A Long Weekend at the Museum

The best place to park for a day at the Smithsonian museums and our favorite exhibit thus far.

Over the long Valentine’s day/ Presidents’ Day weekend our family got out of the house for a trip to the museum. Not just any museum, the world famous Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

But first, lunch. I was in the mood for a burger so Shake Shack it was. The store was so busy and crowded that by the time we got our food, we scarfed it down while people hung over our table like vultures, waiting rather impatiently for us to finish up and leave; much like Nate did to the people at the table before us 😂. (You’ve literally got to do what you’ve got to do.) So no pictures from lunch. Next, we started the easy 10 minute walk from Shake Shack to the Museum of Natural History.

We were very conveniently parked midway between the two at the intersection of F Street & 10th Streets. This is the best, centrally located parking garage we’ve found that we are able to get our big truck in and out of easily (rare to find in the city) and on weekends, is a bargain flat rate price of $15. Bonus, Ford’s Theater is next-door which makes hitting multiple sites in one short trip super easy. Also within a few blocks is the White House, tons of shopping, restaurants ranging from Nando’s and Shake Shack to upscale eateries like Central Michel Richard and just a few blocks away from the National Mall and so many galleries.

So over to the museum we went, where the line to get in (and through security) was frighteningly long, but moved so fast we were through within minutes. Don’t let that scare you away, as it almost did us!

Front of the Museum of Natural History, Washington D.C.

Traveling with a toddler means your trip is going to be shorter than you’d like, which is fine, but bearing this in mind we made sure to zero in on which exhibits we prioritized. Mine was gems, Layla’s was fossils and the mummy (not the whole exhibit, just the mummy😂), Nate didn’t care, and Lilly wanted to see animals – bless her!

First stop was fossils, which to really be enjoyed would require more time and a longer attention span then we were afforded. There’s lots to read and many of the fossils the average person wouldn’t be able to identify unless they had the chance to really read all of the placards.

Clearly not interested in all the reading, or the massive crowd!

The next stop was the gem exhibit which was undoubtedly all of our favorite! I mean, GEMS, come on?! With so many beautiful things to look at, this exhibit was huge and we really only looked at the jewelry, the Hope diamond and some of the raw minerals before we had to rush out of the extensive wing in search of a bathroom for Lilly. I’d love to go back on a weekday and really enjoy this exhibit again when there aren’t quite so many people.

Hope Diamond – best shot I could get before being shoved out of the way!
Huge sapphires.
This part of the exhibit shows the gems in various forms from raw to cut and polished.
Learned that basically everything is Quartz
A geode for kids to touch – this is where Lilly tried to lay down for a nap, LOL!

By the time we got to the animals exhibit, Lilly was getting sleepy and seemed to be a bit overwhelmed by the dense shoulder-to-shoulder crowd, so we scurried over to the mummy – just the mummy – and one of Layla’s lifelong fantasies of getting to see a mummy finally came true; if only for 67 seconds before racing out and back to the truck!

We have quite a few more museums and galleries to see before our time in DC comes to a close, so stay tuned for more posts about those trips coming soon!

xo, Mia

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