National Museum of African American History & Culture

Top choice museum in National Mall
Image by Barbara Noe Kennedy

This sensational museum covers the diverse African American experience and how it helped shape the nation. Start downstairs in the sobering 'Slavery and Freedom' exhibition and work your way up to the community and culture galleries on the 3rd and 4th floors, where African American achievements in sport, music, theater and visual arts are joyfully celebrated. Artifacts, state-of-the-art interactive exhibits, site-specific artworks and fascinating interpretative panels abound in the cleverly designed and dramatically lit exhibition spaces.

Since opening in late 2016, the museum has been so wildly popular that at the time of writing, visitors still needed a timed entry pass for certain peak times and seasons. The best way to obtain one is via the same-day online release, when tickets are made available at 6:30am on the museum’s website. These are snapped up within minutes. Other options to procure tickets include weekday walk-ups (when a smattering of tickets are released at 1pm Monday through Friday; ask the security guards at the main entrance whether there are tickets available and whether you need to queue) and in advance online (check the website schedule; tickets typically are released three months ahead of time).

The museum's Sweet Home Café is a popular lunch stop for museum visitors.