Washington, D.C. Museums & History

Washington, D.C. Museums & HistoryWashington, DC isn't only the political hub of our nation, but it also holds the distinction of being the site of several pivotal historical moments for the United States. The impressive tradition of the past and how it is inextricably linked to the present and the future is what the city's museums and historical sites continue to highlight and preserve. With so many stories to discover, they become even more vivid when you visit the places in which they unfolded. These museums and historical sites are some of the best starting points to begin the exploration of Washington's deep history.

National Museum of American History
Referred to as "America's attic," the National Museum of American History offers an unprecedented collection of items that numbers to nearly three million entries. Everything from Dorothy's ruby red slippers, to one of the first Kermit the Frog puppets, to Julia Child's kitchen, to an astounding 34-foot Star Spangled Banner, are just a few of the numerous highlights. The kids will love the interactive displays, especially the ones that encourage invention and creativity.

Address: 14th St & Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20560 - MAP
Phone: (202) 357-2700
Web: www.americanhistory.si.edu

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Considered by many to be the ultimate must-see museum in DC, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is nothing short of an emotional and educational experience. When you arrive, you are given an "identity card" of a real Holocaust victim that deeply personalizes your trip through the various exhibits. You'll view an astounding collection of film clips, photographs, artifacts and unflinching first-hand accounts. There's even an exhibit for the kids that treats the subject matter in a highly sensitive manner; this exhibition will inspire questions and answers that will no doubt lead to a better understanding of this horrible passage in our world's history.

Address: 100 Raoul Wallenberg Pl SW, Washington, DC 20024 - MAP
Phone: (202) 488-0400
Web: www.ushmm.org

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History boasts the world's largest natural history collection that will inspire several "oohs' and "aahs" from visitors of all ages. Among the highly dramatic and memorable exhibits are a 70 million-year-old dinosaur egg, an incredible giant squid, and a look at a truly unforgettable tarantula feeding that will inspire several gasps among all who view it. In addition to all of these exhibits, the museum offers even more adventures via the 3-D IMAX theater within its facility.

Address: 10th St and Constitution Ave NW, National Mall, Washington, DC 20560 - MAP
Phone: (202) 633-1000
Web: www.mnh.si.edu

National Archives
The National Archives is the ultimate historical storage unit. Every significant document and tangible piece of history is cataloged and stored here. The site houses everything from the Declaration of Independence, to the Louisiana Purchase, to the Watergate tapes. When you walk in, you'll be struck by the fortuitous, 75-foot rotunda where the most treasured documents are on display. Maps, movies, photographs, texts and more are all here, and you can delve into your own research if you are looking for something in particular.

Address: 700 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20408 - MAP
Phone: (301) 837-0482
Web: www.archives.gov

National Air and Space Museum
Take flight on an historical trip like no other when you visit the National Air and Space Museum which is part of the Smithsonian. The museum is divided into two locations as the exhibits are so large. They include the original Wright Flyer, the Spirit of St. Louis, and Lockheed SR-71, the fastest jet in the world. Get up close and touch a four-billion year-old moon rock or maybe try your hand in the flight simulator, but no matter what you choose, the National Air and Space Museum is a high-flying trip unlike any other.

Address: 7th and Independence Ave SW, National Mall, Washington, DC 20560 - MAP
Phone: (202) 633-1000
Web: www.nasm.si.edu

The National Building Museum
The National Building Museum presents several fascinating exhibits that cover architecture, construction and engineering. And while several of the country's most famous structures are spotlighted, the actual museum building itself is an exhibit in its own right. This amazing venue features massive columns, a picturesque fountain and a highly decorated ceiling that reaches 15 stories upward. Several interactive exhibits are part of the many highlights, including temporary exhibits that focus on the development of ghettos, roads, factories, parks and more. If it was built, the chances are its story is within the walls of this incredible museum.

Address: 401 F St NW, Washington, DC 20001 - MAP
Phone: (202) 272-2448
Web: www.nbm.org