Welcome to D.C.! We’re excited you’re here! Stop #1: The National Mall.
Once you meet your Tour Director, they are going to spend time orienting you to the Mall, sharing their favorite museum highlights, and organizing how you’ll spend the rest of your day. There’s a lot to take in and they’ll help you decide what to prioritize!
If this is your first time in D.C., you may want to think about which Smithsonian museums or sites interest you and your group most. Are the Egyptian mummies calling to you from the Natural History Museum? Do you want to see the fastest aircraft ever made? Or perhaps you want to soak in a little sun while strolling through the Sculpture Garden or the Botanic Garden!
For this first day, you’ll want to consider whether you’re going to stick together as a group, split up into a few smaller groups, or if you want your students to wander through the museums on their own before meeting back up at the designated time and place. Your Tour Director will help you coordinate with everyone. Remember that they will be there to support you throughout the day and the rest of your trip! We compiled a list of some of our personal favorites—see what strikes your fancy!
Smithsonian National Museum of American History
You’ll get close to time traveling when you go to see some of our nation’s treasures at the Museum of American History. Visit Thomas Jefferson’s desk, bringing yourself back to the year 1776 when the USA gained our independence, or admire Michelle Obama’s Inaugural gown from 2013.
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
The Museum of Natural History has something for everyone—a hall of gems, the story of the mysterious Narwhal (think unicorn of the sea, this is a temporary exhibit), Sea Monsters (open through 2023), mummies from Ancient Egypt, and dinosaurs that are even more ancient!
National Archives: Visit some of our Nation’s oldest founding documents.
National Air & Space Museum: At the Air & Space Museum, you feel like you’ve either gone back in time looking at the 1903 Wright Flyer or fast-forwarded into the future as you take in the lunar rock (which you can touch!). Please note: This museum is closed for renovations through Fall 2022.
National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden
If you’re inclined to stay outside and soak in some sun, you can take a leisurely stroll through the Sculpture Garden admiring a variety of plant life, the fountain in the middle (it turns into an ice rink in the winter!), and of course…sculptures!
U.S. Botanic Garden
The United States Botanic Garden is a living plant museum. Stop by the Botanic Garden to see some of the many rare & endangered plants that have a home here.
—The Explore America Team