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 even 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.