Fun fact: my husband is obsessed with airplanes.
This means that anytime we fly somewhere, he has to know what kind of plane we are taking (basically, I just hope it will get us and our luggage to the same destination at the same time) and he meticulously researches this information. He’s also the guy who can see a plane and know exactly what make and model it is.
With that said, if, like him, you are a fan of the National Air and Space Museum, this summer, try the Udvar-Hazy Center instead. The Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia displays thousands of aviation and space artifacts, including the Space Shuttle Discovery and a Concorde, in two large hangars. (Note, the Air and Space Museum on the National Mall is closed for renovations until Fall 2022, so basically, if you’re into aviation, this, or on a smaller scale, the College Park Aviation Museum are your best bets.)
And if watching planes take off and land is your jam, try the views from Haines Point or Gravelly Point for your sky-gazing pleasure. (Say hi to my husband if you see him.)
In that spirit, if the budding archeologists in your life like the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (otherwise known as “Rocks and Bones”), try Dinos Alive. At Dinos Alive, you’ll meet over 80 life-sized specimens from both famous and lesser-known species such as the T-Rex, Stegosaurus, Velociraptor, and Suchomimus. There’s a wait list for this one, so get on it now!
Fascinated (like we are) by the First Ladies exhibit (I mean, who doesn’t love a vintage inaugural gown) at the National Museum of American History? Take an excursion to Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens, where you can ogle over American businesswoman, socialite, and philanthropist Marjorie Merriweather Post’s personal collection of apparel, jewelry, and accessories.
For those looking for alternatives to a trip to the National Smithsonian Zoo, pack a lunch and head to National Colonial Farm. Or if the U.S. Botanic Garden is your scene, you may love the Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, especially during lily pad season in July.
We have so many more recommendations, from the International Spy Museum (another fun fact: Collective founder Katie Geffken worked there when it first opened) to Huntley Meadows Park. This region offers something for everyone and there are many options to explore beyond the National Mall.
So what are you waiting for? Stretch beyond the usual weekend activities and make some fun, off-the-beaten-path plans now.