Are you looking for a great escape from the winter cold? Travel through time and space, explore works of art, and learn about the world’s culture all in less than a 2 mile area! The National Mall in Washington D.C. is a 2 mile park that runs from Capitol Hill to the Lincoln Memorial that was originally planned to be the cultural epicenter for the young capital in the late 1700’s. The Mall is home to the Smithsonian, a collection of the best free museums in the country and is the #1 destination for visitors of the city as well as one of the most visited places in the country. The museums of the National Mall are easily accessible from Union Station or the Metro. The main Metro stop is the Smithsonian Station on the Blue/Orange Line, which is at the east end of the mall near the museums.
Visiting the museums on the National Mall is a perfect way to spend a cold and wet winter’s day. You can actually spend weeks just exploring all of the different exhibits and displays if you had the time. The museum’s collections vary from American history to plant conservation to contemporary art and everything in-between. The Smithsonian Institute is the major institution on the National Mall. It is a government run research and educational organization established in 1846. There are 19 museums which are a part of the Smithsonian, with a majority of them on the National Mall. There is no comparison to the amount of history, art and information that is shared by this collection of free museums.
When you make your winter escape, pick the museum(s) that interest you the most. This will save you time from wandering around all of the museums. Families with children will be drawn to the Natural History Museum, National Air and Space Museum or the American History Museum. Art lovers will be more interested in visiting the National Gallery or the smaller contemporary art museums on the Mall. All of the museums on the mall are open between 10am-11am to 5:30pm daily. They are open 364 days a year, closing on Christmas. Below is a list of some of the museums on the Mall that will be perfect places to visit on your winter escape!
- Escape the cold, snow or rain by spending the day exploring the United States Botanic Garden. This institution, near the Capitol Building, is a loving plant museum that offers great seasonal displays and attractions. The glass conservatory is also a historic building housing 2 courtyard gardens and 10 garden rooms under glass.
- Art lovers will love exploring the National Gallery of Art. The two buildings, the east and west buildings, contain a vast collection of art treasures from European paintings and sculptures to impressionist and modern works of art. You can wander from gallery to gallery and take in the beauty and history of art.
- The National Museum of Natural History Museum was made even more famous from “The Night at the Museum II”. The museum houses the largest exhibits of complete dinosaur fossils. There are also displays of earth sciences, meteorites, minerals, gems, (including the Hope Diamond), evolution and world cultures.
- The National Museum of American History is full of informational displays on American History as well as topics from technology to social history to pop culture. You can wander around this museum and still not see everything that they have on display. The museum houses the flag that was the inspiration of the “Star Spangled Banner”, the gowns of the first ladies dating back over 200 years, Abraham Lincoln’s top hat and much more. It is also the home of many pop culture iconic items from Dorothy’s ruby red slippers to Kermit the Frog to Indiana Jones jacket and fedora.
- The newest museum on the Mall is the National Museum of the American Indian. It explains and shares the life, history, languages and culture of Native Americans from North, Central and South America. The museum focuses on Native American life in the 20th century to present day.
- The most visited museum on the National Mall is the National Air and Space Museum. The museum spotlights the history of human flight from the Wright Brothers, Kitty Hawk, to space flight and the Apollo and space shuttle missions. It holds the largest collection of historic aircraft in the world. If you want to see larger aircraft, take a trip to the Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles International Airport to see the Shuttle Enterprise, Enola Gay, and a SR-71 Blackbird amongst other aircraft.
- The National Holocaust Memorial Museum is farther away from the main area of museums on the Mall. It is a memorial to the victims and survivors of the holocaust. It is the most somber of all of the museums and can be very daunting for children and even adults.
No matter where you decide to spend your winter’s day, you will always find more that you want to visit and explore in Washington D.C. Stop in and explore the culture and the history in the museums on the National Mall.