The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum is divided into two facilities; one is the National Mall in Washington D.C., and the other is the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center located near Washington Dulles International Airport. Combined, the two collections represent the world’s largest exhibition of aviation artifacts.

The National Air and Space Museum on the National Mall first opened on July 1, 1976 and features many static exhibits including Charles A. Lindbergh’s plane, the “Spirit of St. Louis” which he flew while making the first direct flight across the Atlantic between New York and Paris in 1927. Among the airplane museum‘s attractions, visitors can also enjoy 22 exhibition galleries, an IMAX Theater, flight simulators, and special tours. The museum also features several interactive and hands-on displays for adults as well as children.

The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center first opened on Dec. 15, 2003 and features thousands of additional aviation exhibits, many of which are restored aircraft. Among them is the “Enola Gay“, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress that dropped the first atomic bomb in World War II. The world’s fasted jet is here too—the Lockheed SR-71, otherwise known as the Blackbird. In the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar, visitors can see the Space Shuttle Enterprise, the Gemini VII space capsule, and other historical objects from America’s space race. Future expansion plans include a restoration area in which visitors can observe the restoration of air and space artifacts.

Getting There:

The National Mall Building is located at Independence Ave at 4th Street, SW in Washington, DC. Admission is free, and paid parking is located nearby. The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located at 14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway in Chantilly, Virginia. Admission is free, and parking is $12. Both facilities are open every day except December 25.