Our favorite free family friendly museum isn’t located on the National Mall (we love those museums too). It is located 36 miles south of Washington, DC in Triangle, VA. The National Museum of the Marine Corps or the Marine Corps Museum is a fantastic family friendly museum that follows in the footsteps of Marines from recruits in bootcamp and through the Marine’s role in our history’s major conflicts. Along the way there are so many interactive hands on exhibits.
One of our family traditions is to visit a museum on New Year’s Day. Living in the DC Metro Area we have our pick of awesome free family friendly museums. Four years ago our good friend, who is a Marine, suggested we join them at the Marine Corp Museum. I have to be honest I knew nothing about the museum and from the name I wasn’t sure it would be kid friendly. We walked through the doors and I was blown away. All of my kids loved it and we have been going back every few months since then. Every time we go, we see or notice something new. Whenever we have a day off from school my kids ask to go there. The addition of the Children’s Gallery has made it so that even my youngest kids can be a part of the Marine Experience.
Our family’s favorite kid friendly exhibits include:
The Lobby – With life size helicopter and tank scenes the lobby itself will take your breath away.
Making Marines – My kids love to do pullups on the bar and listen to the drill instructors speeches.
American Revolution – When you first enter this exhibit there is a kid friendly gallery that feels like you are on an early ship where kids can tie knots, “fish”, learn facts about early soldier life and try on costumes.
World War I – My kids love the short interactive movie in this exhibit, but it is loud and does depict the battle of Bella Wood. If you have young kids or kids that are sensitive to sound and images you may want to skip this or walk quickly through it.
World War II – We don’t do this everytime but you can “board” a Higgens Boat and see what the assault on Iwo Jima was like.
Korean War – The “Cold” Room is not to be missed. You feel like you are in the middle of a battle in the mountains.
Vietnam – My kids love the part where you feel like you are coming out of a helicopter onto the battle field.
The Children’s Gallery – I highly recommend this area to all families. Kids can try on uniforms and play in a pint sized amphibious landing craft and helicopter.
Note: The Children’s Gallery closes 30 minutes before the museum closes, check the hours if you are there at the end of the day.
Playground – There is a playground area next to the parking lot with benches.
Semper Fidelis Memorial Park consists of walking paths along the outside of the museum.
The Marine Corps Museum is open everyday except Christmas Day from 9am-5pm, admission is FREE. Check out the museums’ website to plan your visit. All of our kids from young toddlers to teenagers love this museum; there is something for everyone. The museum is stroller friendly too. Before each visit we do stress to our children that this is a place that honors the sacrifices that Marines have made for our country. Even though there are many fun interactive parts we need to be respectful. I would allow 2-3 hours for your visit. Since it is off I-95, the drive home always seems longer with traffic. I make sure to visit the bathroom before we leave and pack snacks for the way home.
Have you visited the Marine Corps Museum? If so, what are your favorite exhibits?