Consider this a little Public Service Announcement for one of my favorite museums in Washington, DC:
The Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum is a bit “off the beaten path” for tourists since it is not flanking the National Mall. But it is very easily accessible. It is housed in the historic City Post Office Building adjacent to Union Station, so if you’re traveling to DC by train it is a natural first or last stop for your trip. Or, metro over to the Union Station stop on the Red line. The building entrance is found by walking across 1st Street NE. You literally cannot miss it.
There is some information on plaques in the City Post Office Building, which no longer operates as the main DC Post Office, but you’ll want to head to the escalators that take you down to the museum level.
This museum is ideal for families with lots of interactive displays and artifacts. You can also easily pick-and-choose exhibits if your group’s attention span is shorter. The whole museum is not that large in terms of square footage so it is good for little legs that get tired quickly.
As you might expect, exhibits at the National Postal Museum walk you through our nation’s postal service from very beginning to modern era. Postal Service is a very universal concept, so I’d recommend this stop even if your group isn’t very “into” history. Beyond that, this museum is sure to “wow” anyone who is interested in transportation – they have planes, cars and trains on display in the atrium! And the space also houses a large stamp collection of over 5.9 million items.
We visited the National Postal Museum for our first anniversary. Traditionally the first wedding anniversary gift is paper, so we thought this museum would be a fun way to honor that tradition. (Good luck finding a museum that ties into each year’s tradition – wood museum? tin museum? there’s a challenge!) We visited on a weekday, and it was extremely quiet. Little did we know it was the museum’s 20th anniversary the day after we visited!
Of course, the best part of any Smithsonian is that all visits are free. This museum is open every day of the year, 10am – 5pm, except for December 25th.
While you’re in the neighborhood another obvious stop would be the beautiful Union Station (with plenty of food choices inside to avoid that hangry tourist feeling.) You’re also not far from the Capitol, the Library of Congress, or you can head north to Union Market. But those are stories for another day.