This post is a guide to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, known popularly as “The Vietnam Wall”, with tips on how to find particular names. Read more »
This post is a guide to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, known popularly as “The Vietnam Wall”, with tips on how to find particular names. Read more »
This is a short guide to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC, including tips on parking, public transport as well as a short guided tour. Read more »
This post describes how to get advanced and same-day tickets for individuals and groups to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. It also describes the exhibits and other practical information relevant to your visit.
With so much changing as Washington DC slowly reopens due to COVID-19, we are trying to keep all information updated. Note that opening hours, ticketing policies and procedures may vary. For the most up to date information, check the location’s individual website.
First, if you are visiting from September through February, you do not need a ticket. Just show up.
Entry is free. In fact, the Holocaust Museum is one of the top free things to do in DC.
From March through August, the Permanent Exhibit does require timed tickets for entry. The tickets are timed for 1 hour. This means, if you obtain a ticket for 10 am, you have from that time until 11 am to enter the Permanent Exhibit. Read more »
This post will tell you all about how to tour the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, D.C.
This post is a guide to the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC and covers how to get here as well as explaining its symbolism.
Read more »
This post is about ghost tours in Washington, DC, including our ghost and scandals tours, as well as adult-only walking tours.
These three aren’t ghost tours, but they are great for a night out (adults only) for scandals, affairs, and murders!
For such a small city, Washington DC has a lot of ghost stories. In any of the historic neighborhoods, you’re bound to find an old house that has unexplained bumps in the night or otherworldly sightings of lost souls who suffered tragic ends. Read more »
Washington DC is slowly reopening but there are still many locations that are not open to the public just yet.
If you’re looking for what to do in Washington DC in 2020, this comprehensive guide will help you navigate what is open in DC right now.
This page was updated on October 09, 2020
Please note that Washington DC has some guidelines for visiting:
We offer a number of walking tours right now! All tours take safety precautions such as mandatory face coverings, small groups, no interior stops and physical distancing.
You can join us for tours of:
While not all the Smithsonian Museums are open, a number of them have opened with new opening times and timed reservations required to limit the total number of people inside at a time.
Which Smithsonian Museums are Open right now?
The National Zoo, Ford’s Theatre, Washington Monument, National Archives and National Gallery of Art are also open but we talk about them below.
All the memorials on the National Mall and Tidal Basin are open to visitors, though some of the small interior museums are closed.
The Washington Monument is also currently open with advanced timed tickets required. You can read more about going to the top of the Washington Monument on our post.
A stroll through these neighborhoods offers photo ops, charm and if you walk with one of our self guided audio tours, a lot of history.
Big Bus Tours have recently reopened in Washington DC with enhanced safety measures.
Bus Tours allow you to hop on and hop off at select sites with a guided narration as you drive between. This is a good way to see sites but also get around the city.
One of our favorite museums in DC has reopened! Here you have a chance to explore their new location and learn about the tricks of the espionage trade.
The Spy Museum is open daily.
You can read more about the International Spy Museum here.
Arlington Cemetery is open to graveside visits if you have a particular person you’d like to pay respects to.
The JFK memorial is open as well but other popular tour spots like Arlington House and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier are not open to the public just yet.
DC has a lot of great places to eat! You can Support DC Businesses by ordering to go or eating on some of the outdoor patios. Many restaurants will have heated patio seating as the days get cooler.
Some of our favorite places to eat are:
The National Zoo is mostly outdoors so it is reopen, with some changes. Timed tickets are required and some exhibits are closed.
The Zoo is open 8am to 4pm daily.
While the timed tickets are free, if you want to park it is $30 which includes timed tickets for your entire car.
But you’ll get to see the elephants, tigers & more.
The Panda exhibit is also closed because we have a baby panda! You can still watch the Panda online with the Panda Cam.
The National Gallery of Art offers a chance to see the only Leonardo da Vinci in the Americas, as well as Turners, Titians and more.
You can visit with free timed passes, released at 10am each Monday for the following week. You’ll have 30 minutes to enter between 11am and 3pm though the galleries are open until 4pm.
