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Best Museums in Washington DC

By Viator, April 2014

4 127 Reviews | Add your review

While there are world-famous museums in various cities around the globe, you would be hard-pressed to find a city with more high-quality museums than Washington DC. The United States's capital city's museums run the gambit from art houses to completely free Smithsonian Museums to niche galleries. The best museums in DC showcase everything from national treasures to tricks of the spy trade.

Smithsonian Museums

The Smithsonian Institution is the world's largest museum and research complex, housing 19 museums and galleries, as well as the National Zoo, in Washington DC. In addition to the impressive breadth and depth of the collections, the Smithsonian museums are all completely free to visitors. A few of the can't-miss Smithsonian museums include the National Museum of Natural History, the National Air and Space Museum, and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. All are accessible from the National Mall on foot. The Air and Space Museum, in particular, is popular with families and children.

Newseum

The Newseum is a unique, fascinating museum. While it has cemented itself firmly in the hearts of Washingtonians, it's still relatively unknown to many tourists. The Newseum depicts current affairs and U.S. and international history through the vantage point of journalists. Take, for instance, the 9/11 exhibit, in which visitors watch videos, read accounts, and see photos all taken and told by the journalists who were on the ground on that fateful day. Visitors can become an anchor for an afternoon and record their own news segment, complete with reading from a teleprompter. At more than $20 for an adult ticket, the Newseum is expensive by DC museum standard, but it's worth every penny. (Discounts are available for youth, children, seniors, students, and members of the military.)

Spy Museum

At the highly interactive Spy Museum, visitors furtively crawl through air ducts and decode messages, all while learning the history and contemporary culture of international spies. In addition to the normal exhibits, the Spy Museum offers several games - including a GPS-based mission that sends patrons around the city to solve a mystery.

Phillips Collection

Located on a quiet backstreet off in the popular, upscale Dupont Circle neighborhood, the Phillips Collection houses over 3,000 works of art. The intimate house feels like home as you browse paintings by Renoir, van Gogh, and O'Keeffe. The museum takes pride in growing its collection to include contemporary works, as well. The Phillips Collection opened in 1921 and really is truly a hidden gem in DC.

Tours & Tickets

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Washington DC Segway Tour

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 184 Reviews

As you cruise through the Nation's Capital, past the monuments, White House and American icons, you will receive a great orientation, informative historical ...  Read more

Location: Washington D.C., District of Columbia
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)

From USD $75.00

Admission to Washington DC Newseum

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 18 Reviews

At the Newseum in Washington DC, immerse yourself in the culmination of five centuries of news history with up-to-date technology and hands-on exhibits. ...  Read more

Location: Washington D.C., District of Columbia
Duration: Varies

From USD $24.27

Washington DC Guided Tour of Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 9 Reviews

Explore the very best of the staggering collection at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC on this morning or afternoon tour. See ...  Read more

Location: Washington D.C., District of Columbia
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

From USD $29.00

National Gallery of Art Small-Group Walking Tour

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 2 Reviews

With an art historian as your guide, take a three-hour small-group tour of the West Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. In a group of no ...  Read more

Location: Washington D.C., District of Columbia
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)

From USD $70.29

Washington DC Hop-on Hop-off Trolley Tour

4.5 star rating: Recommended 755 Reviews

Discover Washington DC at your leisure with a one-day ticket on the Hop-on Hop-off Trolley Tour. Create your own itinerary to see the most popular sights of ...  Read more

Location: Washington D.C., District of Columbia
Duration: 1 day (approx.)

From USD $39.00
$41.95 Save $2.95

Washington DC Hop-On Hop-Off Tour

4.5 star rating: Recommended 343 Reviews

Explore Washington DC at your own pace on an extensive hop-on hop-off itinerary through the heart of the nation's capital. The buses are open top which ...  Read more

Location: Washington D.C., District of Columbia
Duration: Varies

From USD $47.99

International Spy Museum

4.5 star rating: Recommended 82 Reviews

At Washington DC’s International Spy Museum, enter a world of gadgets, weapons, cameras, vehicles and technologies used for espionage throughout the world. ...  Read more

Location: Washington D.C., District of Columbia
Duration:

Varies

From USD $21.99

National Museum of Crime and Punishment Admission Ticket

4.5 star rating: Recommended 24 Reviews

From medieval knights and greed-driven pirates to today's white collar criminals, the National Museum of Crime and Punishment in Washington DC allows you to ...  Read more

Location: Washington D.C., District of Columbia
Duration: Varies

From USD $20.99

Washington DC Super Saver: Hop-on Hop-off Trolley and Monuments by Moonlight Tour

4.5 star rating: Recommended 13 Reviews

Explore Washington DC at your leisure on a hop-on hop-off trolley and see the city's landmarks illuminated on a guided night tour with this super saver combo. ...  Read more

Location: Washington D.C., District of Columbia
Duration: 1 day (approx.)

From USD $70.20

Washington DC National Mall and Museums Pedicab Tour

4.5 star rating: Recommended 5 Reviews

Hop in a pedicab and let your informative guide do the work as you explore Washington DC's must-see sights. At the National Mall, see the Washington Monument, ...  Read more

Location: Washington D.C., District of Columbia
Duration: 40 minutes (approx.)

From USD $98.00

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