Every year when the weather becomes cooler we start looking for indoor play spaces, and every year we end up visiting the National Building Museum.
It’s beautiful! You enter into a hugeeee lobby featuring 75-foot Corinthian Columns and a beautiful fountain, along with many other features that any architecture enthusiast would definitely appreciate. Because it is a museum I always remind my kids that we need to use ‘walking feet’ while inside, and I appreciate that the staff seems to understand that despite my reminders, my four year old just CAN’T help sprinting across such a tempting open space.
There are two areas that are a lot of fun! The upstairs “Play, Work, Build” room features an area for small foam lego-esque pieces where you can build upon a table top, and an area filled with large foam blocks perfect for building towers and forts! Downstairs is another room with a lot more areas to explore including a small house, train table, lego table, and a magnetic marble run, which was my son’s favorite.
There is a small cafe in the lobby that sells coffee, but you are but no drinks are allowed in any of the rooms. They are incredibly strict with their no drink or food rule. You can’t drink water in the play rooms.
Upon arrival you get a timed ticket to enter the downstairs playroom. The last 10 minutes are for cleaning up so plan ahead and be on time. We would prefer to wander from room to room at free will. Having such structured and time play goes against what I know to be important about children learning through play, and it’s called flow! Perhaps it is busy on the weekends and the timed tickets are necessary then, but we have always gone on a weekday and there has never been more than fifteen children in the entire museum. So the whole timed ticket process seems to be an unnecessary step.
Know before you go:
- Food is available for purchase at the Firehook Cafe.
- Food and drink available for purchase on site.
- Stroller friendly.
Museum Operating Days/Hours:
The Museum is open 7 days a week, Monday-Saturday from 10am – 5pm and Sunday from 11am – 5 pm.
Building Zone closes daily at 4pm.
Closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
Children ages 2 and under are FREE.
National Building Museum is located across the street from the Judiciary Square station on Metro’s Red Line.
Parking is challenging near the Museum and we recommend using public transportation whenever possible. For those who plan to drive: National Building Museum has partnered with Parking Panda to help visitors find and purchase guaranteed parking at many convenient locations in the area. Once purchased, parking for the National Building Museum is 100% guaranteed even if the location otherwise fills up, often at exclusive discounts. Simply present your purchase confirmation at the selected location, and this serves as your payment with no additional payments or fees ever.