The Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum has the the largest collection of historic air and spacecraft in the world. Your kids will think this place is out of this world literally and it's free!
The National Air and Space Museum is a fun place to easily spend a few hours in. The simulator rides, the IMAX movie theater with its rotating roster of superbly produced movies and the walk through the amazing history of this country's love affair with flight and space exploration is enough to keep children and parents satisfied and engaged for the good part of the day. Don't be surprised if you end up making a repeat visit during your stay in Washington, D.C.
I personally do not find the National Air and Space Museum interesting, but I have a four year old boy. So, we take a walk through the museum and visit a gallery of his choice every time we are in the area. Wow- it gets crazy busy in the summer months!
While my appreciation of the museum has not grown, I have some tips to share - especially for families with young children.
If you are traveling with toddlers or preschoolers, check the calendar for story time. One parent could easily sit with the young children at story time while another parent wanders the museum at their own pace for 15-20 minutes. Currently story times are held on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 11AM (2014).
Also for preschoolers is the planetarium show "One World, One Sky: Big Bird's Adventure" offered for free on Fridays and Sundays at 10:30. It is a great show for kids who are not too old for Sesame Street characters. Just walk up to the planetarium, they'll give you tickets and walk inside. It runs for about a half hour.
Finally, the Air and Space Museum may have some of the worst dining options on the mall, in my opinion - McDonalds, Boston Market, and pizza. If you are an adventurous eater, try walking next door to the Museum of the American Indian, or for better atmosphere try the Sculpture Garden across the mall.
This place is amazing - sensory overload! Look up, look around, look down. There is so much to see here and it is free. Truly someone for everyone in the family to be excited about. Rockets, rovers, and uniforms. Planes, planets, and more. Definitely a crowd on the weekends, but things are well spaced to allow everyone to see. We were a bit disappointed that several of the interactive activities were broken, but it is free. An awesome gift shop for the aviator or astronaut in the family, too!
There is tons to see and do including hands-on activities at the Air and Space Museum, but I think people either love it or don't love it depending on their personalities. I happen to fall into the "non-flight-loving" category so I felt a bit bored at this museum... but it wasn't because it wasn't amazing.
This museum is amazing for many reasons. The first is that it is free. That's a great start. The second is that the exhibits are geared for many ages. Little kids can look up high to see full size rockets, airplanes, and missiles. They may not know what they are looking at but it is impressive. There is a whole gallery ("How Things Fly") dedicated to teaching kids the science of flight through hands-on experiments and demonstrations. Don't miss this area if you have kids!
Other galleries (like "Moving Beyond Earth") have video-type games that engage kids in multiple-choice trivia or in computer graphic design of the space station that help them learn through play. A loop feed shows the shuttle launch which kept us all captivated.
The "America By Air" gallery was impressive with many large, historic passenger aircraft, including a plane you could walk through and a 747 jet where you could view the cockpit.
Other galleries were dedicated to the history of aircraft during the various wars the US was involved in, how airplanes have let us view the earth, and exploring the universe. I was much more "bored" in these areas, although other members of my group were entranced.
Don't miss this museum on the National Mall. It is impressive and incredible in it's variety of displays. Most kids will really enjoy it!
The Air & Space Museum was the first planned stop on our DC trip over Spring Break. It was easy getting inside, just a quick bag check. The first thing the kids wanted to do (after the boys had their pictures taken as astronauts) was head over to the moon rock in the main entryway of the museum. They thought it was great that they were able to touch an actual part of the moon! In the main area they were also able to see Gemini and Mercury capsules, a replica of Sputnik, and a prototype of the landrover, There's also a part of a Saturn V rocket - Sky Lab - that we were able to walk through from the second floor.
We made our way through each exhibit, skipping the theater. One of the exhibits is all about space, and there my kids were enamored with the showing of the space shuttle Discovery's last launch. It was being played over and over on a screen on the wall. We missed part of it, so we stayed to catch the part we missed. They thought it was great. In that same exhibit they were also able to choose a job and create a badge with their job title and picture on it that would be sent via email to us. There are two computers that do this, and we had a lot of fun taking the quiz and choosing between the three jobs that went along with all their answers. They then chose one job from the three and then had their pictures takne to complete the badge. If they had wanted they could have just chosen any job that they wanted (there's a way to look at all the jobs), but they stuck with what their tests told them. It was a lot of fun. Unfortunately only one of the computers seemed to have worked because we only received the emails from the one computer (that my daughter and youngest son used), and not one from the other (that my oldest son used). So, we only have two badges, but it was still fun to do it.
Across the hall and down from that exhibit is another one that is completely hands on. There my kids were able to weigh themselves and see how much they weigh here on earth, and how much they would way elsewhere such as the moon and Mars. As fun as this exhibit would be, we walked fairly quickly through it, picking only a few things to do. Plus, a good portion of the activities were out of order because they were having problems. I know we'll go back, and I'm sure we'll spend more time in this exhibit since we've seen eveything already.
I loved seeing the famous plane that the Wright brothers created and flew - the first successful flight. When we told our kids that it was the actual one they thought it was awesome. They enjoyed looking at it, and even now, when we ask them what they remember from our trip, they mention that plane in the list.
We had a late lunch because we wanted to keep walking and seeing all that we could. When we did decide to eat we decided on the food court on the lower level of the museum. There you have an option of McDonalds, Boston Market or a pizza place. We decided on McDonalds and were surprised that the prices weren't exorbitant as we had originally expected being a McDonalds in a museum in DC.
