The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, an extension of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, was built to display the thousands of aviation and space travel artifacts that could not possibly fit into the popular Washington, D.C., museum. Opened in December 2003 in Chantilly, Virginia, it showcases famous aircraft, spacecraft, rockets, and satellites, and a wide assortment of other space exploration memorabilia.
The centerpiece of the museum is a cavernous hangar that is more than three football fields in length and ten stories high. It houses the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima; a Concorde that once traveled in and out of adjacent Dulles Airport; the world’s fastest jet; and dozens of other aircraft displayed on three levels. The top levels can best be viewed from the elevated skywalks placed around the hangar. The space shuttle Enterprise, the Gemini VII space capsule, and the Mobile Quarantine Unit used when the Apollo 11 crew returned are also on display in the museum. Interactive exhibits include a simulation of a shuttle flight. Special activities for families are offered throughout the year.
Address: 14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway, Chantilly, VA
Phone: 202/633-1000
Hours of Operation: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., daily
Admission: Free
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Laura Sutherland is a widely acknowledged authority on family travel and has published several books on the topic, including Best Family Ski Vacations In North America and Tropical Family Vacations.