Best Washington DC Museums Not To Be Missed

There’s nothing like a good rainy day to take on one of the many fine museums in our nation’s capital. With the collection of Smithsonian Museums alone, any visitor staying in Washington, DC will have plenty to manage his or her time with. From fine art museums to rare books, DC has you covered. But where do you start? Some might say, just head to the National Mall and enter the first museum you see! If you only have limited time however, it’s better to plan ahead and consider these places first – the best Washington DC museums – at least according to me and a few others…

Best Washington DC Museums

National Air and Space Museum

Apollo Lunar Module. Best Washington DC Museums
Apollo Lunar Module

There’s no doubt that the National Air and Space Museum is one of the best Washington DC museums. Its collection of aviation and space artifacts is most impressive. One of its best displays is the lunar module itself, located on the lobby of the main entrance hall.  From there, you can look up and see the Spirit of St. Louis, the first aircraft to cross the Atlantic.  On the upper level, one of the planes Amelia Earhart herself flew hangs on display.  It’s impossible to see everything in one visit but don’t be surprised to find yourself easily spending 3-4 hours when roaming its exhibit halls.  If time permits, make sure you visit its cousin location near Washington Dulles airport, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy.

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Slave's House at NMAMHC. Best Washington DC Museums
Slave’s House at NMAMHC

The newest Smithsonian at the National Mall rightly takes its place as one of the best Washington DC museums not only because of its well-curated exhibits and displays, but also because of its unique building architecture. At the National Museum of African American History and Culture, you can take a step down (literally) and learn how slavery came into the New World and how it’s intertwined in American history. See remnants of places from the South where segregation was prevalent just 60 years ago.  You can also read about the stories of bravery by the abolitionists who led the fight for equal rights for African Americans.  On the culture side, take a peek at the music exhibits and see for yourself how African Americans influenced every genre.

National Portrait Gallery

Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood NPGDC. Best Washington DC Museums
Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood NPGDC

Often overlooked because of its unusual location near Gallery Place/Chinatown as opposed to the National Mall is the National Portrait Gallery. What makes this one of the best museums in Washington, DC is its collection of presidential portraits, even greater than those found at the White House. Don’t miss the third floor exhibits where some of the most recognized faces in sports and film are proudly on display.

If you are staying in Washington DC, be sure to visit these museums.

About Iris A


Born in the Philippines, but grew up in Texas, Iris has been traveling and writing about her experiences for well over a decade. Her work has been published on well-known travel sites like Hipmunk (#hipmunkcitylove) and D Magazine Online Travel Club. She has been all over Europe, the US, and has recently started exploring Latin America. She loves trying local cuisine and visiting UNESCO deemed World Heritage sites. Her favourite city is New York, with London, following a close 2nd. You can follow her on Twitter @sundeeiris or through her travel blog, Traveling With Iris.

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  1. 7 Amazing Urban National Park Areas | Go 4 Travel Blog

    […] Containing many of the top attractions in Washington, D.C. the National Mall is one of the best urban national park areas anywhere in America. This is where you’ll find the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial, as well as numerous superb Smithsonian museums. […]


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