As Rosalind mentioned the other day, we have been on some real adventures. One of the places I was visiting last week? Well, I was geeking out in our nation’s capital: Washington DC. Now, while I’m sure there’s a lot of geekery to be had in the district, today we’re all about Smithsonians.

It doesn’t matter what kind of geek you are, you’ll have a blast at one of our nineteen national museums. I know I did, and I only hit up three of them (and the zoo, can’t forget that!).

Animals, Vegetables, or Minerals?

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I think I’m leaning toward 100 duck-sized horses, looking at this guy.

Nope, we’re not playing twenty questions. Instead, we’re talking about where you should go if you’re into any of these three topics. Pretty much if it’s natural, you’ll find it at The Museum of Natural History. My favorite exhibits were the bones – skeletons of everything from horse-sized ducks to duck-sized horses. Luckily, you don’t have to battle either, since they’re both extinct. You also need to see the insect zoo where you can play with crickets and cockroaches.

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If you’ve never seen a cheetah running in real life, you need to. It’s incredible.

If animals are really your niche, then don’t just spend your time indoors. Make sure you check out the National Zoo as well. They have tons of animals, including exotic birds, big cats, and an ape house. I loved their cheetah exhibit, because I got to be super close to those beautiful cats. Also – it’s huge! You could easily spend a whole day checking out the flamingos, elephants, lemurs, and giant pandas.

Spaaaaace, Gotta Go to Space

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And I complain about air travel today! This looks mighty uncomfortable for the Wright brothers.

Learn all about the history of flight – from the navigation techniques that allowed us to cross oceans, through the Wright brothers first flights, to the moon landing, and our current space projects. At the Air and Space Museum, you can spend hours checking out tons of exhibits, including models of some famous craft in the flight world.

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A model of Voyager, no not the Star Trek series.

If you’re more into seeing the real deal rather than exhibits, then you really need to visit the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA (I know, I know, not in DC, but needs to be mentioned with it’s other half, really). Here you can see many more actual airplanes and other craft such as an SR-71 Blackbird, which set the in-flight speed record; the Enola Gay, famous for dropping the atomic bomb during World War II; and of course, the Space Shuttle Discovery.

Art

There’s multiple museums for you artsier folks out there. Although my priorities didn’t take me inside any of these institutes, there’s one for just above every art buff around. There are entire museums dedicated to both American and African Art. In addition, see more specific styles at some of the other galleries.

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No, it’s a new Qbert! It’s a piece of art from the National Sculpture Garden

The Hirshhorn Museum is full of modern art, and includes a huge outdoor sculpture garden. The Freer and Sackler Galleries both hold collections of Asian art. And if you’re interested in seeing the faces of people that shaped the nation, the National Portrait Gallery isn’t to be missed.

Time to Time Travel

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Although half of it’s closed right now, the Museum of American History is still packed with tons of cool stories and artifacts from our nation’s founding to the present day. You can check out an entire room dedicated to steam engines, see items belonging to your favorite past Presidents, and see the actual flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to pen The Star Spangled Banner.

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And a trip to the National Mall just wouldn’t be complete without a visit to our national monuments. Although not part of the Smithsonian institutes, history buffs definitely need to see these structures and memorials. My favorite is the Franklin D. Roosevelt memorial, with it’s gorgeous waterfalls and touching quotes and story. However, not much beats standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, looking out over the reflecting pool and the Washington Monument, where Martin Luther King Jr. made his famous “I have a dream…” speech. Yeah, I felt pretty darn American.

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