The National Air and Space Museum is an indispensable part of your Washington, D.C. visit if you have any interest in space exploration, astronomy, or the history of flight — or if you have kids.
In the entrance hall you’ll come across the museum’s incredible collection of “Milestones of Flight,” including the “Spirit of St. Louis” airplane in which Charles Lindbergh first crossed the Atlantic; the Bell X-1 in which Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier; the North American X-15, the fastest airplane ever flown; and the Apollo 11 Command Module from the first-ever manned trip to the moon. You can even touch an actual moon rock!
Beyond the entrance hall there’s much, much more. You can climb into the cockpit of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet, or look inside the back-up version of Skylab. Upstairs you’ll see the very first contraption to achieve powered flight, the Wright brothers’ 1903 Flyer, as well as several of the scary-looking fighter planes flown by Britain, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States during World War II.
At the museum’s Albert Einstein Planetarium, immerse yourself in the mysteries of black holes or the wonders of cosmic collisions (shows every half hour). Or check out a movie on the giant IMAX screen; To Fly! is a perennial favorite.
The planetarium and IMAX shows do sell out, so you might want to purchase your tickets in advance through the Smithsonian’s web site (www.si.edu/imax/). The museum’s food court caters to families, with offerings from McDonald’s, Boston Market, and Donatos Pizzeria, open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more, visit: www.nasm.si.edu.
National Air and Space Museum (Smithsonian)
Hours: Open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (open until 7:30 p.m. from Mar. 28 to Sept. 7).
Parking: On-street parking in the area is restricted during morning and evening rush hours. Street parking tends to fill quickly and is limited to two hours. There are commercial lots nearby.
Metrorail: Blue and Orange Line or Yellow and Green Line stops for L’Enfant Plaza.
Old Town Trolley Tours