Things to Do and See in Washington DC
Two Smithsonian Museums (Max) Per Day
The Smithsonian museums are world famous, and they are all free, so definitely plan to visit some!
But I’ve known folk to come to Washington DC determined to see every Smithsonian museum on the mall. (Spoiler: The mall is a strip of green grass at the center of the city, not a shopping mall.) You plain can’t. I lived in Washington DC for four years, and I haven’t been to all the Smithsonian museums.
Don’t discount museum fatigue, either. You can only look at so many old things before your brain starts to melt out your ears—and I say that as a museum lover! So come to terms with not seeing everything, and then make your selections.
If you’re careful with your time, and keep a tight leash on dads or grandparents who want to read every single plaque, you can just about manage two museums a day. If you have kids along, it might be best to plan on one museum a day and then something more fun (an IMAX movie or visit to one of the National Parks outside of the city).
Visiting off-season is best if you can possibly manage it. During November and December, schools won’t be doing many field trips. I’ve more than once had a museum almost entirely to myself on a chill November morning. (Perks of being a homeschooler.) If you are going during tourist season, be prepared for swarms of small children.