Smithsonian National Museum of American History

When traveling to Washington, D.C., it is only natural to be curious about American History. The Smithsonian National Museum of American History is a great place to start! My favorite exhibits are the ones dealing with various wars and the history of transportation in America, but the museum has much more than this – writing up a few things below to give some flavor.


The transportation exhibit was quite impressive.

If are traveling with kids are they are into trains, they will be delighted!

If cars are more their thing, it is interesting to see how automobiles have changed over the years.

And you can’t neglect the pre-automobile days either. One of my kids commented that it was interesting that these days it is mostly just wealthy people who own horses, where back in the day poorer people owned them since they couldn’t afford a car.

If for some reason you don’t appreciate the efficiency of modern fire engines, consider trying to put a fire out with this fire truck.

If you are a farmer, you should also appreciate how many improvement have been made to modern tractors since this one.

If you aspire to be a fisherman, try imagine doing some whaling on this boat!

American Wars

The various war exhibits are also quite well done.

As you explore the museum, when you consider the militia in the American Revolution, it is interesting to contemplate your dad standing guard at your front door, trying to protect the family, and then eventually going off to war.

And if he got hurt, these are the tools that the doctor might have to patch him up. Yikes!

We took our time exploring what wars looked like throughout America’s history.

Abraham Choate’s House

When thinking about everyday American life and looking at Abraham Choate’s 1760’s style house, you might consider the size of the house and think that his family was middle class, but in reality, he was actually fairly wealthy. If you are traveling with kids, make sure that they appreciate the size and comforts of their own home.

As part of this house, there was also an interactive laundry exhibit. If we weren’t traveling during Covid times, it would have been a lot of fun to try out the wringing machines to help our kids really appreciate what a wonderful invention the washing machine really is.

More American Life

This museum also shows other pictures of American life. One interesting exhibit dealt with American’s prior attitudes toward smoking.

The currency exhibit was also reasonably interesting.

And there are many more exhibits that deal with sports, technology, home economics, and more!

If your next family vacation takes you to Washington, DC, consider adding the National Museum of American History to your itinerary!

Keep reading our travel blog to hear about our experiences in Washington, D.C.!

Here are some more posts from this trip:

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