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Exploring: National Museum of the American Indian

2012 September 12
by Becky

Remember how Ethan had surgery last week? Well, it took him about two seconds to recover, meaning my “quiet Friday” turned into an all out day of fun to keep the rejuvenated Peanut at bay. I could be crazy, but I swear he woke up from his medicated sleep faster, stronger, and in an incredible mood.

The kid has stitches in his head and I never even needed to give him a drop of Tylenol. Rock star!!!

So, since it was really warm outside, we jumped in the car to go cross another museum off our list.

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The National Museum of the American Indian.

This awesome, curvy, tall building has been calling to us every time we drive around DC. Ethan has eyed the SA-WEET fountain gracing the entire East side more than once…he’s a sucker for a great water feature. We’ve been told wonderful things about this free museum so I couldn’t wait to visit. Plus, I heard the Mitsitam Cafe is incredible—icing on the cake.

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Right off the bat, you are hit with beautiful feathers, carvings, totem poles, musical instruments—basically we plunged into American Indian history head first. My plan was to visit a couple exhibits, namely A Song for the Horse Nation, before we headed over to the kid-friendly imagiNations area.

As usual, Ethan had another plan.

We made it (quickly) through the Our Lives: Contemporary Life and Identities exhibit before Little Man started to get fussy. Begging for food, whining…I faced a downward spiral.

Throwing out my original plan, we headed straight for the kiddie stuff.

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american indian museum, national museum of the american indian, kid friendly dc, kid friendly museums

american indian museum, national museum of the american indian, kid friendly dc, kid friendly museums

Ethan’s frown turned up side down when he saw the tons of fun this museum had for him. He climbed in a canoe, listened to bird sounds through long tubey things, and learned how snow shoes worked.

Boats, sounds, pushing and pulling…check, check, check.

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I could barely keep up with him as he gazed at the giant tipi (yes, it’s the correct spelling), played with puzzles at a table just his size, and ran through the different types of American Indian housing replicas.

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Ethan pet a huge buffalo hide inside the tipi before he practiced his balancing skills…I practiced mine too! Let’s just say neither of us will be hunting in a traditional kayak anytime soon. He also performed on a big drum in the “music room”—taking after Dad already! He also tried out shakers, drums, rain sticks, and other very cool traditional American Indian instruments.

Even the view from this area of the museum was amazing! We spent a few minutes looking out over the Capitol and Botanic Garden. Little Man was just pumped I let him climb up onto the window. Hey, if you put a bench in front of a window in the kids section, you are asking for this…

In a nutshell, this place knows EXACTLY what kids like to do. And hey, parents get to learn something while running around after them!

But all that learning makes you pretty hungry…

This goodness is a fry bread taco with all the fixins. It’s from one of the four different “native food” cuisine stations featured in the museum’s cafeteria. Ethan wasn’t being all that patient so I had to make my selection pretty quickly, good thing it was AMAZING. How can you go wrong when the words FRY and BREAD are involved?

Everything I saw looked good though. Not cheap, but very yum.

And that huge fountain? We sat right next to it, so Ethan felt like he was IN the fountain…and I was able to finish my lunch in peace.

I’m aware this post is missing a HUGE part of the museum—like almost all of it. I should be talking about the exhibits and the incredible things I learned walking through them. But that will all have to wait till visit number two, preferably when I have some backup help to manage The Peanut.

But, for now, I can say the American Indian museum is a fantastic place for kids. I’d say meeting friends here, letting our kids explore in the imagiNations area, then grabbing some tasty food downstairs sounds like a pretty darn perfect day!

Everyone asks about parking, and my standard answer still applies: week day parking is plentiful, even right smack in front of the building. Saturdays are busy but not impossible, and Sunday mornings provide ample parking and it’s FREE.

5 Responses leave one →
  1. Sandy Schon permalink
    September 12, 2012

    Dad and I went to that museum a few years ago and thought it was incredible as well. Can’t remember going to the kid section, but now we have a reason to check it out!!! So many great things to do in DC.

  2. September 12, 2012

    Amazing how all those museums are kid friendly. And so many of them. What a great way to spend the day. See you soon!!

  3. Erika permalink
    September 12, 2012

    Let’s go there when we visit! We’ll help with Peanut and enjoy delicious food with you:)

  4. Kristan permalink
    September 13, 2012

    Had no idea this museum was so awesome! Guess we need to add this one to the list of ones to check out!

  5. Lauren G permalink
    September 13, 2012

    Bret and I will definitely have to head over there for some fry bread – it is so yummy. Looks like you guys had that museum to yourself!

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