3 Things Your Family Can’t Miss at the Air and Space Museum!

Air and Space Museum, Washington DC with kids

Did you know the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum in DC is the most visited museum in the USA?! If you ever visited on a summer or weekend morning, then I’m sure you can agree it gets a little crazy. However I am here to share some tips, hacks and short cuts to survive the crowds and actually enjoy this incredible museum! 

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC. Panorama, view large (8,000 pixels) www.flickr.com/photos/pedrosz/36085958805/sizes/o/ by Pedro Szekely. Under Creative Commons license.
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC. Panorama, view large (8,000 pixels) http://www.flickr.com/photos/pedrosz/36085958805/sizes/o/ by Pedro Szekely. Under Creative Commons license.

Check out the full 7 page Air and Space Family Museum Guide for $5 that is full of specifics on the best time to go, full pages on visiting with Babies and Toddlers, Elementary Schoolers and Teens! 


We’ve visited the Air and Space Smithsonian with babies, toddlers and elementary school kids and each definitely has different goals and interests. Below are our Top Can’t Miss exhibit for each age group. (In the Guide downloads, I give you 3 for each of the age groups plus “Skip This” recommendations if you just have a short amount of time.) 

1. Can’t Miss for Babies and Toddlers:

This museum can feel overwhelming with exhibits and hundreds of planes in the air, but don’t fear! The main attractions, especially for this age group, are all on the first floor so you can skip the whole 2nd Floor which is a lot of military history. 

In addition to the How Things Fly exhibit highlighted below, to check out the Story Time: Usually at 11 AM and 1:30 PM in the Space Race (Gallery 114). It’s a lot less crowded up there and we’ve had fabulous storytellers! Plus one time we made our own flying machines! 

Toddler in the How Things Fly Exhibit at the Air and Space Museum. Photo by FamilyTripGuides.com
Toddler in the How Things Fly Exhibit at the Air and Space Museum. Photo by FamilyTripGuides.com

2. Can’t Miss for Elementary Age: How Things Fly Exhibit (First Floor, Gallery 109)

Kid in cockpit at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Photo: FamilyTripGuides.com
Kid in cockpit at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Photo: FamilyTripGuides.com

Tons of Hands-On activities and science demonstrations. Definitely my #1 recommendation for this age group! I had a hard time pulling my kids away from this room! Pro Tip: There are tons of volunteer scientists usually wearing red shirts, definitely go up and ask what’s their favorite thing to demonstrate! Other favorites in the exhibit room:

  • Explore inside a real cockpit! (Located in back right corner of room) 
  • The Design Hangar located next to the demo area has hands on activities for all ages. When we were there, kids built their own flying inventions and the Smithsonian staff timed how long they could fly in a wind tunnel!

3. Can’t Miss for Teens: 

Sky Lab at Air and Space Museum, Washington DC. Photo: FamilyTripGuides.com
Sky Lab at Air and Space Museum, Washington DC. Photo: FamilyTripGuides.com

The Air and Space Museum is organized into Airplanes on the West Side and Space Exploration on the East Side. I highly recommend checking out the Space Race Exhibit (Gallery 114), go up the escalator to the second floor and explore the SkyLab to see how astronauts explore in space. And when you go inside, make sure to look up! (There is usually a line but it moves fairly quickly!) 


Hope you have a wonderful time learning and exploring this amazing museum! Check out downloading the Guides for tons more info on the Air and Space Museum including Parking Tips and my favorite garage if you can’t find street parking, Food Options inside and outside the Museum, and Gift Shop Alternatives for each age group. Plus all Guides come with a Passport for your kids to use on their Smithsonian Adventures!  

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: