Family & Pets

Guide to D.C.’s Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

April 4, 2014 9:00 AM

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If your child is a dinosaur or insect enthusiast, there are exhibits to explore. Thrill the kids with a trip to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Here is your all-inclusive guide.

If your child is a dinosaur or insect enthusiast, there are exhibits to explore. Thrill the kids with a trip to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Here is your all-inclusive guide.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
10th St. & Constitution Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20560
(202) 633-1000
www.mni.si.edu

Live Butterfly Pavilion
www.spotabutterfly.com

Dates: Open daily (except Dec. 25) from 10:15 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Price: Adults: $6, Youth: $5—

On Tuesdays there is no charge. Free timed-entry tickets are needed and can be obtained at the Butterfly Pavilion Box Office on Tuesdays beginning at 10 a.m. Arrive early to secure tickets.

If your child enjoys nature and insects, they will absolutely love this exhibit. Actually, the Live Butterfly Pavilion is more than an exhibitit’s an interactive experience. Located on the second floor of the museum, the pavilion is like a butterfly sanctuary. A warm enclosed ecosystem consisting of dozens of blooming flowers is home to hundreds of these beautiful winged creatures and allows them to flutter unfettered in an environment as close as possible to their indigenous habitats. But here’s the kicker: visitors are free to mix and mingle with these delicate butterflies, allowing them to gently land where they may—on your nose, cheek or arm. The butterflies are raised as caterpillars by butterfly farmers from all around the world and shipped to the museum once they become pupae. About 50 different species are represented hailing from Asia, Africa, South and Central America and right here in the U.S. According to exhibit manager Dan Babbitt, the purpose of the exhibit is to “connect people to the natural world.” It also emphasizes the critical roles that butterflies play in the environment via the pollination process, as well as brings to light issues of land management and deforestation which can threaten their existence.

Partners In Evolution
www.butterflies.si.edu
Dates: Open daily (except Dec. 25) from 10:15 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Price: Free

This is an interesting exploration into how insects and animals have evolved along with plants. The exhibit examines how the process of natural selection has impacted and literally shaped plants and animals through their dependencies and defenses of one another.

Upcoming Events
The Nation’s T-Rex
Evening Lecture
Baird Auditorium
www.smithsonianassociates.org

Date: Apr. 17, 2014 from 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.
Price: $25

Calling all dinosaur enthusiasts. This will be a fun and captivating discussion with paleontology curator and “Jurassic Park” movie series technical advisor Jack Horner along with rancher Kathy Wankel as they talk about how the “Nation’s T-rex” came to be discovered. Wankel first found the peculiar bones while out hiking near the Fort Peck Reservoir in Montana in 1988. Jack Horner thought the bones to be so rare that he led a team to excavate the site where they nearly recovered a complete T-rex skeleton. The skeleton is leaving its home at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, MT and will soon be on full display at the Natural History Museum.

Related: Best Unique Museums In DC

Dining In & Around The Museum
www.si.edu/Dining
If you wish to remain on campus, the museum offers three cafe options:

Atrium Cafe

Enjoy hearty favorites like chicken, BBQ baked beans, mac n’ cheese and coleslaw. There are also cheeseburgers and fries along with an assortment of soups, sandwiches and even pizza.

Fossil Cafe

Fossil Cafe caters to the more sophisticated palate and offers gourmet sandwiches, salads, specialty coffees, organic fruits and homemade desserts.

Cafe Natural

Top-off a great meal with ice cream, delectable desserts and specialty coffees.

Off campus, there are a plethora of choices. A couple family-friendly options are the Hard Rock Cafe (999 E. St. N.W.) which offers everything from classic American fare to Mexican, and—for a quick bite to eat—there’s always the delicious sandwiches available at Potbelly Sandwich Shop (2301 Georgia Ave. N.W.).

Metro & Parking

The closest Metrorail station is the Smithsonian Station accessible via the Blue and Orange lines. Exit the station on the “Mall” side. If you travel by car, on-street parking is usually limited but commercial parking garages are located within blocks of the museum.

Kevin Don Porter is the author of OVER THE EDGE and MISSING—two mysteries available on Amazon.com. Visit his website at www.kevindonporter.com..

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