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Begin your Smithsonian exploration at the Smithsonian Information Center in the Institution's first building, popularly known as the Castle, which is open daily 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission is free for the Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and no tickets are required.
Welcome Brochure »
Unfortunately, we are no longer fulfilling requests for English Welcome brochures. It is still available online here (Free PDF Guide and Map). This brochure is also available in Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Russian, and Spanish.
Enjoy a rejuvenating respite from museum trekking by dining in any of the museums' self-service food facilities. Spring and summer are peak visitation months when these facilities may be crowded. At such times it may be advantageous to make special arrangements for group dining.
Call Smithsonian Enterprises at 866.868.7774 (toll free), 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.
In pleasant weather, visitors are always welcome to bring provisions to picnic on the grassy, tree-lined National Mall.
Metrobus and Metrorail Washington's bus and subway system link the city with communities in nearby Maryland and Virginia. Every subway station is equipped with an elevator and/or escalators. For information on Metrobus and Metrorail schedules as well as parking at Metro stations, call 202.637.7000 (voice) or 202.638.3780 (TTY), or visit the Metro Web site at MetroOpensDoors.com.
The Smithsonian does not operate any parking facilities except at the National Zoo and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.Tour Bus Parking Near the National Mall
Near the National Mall, there are several areas where tour buses can park on a first-come, first-served basis, including West Potomac Park. For information on bus parking sites, contact the National Park Service Mall Operations Office at 202.426.6841. On-street parking for buses is available at the Anacostia Community Museum.Car or Van Parking Near the National Mall
Free on-street parking for cars and vans on Jefferson and Madison Drives on the National Mall is limited and the 3-hour posted regulations are enforced. Parking is available in nearby commercial lots and garages. Parking is available for free at the Anacostia Community Museum.
Tour Bus Parking at the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center: Tour and school bus parking at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, is free.
Car or Van Parking at the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center: Daily parking costs $15 per vehicle; parking is free after 4:00 p.m.
Parking Near Museums (PDF)
One Zoo parking lot is used for bus parking on weekdays during the peak season of March through June. Priority is given to buses arriving from local schools, which must make reservations to park. Tour and other school buses can reserve parking only with the purchase of a Group Tour Package (see below). There is no bus parking available on weekends unless the group is registered for a Group Tour Package.
Reservations for bus parking and/or for a Group Tour Package can be made by calling 202.633.4480, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Please make reservations at least two weeks (longer is recommended) in advance of your visit.
Buses without reservations will be allowed to enter the Zoo and proceed to the Bus Loading/Unloading Area to discharge their passengers. Buses must depart as soon as passengers disembark. Buses leaving the Zoo must arrange a pick-up time with their group. They can return to the Bus Loading/Unloading Area no sooner than 10 minutes before they are scheduled to pick up their passengers.
Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) offers a variety of group tour packages available to bus groups with 15 or more passengers. All packages include free, guaranteed, reserved bus parking on Zoo grounds as well as various other amenities. For information or to reserve a Group Tour Package, please call 202.633.4480.Car or Van Parking at the Zoo
Parking at the Zoo is a flat fee of $22. Parking is free for FONZ members at Premier Level and above.