Remember you don’t need passes to visit the outdoor sculpture gardens!
The National Archives will reopen the rotunda, which displays the Constitution, Decleration of Independence, and Bill of Rights on Saturdays from 10am-2pm. Advanced timed tickets are required for this.
Ford’s Theatre is reopening just the museum and theatre starting October 14. (This means that the Aftermath Exhibits and Peterson’s House (where Lincoln died) are still closed.
Advanced timed tickets are required and available to groups of 6 or fewer.
Ford’s Theatre tickets are included on some of our premium Lincoln Assassination Walking Tours.
In addition to the National Mall, Washington DC has a lot of open green space for exploring.
Our hiking expert, Bob, has written a whole post about finding hiking in the DC area.
The Natural History Museum is one of the most popular museums in Washington DC. If you’re picturing a T-Rex in the middle of the entrance, that is the Natural History Museum in NYC – we have an elephant in the rotunda. The dinosaurs are in the back. As part of the Smithsonian Institute, the National Museum of Natural History has a prime location on the National Mall and three levels of wonder.
After visiting the museum, why not explore American history in person with one of our National Mall tours? They start just 5 minutes away!
This post is about the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and how to navigate both locations. There are two campuses, one on the National Mall and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center which was later added near the Dulles Airport.
There are two locations for the Air and Space Museum.
The main campus is referred to as the Air and Space Museum and is on the National Mall, and the Udvar-Hazy Center by Dulles. As they are both parts of the Smithsonian Institution, both campuses of the Air and Space Museum do not require tickets and they are both free to enter.
The Air and Space Museum is the main campus and is located on the National Mall, making it very accessible to guests. It is more compact and has a traditional museum layout. The exhibits here have a nice introduction and overview to air and space travel, perfect for those younger and those more interested in the science and facts of all things air and space.
If you are more of an aircraft enthusiast, we recommend checking out the Udvar-Hazy Center. It is essentially two very large hangers that more than double the exhibition area available at the main campus. Along with a variety of different exhibits not seen at the main campus, it holds many more aircraft and is home to the Discovery Space Shuttle.
The Udvar also has a restoration hangar, research archives, and an observation tower that provides a stunning view of airplanes taking off and landing at nearby Dulles Airport. However, it can be a little challenging to get to, making it an attraction better suited for someone with a car.
Find out more about each museum in the sections below, with information on Air and Space Museum hours, exhibit highlights and how to get there.
As of October 01, 2020 only the Udvar-Hazy Center is open. The National Mall location remains closed due to COVID-19. The Smithsonian Museums are doing a phased reopening.
The information in this section will help you plan an outing to the Air and Space Museum. This is where you will find details on how to get there, the best times to visit, security information, how long you need to spend in each museum, food nearby, guided tours, and what to expect.
The main museum is located on Independence Ave SW, between 4th and 7th streets. If you are taking Metro, the closest stop is the L’Enfant Plaza Station. Follow signs leading to the Maryland Ave exit and take the escalators up. Head east along Maryland Ave and take a left on 6th street or walk up 7th street and turn right. The Air and Space Museum will be right in front of you!
The Independence Ave entrance is closed during renovations so be sure to head around the building to the National Mall side to enter.
You can also use many of the hop-on / hop-off bus companies to get around town – all of which have stops at or near the Air and Space Museum.
If you are driving, street parking is limited and are usually only 2-3 hour spots, so be sure to read the sign before you leave your vehicle.
We recommend booking convenient and affordable parking in advance through SpotHero, the nation’s leading parking reservation app.
To reserve your parking spot, visit the Air & Space SpotHero Parking Page and book a spot with rates up to 50% off drive-up.
New to SpotHero? Click here to download the SpotHero app.
When the museum reopens, free timed tickets will be required to enter.
March-July is the busiest time of the year for DC. With Spring Break and school letting out, this is the time when most families and school tours visit. This means longer lines and crowded exhibits.
Saturday afternoon is one of the busiest times to visit.
We suggest visiting this museum earlier in the week. Wednesday at 10 am when the museum opens seems to be the best time to visit:
If you want to avoid crowds, we suggest planning a visit to the museum for the off-peak season (January-February and September-December.)
