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National Museum of American History

National Museum of American History: Our most recommended tours and activities

Washington, DC: Old Town Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley City Tour

1. Washington, DC: Old Town Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley City Tour

Named "Washington's Best Tour" by the Washingtonian Magazine and one of the top 10 hop-on hop-off tours in the world by Forbes, the Old Town Trolley offers the most comprehensive tour of the nation's capital. Relax while expert tour guides help you discover the beauty and majesty of Washington, D.C. This popular tour covers Washington's major attractions such as the Lincoln Memorial, the White House, the museums of the Smithsonian Institution, and Vietnam Veteran's Memorial. Expert guides share colorful anecdotes, humorous stories and well-researched historical information. Upgrade to include a trolley tour of Arlington National Cemetery, an enduring tribute to those who’ve dedicated their lives to defending the nation. You’ll be transported to some of the most notable graves and memorials. DC City Tour Trolley stops: 1. 1001 E. St. NW: Washington Welcome Center/Ford's Theatre/Peterson House 2. 1401 Pennsylvania Ave: The White House/The White House Visitor Center/WWI Memorial 3. 701 Constitution Ave NW: National Archives (West/East Gallery of the NGA, Navy Memorial) 4. 400 New Jersey Ave NW: Japanese American Memorial/Hyatt Regency 5. 50 Massachusetts Ave NE: Union Station and the Smithsonian Postal Museum 6. 1st St. NE: US Capitol (Botanic Gardens, Supreme Court and Library of Congress) 7. 600 Independence Ave SW: Air/Space Museum, Museum of the American Indian/Eisenhower Memorial 8. Maine Ave SW at 9th St. SW: The Wharf 9. 700 L'Enfant Plaza SW: International Spy Museum 10. 1398 Independence Ave SW: Washington Monument, Smithsonian Museums and Castle, Holocaust Memorial Museum 11. 16 E Basin Dr SW: Jefferson Memorial/George Mason Memorial 12. 1964 Independence Ave SW: Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial/Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial 13. 2 Lincoln Memorial Cir. NW: Lincoln Memorial/Vietnam Veterans Memorial/Korean War Veterans Memorial/World War II Memorial 14. 1400 Constitution Ave NW: National Museum of American History/National Museum of African American History & Culture/National Museum of Natural History 15. 800 F St. NW: National Portrait Gallery/American Art Museum (temp closed for Holiday Market) Arlington Cemetery Trolley stops: • Arlington National Cemetery • President John F. Kennedy Gravesite • US Coast Guard Memorial • John J. Pershing • The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier • Arlington House • US Marine Corps War Memorial Iwo Jima • Arlington Niche Wall Columbarium Courts

Washington DC: Monuments Self-Guided Walking Tour

2. Washington DC: Monuments Self-Guided Walking Tour

Start by downloading the Action Tour Guide app, which will function as your personal tour guide, audio tour, and map. Note: This 2+ mile-long tour covers the essentials of Washington DC in 1-2 hours. Visit the most iconic landmarks of America’s capital city on this flexible self-guided walking tour. See the White House, Lincoln Memorial, the Capitol Building, and much more, and learn the revolutionary history behind the creation of Washington, D.C. Along with being developed by local guides, creative writers, and professional voice artists, most stops along the tour have animated videos allowing you to visualize what you cannot see, such as snapshots from different centuries or interior rooms. You'll begin your adventure next to Pershing Park, right across from the White House south lawn. From there, make your way to the White House itself, where you can admire the seat of American power and learn some fascinating tidbits about its construction. From here, head south toward Constitution Gardens and pick up some insight into D.C.’s complicated history along the way. Through the gardens, you’ll find what was once the city’s most controversial monument: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Next, head to the Lincoln Memorial, one of the most iconic memorials in D.C. The Korean War Veterans Memorial is next, where you’ll hear about the fraught political struggle which wracked the White House during this bloody conflict. As you continue east, you’ll be filled in on the aftermath of the War of 1812 and how D.C. grew into what it is today. The next monument you’ll arrive at will be the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, honoring the nation’s most revered civil rights leader. Then, cross the Kutz Bridge and learn why the Potomac River is so significant to this city’s history. From this bridge, you’ll also be able to see the impressive Thomas Jefferson Memorial. Later, reach the National Mall, which you’ve definitely seen on TV plenty of times. Get an up-close look at the Washington Monument and learn the history of George Washington’s connection to this important city. If you like museums, the next stretch of the tour is absolutely for you. You’ll pass the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and the National Gallery of Art. On the final leg of the tour, visit three of the most crucial buildings in the city: The Library of Congress, the Capitol Building, and the Supreme Court of the United States. The tour concludes amid these three awe-inspiring structures.

