The main reason we went to Washington D.C as mentioned in previous blogs was to see the Smithsonian Museums and today was the first full day of visiting these. We had pre-booked to visit the National Archives museum, which at first glance sounds really dull, but holds some of the most important documents in American history.
In here you can find the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It also hosts an original version of the 1297 Magna Carta. Due to the sheer importance of these documents you have to go through stricter security than at the other museums and the use of cameras are banned. These artefacts are displayed in the main rotunda in the museum which is beautiful; there is a small queue to see the documents but it is well worth the wait. The rest of the museum is equally as fascinating and has lots of interactive exhibits to encourage you to learn more.
Next up was the National Museum of Natural History which is located opposite on the other side of the road. In 2016 this was the fourth most visited museum in the world and the most visited natural history museum in the world. This place is enormous, we went in via the back entrance off Constitution Avenue instead of the entrance on the National Mall. This meant it was slightly quieter and therefore quicker to get through security. This entrance brings you into the food court and then into the Rotunda. (They love a rotunda around these parts!). This museum was fascinating and had so many exhibitions and areas to look at; some were much busier than others such as the Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals. This collection includes some of the most famous pieces of gems and minerals including the Hope Diamond and the Star of Asia Sapphire which is one of the largest sapphires in the world. Easy to understand why it was so busy here then with everyone trying to get a glance of the gems.
Personally of the most impressive things that I saw was the stardust which is likely the oldest thing I will ever see in my lifetime. You can easily spend a whole day in this museum to see everything and play with the interactive experiences throughout and I would recommend making time to do this to truly appreciate all the museum has to offer.
From here we hopped across the National Mall to the National Air and Space Museum which is the one I think my husband was most looking forward to. Thankfully it did not disappoint. From the moment you enter this building you are met with rockets and planes everywhere, they are hanging from the ceiling and placed throughout the floor. In 2016, the museum saw approximately 7.5 million visitors making it the second most visited museum in the work and the most visited in the United States.
Different sections of the museum focus on different parts including the bit I was most excited for, an area for space travel. Again this is a museum you can and should spend hours in, the place is packed to the rafters with history and there is so much to see. The exhibits are really well done and feature tons of interactive displays. For example there is one area you walk into through a small door but inside it’s designed like an aircraft carrier including the sounds. This was so unexpected and blew me away with how much detail they had gone into with it. The museum also features the Apollo 11 command module, the Spirit of St. Louis and the Wright brothers’ plane. If you can only visit one museum while in Washington D.C I would recommend this to be the one.
After a long day of walking around museums we decided to have a quick look at Capitol Hill and posed for a few selfies before heading back to our lovely hotel. We both still felt ill and needed some rest however managed to squeeze in a cheeky cocktail in our hotels rooftop bar prior to falling asleep. In summer I imagine this place would be bustling but as the weather was a bit rainy everyone was inside and there is not much space. The views here though are spectacular and overlook China Town and the diagonal crossing. Well worth a visit even if only for one drink.