MOSCOW, RUSSIA - NOVEMBER 8: In an astronautics museum in the game form acquaint children with history. November 8, 2009 in Moscow, Russia.

DC is wonderful and educational for the whole family, but hours of museum time can be a drag without a plan. Here is a list of the best museums for kids in Washington, and some suggested activities.

National Air and Space Museum

The National Air and Space Museum is crowded during the summer months, but it’s also jam-packed with planes, space stuff, IMAX films, and flight simulators. The gift shop is one of the most fun of all the Smithsonian museums, so if you think your kids might be into freeze dried ice cream, astronaut suits, or model rockets this museum is a good bet.

Where

National Air and Space Museum
National Mall
Washington, DC

Museum of Natural History

The Museum of Natural History garners high marks from kids (and adults) of all ages. The dinosaurs exhibit is a crowd favorite, as is the Hope Diamond on the second floor. The museum has tarantulas and hissing cockroaches, giant elephants, a life size blue whale, a giant squid, and termite mounds that kids can crawl around in without parent supervision. One of the best kept secrets at the Smithsonian is the “Night at the Museum.”  Five nights a year during the summer, kids from 8-12 can stay the night at the museum (with a parent or guardian in tow).

Where

Museum of Natural History10th and Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC

National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

No matter how cool the exhibit, being inside all day during the summer can make any kid bored. To continue exploring in the sunshine, pack a picnic and check out the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden set among shady trees and a reflecting pool. Installations include Joan Miro’s Personnage Gothique and Scale X. If you forget to pack enough lunch or snacks, check out Pavilion Cafe on the edge of the garden to refuel.

Where

National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden
7th St. and Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC

National Gallery of Art

The National Gallery of Art is an incredible place, but there is a lot to see in one visit. Instead of trying to cram the entire museum into your day, create a treasure hunt. Pick up a “Less Than an Hour” brochure at the museum entrance, and help your kids discover Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait, the impressionist gallery, and the only Leonardo da Vinci painting in the Western Hemisphere.

Where

National Gallery of Art
National Mall
Washington, DC

Renwick Gallery

After a two year renovation, the Renwick Gallery is now open. Nine major contemporary artists are featured, including Jennifer Angus, Chakaia Booker, and Gabriel Dawe. The nine installations transform the galleries into colorful and textural wonderlands sure to capture the imagination of children and adults alike. One of the coolest exhibits in the museum is an installation made entirely of bugs by Jennifer Angus (even the paint is made from thousands of ground insects).

Where

Renwick Gallery17th and Pennsylvania Ave,, NW
Washington, DC