Typical weekdays during the off-peak months will be a little more manageable, especially if you arrive when the museum opens at 10 am.
The museum is open daily except December 25 and admission is free. Regular hours for the Air and Space Museum are: 10:00 am- 5:30 pm.
The Air and Space Museum has 23 galleries exhibiting hundreds of aircraft, spacecraft, missiles, rockets, and other flight-related artifacts, as well as a planetarium and an IMAX theater.
With so many things to see and do, we recommend budgeting at least 2 hours to see the museum.
During renovations of the National Mall location, many of these exhibits may be closed. You could probably see the entire museum in less than 2 hours during this time.
Visitors to the Smithsonian museums should expect “airport-style” security screening, meaning metal detectors for all guests and X-Ray machines for bags.
This could add up to 15 minutes to get through security, and during the busy school season possibly even longer.
The Air and Space Museum’s café is currently being renovated, limiting options to eat inside. There is currently a temporary cafeteria offering sandwiches, salads, drinks and desserts in the former McDonald’s location on the first floor. This is an easy, quick option if you don’t want to leave the museum. But if you are done exploring the museum, there are a few close options:
If you are looking for something “different,” we highly recommend the Mitsitam Cafe located on the ground floor inside the National Museum of the American Indian, which is right next door. It can be pricey but guarantees a meal that you won’t find anywhere else. The food is locally sourced when possible, and the chefs use traditional recipes and ingredients.
If you are looking for more budget-friendly eating options, head back to L’Enfant Plaza for some of DC’s famous gourmet food trucks.
There is also the L’Enfant Plaza food court. Like your local mall food court, it’s home to Starbucks, Five Guys Burgers, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Panda Express, and Jamba Juice, as well as local favorite Potbelly’s Sandwiches and plenty of others.
Other museums and attractions that are within walking distance include:
Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t worry; we’re here to help with our private tour of the Air and Space Museum.
Whether you’re simply unsure which path to take or want to breeze through the museum with efficiency, a private tour is a perfect way to get the most out of your visit. You can book a private tour with us here.
Once you’re done with the museum, enjoy exploring the rest of DC with one of our walking tours. The National Mall and Capitol Hill tours are both nearby and are a great way to continue exploring Washington, DC.
Please note that from December 2018 – 2025 there will be rolling closures as the entire Air and Space Museum undergoes renovations to the decades-old building and exhibits. Not all exhibits may be open during your visit.
The Wright Brothers & The Invention of the Aerial Age
The original 1903 Wright Flyer is the centerpiece of the exhibit that commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ first flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Explore the beginning of flight with over 250 photographs and 150 artifacts that includes a reproduction of the Wright Brothers’ 1899 experimental kite.
Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission is a traveling exhibit that celebrates the first lunar landing in 1969. The exhibit is here with one-of-a-kind artifacts from the historic mission, including Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit. A permanent gallery is set to be unveiled in 2022 that showcases the incredible exploration of the Moon, from the Moon race of the 1960s and 1970s to what is going on today.
Spirit of St. Louis
In the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall is the Spirit of St. Louis. It was in this that Charles A. Lindberg completed the first nonstop solo transatlantic flight in history from Roosevelt Field on Long Island, New York to Paris, France on May 21, 1927.
Phoebe Waterman Haas Public Observatory
This is an often overlooked part of the museum, since its actually outside the museum on the eastern terrace, near the intersection of Independence Ave SW and 4th St. Opened in 2009, the “International Year of Astronomy”, the 16-inch Boller & Chivens telescope, as well the Sun Gun Telescope and other instruments, are available for public use (with staff assistance!) Wednesdays through Sundays, noon to 3PM. They also do monthly evening programs; check here for the updated schedule.
The information in this section will help you plan an outing the Steven. F. Udvar-Hazy Center. This is where you will find details on how to get there, the best times to visit, security information, how long to stay in the museum, food nearby, guided tours, and exhibits.
