We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Worth it for Discovery” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway, Chantilly, VA 20151
703-572-4118
Website
Improve this listing
Ranked #1 of 12 Attractions in Chantilly
Type: Science Museums, Specialty Museums, Museums
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Attraction details
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Downers Grove, Illinois
Top Contributor
109 reviews 109 reviews
31 attraction reviews
Reviews in 56 cities Reviews in 56 cities
45 helpful votes 45 helpful votes
“Worth it for Discovery”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 18, 2012

I'm a bit of an airplane junkie and have been to several aviation museums (Air & Space at the Mall, Intrepid in NYC, Pima Air & Space in Tucson, even the Kalamazoo Air Zoo.) As such, I did find myself in a bit of a "Same old, same old" while walking the huge hangars, that is until I got to the Space Shuttle Discovery. The term "awe-inspiring" is often overused, but the Shuttle is absolutely awe-inspiring. For one thing it is massive. And you can get very up close--not quite kick the tires close, but still it in the center of the hanger with plenty of room to walk all the way and see every nook and cranny. Also, the Smithsonian has displayed it in nearly the same condition as it landed, you can see the soot on the sides, the scarring on the tiles, it feels very "real."

The open-ness of the Discovery and it's display area in some respects highlights my reaction to the rest of the museum. They have hundreds of airplanes from around the word, but they seemed a bit crowded together. You could walk around at ground level or on various catwalks, but it still seemed crowded and a bit haphazard.

This was particularly a factor with the Enola Gay. Several years ago, the Enola Gay's forward fuselage including the cockpit and bomb bay were displayed at the Air & Space Museum in the Mall (this was before the Udvar-Hazy Center was opened and before the Enola Gay was fully restored.) There was a platform to walk up and look into the cockpit and you could walk under the plane and look up into the bomb bay and see the special apparatus they installed to handle The Bomb. Now, you just walk around on the ground or catwalk and can't really see anything that relates the history the way the old display did. I've seen other B-29's at aviation museums and if you didn't know this was THE Enola Gay, you would not see anything unique. I'd have liked to have had more opportunities to get up close--it would have been great to look into the cockpit or seating area of the Concorde, for example, or walk underneath the SR-71.

I will suggest making a point to go to the catwalk overlooking the restoration area. That was a highlight, as was the observation tower which overlooks Dulles Airport.

I'll also agree that parking is way overpriced and not in keeping with the "Free to the people" spirit of the Smithsonian.

Visited October 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

1,680 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    1,385
    260
    28
    2
    5
Date | Rating
  • Danish first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Norwegian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Potomac, Maryland
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
13 attraction reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
“Cool!!!!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 18, 2012

Planes, Space Capsules and a Shuttle. This is a guy's heaven, but I expect a lot of women will enjoy this too,my wife did.. Hugh display of Aircraft. Go early because this place is massive and will take several hours to take in everything. Off the beaten track (not downtown dc) but worth the trip.

Visited April 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chepstow, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
65 reviews 65 reviews
24 attraction reviews
Reviews in 40 cities Reviews in 40 cities
64 helpful votes 64 helpful votes
“A must see! well worth the time.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 18, 2012

I visited this place on a business trip as I had a day spare and was not disappointed. The range of exhibits here is amazing and fascinating.
You also have the opportunity to go up into a disused observation tower and view the information that flight controllers see while you watch the aircraft come and go at the nearby airport. The view is stunning.
I'd recommend children are not too small if you bring them; around 7 or 8 as a minimum age as there's a lot to see but you have to have at least a basic interest.
I'd come here a second time, it's definitely worth it.

Visited June 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Farmington, Connecticut
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Awed by Space craft”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 16, 2012

WE recently toured this free Air and Space museum and were awed by the number of aircraft displayed and the knowledge of the tour guides.The facility is spotless easily accessed and fun for all ages. Highly recomend this attraction located out of the crazy D.C. traffic.

Visited October 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
palm desert ca
Top Contributor
96 reviews 96 reviews
18 attraction reviews
Reviews in 34 cities Reviews in 34 cities
41 helpful votes 41 helpful votes
“Off we go”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 15, 2012

If you like old airplanes and spacecraft this is an interesting, huge, place. It didn't have enough elevators, but the McDonalds was good

Visited October 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center also viewed

 
Chantilly, Fairfax County
 

Been to Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

If you own or manage Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.