I've had this idea to play "Museum Matchmaker" for a while now! A friend once asked me how do you choose which Smithsonian to bring your child to if you only have time for one. The first question is, "What is my child already interested in?" Let their passions lead the visit and they will be excited and engaged! And who knows? You may just inspire the next Nobel Laureate :)
Note: This is a super simplistic breakdown of interests for the museums. Each museum covers so many topics but I just wanted to make it as simple as possible to find something that your child is interested in and match it to a museum. For example, a kid who loves Science could literally go to each and every one of these museums! Spark Jr. is a great innovation laboratory for kids in the American History Museum but I also wanted to highlight the amazing stories at that museum too. Anyway, please forgive the generalizations I make below but I hope they inspire some fantastic family visits!
Loves Stories - American History Museum
This museum is just exceptional for the kid who loves stories. The entire museum is a potpourri of American Stories from famous ones like the American Presidents and First Ladies to the stories of the protesters at the Greensboro lunch counter. (Pro Tip: Make sure you catch the 30 minute interactive play on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturday and Sunday at 12:30 and 2:30 PM in front of the original lunch counter). More info on my museum blog post here.
Loves Fast Things! - Air and Space Museum
What's faster than a rocket?! The Air and Space Museum is an inspiring place for kids of all ages who love transportation and engineering. The museum is divided into Airplanes and Flight in the West Wing and Space Exploration in the East Wing. This is the busiest museum in the entire United States so I strongly recommend checking out my tips hereand the Guide here.
Loves Quiet Spaces - Postal Museum
Not boring at all but so much quieter than the museums on the National Mall! I put this on here for the kids who might feel a little overwhelmed by the crowded museums on the Mall. (I have one child like this!) So much more than stamps here so check out our blog on this gem here!
Loves The Outdoors - National Zoo
Pretty obvious! Check out our family favorites here
Loves Imagination - Portrait Gallery (Chinatown)
I don't have a Guide for this fabulous museum yet but it has a wonderful Explore room for the budding artist in your family! More info on their website here.
Loves Science - Natural History Museum
Just such a fabulous place! I could write a book just on this museum and all the "look mama over here!" moments we've had here over the years. The Qurius Science Center and QuriusJr. Discovery rooms both have all hands on real artifacts, games and tons of microscopes!! Opening hours for those are very specific and can be found on thisblog post.