, Tudor Place has close ties to the legacy of America’s First Family and is the only property in the District of Columbia connected to George and Martha Washington.

Since then, the six generations of Peters who lived at Tudor Place were witnesses to a ceaseless parade of events that shaped the nation, including the burning of Washington in 1814, slavery, the Civil War, both World Wars, and the Cold War. Yet, today, Tudor Place remains true to the directive of its last owner, “that it be considered not as a period museum, but as a house lived in and loved by generations of our family and in which they found great happiness.” Today, Tudor Place’s Vision is “An honest look at the past to realize a better future.” // Updated Apr ’22

Washington, DC

Located on the National Mall, minutes from the US Capitol, the United States Botanic Garden is a family-friendly museum steeped in history! As one of the oldest Botanic Gardens in the US (established by Congress in 1820), this landmark emphasizes the crucial role plants play in the ecosystem. Visitors can explore living exhibits, including 12,000 accessions, which equates to about 65,000 plants! While there, be sure to ask about the Wilkes plants too (read below)!

In 1838, Lieutenant Charles Wilkes set out on the United States Exploring Expedition commissioned by Congress to circumnavigate the globe and explore the Pacific Ocean. Between 1838 and 1842, the expedition traveled 87,000-miles and collected a large assortment of horticultural and botanical specimens. These formed the nucleus of the present-day garden. Even now, there are four plants in the garden that are believed to be directly related to the original Wilkes Expedition! // Updated Apr ’22

Washington, DC

Catch democracy in action with a visit to the US Capitol! Experience this monument — a working office building, where our nation’s laws are written, and presidents are inaugurated! Visitors are invited to set up to view temporary exhibits, set up a tour, and even watch Congress while in session. // Updated Apr ’22

Washington, DC

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is the US’ official Holocaust memorial. Adjacent to the National Mall, its collections contain more than 12,750 artifacts, 49 million pages of archival documents, 85,000 historical photographs, a list of more than 200,000 registered survivors and their families, 9,000 oral history testimonies, and more — all of which are dedicated to helping leaders and citizens of the world confront hatred, prevent genocide, promote human dignity, and strengthen democracy. // Updated Apr ’22

Washington, DC

Established in 1927 by an act of Congress, the United States National Arboretum gives visitors the opportunity to enjoy hundreds of acres of fresh air exploration and nature. The Arboretum boasts a wide variety of things to see, including Asian collections, a flowering tree collection, the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum, the National Grove of State Trees, historic roses, Knot Garden, themed gardens, and more. // Updated Apr ’22

Washington, DC

The Washington Monument allows a breathtaking, bird’s-eye view of Washington, DC. The monument is open daily, with extended summer hours (Memorial Day to Labor Day). Same-day tickets are available at the Washington Monument Lodge, located along 15th St., on a first-come, first-serve basis. One person may obtain up to six tickets and request their preferred ticket time. Be aware that during peak season (April-September) tickets run out quickly and many visitors form a line to wait for the ticket window to open well before 9 am. To schedule in advance, call (877) 444-6777 for individual tickets, (877) 559-6777 for group tickets, or order tickets online. // Updated Apr ’22

Washington, DC

The Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, commonly known as Washington National Cathedral, is not only an active Protestant Episcopal church but also a historic landmark. Closely modeled on the English Gothic style of the late fourteenth century, the Washington National Cathedral is both the second-largest church building in the United States and the fourth tallest structure in Washington, DC. Construction of this popular church began in 1907 when the foundation stone was laid in the presence of President Roosevelt and ended 83 years later when the “final finial” was placed in the presence of President Bush in 1990.

The public is invited to worship services, prayer, and other spiritual visits, for which admission is always free. Fee-based guided tours, including special Behind-the-Scenes tours, are available, as well as special events. See their full calendar here. // Updated Apr ’22

Disclaimer: Events and opportunities on this site are curated from public sources and subject to changes/cancelations that might not be reflected in’s content.

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