I consider the Smithsonian the gem of Washington DC. Sure there’s the capitol building, the monuments, the White House, and such. But nothing fascinates me more than a good museum. And a good museum hardly begins to describe the Smithsonian. I haven’t always felt this way though.
Growing up, we would often take road trips as a family. One road trip was to the glorious Washington DC. As a kid, I didn’t see why it was so special. There weren’t any roller coasters or shopping malls. When my dad told us we were going to the National Mall, I thought I’d get a new shirt, not be greeted by thousands of people walking past me each way. I can barely remember going through the museums. I just wasn’t interested and didn’t appreciate what I was seeing.
Things are so much different now.
There’s something special about walking in the hustle and bustle of traffic. Something unique about seeing first hand rarities behind paned glass. It mesmerizes me. That isn’t to say that I’m a slow browser. I don’t sit on those benches to take in each exhibit. No, we glance over the map and breeze our way through the main exhibits we want to see. This method isn’t for everyone, but for us on a limited time frame, it worked. We were able to see everything we wanted to in under 2 hours!
The Smithsonian is a group of museums and research centers in Washington DC administered by the government. Each museum is open to the public and free to visit. Many of the museums are located in the National Mall area of DC. So they are walking distance from each other. The most beautiful time of year to visit in in spring when the cherry blossoms are blooming. The trees are all over the place and paint a beautiful Kodak moment of a scene.
We were able to see the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in just under 2 hours. We first got a map from the visitor’s desk. They are a suggested $1 donation, but they are free if you can’t make a donation. We circled the places we knew we wanted to see and then took off.
Some exhibits had lines of people trying to see the artifacts. We skipped over them and opted for exhibits like the Hope Diamond. Which is a fantastic exhibit that rotates every few seconds so that visitors can get a 360 degree view. We were able to step right up to it and just wait for it to rotate towards us for a photo.
The Smithsonian is free, which is fantastic. If you do buy anything in the café, expect to pay a premium. I got a small bottle of water for $3, but on a 90+ degree day, it was worth it for me. As far as souvenir shopping, each museum has several shops interspersed in each museum. I always opt for the cheaper touristy souvenirs. I spent under $5 and walked away with several pressed pennies and postcards to add to the fridge.
If you are planning a trip to the DC area, please make a pit stop at the Smithsonian. You won’t be disappointed!
From Mohammed Ali’s boxing gloves…
there is something for everyone to appreciate at this museum!
Have you been to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History? What was your favorite exhibit?