National Museum of Natural History
10th Street & Constitution Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20560
As with most of the Smithsonian museums, this museum is huge with many exhibits. It is advisable that you browse the website and select the exhibits that you would like to spend time in before heading out to the museum.
Today we went in for the Butterfly exhibit. The butterfly pavilion features live butterflies in a garden setting and is very cool. I have been to larger contained butterfly gardens but given that this one is in the middle of a museum, it is a good size. We decided to forgo the ridiculous charges for purchasing the tickets in advance and risked not being able to enter. We were in luck - perhaps because we got there before 10:30 am. We were able to purchase tickets for the next entry time and had a short wait in line.
LG really liked seeing the butterflies up close and was very excited when one landed on Dada. She really wanted one to land on her but it didn't happen. We only lasted about 10-15 minutes in the exhibit but it was a good time.
Tips for success:
- The museum staff said that mornings are the best time to see the butterflies because this is when they are most active.
- Get there early to avoid long lines. Even if you purchase your tickets in advance the time stamped on the ticket is not your guaranteed time of entry.
- Strollers are not permitted in the garden.
- Some children are scared of the idea of butterflies flying so close and landing on them. Be prepared to leave if your child needs to.
- Diligence is required. Children should not touch the butterflies and must be careful not to step on them.
- It is really humid in the pavilion. There are water misters that go off frequently.
After seeing the butterflies, we headed off to the Mammal Hall where we saw lots of 'sleeping' animals. LG decided that they were sleeping; we did not tell her that (but we did agree with her).
We then decided to eat in the cafeteria; this was a bad idea. It was expensive and dare I say, gross? We had a hot dog, fries, a hamburger, sandwich, and 2 fountain drinks - for 30 dollars. The sandwich was the only thing worth eating (and was actually large enough to feed the whole family). It wasn't a great sandwich but in comparison to the grill fare it was much better. Next time we will head home earlier or bring our own food for LG.
After the metro ride home, we were all tired but we had a good time so that is what counts.
COST: Museum ~ Free; Butterfly Pavilion ~ $6 per adult, $5 per child, free for those under 2