Lonely Planet Writer

Celebrate the anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing at NASA events around the USA

On July 20th, NASA centers and museums across the United States will mark the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing. It took 400,000 engineers, scientists, and manufacturers to achieve astronaut Neil Armstrong’s momentous first steps for mankind on the moon. To celebrate, NASA is pulling out all the stops, and inviting the public to join in the fun. Here are some of the top NASA-affiliated Apollo 11 50th celebrations all over the U.S.

Apollo 50 Washington Monument
"Apollo 50: Go for the Moon," a special 17-minute show, will combine full-motion projection-mapping artwork on the Washington Monument and archival footage on screens located on the National Mall near the Smithsonian Castle. Image courtesy of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Apollo 50 on the National Mall, July 18-20

Though there's no NASA facility in Washington DC, the National Mall is still the place to be if you're in the area. In addition to demos, speakers, and exhibits meant to inspire the whole family, you can see a full-scale projection of a Saturn V rocket on the Washington Monument. This three-day festival is produced in partnership by NASA and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum; you can pop into the museum to see Neil Armstrong's space suit as part of your visit.

Summer Moon Festival in Wapakoneta, Ohio, July 19-21

Neil Armstrong made history as the first man on the moon, and his hometown of Wapakoneta, Ohio is proud to celebrate him. As part of their annual Summer Moon Festival, Wapakoneta is focusing especially on Armstrong and the moon landing anniversary this year. Events include a 5k and 10k 'Run to the Moon' with NASA astronauts, space inflatables, interactive STEM activities, rocket launches, and more.

Travel News - NASA control
The newly restored Apollo Mission Control Room is shown at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Image by KACEY CHERRY/AFP/Getty Images

NASA Night at Discovery Green, July 20

'Houston, do you copy?' Oh, Houston copies. Space City is hosting what might be the biggest day of celebrations to mark the Apollo 11 anniversary. After all, this is where Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins trained for their lunar mission, and where Mission Control waited with bated breath for confirmation of lunar touchdown on July 20, 1969. One of the biggest parties will be at Discovery Green in downtown Houston: you'll be able to watch a public screening of Apollo 11, meet astronaut Steve Bowen, and even hang out with Space City's most enthusiastic prospective astronaut, Spacey Casey.

Travel News - shutterstockRF_696510466
The first stage engines of the Saturn 5 rocket which is exhibited at the visitor complex of Kennedy Space Center. Image by ©NaughtyNut/Shutterstock

At home or online

You don't need to snag a last-minute airplane ticket to celebrate the Apollo 11 50th anniversary – NASA is bringing the celebration right to you. All week leading into July 20th, you can see milestone posts on social media and watch dedicated videos and programming both online and on NASA TV. Highlights include NASA's Giant Leaps: Past and Future at 1pm ET on Friday, July 19th which will broadcast from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the historic, newly-restored Apollo mission control room at Johnson Space Center in Houston, and the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.