National Air and Space Museum
You’ll find the largest collection of air and spacecraft anywhere in the world at the National Air and Space Museum. The exhibits are all originals or back-ups of originals, adding an authentic aura to hundreds of impressive displays.
Explore 22 different galleries featuring craft from every arena of aviation, from the rickety contraptions in the Early Flight section, through to the space age in the Apollo to the Moon gallery. Milestones of Flight is the showcase gallery, featuring the 1903 Wright Flyer, the Spirit of St Louis in which Charles Lindburgh made his first journey across the Atlantic, and the Apollo 11 Command Module.
Education takes fun and thrilling turns at the interactive exhibits. At the hands-on How Things Fly exhibit, children discover how something as heavy as a Boeing 747 becomes airborne. Climb into the cockpit of a flight simulator and steer a modern jet into combat, or tour the expansive cosmos on a futuristic spacecraft.
The museum also has an IMAX Theater and the Albert Einstein Planetarium, both of which run several daily showings of flight and space related cinematic experiences. Screenings cost extra but are an excellent way to relieve tired legs and keep younger members of the family entertained. A food-court-style eating area also provides a chance to relax and refuel.
Besides the numerous exhibits, the Air and Space Museum also runs a number of events and lectures throughout the year, such as the excellent Ask the Expert lectures every Wednesday evening. Many of the events are free, so ask at the reception desk to see what coincides with your visit.
The museum does get busy, so arriving early is often a good idea. Aviation buffs should also visit the museum’s companion facility, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington Dulles International Airport. The center displays the thousands of artifacts not able to be displayed at the National Mall site. Both facilities are open daily, except Christmas Day, and admission is free.