With the kids all set to take on a new adventure, we quickly mapped out our local area to see what attraction caught our eye. This time it was going to be a trip to a fun museum that allowed the kids to get up close and personal with air and space. Each time we get the chance to visit a new area when traveling with our family we like to take adventures that offer both history as well as fun. While in Sterling,Virginia, we found many fun things to do, and my kids really enjoyed the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum(STEVEN F. UDVAR-HAZY CENTER). This museum is perfect for every age, and it especially great for children who are enthusiasts of airplanes and space. Lavishly live travel out loud and visit the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum for a quick day trip.
Where is the National Air and Space Museum
When you are out and about or in the town of Sterling, VA, you are really close to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Edvar-Hazy Center. What you will find inside this museum is a day’s worth of entertainment as well as history that includes: A welcome center, observation tower, guided tours, IMAX Films, demos, flight simlator rides and shopping.
What you want to know. About The Museum and Your Time There
This is not a place where you can find ‘optional’ parking, and the rate for parking is $15. There is one parking lot, and you can not take food in with you. There is a McDonald’s on site, so if you are hungry you can dine in there, but you CAN NOT BRING your OWN Food.
When you enter, plan on having your bags searched, and while one person is searching, someone on your right hand side will meet, greet and talk to you. If you don’t have bags with you, you just keep on walking in. You are allowed to have a bottled water with you. In addition, there are plenty of restrooms located all over the museum.
My suggestion is to get to the Observation Tower first. This is awesome as you travel up in an elevator 200 ft. up and when you get to the top you see airplanes landing at the Washington Dulles International Airport. The elevator for this is in the lower level. You will encounter a small wait, but it goes quickly as you are being transported to the top and others are taking the elevator down after being on the top.
Before you stop back on the ground floor, you can exit again and visit the control tower where you learn how flights are patterned,etc. This has a cool screen which you can see below, but other than that, it is pretty lackluster as far as a demo goes. The wait for the elevator is a bit long and I kind of thought we could have skipped this floor and still have had a well-rounded trip, but that is just me:)
The BOEING AVIATION HANGAR
This was a fun section of the museum, as we felt like we were right in the “Night of The Museum”, and we were looking all around to find Ben Stiller(lol) Here are a few planes,and World War II Aviation, Cold War Aviation and Modern Military Aviation aircraft.
A Word About Tours In The Museum
We did not take any of the free provided tours which left every 90 minutes, but each time we met up with a few groups that were learning from the docents, I will say we learned a lot more than we did touring on our own. I think we definitely needed to take one of these and if we return we will.
This Area is Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar. Here you can observe pieces being restored. There were signs letting you know what pieces were being worked on. In addition, there was a stand alone video player showing how things are restored down to rust on wings.
The James S. McDonnell Space Hangar housed the Space Shuttle Discovery as you can see below from the front, back and I even got to see rockets and missiles. This area was quite interesting and we actually spent the most time in this area. the video that they show at the back end of the Discovery shows the Discovery taking off for its last flight into space, which was surreal!
Our day was a lot of fun, and we did not even get to the Flight Simulator Rides which are located in the Boeing Aviation Hangar which is below the central overlook. You do need tickets, that must be purchased, but there were not huge lines and we were here on a 3 day weekend. If you are looking for something really fun to do while offering a bit of education and aviation history, this is your stop. Lavishly live Air and Space out loud!