Begin your Smithsonian exploration at the Smithsonian Visitor Center in the Institution's first building, popularly known as the Castle, which is open daily 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Most of our museums are walking distance from the Castle (the entire span is less than two miles), and everything else is accessible by public transit.
Smithsonian Guide and Map
The Smithsonian's official Guide and Map is available online (Free PDF Guide and Map). This brochure is also available in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.
The Smithsonian offers groups discounted packages to our restaurants, IMAX theaters, the planetarium, paid exhibitions, flight simulators, and segway tours.
Dining at the Smithsonian
In pleasant weather, visitors are always welcome to bring provisions to picnic on the grassy, tree-lined National Mall.
Group Tours and Reservations
Many Smithsonian museums, the National Zoo, and Smithsonian Gardens offer group tours, which can be arranged by appointment only. Chaperones are required for school group tours. Visit the museums' websites below for details:
- African Art Museum
- Air and Space Museum and its Udvar-Hazy Center
- American Art Museum and its Renwick Gallery
- American Indian Museum, D.C.
- American Indian Museum's Heye Center (in New York)
- Anacostia Community Museum
- Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum (in New York)
- Freer and Sackler Galleries
- Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
- National Zoo
- Natural History Museum
- Portrait Gallery
- Postal Museum
- Smithsonian Gardens
Metrobus and Metrorail Washington's bus and subway system link the city with communities in nearby Maryland and Virginia. Every subway station is equipped with an elevator and/or escalators. For information on Metrobus and Metrorail schedules as well as parking at Metro stations, call 202.637.7000 (voice) or visit the Metro website at www.wmata.com. DC Circulator operates commuter buses around the National Mall and monuments on its red line/National Mall route. For rates and schedules, visit the DC Circulator website at www.dccirculator.com or call 202.962.1423.
The Smithsonian does not operate any parking facilities except at the National Zoo and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. Parking is available for free at the Anacostia Community Museum.
Tour Bus Parking Near the National Mall
There are several areas where tour buses can park on a first-come, first-served basis. For information on bus parking sites, contact the National Park Service Mall Operations Office at 202.426.6841. On-street parking for buses is available at the Anacostia Community Museum.
Car or Van Parking Near the National Mall
On-street parking for cars and vans on Jefferson and Madison Drives on the National Mall is limited and the metered 3-hour regulations are enforced. Parking is available in nearby commercial lots and garages.
Parking at the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
Free tour and school bus parking is available. Car or van parking costs $15 per vehicle; free after 4:00 p.m.
Parking at the National Zoo
Visit the Zoo's website for information on parking and online reservations.