best museums in Washington D.C.

Interested in visiting the best museums in Washington D.C.?

Our partners at Hoodline scoured the web for us to produce a ranked list of the city’s must-see museums, offering everything from aerospace artifacts to exhibits on African-American history and culture. 

1. National Air and Space Museum

PHOTO: ANGELO R./YELP

Topping the list is the National Air and Space Museum. Created as the National Air Museum by Congress and President Truman in 1946, this jewel of the Smithsonian Institution opened in its current location on the National Mall in 1976.

It houses such important artifacts of aerospace history as the Apollo 11 command module, Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis and the Wright Brothers plane flown at Kitty Hawk. The museum will soon undergo an expected seven-year restoration, but will remain open.

Located at Independence Avenue and Sixth Street SW, it is the highest-rated museum in Washington, boasting 4.5 stars out of 959 reviews on Yelp.

2. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

PHOTO: KARI C./YELP

Next up is the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, situated at 1000 Constitution Ave. NW. Originally housed in the Smithsonian Castle on the other side of the Mall, the museum moved to its current building in 1910 to accommodate a growing collection that today includes more than 126 million natural science specimens and cultural artifacts.

Ongoing exhibits include the National Gem and Mineral Collection, the Hall of Human Origins and the National Collection of Amphibians and Reptiles.

With 4.5 stars out of 898 reviews on Yelp, the museum has proven to be a favorite of local, national and international visitors alike.

3. Newseum

PHOTO: ROSHNI S./YELP

Downtown’s Newseum, located at 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, is another top choice, with Yelpers giving it 4.5 stars out of 860 reviews. With seven levels, 15 galleries and 15 theaters, it seeks to “increase public understanding of the importance of a free press and the First Amendment,” according to its website



The “Today’s Front Pages Gallery” presents the front pages from more than 80 international newspapers, while other galleries address the fall of the Berlin Wall, the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the history of TV, radio and the Internet.

4. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

PHOTO: AUDREY P./YELP

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is another important stop on the best museums in Washington D.C.. It aims to “advance and disseminate knowledge about this unprecedented tragedy; to preserve the memory of those who suffered; and to encourage its visitors to reflect upon the moral and spiritual questions raised by the events of the Holocaust,” the museum says on its website.

It is housed in a building at 100 Raoul Wallenberg Place SW that is designed to evoke many of the tragic themes of the Holocaust.

5. National Museum of African American History and Culture

PHOTO: LUKE C./YELP

For the final stop on your tour of the best museums in Washington D.C., plan your visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which has earned 4.5 stars out of 604 reviews on Yelp. Opened in 2016, it is the newest member of the Smithsonian Institution. The bronze-colored building suggests a crown used in the West African Yoruban culture. 

The museum is home to 36,000 artifacts that document African-American life, history and culture, and exhibits include explorations of slavery, the civil rights struggle and the career and cultural impact of Oprah Winfrey.



Rest and restore after your visit at the renowned in-house restaurant, Sweet Home Cafe. You can find it on the Mall at 1400 Constitution Ave. NW.

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