Tips for Smithsonian Museums with Out of Town Guests

Washington DC Museums

We love when friends and family visit us in Washington, D.C.! There is so much to do and see (and eat!) here that it is a tourist hot spot for Americans and International visitors throughout the year. We’ve done the all-day museum visits with friends and family in town, and while its super fun, it can also be overwhelming as the host. 

What do we focus on? Where do we park and eat? Which museum should we visit first? 

Hopefully the post below helps you with my 5 Tips for Visiting the Smithsonians with Out of Town Guests. Every tip has one link or more to a resource that gives more info.

Smithsonian museums dc

My 5 Tips for Visiting the Smithsonians with Out-of-Town Guests

Before you go:

  • Ask what their goals are! Show them a list of museums and ask what they want to visit. If they don’t have a preference, check out the Museum Matchmaker post that might help them decide! 
  • If you’ve already visited the museum or are busy that day, consider buying a Family Trip Guide as their “tour guide” for the trip! Then you can use it for your next visit! Lots more info on the product page but in short, these guides cover All You Need to Know for a fantastic family visit to the museums. You can purchase one museum guide or a pack of all 5 of the top museums. And the American History Guide is free for signing up! 

When you go: 

  • If doing the great duo of Natural History/American History, I highly recommend going to Natural History FIRST and then going to American History. Natural History’s new Dinosaur exhibit which opened summer of 2019 is very popular and gets busy by late morning. Going there first for a couple of hours and then American History is a great morning at the museums! (And check out my Food Options blog post near each museum that is not just inside the museums!) 
  • A great parking tip from a friend of mine that works well with 2 adults and a larger group is to drive next to the Sculpture Gardens on the corner of 7th St NW and Madison Drive NW. Drop off 1 adult and kids at the fenced-in gardens to look around while the driver finds parking. Kids are contained and look at beautiful gardens and art and you are centrally located to most of the museums! (and don’t forget the Magic 9:45 AM tip!

After the Museum: 

  1. Washington D.C. has so many wonderful places to visit beyond the museums! Below is a brief recommendations list for some more family favorites to check out with out-of-town guests or with your family! 
  2. Navy Yard (especially this amazing ice cream and pond to splash in!) 
  3. Eastern Market 
  4. Union Station 
  5. Union Market 
  6. H Street Corridor (especially Dangerously Delicious Pies ;)
  7. Adams Morgan (especially these jumbo slice pizzas and Amsterdam Falafel)

And here's 20 great museums in DC for Children below!

Smithsonian museums dc