Best of the Smithsonian: National Museum of the American Indian
During three years of living in Washington, D.C., I made it my mission to visit as many museums as I could, and the National Museum of the American Indian quickly won me over. I was greeted by a live dance performance and welcomed into a circular space reminiscent of New York's Guggenheim Museum. The exhibits are educational, informative and engaging, and the space itself is a captivating exercise in design. It may often be overlooked, but it's one of the best D.C. museums with a notable food court featuring Native American-inspired dishes.
By Meena Thiruvengadam, AFAR Local Expert
Smithsonian for the Kids
When my siblings and I were growing up, weekend trips to the Smithsonian Museums were commonplace. I didn’t enjoy those visits at all. Yes, very educational but also very boring. It’s even worse for children who aren’t old enough to read or tall enough to see the displays. You just want to go home. Thankfully, times have changed and the museums all now have exhibits that cater to its young visitors. Yes, it’s all still educational but it’s also participatory and interactive. Popular venues include the Butterfly Pavilion at the Natural History Museum (http://www.butterflies.si.edu/tickets/) and the IMAX Theatre and Planetarium and the Air and Space Museum (http://airandspace.si.edu/events/imax-planetarium/). Several of the museums, including the Museum of the American Indian (pictured above) have kid friendly learning spaces, which provide opportunity for hands on learning activities. Here, kids can explore traditional Native American Indian dwellings, experience different modes of indigenous transportation (think canoes and snowshoes), and even learn how to make a drum. The room is bright, colorful, very inviting and everything is kid sized. For moms with babies, there’s plenty of space to wheel strollers around. Attendants abound and are always at the ready to teach the kids and to help the parents. When planning the family trip to DC, be sure to check out the list of Smithsonian activities that kids and families can enjoy together!
By Julee K., AFAR Local Expert
If you feel like visiting the free Smithsonian Museums, and you realize they've saved you the bucks intended for your daily expenditure in your travel plan, head over to the cafe at the National Museum of the American Indian, and have one of the best meals of your trip. In the picture are chipotle chicken tacos, along with a chocolate tart and a fountain coke—a meal that you're sure to remember!
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