Washington, DC is one of the world’s best museum destinations, but visiting a world-class museum isn’t always on the top of a kids’ wish list. Not anymore. The International Spy Museum just moved locations and is cooler than ever for kids. The Natural History Museum recently unveiled its long-awaited (five years!) Fossil Hall. And the National Children’s Museum makes its debut on Nov. 1.
National Fossil Hall
Visiting the dinosaur bones at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History is something every local kids needs to do at least once, but the museum’s famed exhibit had been closed for renovations for—what felt like—five very long years. In May, dino fans young and old rejoiced as the museum’s famous Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton returned, along with 700 other fossil specimens, some on display for the first time. Kids will love the fact that there are even some fossils that they’re allowed to touch! The official name of the exhibition, Deep Time, traces 3.7 billion years of life on Earth, making that five-year wait seem like simply a speck in the sands of time. // 10th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW; free
International Spy Museum
Would you make it in the world of espionage? The enduringly popular museum—first opened in 2002—recently reopened in a bigger L’Enfant Plaza location. Now 140,000 square feet—twice the size of its original Penn Quarter digs—visitors can delve deep into the shadowy world of spying. Recommended for kids ages 7 and up, each visit starts with getting a secret spy identity via RFID (radio frequency identification) that can be activated at various stations throughout the museum. Is your kid super into the Spy Museum? In 2020, the museum brings back its popular programs Spy Camp (for ages 10 to 13) and Operation Secret Sleepover (for ages 9 to 13). Just make sure they don’t use any of the spy techniques they learn to evade doing their chores. // 700 L’Enfant Plaza SW, Washington, DC; adults $24.95, youth (7-12 years) $14.95, kids 6 and under free
National Children’s Museum
Anyone who grew up here likely has fond memories of the Capital Children’s Museum. It closed in 2003 and the region’s kids have been missing a museum of their very own since. After a number of years of searching for just the right home, the kid-focused museum, now named the National Children’s Museum, will open next to the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center on Nov. 1. We chatted with Crystal Bower, president and CEO of the National Children’s Museum, to find out what families can expect. Check out our conversation, here. // 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC; tickets $10.95 (under 1 free)