Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum
One of Washington's must-visits, the Air and Space Museum is the most visited museum in the world. (8.2 million people visited in 2010. The Museum is the largest of the Smithsonian's 19 museums, and has welcomed over 311 million visitors since it opened in 1976.
Things to See & Do
This museum is where famous aircraft desire to live when they retire. Notable crafts like the Wright 1903 Flyer, which Wilbur and Orville Wright piloted over the sands of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina; the Spirit of St. Louis, the Apollo 11 command module, and the Lockheed Vega that Amelia Earhart piloted in 1932 in the first solo transatlantic flight by a woman.
The Museum's collection encompasses some 60,000 objects ranging in size from Saturn V rockets to jetliners to gliders to space helmets to microchips. Fully one-third of the Museum's aircraft and spacecraft are one-of-a-kind or associated with a major milestone.
There are lots of interactive exhibits as well - wind tunnels, carrier landings etc.. along with artifacts new to the museum, among them a model of the USS Enterprise from the "Star Trek" television series.
Free docent-led tours leave daily at 10:30am and 1:00pm from the museum's welcome center.
Visitors can strap into a flight simulator, walk through a model of the Skylab orbital workshop, and learn about the history of flight and the scientific study of the universe from the permanent exhibits.
You can also immerse yourself in space by taking in an IMAX film or a planetarium presentation. The movies—some in 3D—employ swooping aerial scenes that make you feel as if you've left the ground and fascinating high-definition footage taken in deep space.
The three-story museum store is the largest in all the Smithsonian museums, and one of the best. You'll find souvenirs, clothing, books and movies, kites, and loads of collectors' items.
National Air & Space Museum Insider Tips