Washington DC is my favorite U.S. city. It is the nerve center of our political world and home to my favorite railroad terminal. Aside from monuments and iconic government buildings, our nation’s capital is home to another notable tourist destination. The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s oldest museum organization. It is made up of eighteen museums, including the National Zoo. With the most user-friendly subway system in the country, getting around this massive complex is a piece of cake. Having been a visitor since I was five years old, allow me to show you some of the Smithsonian’s highlights. If you’re a history fan, or even a avid traveler, you’ll be able to explore Washington DC with more than just ease. You’ll be exploring Washington DC with confidence.
When visiting the Smithsonian Institution, it’s always best to visit some of the museums you haven’t visited before. They’re the ones with the exhibitions which will leave you thinking, “Gee, I didn’t know that!” and “I definitely want to come here again!”. The one museum which has gained my interest is the National Postal Museum. The National Postal Museum is located right next door to Washington DC’s Union Station. If traveling to Washington DC by train, exit the terminal to your right. The museum is inside the old US Post Office, directly across the street. Once inside, you’ll take an escalator down into the museum. The National Postal Museum features plenty of displays and exhibitions. One of the newest demonstrations is a sit-down theater viewing of how our US Mail system functions on a daily basis. You’ll be amazed by the complex sorting process involved in delivering the billions of pieces of mail you send and receive each day. It’s a presentation you’d ought to see. Another display in the museum shows the anthrax scare back in 2001. The letters, once laced with the lethal poison, are on display along with the environmental suits used during the investigation. It’s among the remnants of our country’s great history, events which changed our lives forever.
Once your visit to the National Postal Museum is complete, it’s time to ride the Metro subway to the heart of the Smithsonian Institution. The Metro subway is made up of five colored lines; red, orange, blue, yellow, and green. The sixth line, silver, is currently under construction. Once complete, it will connect downtown Washington DC to Dulles International Airport. Union Station and the National Postal Museum are located on the red line. Metro features a wide assortment of fare card options at wmata.com. You can place up to forty-five dollars on a fare card. If you’re visiting Washington DC for the day, a one-day pass will cost you just fourteen dollars. It is active until 3AM on weekends and until midnight on week nights. Metro accepts cash and all major credit cards.
Once aboard the Metro subway, take the red line to Metro Center. There, switch to the orange or blue line. The blue and orange lines run parallel through downtown Washington. Take either line to the Smithsonian station. The Smithsonian station is located very near the Washington Monument, right across the way from The Castle, the Smithsonian Institution’s original building. No visit to the Smithsonian Institution is complete without a visit to The Castle. Some of the best exhibitions are held at The Castle. It is not to be missed.
Across the National Mall is one of my longtime favorites, the National Museum of American History. The National Museum of American History is home to one of the most famous artifacts, the American flag flown over Fort McHenry. It is the flag flown during the very battle when “The Star Spangled Banner” was written. The museum features a smorgasbord of interactive displays and exhibits for visitors to discover. You might want to put aside a good few hours of your day to visit the National Museum of American History. It’s a museum which you could get lost in. I don’t mean “lost” in terms of navigation and getting separated from your family. I am referring to the enormity of the place, and the never-ending hallways and exhibition halls. They are jam-packed with artifacts for many to appreciate. To satisfy a hunger of “historic” proportions, the museum features two cafeterias for your enjoyment. When done enjoying your meal, feel free to head back upstairs to visit remaining exhibits before calling it a day.
Very near the National Museum of American History is the future sight of the Smithsonian’s nineteenth museum. In 2012, President Barack Obama helped break ground on the National Museum of African American History & Culture. It is the only national museum specially indebted to the documentation of African American life, history, art, and culture. The new museum is expected to open to the public in 2015.
In Washington DC, it is good to wear a comfortable pair of sneakers. There’s tons of walking to do when visiting the Smithsonian Institution. On the eastern end of the National Mall are two other favorite museums, the National Air & Space Museum and the National Museum of The American Indian. Next door to the Hirshhorn Museum, the National Air & Space Museum is a must-see. On a yearly basis, new exhibits are always on display. Every visit to the National Air & Space Museum is different. The National Museum of The American Indian is adjacent to the National Air & Space Museum. It takes guests on a story-like journey back in time to the roots of our Native American ancestors. It is not just a story involving history, but a story of survival. The National Museum of the American Indian and the National Air & Space Museum can be accessed by the Metro’s yellow and green lines. The L’Enfant Plaza station is located one block south of the National Air & Space Museum. No matter where you are in downtown Washington DC, the Metro is always well within your reach.
If zoos are among your favorite places to visit, the National Zoo should be on your must-see list. Like the National Postal Museum, the National Zoo is located on the Metro’s red line. If riding the orange and blue lines, connections are available at Metro Center. If riding the green and yellow lines, Gallery Place-Chinatown is your transfer point. The National Zoo is located in Woodley Park, three stops from Metro Center. Gallery Place-Chinatown is one stop west of Metro Center. Here’s some simple advice. Just flip a coin! That’s all there is to it. The National Zoo is home to a brand new exhibit, the Speedwell Conservation Carousel. It features fifty-eight different species, including those currently endangered and threatened by extinction. It may be a carousel, but it carries out a message to visitors about the ongoing challenges of conserving endangered species.
Unlike all world renowned destinations, the museums of the Smithsonian Institution are the world’s most intriguing places to visit. They welcome history buffs, the adventurous, and the just plain curious. If you wish to visit these incredible museums in the near future, don’t hesitate to use the Metro subway system. Whether you’re visiting for the day or staying in the area for a few nights, the Smithsonian Institution has plenty to see and experience. It’s a community of museums which inspires millions to learn something new every day. Whichever of the Smithsonian Institution’s famous museums you plan to visit, remember three things. You’re not just discovering history. You are forever part of it, actively experiencing it, and courageously writing it.