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“busy but worth it”

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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Ranked #12 of 453 things to do in Washington DC
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Fee: No
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: Established in 1910 and located on the National Mall, this prestigious museum, part of the Smithsonian Institution, holds the world's most extensive collection of natural history specimens and human artifacts including the remains of dinosaurs and tools used by early man.
Useful Information: Activities for young children, Activities for older children
Reviewed 10 May 2012

The museum was crawling with people, like a million kids, but it was so worth stopping. My favorite part was walking into the Hope Diamond room and seeing the case surrounded by women. No men, just women. Ha!


Oh--they search your bags when you go in the front door, so hide the girly stuff you carry in your purse (oops!).

Thank kimberly20194
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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7,475 - 7,479 of 9,558 reviews

Reviewed 10 May 2012

The Smithsonian Natural History Museum, featured in the movie Night at the Museum, is one of the most popular museums on the National Mall. And for good reason - the museum has many great exhibits that are educational and fun for kids and adults alike. For this reason, it can get a little crowded will field trips and such depending on when you go, but a visit to Washington DC would not be complete without a stop at the museum. A few special exhibits have a fee, but admission to the museum itself is absolutely free. You will have to pass a security checkpoint to enter, however.

The main exhibits on the first floor include fossils, human evolution, the oceans, and mammals. The fossils exhibit displays skeletons from giant prehistoric dinosaurs and mammoths to tiny microorganisms that were the first life to evolve on earth. There is also a fossil lab where scientists are working. When we visited, one scientist was available to talk to visitors about the work that was being performed. The mammals exhibit has stuffed mammal specimens on display representing creatures from around the world.

The main exhibits on the second floor include the insect zoo and butterfly pavilion, the Hope Diamond and National Gem Collection, and bones. There is a small fee ($6) to enter the butterfly pavilion, but its a great exhibit and I would recommend checking it out. It's basically a greenhouse with hundreds of butterflies fluttering about - absolutely beautiful. The gem and mineral exhibit is also really neat. Of course the Hope Diamond is the most famous gem on display, but there are hundreds of other interesting specimens to view as well. I really liked the mineral rainbow, demonstrating the diverse colors of different minerals, and fluorescent minerals that glow in the dark.

Thank jmpncsu
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 May 2012

We went during a very crowded weekend - our fault, not the museums. Still, the 4 kids were able to look and touch and see the exhibits without any difficulty. It seemed like the majority of the crowd was methodically walking through looking, but not really *seeing* or experiencing.

Thank Sonya E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 May 2012

This was the attraction I was most looking forward to because it really has something to appeal to every member of my family but we were overwhelmed by how crowded it was. The spaces weren't particularly small but there were a lot of people crammed into them. I hate to say it, but they need to consider limiting how many people can be inside at one time. The security guard said it was actually a slow day as far a school groups were concerned. We walked past on another day and counted 11 school buses parked in front!!! Don't miss the bug exhibit, mummies, "Lucy," and the gems. The rest of it I could take or leave.

Thank shanebarnes1978
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 May 2012

This is a very interesting museum and it's huge. I can't believe it's free to enter. It covers all aspects of natural history and there are lots of interactive displays. Great day out for the kids.

Thank Zena36
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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