The Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly is one of the lesser known but better run Smithsonian museums. Tucked away near Dulles International Airport, it is an enjoyable trip for a family with small children, military veterans, and everyone in between. Tip: The day involves ALOT of walking, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes! Although there is limited seating throughout the center, you'll spend the majority of the day on your feet.
Cost: Admission to the Center is free, but parking cost $15 per vehicle. Admission to IMAX theater shows also costs, approximately $9 for adults. Discounts are available for members.
Layout: The Center is divided into two hangers, the main Boeing Aviation hanger, and the Space hanger. The Space hanger's main attraction is the space shuttle Discovery, and includes displays on satellites, astronauts, and more.
The Boeing aviation hanger is divided into multiple display areas, including World War II aviation, pre-1920s aviation, commercial aviation, and more. Aircraft of import are the Enola Gay, the Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird, (which will particularly delight fans of the Transformers movies), and the Concorde. You can also stop by the restoration hanger and watch staff in the process of restoring older aircraft.
Tours: One of the highlights of the visits are the free docent tours, often led by military servicemen who flew the planes they'll show you. They are knowledgeable, interesting, and funny! If you're not interested in the entire tour, it is easy to "eavesdrop" on tours when they are near aircraft of interest to you.
Food: The only restaurant is McDonalds, which tends to be crowded and noisy, as well as slightly overpriced. Food is also available for purchase in the IMAX theater. For families with young children, it is recommended to pack a lunch, and take a break midday to eat out in the parking lot.
Entertainment: The IMAX theater offers a range of shows throughout the day. These run approximately 30-45 minutes in length, and provide a nice break, (and comfortable seating!), to all the walking. Ask staff members for their recommendations as which show would best interest your group. Some shows can be an absolute bore, while others are fascinating.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.