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What Should I Consider When Visiting the Smithsonian?

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  • Written By: Diana Bocco
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  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2016
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The Smithsonian Institution holds the record as the world's largest complex of museums and research facilities. There are ten Smithsonian museums in Washington DC, two in New York City, and others under construction or being planned. The National Zoo in Washington DC is also part of the Smithsonian. If you are planning a visit to Washington DC and want to visit the main Smithsonian buildings, here are some things that you should keep in mind.

First of all, dress comfortably. The Smithsonian museums are spread over an area of one mile (1.6km) and often occupy several floors on each building. Comfortable shoes are a must, and dressing in layers is recommended, as it can get cold after a couple of hours walking inside the air-conditioned rooms. Despite the long distances, walking is the best way to enjoy the Smithsonian complex. Parking is often problematic, and buses can get crowded in high season. If you have a choice, walk. Many visitors argue that this is part of the "Smithsonian experience" and it should not be missed.

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The next thing to keep in mind when visiting the Smithsonian is time. Each museum is huge and could easily take you a whole day to see everything in detail. If you are only in town for a few days or if you only want to see the highlights of the Smithsonian, you should start by narrowing down your list. The one Smithsonian museum most people say you should not miss is the Air and Space Museum, which contains everything from one of Amelia Earhart's planes to the Lunar Lander. It also showcases WWI and WWII aircraft, rocket planes, and real astronaut suits. Keep in mind that several sections of the museum are interactive, which could extend your visit significantly.

Another must-see Smithsonian museum is the Museum of American History, a massive building showcasing everything from steam locomotives to printing presses. Maybe one of the best things about the Smithsonian museums is the fact that they are free. Keep in mind, however, that all the money you save on entrance fees, you will probably spend it on souvenirs. The museum shops of the Smithsonian look more like a shopping mall than a souvenir stand, and not matter what you like, you are likely to find it here.

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seafoam
Post 2

If you are into both history and fashion, definitely do not miss the American History museum at the Smithsonian in DC.

You can see all the beautiful gowns of first ladies throughout American history. It's a rich history, folks, and full of great stories you may have missed in history class!

ninetydegree
Post 1

And do not miss the latest 3D movie at the Smithsonian Institute! At the Air & Space museum you can see the latest discoveries by the Hubble spacecraft. Yes, it's $18 to see the movie, but it will blow you away and open your mind!

My 18-year old son and I were speechless after seeing the film. I'd recommend it to everyone!

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