The Smithsonian is always a highlight for Washington DC tours. It was founded on the estate of James Smithson, which he bequeathed to the United States asking that it be used for the increase and spread of knowledge. The result is today’s Smithsonian Institution, made up of many facilities, a long list of amazing museums, research centers, and a zoo.
You’ll find the Smithsonian museums throughout Washington DC, most of them around the National Mall. They are all free, so you can visit several in any one itinerary. They are varied and expansive. You’ll want to choose carefully and allow plenty of time in any one Smithsonian museum. Here are some of the highlights to help you get an idea.
The Castle is the Smithsonian visitors center. You’ll find a video and other guest-friendly attractions to help you navigate the wide variety in the Smithsonian facilities.
The Air and Space Museum calls itself the most popular museum in the world, and you probably won’t doubt them when you step inside. Fortunately, this spacious facility can host quite a crowd. It was built, after all, to hold the largest collection of air and spacecraft anywhere in the world. Even individual exhibits are massive. You’ll see the Spirit of St. Louis and Apollo 11 Command Module. You can walk inside a space station and a large aircraft. Plus, the amazing gift shop is two stories, offering child-sized space costumes, exciting toys, books, gifts, and more.
The American History Museum tells our story through historical artifacts you’ll love. The Star Spangled Banner exhibit is a favorite. The familiar music plays as you view the flag that inspired it. The largest exhibit here is an actual house, furnished to represent decades of home decor. You’ll find pop culture artifacts to thrill, and American fashion to inspire. Your patriotic spirit will soar with every exhibit here.
Natural History is a favorite theme for museums around the nation and the world. We love to see the wonders of the earth, past and present. The Smithsonian’s version is no exception. Its astounding mammals and legendary reptiles are favorites. Visitors also love the Hope Diamond and other amazing gem stones. Small offerings thrill as well with the creepers, crawlers, and butterflies – every exhibit more amazing than the last.
American and African Art are on display in the museums by the same names. You can learn a lot about a culture and its history through the art it creates. American art depicts a remarkable history of changing times despite its relatively recent beginnings. And no culture in the world showcases its unique features and spirituality more thoroughly through its art than Africa. Pieces of every kind – both beautiful and functional – grace these amazing galleries.
The American Indian is featured and celebrated in one of the newest Smithsonian facilities. You’ll recognize the building by its beautiful and unique earthen color and design. Inside you’ll learn about various tribes, view artifacts from each, costumes, tools, and weapons. There’s far more to learn here than you can imagine. Live presentations are a popular exhibition here as well and truly bring the American Indian experience to life.
The National Zoo is both an educational facility and a popular experience. The preservation of all our planet’s amazing creatures is the focus as visitors learn about unique species and all their favorites as well.
Ask us about other Smithsonian features or visit their website for more.