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Indoor Fun: Museums — Washington, DC

Schools from all over the world travel to this area to see the museums that are located practically in your back yard. Whether centered on art, history, science, or social studies, there is a museum that will appeal to everyone at any age. Engage in hands-on activities, join a guided tour, watch a film, stimulate your curiosity, and learn something new all while spending quality time with the family and having fun!

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Washington, DC

African American Civil War Museum
1925 Vermont Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20001 | (202) 667-2667
Admission: Free

Located directly across the street from the African American Civil War Memorial, the African American Civil War Museum highlights the contributions of African-Americans during the Civil War and details the United States Colored Troops’ role in the abolishment of slavery.

Bureau of Engraving & Printing
300 14th St. SW, Washington, DC 20228 | (202) 874-2330
Admission: Free

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing has been printing money since the 1860’s and became the sole producer of all US currency in 1877. Visit the Bureau today to watch millions of dollars being printed and learn all about US paper currency!

Daughters of the American Revolution Museum
1776 D St. NW, Washington, DC 20006 | (202) 879-3220
Admission: Free for docent-led tours of 9 or fewer or self-guided tours

The Daughters of the American Revolution Museum provides visitors with a look into 31 different period rooms that illustrate American interiors from the 17th to the early 20th century.

International Spy Museum
800 F St. NW, Washington, DC 20004 | (202) 393-7798
Admission: Fee-based

Do you have a James Bond fan in the family? Then enter a whole world of gadgets, disguises, codes, and missions at the International Spy Museum! Ideal for ages 7 and up, this museum offers scheduled programs and interactive experiences in the shadowy world of spying.

National Archives Museum
Constitution Ave. NW between 7th & 9th St., Washington, DC 20408 | (877) 874-7616
Admission: Free

Home to the stories of the American journey, the National Archives boasts exhibits and displays of our country’s most important documents, including the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights.

National Building Museum
401 F St. NW, Washington, DC 20001 | (202) 272-2448
Admission: Fee-based

While The National Building Museum isn’t initially thought of as a kid-friendly destination, we see it as one of our area’s hidden treasures, offering many kid-friendly touch-and-play exhibits and opportunities. Best of all, visit PLAY WORK BUILD, an exciting ongoing exhibit takes children and adults alike through an exploration of play with an immersive, hands-on installation featuring molded foam blocks of all shapes and sizes, and an original virtual block play experience.

National Gallery of Art
6th & Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20565 | (202) 737-4215
Admission: Free

Consisting of multiple buildings and even a sculpture garden with a reflecting pool, the National Gallery of Art is one of the most highly attended museums in the US! Home to the only Leonardo Da Vinci painting in the Western Hemisphere, the Gallery boasts many permanent and special exhibits showcasing artistic talent in all forms.

National Geographic Museum
1145 17th St. NW, Washington, DC 20036 | (202) 857-7588
Admission: Fee-based

Located just blocks from the White House, the National Geographic Museum features ever-changing exhibits, including interactive and photographic exhibits from National Geographic photographers and scientists.

National Museum of African American History & Culture
1400 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20560 | (844) 750-3012
Admission: Free

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is devoted exclusively to the documentation of African-American life, history, and culture.

National Museum of American History
14th St. & Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20001 | (202) 633-1000
Admission: Free

Explore American history through cultural artifacts and relics. From American presidents and first ladies to familiar stories and toys, and the evolution of vehicles and machinery to advancements in technology, the National Museum of American History boasts some of the most fascinating keepsakes of our nation, all in one place!

National Museum of the American Indian
4th St. & Independence Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20560 | (202) 633-1000
Admission: Free

Exhibits, landscaping, and architecture combine to give visitors a true sense of the spirit of the Native American Indians. Meet the native peoples who have lived in the DC/MD/VA region from the 1600’s to today and view one of the most extensive collections of Native American arts and artifacts in the world, representing more than 12,000-years of history.

National Museum of Natural History
10th St. & Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20560 | (202) 633-1000
Admission: Free

At the National Museum of Natural History, explore the galleries and exhibits to learn about animals and ecosystems, human diversity, earth sciences, and more. Some museum must-sees are the Hope Diamond, a mummified cat, live butterflies and plants, a live coral reef, and several impressive animal displays! Be prepared to “ooh” and “ahh” in the Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals, and develop a fascination with different animal structures in the Bone Hall.

