Natural Musuem of American History

National Museum of American History

Washington, DC

Containing all kinds of artifacts of the American experience, this museum has as its centerpiece the flag that flew over Baltimore's Fort McHenry during the War of 1812 – the same flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to pen 'The Star-Spangled Banner' (it's on the entry level). Other highlights include Julia Child's kitchen (1st floor) and 'The First Ladies' costume exhibit on the 3rd floor. New exhibits include 'American Enterprise' (1st floor) and 'On with the Show' (3rd floor).

On select days, usually in spring and summer, the museum extends its hours and stays open until 7:30pm. To do the collection justice, take a volunteer-led guided tour of its highlights, hire an audioguide ($6) or download a free audioguide from the website.

There are two on-site places to eat: Eat at America’s Table, featuring American regional cuisine, and the LeRoy Neiman Jazz Cafe, which specialises in New Orleans cuisine.