The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center adjacent to Dulles International Airport in Chantilly will allow you and your family to see and experience the world’s largest collection of aviation and space artifacts. The Center is located along Route 28 off the Dulles Toll Road. The aerospace museum is divided into two hangars that house aircraft too large for the Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. The Center’s highlights include the Space Shuttle Discovery (right here in Northern Virginia!), a supersonic Concorde, the first Boeing jet, a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird (the world's fastest jet aircraft), the Gemini VII space capsule, and the World War II bomber Enola Gay. There’s plenty of room for the kids to roam (wear comfortable shoes!), and lots of rare artifacts on display to see from planes, rockets, and satellites, including engines, uniforms, and a real spacesuit. In addition, there are models, photographs, and hands-on activities. The kids will love the ride simulators that will let the family experience a ride on the space shuttle, fly during the World Wars, and a enjoy a thrill ride in space on the Cosmic Coaster. There are also interactive combat flight simulators that let you and the kids perform 360-degree barrel rolls (cool!). Tickets range from $8-$10 for the simulators. You and your family can also watch planes fly in and out of Dulles Airport from the Observation Tower, and view restoration work being done in the Restoration Hangar from a glassed-in mezzanine. The family can also watch a movie at the Airbus IMAX® Theater. There is a McDonald's & McCafe in the museum and nearby restaurants along Route 50. The museum store offers cool aviation- and space-themed souvenirs (I bought a small space shuttle). There is so much to see and do at Udvar-Hazy that you can enjoy multiple outings there. Plus, with restoration projects in progress, the museum is always installing new exhibits. For example, when the space shuttle Discovery went on display in 2012, it replaced the prototype space shuttle Enterprise (which never actually went into space). While aadmission to the Center is free, there is a $15 parking free before 4:00 pm. The Center is also accessible via Metro (Wiehle-Reston East stop on the Silver Line), then take the Fairfax Connector bus. The Center is open every day except December 25 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tip: you will pass through security screening at the entrance, so minimize carry-on items. You and your family are guaranteed to have a fun day at the Udvar-Hazy Center learning about and seeing the history of aerospace!
November 10, 2016