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

Washington DC Museums

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. So, I am here to share some tips, hacks, and shortcuts to surviving the crowds and actually enjoying this incredible museum! 

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.

NOTE: Air and Space will be renovated and re-opened in October 2022 and some of the exhibits will change. Will update as soon as we re-visit.

Can't Miss for Babies and Toddlers at Air and Space

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!

Can't Miss for Elementary Age at Air and Space (First Floor, Gallery 109)

How Things and Fly Exhibit has 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!

Can't Miss for Teens

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 exploring 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!)