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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.