There’s a certain type of cool that you can only understand when you are in the presence of the world’s largest collection of aviation artifacts. That’s what’s on view at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, where everything from early gliders to the Concorde jet will rekindle your excitement at the wonder of flying. This museum is one of the mainstays of DC culture—it’s the most visited of all the Smithsonian museums—and a crowd-pleaser for visitors of all ages.
Roam the halls of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and see some its 60,000 artifiacts and over 20,000 cubic feet of archival material. Many of these preserved items and their stories are iconic, taught to many of us since grammar school. They have the original 1903 Wright Flyer, a model used for the first successful flight ever. They also have the Apollo 11 Command Module, which took Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins to the moon for that “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” A third of the museum’s air and spacecraft are one-of-a-kind items or associated with a major innovation.
The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum displays its aircraft and other artifacts in numerous permanent and rotating exhibition spaces. To learn how the world of flight evolved from those early Wright Brothers’ planes to the jets flying the skies today, stop by America by Air, an exhibit focused solely on the history of commercial aviation. To jump to the next, and some say final, frontier, stop in at the Explore the Universe exhibit, where real astronomical tools are on display showing how humans have acquired their current understanding of outer space.
Come visit this institution of DC culture, just down the road from the Capitol Hill Hotel on the National Mall. As part of the Smithsonian, the National Air and Space Museum does not charge for admission.