Smithsonian National Museum of Air & Space: Guided Tour

3. Smithsonian National Museum of Air & Space: Guided Tour

The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum doesn’t just cover extraterrestrial exploration. It covers everything from the early history of flight to the Space Race and moon landings. Your local English speaking guide will not only be an expert on the museum, but they will also share a mix of historical & scientific information, background stories and surprising details with you.   Tour highlights:  • Seeing the Apollo 11 Command Module • Touching real moon rocks • Learning about Buzz Aldrin’s spacesuit and moon boots • Exploring a model of the International Space Station • Seeing world-famous early planes like the 1903 Wright Brother’s aircraft and the Spirit of St. Louis • Discovering the history of the world’s leading air & space program and the innovative technology that made it possible to land a man on the moon • Getting the chance to purchase freeze-dried ice cream • Learning what it's like to be an astronaut today With over 760,000 square feet of space in the collection, you’ll be thankful for your passionate and engaging guide for navigating you, bringing a personal touch to each tour, adding their own favorite anecdotes and tips along the way. Please note: the Air and Space Museum is currently under massive construction and will remain so for many years. This means that many of the exhibits described may not be on display. The tour will be adjusted based on the changing stages of the renovation and the available exhibits. Here is a link to the museum's website if you would like an updated list of what you may see during your visit: Thank you for understanding.

National Museum of American History: Guided Tour

4. National Museum of American History: Guided Tour

From a ragtag group of colonists to one of the world’s super powers, the United States has made quite a name for itself. The Smithsonian National Museum of American History traces this ascent through a one-of-a-kind collection of items, helping you to understand this turbulent history. Your local English speaking guide will not only be an expert on the museum, but also share a mix of historical, scientific, cultural, social, technological, and political information, background stories and surprising details with you. Tour highlights: • The actual Star-Spangled Banner that inspired the country’s national anthem • Learn about the first president, George Washington, while viewing his sword • Discover how Hollywood has helped shape this country • Dorothy’s ruby red slippers from “The Wizard of Oz” • Discuss segregation through the Greensboro lunch counter • View Thomas Jefferson’s desk • Understand the role of women through an exhibit of the first ladies’ gowns With the collection containing more than three million historical items, you’ll be thankful to your passionate and engaging guide for navigating you, bringing a personal touch to each tour, adding own favorite anecdotes and tips along the way.

Washington DC: National Mall Self Guided App Walking Tour

5. Washington DC: National Mall Self Guided App Walking Tour

On our location aware smart phone guided walking tour you will see D.C.’s best-known monuments and museums with a few hidden gems in between using the power of our patented walking tour technology and story telling. Go at your own pace, and schedule. On our adventure you’ll see the Vietnam war, Lincoln, Washington, Korean War, world war 2, General Grant, Garfield, Buffalo Dancer, Joan Miro and Marc Chagall monuments, memorials and statues, to name a few. You will also see the Smithsonian museums of American History, Natural History, Air and Space, American Indians, the National Gallery and the sculpture garden, all free to enter, if they are open of course. And along the way I’ll share with you the stories of each site, it’s hidden secrets, and how they influenced and changed the United States. I’ll even suggest a spot to grab lunch and have a picnic along the way.

DC: Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing Tour and Boat Cruise

6. DC: Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing Tour and Boat Cruise

See the best of Washington, DC in just 3 days with a combo tour. Hop aboard a Big Bus open-top double-decker to explore the city at your own pace, and in your own language with digital audio commentary. Then, board the Monuments Water Taxi for a scenic tour between The Wharf to Georgetown. As you ride the bus, see iconic monuments and memorials including the White House, Capitol Building, Washington Monument, and Arlington National Cemetery. Hop off at stops along the route to explore the Smithsonian National History Museum, Air & Space Museum, and more. Hop off at the National Mall to pay your respects at the memorials of some of the country's most important figures, including Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. If you want to dive deeper into the city's history, visit the Library of Congress or the International Spy Museum. Listen to digital commentary in multiple languages to learn about the city's top attractions and landmarks in your native language. Enjoy the flexibility to explore the city at your own pace, taking as much time as you need to fully appreciate everything that the nation’s capital has to offer. Once you've explored downtown DC’s history and culture, take the boat cruise to Georgetown and stroll through the picturesque colonial neighborhood filled with cafes, shops, and historic homes. Feel as if you’re transported back in time as you wander its cobblestone streets.

