Washington, DC, is well known for its impressive inventory of spectacular museums. The lesser-known fact? Most of them are free! With a few exceptions, the best museums in Washington, DC, including the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, offer free admission. Your Club Quarters room or suite, located just a few blocks from The White House and a short Metro ride to the National Mall, puts you in the center of DC’s thriving museum scene. Although most of the area’s best museums are free, you may need to book a timed pass or ticket prior to your visit to guarantee entry to the most popular museums. Check out our list of the top museums in Washington, DC.
1400 Constitution Ave NW, 1.5 miles from Club Quarters White House
Even though admission to the National Museum of African American History and Culture is free, the popularity of this relatively new Smithsonian museum makes it hard to get into. Be sure to book your tour passes in advance of your visit. This DC museum explores the complex and important history of African Americans and how their lives and creative contributions shaped America. Full of interactive exhibits honoring and documenting the African American experience, this museum explores the American story through the lens of African American history.
100 Raoul Wallenberg Place SW, 1.8 miles from Club Quarters White House
We suggest setting aside at least half a day to take in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Powerful and intense, the Holocaust Memorial Museum offers free admission but requires a ticket for entry. This museum’s design walks you through the evolution of antisemitism in Europe that led to the genocide of millions of Jews. You’ll see artifacts recovered from concentration camps, Nazi political propaganda against Jewish people, and learn about the men, women, and children who survived.
Independence Ave and 7th St SW, 2.2 miles from Club Quarters White House
Discover exciting contemporary and modern art in DC’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. With free admission and featuring a come-as-you-are vibe, the Hirshhorn is a cool cylindrical building that houses thought-provoking paintings, sculptures, mixed-media, and interactive art exhibits. Special touring exhibits may require a pass, so be sure to check the website prior to your visit and book a timed pass if you need one.
1924 Pennsylvania Ave NW, 2.4 miles from Club Quarters White House
The National Air and Space Museum has long been a crown jewel of the Smithsonian museum complex at the National Mall. Admission is free but timed passes are required, and you can book your time online prior to your DC visit. Stroll through the history of air travel and space exploration in exhibits that celebrate some of the most lauded achievements of humankind. See space shuttles, suits, and artifacts, while learning about early airplanes and attempts at flight. Expert tip: Don’t miss the space ice cream found in the on-site gift shop during your visit!
700 L’Enfant Plaza SW, 3 miles from Club Quarters White House
Get ready to learn about the real life applications of shoe phones and lipstick guns at The International Spy Museum, one of the few museums in Washington, DC, that charges admission. But trust us, it’s worth the ticket price. Dedicated to spycraft and espionage, this museum offers a delightful interactive experience. Pretend to be a spy, crawl through air ducts, or try your hand at code-cracking. Full of recovered tools of the spy trade and declassified identities of international spies, this museum is fun for kids and adults alike.
Reynolds Center, 8th & F Street NW, 1.4 miles from Club Quarters White House
The Smithsonian American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery was the first museum dedicated to American art. See masterworks from great American artists in the permanent collection, and enjoy exclusive looks at unique collections in touring exhibits. Art lovers should include a stop at The Renwick Gallery, the sister museum, which features contemporary American folk and craft art.
10th St & Constitution Ave NW, 1.8 miles from Club Quarters White House
Yes, this is the dinosaur museum. DC’s National Museum of Natural History is a must for families with children or anyone fascinated by the long, long history of the natural world. Drop by the Butterfly Pavilion and Insect Zoo for up-close-and-personal experiences with fascinating invertebrates. (Plus, you’ll be able to snap a photo of yourself holding their tarantula for your Instagram)! Check out the museum’s events for hands-on nature experiences with the exhibits and after-hours adult programs; or, if you’re visiting the capital with kids, try to drop in during a Play Date.
Between 12th and 14th Streets, Constitution Ave NW, 1.6 miles from Club Quarters White House
Offering free admission and no required passes or tickets, DC’s National Museum of American History preserves and displays fascinating artifacts and exhibits dedicated to United States history. Abraham Lincoln’s top hat and the original Star-Spangled Banner can be found among the 1.8 million American artifacts spanning three shelf-miles of historical objects and documents. This unique museum preserves America’s cultural history, as well as our political and social history. View Dorothy’s ruby slippers alongside early modes of transportation, cosmetics, and exhibits about the foods that shaped America.
4th St and Independence Ave SW, 2.7 miles from Club Quarters White House
Another top free museum in Washington, DC is the National Museum of the American Indian. This mammoth, multi-story museum takes an immersive dive into the diverse, extensive history of people native to the land now known as America. Visitors can easily spend hours walking the floors of indigenous tribal lore, clothing, cultural history, and unique exhibits. So, plan to spend some time here if you add this museum to your list of stops. Their on-site Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe offers food stations where you can explore Native cuisines from around the northern hemisphere.
2 Massachusetts Ave. NE, 2.3 miles from Club Quarters White House
Probably the Smithsonian’s most obscure offering, the National Postal Museum features a treasure trove of postal history and thrilling artifacts for stamp collectors and researchers. Not many tourists in DC know about this free, no-tickets-required museum. However, it contains the most comprehensive documentation of philately from American colonial times to the modern day. If you or a traveling companion is interested in stamps, this museum should be at the top of your itinerary.
Ready for fun, excitement, and education at the best museums in Washington, DC? Club Quarters White House brings you special offers to make it easy to book a stay in the nation’s capital. If you want to take advantage of the Smithsonian’s free admission policy but you can’t make a trip to DC, then participate in the Smithsonian’s “museum day” on September 17, when museums, zoos, and cultural centers around the country offer free admission for ticket holders.
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