Following up on our other post regarding the National Mall in Washington DC, we had a great experience visiting a number of FREE (yes that’s right, the majority of museums in the Mall in DC are free of charge) museums. Truth be told, you could probably spend at least half a day or maybe even a full day if you are really interested in each of the museums.
Many of the museums are part of the Smithsonian Institution which are the world’s largest museum and research complex, with 19 museums, 9 research centers and more than 140 affiliate museums around the world.
Washington DC is of course also home to the President of the United States of America – The White House. Located in the National Mall, this is another infamous location that is worth seeing if you are in the area.
Here is a brief overview of the museums and famous buildings we visited and others that are available:
The White House
The White House is the official residence of the President of the USA. It is one of the iconic stereotypes of American architecture and standing in front of those gates peering across the White House gardens was certainly a memorable experience. You can compare this with the likes of Buckingham Palace when thinking about infamous residences.
Located at the furthest point in the National Mall (if you start at the Lincoln Memorial that is!), the United States Capitol is the meeting place of the U.S. Congress, the legislature of the U.S. federal government. The white architecture may lead some people to mistake this for the White House or Treasury department, but it’s location atop Capitol Hill makes this infamously spectacular.
Smithsonian Institution HQ
Home to the Smithsonian Information Center as well as the Institution’s administrative headquarters, the ‘Castle’ is a great place to head inside, grab a quick snack after a morning wandering around the National Mall Memorials and Monuments and then decide on which museums you plan on visiting in the afternoon. There is a gift shop inside and of course Heather’s favorite penny-machine to take home a cherished treasure of your museum visit.
The National Air and Space Museum
I am not exaggerating when I say that you could literally spend a full day inside this museum and probably still not have enough time to learn about everything that is on offer inside this wonderful building. A whole host of exhibits are available and this is a great museum for all ages.
I will be the first to admit that I am generally not a museum sort of person, but this provides a detailed (plus in some instances hands-on experience with the moon rock touching experience) display of air and space throughout history to the present day iconic planes and rockets that we are all familiar with.
The National Museum of Natural History
This is very much similar to the American Museum of Natural History but the main difference between the two is that the Smithsonian version in DC is FREE. There are numerous exhibits that have life-like creatures, the entrance hall has a life size elephant as you can see from the image above. You can wander around the well structured halls, looking at animals by continent from African lions to Australian kangaroos. There is a sea life center with a giant squid on display that was captured off the coast of Spain and is at least 20ft long.
The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of approximately six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators.
Entering the Holocaust Museum in DC is a somber feeling as you consider the millions of lives that were lost during this appalling period. Free tickets to tour the museum are available but unfortunately when we arrived at 11:30AM, the next available tour was at 1:00PM so we decided to venture back out and see other museums rather than wait. This is certainly one of those museums that I would like to return to and tour because all the reviews and feedback I heard suggest that this is a worthwhile tour though you will likely be left feeling upset afterwards.
There are several other museums available throughout the National Mall area but as I have mentioned throughout, there is just not enough time in the day to visit all of these in one day.
Have you visited the museums in DC, if so which is your favorite?
What other museums are worth visiting that are FREE?