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Best Museums in Washington DC

By Viator, November 2016

4 155 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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Admission to Washington DC Newseum, Washington DC, null
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Admission to Washington DC Newseum

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 29 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
National Gallery of Art Small-Group Walking Tour, Washington DC, Museum Tickets & Passes
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National Gallery of Art Small-Group Walking Tour

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 5 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 $85.00
Washington DC Hop-on Hop-off Trolley Tour, Washington DC, Walking Tours
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Washington DC Hop-on Hop-off Trolley Tour

4.5 star rating: Recommended 1230 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 $39.90
International Spy Museum, Washington DC, Hop-on Hop-off Tours
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International Spy Museum

4.5 star rating: Recommended 173 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 $19.50
$21.95 Save $2.45
Washington DC Super Saver: Hop-on Hop-off Trolley and Monuments by Moonlight Tour, Washington DC, ... 
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Washington DC Super Saver: Hop-on Hop-off Trolley and Monuments by Moonlight Tour

4.5 star rating: Recommended 62 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 $72.90
Big Bus Washington DC Hop-On Hop-Off Tour, Washington DC, Hop-on Hop-off Tours
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Big Bus Washington DC Hop-On Hop-Off Tour

4 star rating: Recommended 587 Reviews

As the authorized concessionaire of the National Park Service, the Big Bus tour is the official sightseeing tour of the National Mall. Explore the most popular ...  Read more

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

From USD $39.00
Madame Tussauds Washington DC, Washington DC, Hop-on Hop-off Tours
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Madame Tussauds Washington DC

4 star rating: Recommended 23 Reviews

Madame Tussauds gives you an interactive, full-sensory experience where you can touch, see and hear historical events and celebrities in a way unlike ever ...  Read more

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

From USD $18.99
$23.26 Save $4.27
Small Group Tour of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC, Attraction Tickets
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Small Group Tour of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Take one giant leap into the unique collection at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, covering the United States’ world famous space program. The ...  Read more

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

From USD $89.00
Small-Group Tour of the National Mall and the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, Museum ... 
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Small-Group Tour of the National Mall and the National Gallery of Art

Make the most of your visit to DC on this comprehensive 5 hour semi-private tour welcoming no more than 8 guests. Our guide will show you the iconic monuments ...  Read more

Location: Washington, District of Columbia
Duration: 5 hours (approx.)

From USD $159.00
Small-Group Combo Tour: Arlington National Cemetery and the National Museum of American History, ... 
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Small-Group Combo Tour: Arlington National Cemetery and the National Museum of American History

Learn about the history of America through its most prominent national cemetery and museum during this all-encompassing combo excursion to the Arlington ...  Read more

Location: Washington, District of Columbia
Duration: 5 hours (approx.)

From USD $159.00

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