Visiting the Smithsonian museums in Washington DC

Visiting the Smithsonian museums in Washington DC

The National Mall in Washington D.C. is home to many Smithsonian museums, some of the city's most popular tourist attractions. The Smithsonian is a group of museums and research centers that are funded by the United States government and receives additional funding from private sources. Some of the Smithsonian museums located on the National Mall include:

  • Smithsonian American Art Museum
  • Smithsonian National Museum of American History
  • Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
  • Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
  • Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian
  • Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery
  • Smithsonian National Postal Museum
  • Smithsonian Renwick Gallery

Special exhibitions and IMAX movies may require a separate paid ticket.


The Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM) are the two most visited museums at the National Mall. What makes them so exciting? Let's find out! 

  • The Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) is a vast collection of American art, which includes many sections. The most popular exhibit includes The Luce Foundation Center for American Art, a visible art storage with more than 3,300 works on display. The "America Now" gallery, which features contemporary art from the 1960s to the present, is also a popular area in the museum. The SAAM also hosts special exhibitions, so it's always a good idea to check the museum's website or call ahead to find out what is currently on display
  • The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM) is one of the most famous museums in the world, attracting millions of visitors each year. This place is a paradise with some fantastic exhibits for anyone interested in space or the history of space. While there, you can see The Wright Brothers' 1903 Wright Flyer: The first powered, heavier-than-air machine to achieve controlled, sustained flight. If you want to see how it was to cross the Atlantic about 100 years ago, check out the exhibit on The Spirit of St. Louis: The plane that Charles Lindbergh flew solo across the Atlantic in 1927. Then you can move forward a few decades to see The Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia: The spacecraft that carried the first men to land on the Moon. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum also has several planetarium shows, IMAX movies, and flight simulators that are popular with visitors,


There are several other notable landmarks and attractions located on or near the National Mall in Washington D.C. Some of the popular ones are The Lincoln Memorial, which is a large marble structure honoring the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, and The Washington Monument, which is an iconic obelisk honoring George Washington, the first President of the United States. In addition, if you happen to be there during the March-April time, you should check out the Tidal Basin, a large artificial reservoir with a 2.5-mile trail that circles it and offers views of cherry blossoms in the spring season.

Cherry blossom inDC

Dressing for a visit to a national museum can vary depending on the time of the year. During the colder months, you should dress in layers as the walking will make you feel hot, but the temperature change once you are outside will make you feel cold quickly. Dressing for summer is more straightforward because light clothing is suitable indoors and outdoors. Being Washington, DC, the country's political capital, avoiding clothing with offensive graphics or political affiliation. That is generally good manners, but more so in Washington, DC! It's also a good idea to wear comfortable shoes as you'll likely be doing a lot of walking. Avoid heels, as they will not suit the number of steps you will take! If you need to dress up shoes, consider taking a pair of foldable portable flats in your purse. 


We hope you found this article helpful. Please let us know below about any additional tips on visiting the popular attractions at the Smithsonian! 


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