Monday, October 17, 2011

Top Museums in Washington D.C.

Within its well laid out city plan, Washington DC has some excellent museums. If you’re here on a motorhome rental or campervan hire holiday check out some of the best.

Smithsonian – The Smithsonian is the largest museum and research centre in the world, so when you pay a visit here, you need to plan ahead. Founded in 1846, the museum is in fact, museums. Nineteen altogether, plus nine research facilities, and the National Zoological Park . Most of the museums are open from 10am until 5:30pm seven days a week, except Christmas day, and admission is free. Here are some of the most popular, but if you have a specific area of interest visit the link below where you can find out more.

History Museums: American, African American, American Indian, National History.

Art Museums: American, African, Arts and Industries, Freer Gallery, Portrait gallery

Smithsonian Castle
Photo by Noclip, Wikimedia Commons

A minor issue, which affects visitors in on a motorhome rental or campervan holiday, is parking. The simple answer is don’t bring your vehicle into the city centre. Locals know their way around, but to find parking for something larger than a small car can be a nightmare. The easiest way to get to the museums around the National Mall is to use the metro rail and bus system. If you’re just in Washington for the day, the bus/coach station is at 1005 1st Street, NE at the corner of L Street, is probably the best for parking anything bigger than a ‘normal car’.

Part of the Smithsonian museum is the Air and Space Museum. Situated close to the National Mall, the museum has twenty-three galleries packed with spacecraft, rockets, missiles, and aircraft. See exhibits such as the Wright Brothers original 1903 Wright Flyer, photographs, and the original stopwatch used to time the first ever powered flight.

If space travel is more your thing, there are exhibits on the Space shuttle and the International Space Station, the Space Race, the Apollo mission, and the Starship Enterprise for Star Treck fans. Some of the educational exhibits also include information on the solar system and planets, but there’s a lot more besides. This is a museum that you can spend all day enjoying.


A short distance from the White House, the Newseum is the museum of the future. If you’re put off by the word museum, the Newseum is quite different. It’s all interactive, sharp, and straight to the point; there’s a lot to learn. Here, you can see the news headlines from the past and from recent history, and that includes events like 9/11, where the twisted radio antenna is on display, along with the headlines from papers, TV, and radio broadcasts. Try your hand at being a news presenter, or see some of the outstanding pictures taken to accompany the headlines. This is not an old-fashioned dull museum; this is a very modern and engaging take on history, something that everyone can enjoy.

Here are some of the top things to see at the Newseum.

Berlin Wall Gallery. This is the largest, unaltered, display of the Berlin wall outside Germany. The 12-foot high wall comes in eight pieces, which you can walk around, unlike its previous location.

The Watergate door, the taped door, as it was, which led to President Nixon’s fall from power.

I-Witness, a 4D special effects film, recreates some of the most dramatic events from news reporting history.

All in all, the Newseum has 14 major galleries and 15 theatres where you can see the most momentous news stories from history, and the good news is that why you buy your entry ticket, it’s valid for 2 consecutive days. The museum is situated intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and Sixth Street, N.W., adjacent to the Smithsonian museums on the National Mall, and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily expect Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.

Click here to watch a video about the Newseum

Mount Vernon

Somewhere with plenty of room for motorhome rental or campervan hire vehicles is Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington. The most popular, historic estate in the US.

Sixteen miles south of the capital visitors can explore the mansion where George and his wife Martha lived for 40 years, as well as Washington’s Tomb, the Plantation, a working blacksmith shop, and a demonstration farm with slave cabin and 16-sided treading barn.

Mount Vernon Estate
Photo by David Samuel,Wikimedia Commons

Run just as it would be if it were a plantation today, each season brings something different, from harvest to planting. In addition, just three miles up the road is the George Washington Distillery and Gristmill, with its sixteen-foot waterwheel and shop where you can purchase both cornmeal and whiskey produced at the site. The estate is open 365 days of the year between 9am and 4pm, and until 5pm from March and October.

Crime Museum

If you’re into murder mystery, TV crime series, and anything justice related, a must do on a motorhome rental or campervan hire holiday in Washington is the Crime Museum.

Explore historic crimes and more recent cases, have a go in driving and shooting simulators, and learn some of the actual techniques used by the professionals. Exhibits include the history of crime which goes back as far as knights and pirates, and comes right up to date with white-collar crime. This is also where you can try your hand a cracking a safe, hacking into a computer and take part in a proper old fashioned shot out.

Not many of us want to end up in jail whilst on holiday, but at the museum you can, just for fun. The full-scale model of a police station includes a cell, lie detector, and even an electric chair. Finally, take part in real life forensic science with a fresh crime scene where you can take fingerprints and samples for DNA testing.

The Crime and Punishment Museum is situated at 575 7th St. NW between E and F Streets in downtown D.C. opposite the Verizon Centre. Its opening hours are 10am and 7pm every day, expect Christmas and Thanksgiving, there are also shorter hours on Christmas and New Years Eve.

If you’re into history, then Washington D.C has many more museums to enjoy on a motorhome rental or campervan hire holiday in the area. What’s so nice about them is that they offer something for everyone, even those who don’t think museums are for them.

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