We really enjoyed our visit. There was so much to see and do in this museum, and we will definitely be making our way back there on our next trip to DC.
A huge museum and some parts are fun but try to go in the off season since it gets crowded. I find some of the exhibits to be boring but I'm sure others won't. It's great that it's free and there are tons of room for the kids to run around and enjoy the space. I just wish it had more interactive exhibits.
As a mom of 3 boys I'm always looking for places they will love to visit and not get bored. This is the perfect place. They love looking at the planes and the rocket ships. There are hands-on exhibits to enjoy and they LOVE the planetarium shows.
My kids are still talking about this museum two years later. There was so much to see and do, we could have spent the entire day here. They really enjoyed working on the computers in one of the exhibit rooms. We found one that emailed souvenir NASA badges featuring their pictures. They had fun touring several different types of aircraft that were set up to walk through and climb on. This will be our first stop the next time we visit the DC area.
There are airplanes and aircraft everywhere in this museum. So many neat things to look at and so much to read. From the very first aircraft to modern day and even space ships. A really cool place to visit. So neat to see actual life size planes and rockets!
Whether you are an enthusiast or not, you will love this museum. From planes to rockets to space ships...it's got it all. Not only are there exhibits to look at and stand in awe of their true majesty....but there are plenty of activites for the whole family. My husband and I loved this museum on our honeymoon and found it hard not to join in all the fun that many of the children around us were having. We definitely felt like kids again!
AFter being in Washington D.C. for a week sight seeing you start feeling a bit sick of MUSEUMS, but this one perked the interest of both young and old in our family. Who would not be impressed with airplanes hanging from the ceiling. This was a fun place to just look and I would suggest you not miss this one.
This museum was so much fun for everyone! The IMAX theater was amazing. My cousin who is currently in the air force and going to school to be a fighter jet pilot went with us and we got to see an IMAX movie about a fighter jet pilot, which the kids LOVED. They also loved all of the airplane models hanging from the ceiling, and the room where they got to look at airplane parts.
I remember this visit vividly from my 8th grade field trip to Washington DC and that was 12 years ago. Any kid I know or knew loved space and are fascinated by how people get into space. This museum has the largest collection of historic air and spacecrafts in the world. It is not only fun but a learning experience so parents you should be happy to visit this spot. I will say, tours are the best way to visit these types of places because parking is not the best and Washington DC is busy at all hours of the day so unless you know the area well save yourself the hassle. The gift shop is one of a kind, especially the freeze dried food. I think everyone that went on the trip bought at least one of the meals to see what is tasted like.
I think we went at the wrong time. It was near a holiday so it was super crowded and long lines to tour the different exhibits. We couldn't even find places to sit. It needs to be renovated because we found it a little dated. It might have been better if we had gone at a less busy time.
The National Air & Space Museum was out of this world!! It was so amazing to see so many ancient planes hanging from the ceilings of the museum! My favorite part of the museum was the Human Space Flight and International Space exhibit. I loved it! The National Air & Space museum is really large and offers various activities for children and adults of all ages.
It is amazing how far we have come since the first Wright Brothers plane! Plan on spending at least several hours at the museum. Also, check the museums website for special events!
fantastic spot for the aspiring pilot in the family. Tons of planes and displays on areo-dynamics makes this a great educational and fun destination. As well as iit being a great spot for the kids there are fun things for the adults to do aswell. And the gift shop carries very cool things like space icream and space blankets, all in all a good spot
The National Air & Space Museum is one of the free Smithsonian museums. It is fun to look at all of the model planes and replicas of aircraft parts. My husband particularly enjoyed all of the shuttle parts and NASA memorabilia. There are a few fun activities for little guys. Don't plan on spending more than a few hours there if you have young ones. My toddler got bored pretty fast, so we got some ice cream from their indoor McDonald's and had to scoot.
The National Air & Space Museum is AMAZING! It's museums like this that will make your children come to appreciate and LOVE going to a museum! Basically everywhere you look you will see some part of aeronautical history infront of your eyes, from the Wright Brothers to the Moon Landing...it's all here! Fun for kids of all ages, and specially those kids who are into planes/flying/space exploration ect.! Highly reccomended! We could spend all day here!
For history buffs, the National Air and Space Museum is a must see. We spent a Thanksgiving day there a couple of years back along with a few hundred of our closest friends. The hanging aircraft and the IMAX Theatre are pluses but is definitely for an older kid who can read and understand at least basic science concepts. You get what you want out of all the Smithsonian museums but can spend a whole day at the Air and Space museum and not be bored if you chose.
One of the nicest things about all of the museums on the Mall is that you can double back later in the day. It is nice that there is a Metro stop at the Mall where you kind of emerge up out of the ground and are right in sight of all of the sites.
The gift shop of this museum is one of the most memorable parts of the place!
The National Air & Space Museum is a place that you must visit at least once. It is quite large, so allow plenty of time to spend there. We spent half the day there. One problem we ran into was that our two little kids (and even myself) began to get a little bored and tired. Little kids don't really comprehend the history behind the displays, so they had a short attention span. There are a lot of things that are very similar and repetitive. My husband, on the other hand, could spend all day there without getting bored. It is the type of thing that he is into. Keep in mind that there is a McDonalds located inside the museum. This might be a good way to break up the day if you have young children. They can eat lunch or a snack and have a little break from the museum. The museum itself is free and the prices at McDonalds didn't seem to be any more expensive than our McDonalds at home.