Washington DC Sightseeing Flex Pass: 15+ Experiences in DC

7. Washington DC Sightseeing Flex Pass: 15+ Experiences in DC

The easy-to-use Sightseeing Flex Pass is the easiest way to see the best of D.C. Select 1, 2, or 4 attractions, and take advantage of full admission to the experiences that interest you the most, saving you up to 60% on total visitation costs.  Stand in awe at the iconic landscape of Washington D.C. and witness the splendor of the revolutionaries who defined the United States. Tour through the landmarked capital and see The Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.  Admire the visionary architecture of D.C. and take a selfie from the top of the Big Bus Hop-On, Hop-Off Tour, as you pass by the United States Capitol Building, the scenic National Mall, the White House, the Smithsonian Institution, the Library of Congress, and the Washington National Cathedral. Complete list of attractions can be found on the following link:

Natural History + Air and Space Museum: Guided Combo Tour

8. Natural History + Air and Space Museum: Guided Combo Tour

This is your chance to experience the two most popular museums in Washington DC with the help of our expert guides navigating the crowds! Start your day with the largest Natural History collection in the world. Stones, bones, and bugs clamor for your attention at the Smithsonian Natural History museum as the largest taxidermied elephant in the world trumpets your welcome (his name is Henry!). From the most famous single artifact in the Smithsonian collection — the (supposedly) cursed Hope Diamond — to the recently revealed renovated Fossil Hall with Mastodon, T-Rex, and Diplodocus looming over the path, your inner child will remind you of how fascinating the natural world’s mysteries are. After a break to recharge, cross the famous National Mall to the Smithsonian Air & Space museum. Currently undergoing its own renovation, there is still plenty to see! Starting with a family in Ohio solving a problem not even Leonardo DaVinci could. We speak, of course, of the Wright Brothers who launched the world to literal new heights. The original Wright Flyer from 1903 gets its own exhibition gallery to set the stage for what comes after. From the first military flyer in 1909 (also a Wright Bros. creation) to the golden age of setting records and commercial aviation, imagine the guts it took to trust your life to this novel technology. Then head to the even more intimidating exploits in the space exhibits. Where you view some of the actual artifacts man set out to conquer the vast unknown in an inhospitable environment and then back to Earth’s warm embrace. But the highest heights are those of imagination that inspire us to the risk so much. Your guide will also talk about two of the most famous works of science fiction that inspire scientists and technology at the Starship Enterprise and Star Wars X-Wing! Experience the two unforgettable museums with one unrivaled experience.

Washington,DC:National Archives & Museum of American History

9. Washington,DC:National Archives & Museum of American History

Embark on an exciting journey through the history of the United States with our exclusive 3-hour tour. This experience includes reserved entry to the National Archives and the Museum of American History, allowing you to explore the famous landmarks of Washington, D.C., in-depth. As we explore the city, you'll learn about the Smithsonian Institution, the largest museum complex in the world. We'll stroll along the historic National Mall, where you'll enjoy stunning views of the Washington Monument, the U.S. Capitol, and many impressive museums. Your knowledgeable guides will share stories about fascinating artifacts, such as George Washington's uniform and sword, Abraham Lincoln's famous hat, the flag that inspired our national anthem, and valuable items from key moments in Civil Rights and Suffrage history. The highlight of the tour is an exclusive visit to the National Archives, where you'll have the unique opportunity to see the original Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. This encounter with these important documents will deepen your understanding of American history.

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What people are saying about National Museum of American History

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 174 reviews

Took bus in front of union station. Need to validate at desk inside front of station but did not know. Driver accepted pass and validation at end of line where switched bus quickly to do initial stops. Bus does not take you to Arlington cemetery. You have to make own way there where there is another smaller hop on hop off tram tour. Also excellent. There’s a stop close by but would have to walk a while and over busy bridge so not safe. Could stop there and cab or Lyft/uber

Loved it! I am here for a work conference and only had a morning to explore. I covered ten miles on foot, this tour was great!

Richard was so knowledgeable and entertaining. We hit all the major exhibits. The tour was the right amount of time,

Simple et parfait sur un parcours intéressant. Prix très attractif

Very clear to understand and had lots of information