NMAAHC: My tips if you’re planning a visit

This past weekend, I was lucky enough to be able to get into the brand new National Museum of African-American Culture and History. After spending five hours in the museum among the crowds of the visitors, I had already begun to plan my next visit and how to prepare. Here are my tips if you’re planning a visit.

1. Take public transportation

Driving in downtown DC isn’t fun. Driving in downtown DC and trying to find parking is a negative amount of fun. Do yourself a favor and take the metro. Keep in mind that the DC Metro system is undergoing changes and upgrades under the guidance of a new general manager. Plan ahead in case of station closures, delays, and construction. There’s also buses, taxis, and services like Uber and Lyft if you really don’t want to take Metro.


2. Wear comfortable shoes

There’s a lot of walking to do. No surprise there since it’s a huge museum. Still, I saw a few people wearing heels. Don’t do that to yourself. I wore Nike free-training sneakers and my feet still hurt by the time we left.

3. Plan for more than one trip

Like I said before, the museum is huge. In the five hours we were there, my family made it through a few sections but not the whole museum. We weren’t photo-sep-25-8-26-34-pmeven about to make it to two whole floors or the gift shop.

Even though we saw quite a bit, it takes times to really read the displays and use the interactive features. Without the additional time of waiting in lines and weaving through crowds, it will take you some time to see everything. And trust me, there are so many amazing stories, facts, video clips, and historical artifacts to look at.

4. Budget for food

For everyone, spending $15-$20 per person for a meal isn’t within their budget. The museum is free like the other Smithsonian museums, but you do have to pay for food in the “Sweet Home Cafe”, which has food options based on the different regions of the U.S. Think Creole Coast and the South.

While there are cheaper options like a chicken tender and fries basket for $8 or the option to just grab some fruits or sides for cheaper, most of the main meal options are over $10. My mom went all out and got shrimp and grits for about $18. If you don’t mind spending that much on food, great. But I know for me, a young freelancer, I cringed at the prices.

5. Be prepared for lines

This museum is a big deal and a lot of people want to see it. So, if you’re planning to go anytime in the next two or three months, be prepared for crowds and standing in lines.

I had a great time at the museum and can’t wait to go back and explore more. I missed all the celebrities but I got to see so much history. If you went to the opening weekend or plan on going sometime soon, share your experience with me.

Kira Elise


4 thoughts on “NMAAHC: My tips if you’re planning a visit

  1. Shirw says:

    I spent almost 30 minutes on the computer, trying to get timed passed. . . only to find out there were none available. Is there another way to ensure an August 2017 visit for a family of 6?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kira Elise says:

      There’s not really a way to 100% ensure that you’ll get tickets because so many people are trying to get tickets still. I don’t think August tickets have been released yet.

      Just try to be aware when the tickets for each month will be released and be online the moment they’re released. I’d recommend being on the museum’s Twitter the morning the next batch are released so you can see the moment the tickets are available and hit the direct link they usually tweet out. Get someone else in the mix too. More people trying for tickets will better your chances.

      Try for same day tickets too if that’s an option for you. I know some people can’t do that because they don’t live close enough to make it the same day. Those tickets are released each morning and are first come first serve.


      • Shirw says:

        Thank you for the reply. Because I was at work when the tickets opened for August (they opened May 3rd), the task was left to my mom and computer savvy sister. After being on line almost 30 minutes, the message read: tickets sold out. Already?!? For August?!?! My mother is convinced that once we arrive in DC we will find scalpers to “sell” us tickets into the museum. Finally, how will same day tickets be available in August, if they are already sold out? Am I the only one who has had this difficulty?

        I am disappointed and don’t think we will make it to the museum. I wanted my girls (ages 10 and 12) to have this experience, however, DC has a number of other venues to explore.


      • Kira Elise says:

        Yeah, the tickets definitely go quick. I remember clicking the ticket link the second the tweet was posted to get in that ticket queue asap. I’m assuming when they make tickets available online in advance it’s only a certain number. Then, the other remaining tickets are made available each day in the morning.

        Everyone wants to see this museum so I’m sure it’ll be tough to get tickets for a while. You’re definitely not the only one who has struggled to get tickets. There’s plenty to do and see in DC though if you’re unable to get same day tickets. Be on the lookout for people who have tickets available. I’ve been seeing people who bought tickets in advance not be able to go when their date comes up and offer their tickets online.


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