The National Air and Space Museum is a must-see among the Smithsonian museums. It houses the world’s largest and most significant collection of aviation and space artifacts. The museum has two D.C. locations. One is the museum itself, which is located in the heart of the Smithsonian complex and was built in 1976. You can see the 1903 Wright Flyer constructed by the Wright brothers and the Spirit of St. Louis, which Charles Lindbergh used to make the first solo, non-stop, transatlantic flight in 1927. (It took him 33.5 hours to fly from New York to Paris.)

The second is the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, which is located near Washington Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, VA. This massive hanger accommodates large aircraft and spacecraft, such as the Enola Gray and the Space Shuttle Discovery. (The Discovery is the oldest and most accomplished orbiter. From 1984 until 2011, the Discovery flew 39 Earth-orbital missions and traveled 150 million miles.)

The goal of this museum is to commemorate the past and educate and inspire the future of aviation and spaceflight, while maintaining the history, culture, and science of the fields. This is the largest of the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, with some 60,000 objects ranging in size from microchips to Saturn V rockets.

Racertrips™ Tips

  • Want to check out the Udar-Hazy Center? You can drive (parking is $15) or take mass transit, and the museum website has step-by-step transit directions. The trip by transit takes about 90 minutes each way. If you’re driving, the trip may be a short 15 miles on the open road or an exercise in patience (and frustration). It will all depend on D.C. traffic.
  • The D.C. museum location will be undergoing renovation for the next several years. The museum will remain open, but be sure to check their website to see which sections of the museum might be closed during your visit.
  • Both locations are open from 10 am to 5:30 pm daily (except Christmas) and admission is free.

Additional Details

      2 Reviews for Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum


      10 Reviews

      See many flying machines

      5/ 5

      The closest Metro stop is Smithsonian, on the Blue, Silver and Orange lines. The museum is always free. The museum is one of the most visited in the world year-after-year. The historical objects on display are fundamental to the story of flight. The 1903 Wright Flyer owns the distinction of flying the world’s first successful flight, and you can see the groundbreaking flying machine in person. There’s also Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, the first aircraft to complete a nonstop flight from New York to Paris. The Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia, the only portion of the Apollo 11 spacecraft to return to Earth, is prominently displayed in the ongoing Space Race exhibition. Visitors can also touch a sample of a lunar rock brought back from the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

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      10 Reviews

      Free shuttle

      5/ 5

      Don’t miss the Space Shuttle Discovery and the Enola Gay. It’s located 15 miles from downtown DC; there is a free shuttle from downtown DC, and the trip can be long due to traffic congestion.

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