Top Picks for Kids at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

The family is at the Air and Space Museum in March 2012.

Washington, D.C.  is one of my favorite places to visit, and I love the Smithsonian.  Seriously, with so many museums and exhibits to choose from, there always is a reason to visit! Another great perk is that the Smithsonian museums are FREE! Okay, well I know the FREE part has your attention, but maybe you are concerned that your kids and museums might not mix and you don’t want to hear the dreaded “this is boring” whine; NO WORRIES, museums today incorporate interactive exhibits, live demonstrations, and fun family events. To see for yourself, check out my three exhibition picks for the National Air and Space Museum when you plan on visiting Washington, D.C.

The Wright Brothers & Invention of the Aerial Age- Seeing the original 1903 Wright Flyer is kind of cool in itself.  There is also 150 artifacts and 250 photographs to view, but the kids will gravitate to the hands-on stations and the computer stations which will help them understand how the Wright brothers took flight 109 years ago.

The original 1903 Wright Flyer.

How Things Fly- Hands-on activities guide visitors through the interactive gallery which explains the principles of air and space flight.  This exhibit is divided into seven sections and has more than 50 interactive activities for kids.  Highlights are the model of the International Space Station and a part of the Boeing 757 fuselage. Also, there is an area where “Explainers” perform demonstrations kids can enter a paper airplane contest!

How Things Fly – Control and Stability Interactive

America by Air- This exhibit focuses on the early years, airline expansion and innovation, propeller airlines and the jet age.  Kids will have a great time checking out the cockpit of the Boeing 747 jumbo jet.

The boys are with my Dad.

Outside of the exhibits, kids also will love the flight simulators, the space show at the planetarium and the IMAX shows.  As I mentioned earlier, the museum is FREE, but these add-ons come with an admission price.

The other part of the Air and Space Museum is at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.  Here you will find two large hangers.  One is for aviation artifacts, and one is for space objects – where the Space Shuttle Discovery now calls home.  This place is a dream for air and space fans!  Parents will have just as much fun as their kids marveling at the Enola Gay (the WWII plane that dropped the first atomic bomb) and checking out rocket boosters and spacewalk capsules.  To cap off the day, make sure you visit the control tower and watch planes land and takeoff at Dulles Airport.

Space Shuttle Discovery passes the Washington Monument on April 17, 2012, on its way to its new home at the Air & Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. (Photo posted on Facebook by The American History Museum)

Have you been to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum?  What was your favorite thing your family enjoyed?  Let me know!  

Also, please comment and share your experience if you check out the Space Shuttle Discovery!

National Air and Space Museum. National Mall at Independence Avenue at 6th Street, SW. Tel. 202-633-1000. Open every day except Dec. 25. Regular hours: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Extended summer hours apply to certain days from late March to early Sept.; call for details.

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. 14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway, Chantilly. Tel. 202-633-1000. Open every day except Dec. 25. Regular hours: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Extended summer hours apply to certain days from late May to early Sept.; call for details.


  1. Traci says:

    We were there over spring break, mainly because it’s the world’s largest collection of historical aeronautical artifacts (and we love all “world’s largests!”)

    • sherrimay says:

      Tracie, it is a large collection, so large that we need several trips to appreciate the museum. I love your blog and have been meaning to write a post about the two largest I’ve seen (the Cootie in Virginia and the Duck on Long Island). When I do, I’ll make sure to provide a link to your blog, because you are the queen of all things BIG :) Hope to see you at the conference this weekend in NYC!


  1. [...] Top Picks for Kids at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum at Sherri May’s Traveling Classroom [...]

Speak Your Mind