The Udvar-Hazy Center can be a little challenging to get to since it is out near Dulles Airport. For those visiting with a car, it is about a 45-minute drive west of the city. For a full list of directions, click here. Parking is $15 per vehicle, though it is free if you arrive after 4 pm.
For those without a car, you can still get there by Metro and then bus. The trip takes about an hour and a half. Simply take the Silver line west to the Wilhe-Reston East Station. From there board the Fairfax Connector Bus No. 983 which runs every 20 minutes. You can pay for the bus fare with your SmartTrip card or cash, but you must use exact change and costs $1.75. Exit the bus at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center Stop.
With the phased reopening due to COVID-19, timed tickets are required to visit the museum. These are free and can be reserved online at https://s.si.edu/UHCTickets
If you want to avoid crowds, we suggest planning a visit to the museum for the off-peak season (January-February and September-December.) There are shorter lines and fewer crowds during this time of year, making your visit more enjoyable.
The best time to visit seems to be Thursday after 3pm, or if you wait until 4 pm, parking is free!
The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is open every day except December 25 from 10 am- 5:30 pm.
The Udvary is a massive 760,000-square-foot facility, which means you are going to want to give yourself plenty of time to see it all. We recommend at least 2 hours there and more if you plan on experiencing their IMAX theater.
If you plan on seeing a show, we recommend purchasing a ticket online to guarantee a spot, especially during the busy season. Parking is free after 4 pm if you are attending an evening film.
Visitors to the Smithsonian museums should expect “airport-style” security screening. At the Udvar-Hazy Center there is a bag check when you enter.
This could add up to 15 minutes to get through security, and during the busy school season possibly even longer, if you have a bag.
Food options are limited inside of the Udvar-Hazy Museum. It is the only option if you arrived by public transportation, as there is nothing else in walking distance.
Outside of the museum are two strip malls nearby offering some dining options.
You can rent a digital guide at the Udvar for a more intimate experience of the exhibits. The rates are as follows:
The Adult Guides come in different languages, which include English, Mandarin, French, and Spanish. The Youth Guide is currently only offered in English.
There is plenty to see and experience at the Udvar-Hazy Center, so we thought we’d give you a few highlights to plan your visit:
Have you ever been up close to a space shuttle? Because here’s your chance! The Udvar-Hazy Center is home to the Discovery, the oldest surviving space shuttle, and longest-serving orbiter. From 1984-2011, Discovery flew 39 missions, totaling 365 days in space. Come experience the amazing journey of this space shuttle and learn more about space.
This amazing aircraft comes from the height of the cold war. It was originally developed as a highly classified “black project” and served as a high-speed, high-altitude reconnaissance vehicle after the downing of Francis Gary Powers’ U-2 plane over Soviet Russia. Some might better know this particular SR-71 as the Transformer Jetfire from Michael Bay’s movie Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. In fact, Jetfire’s scene from that movie was filmed in the Udvar, and they have an entire display on the making of that scene there.
Mother Ship Model
In the Rockets and Missiles Exhibit, there is a fun hidden gem: the alien ship from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Fans of Stephen Spielberg can visit his vision that was made possible by a team led by Gregory Jein. The ship is made up of model train and other kits. If you look closely, you can see that glued to the ship are an assortment of weird things that were added as a joke, including a tiny R2-D2 and a cemetery plot.
The Enola Gay
This is the famous B-29 “Superfortress” bomber that became the very first aircraft ever to drop an atomic weapon, doing so over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Believe it or not, but the aircraft was actually named after the pilot’s mother. Unfortunately, it was not well taken care of after it was decommissioned, suffering from exposure to the elements and souvenir hunters. Eventually, it was disassembled and kept at a Smithsonian storage facility for a number of years. In 1995, the cockpit and nose section was put on display at the DC location, but in 2003, the entire aircraft was reassembled and put on display at Udvar. As you enter the museum, look to the left of the main hanger.
No visit to DC is complete without a visit to the hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery – even if it is in Virginia. We’ve put together this easy to read guide to planning a visit to Arlington National Cemetery so that you could make the most of your valuable time at this national shrine. You can click the links just below to bring you to any particular section of this overview page or just read it in one go.