National Museum of Women in the Arts
1250 New York Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20005 | (202) 783-5000
Admission: Fee-based

The National Museum of Women in the Arts is known as the only museum in the world dedicated exclusively to recognizing women in the arts. Located in the heart of Washington DC, this museum not only offers a unique look at the wide variety of art created exclusively by women, but also offers a variety of events, learning opportunities for all ages, and tours. Check out their calendar for more information on event opportunities, including Free Community Day, where you can explore the collection with free admission.

National Portrait Gallery
8th St. NW & F St. NW, Washington, DC 20001 | (202) 633-8300
Admission: Free

It doesn’t get any better for kids and families than the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery. The Gallery tells the story of famous Americans and the marks they have made on our culture through visual and performing arts by portraying the people who shape the nation’s past, present, and future. Permanent exhibitions include historical and cultural figures in America ranging from the 1600’s through the 20th century.

555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20001 | (202) 292-6100
Admission: Fee-based

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.

President Lincoln’s Cottage
140 Rock Creek Church Rd. NW, Washington, DC 20011 | (202) 829-0436
Admission: Fee-based

Home to our country’s 16th president, Abraham Lincoln’s Cottage was the home of Lincoln for 13-months while he developed the Emancipation Proclamation. Through guided tours, reservations highly recommended, visitors get to know Lincoln as a person, not just our president.

Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum
600 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20560 | (202) 633-2214
Admission: Free

The 1903 Wright Flyer, Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, Apollo 11’s command module Columbia, and a lunar rock are just a few of the thousands of objects on display at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum on the National Mall. Stop by the public observatory to look through high-powered telescopes and see craters on the moon or spots on the sun. Click here for special nighttime stargazing opportunities. Flight simulators, planetarium viewing, and IMAX Theater presentations are an extra cost, but worth the splurge.

Smithsonian National Postal Museum
2 Massachusetts Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002 | (202) 633-5555
Admission: Free

The National Postal Museum’s galleries explore America’s postal history and philately (the study and collection of stamps) from colonial times to the present. For lovers of all things transportation, enjoy exhibits featuring planes, mail coaches, wagons, trains, and more! Additionally, several touch-and-play opportunities will entertain younger visitors, and kids can learn the history of stamps (and see thousands of them!) and how the US mail system works.

Smithsonian Institution Building
1000 Jefferson Dr. SW, Washington, DC 20004 | (202) 633-1000
Admission: Free

Built in 1855, the Castle serves as the Smithsonian’s information center for those visiting the National Mall and its museums. Besides information and the history of the Smithsonian Institution, visitors will find permanent exhibits, a scale model of the city, and the Smithson crypt (final resting place of the Institution’s benefactor, James Smithson) complete with some of its namesake’s personal belongings.

The George Washington University Museum & The Textile Museum
701 21st St. NW, Washington, DC 20052 | (202) 994-5200
Admission: Free for members, suggested donation for non-members

As DC’s latest destination for the public to enjoy both The Textile Museum and the Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection, The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum showcases artwork and historic artifacts representative of local, national, and international history.

Established in 1925, The Textile Museum highlights the significance of the world’s textiles and boasts more than 19,000 textiles for the public to view. The Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection, found within the GW Museum, details the evolution of our nation’s capital and includes a variety of historical items, including documents, maps, stamps, photographs, and other remarkable artifacts.

United States Botanic Gardens
100 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20024 | (202) 225-8333
Admission: Free

From the real-life jungle to preserved Jurassic plant life, the United States Botanic Gardens is an educational and exciting place to visit with the kids. More than just a giant greenhouse, it boasts exhibits, events, and even classes. Send your little ones, age 9 and younger, on an adventure challenge by requesting a Junior Botanist Adventure Kit Backpack. Completed challenges for the adventure kit win an Apprentice Junior Botanist Badge! You can even submit the results to a real botanist to review and, if successful, your child will become an official US Botanic Gardens Junior Botanist!

Kids will also enjoy the Children’s Garden where touching and smelling the plants is encouraged. The latest improvements include a new platform climbing structure, a new kiwifruit vine tunnel, and a new digging area, and kids can still spaces to dig, explore, plant, water, and care for plants.

Disclaimer/Terms: These opportunities are subject to last minute cancellations and changes that might not be reflected in this post. Please, always confirm by calling/clicking.

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