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Fly High at the National Air & Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
The Air and Space Museum’s companion in Virginia boasts hangars full of aviation history.
All about the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
Opened in 2003, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center serves as a partner facility to the National Air and Space Museum. The two locations together attract 8 million visitors per year, making the National Air and Space complex the most popular museum in the United States.
For aviation enthusiasts young and old, the Udvar-Hazy Center is just plain cool. The expansive museum consists of two hangars—the Boeing Aviation Hangar and the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar—which have dozens of aircraft and spacecraft suspended from their ceilings. Some of the most notable include the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, a Concorde and the space shuttle Discovery. A more recently added hangar, the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar, is where scientists and engineers work to restore artifacts from the Air and Space museum’s massive collection.
Things to do at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
The aircraft and spacecraft hanging overhead would be impressive enough, but the Udvar-Hazy Center also offers thousands of additional artifacts to view and many interactive, family friendly exhibits and activities. Udvar-Hazy is home to an Airbus IMAX Theater that shows aviation and space travel-related films (and occasionally even feature film releases). Tickets can be purchased at the center or online in advance. Or, get a realistic view of what it’s like to fly in a fighter jet or walk in space on Udvar-Hazy’s ride and flight simulators (tickets $6-$8). Visitors can also head up to the Donald D. Engen Observation Tower, where you’ll get a bird’s eye, 360-degree view of the planes landing and taking off at Washington Dulles International Airport.
Learning labs, discovery stations and science demonstrations offer visitors, particularly young aviation enthusiasts, the chance to delve even deeper into air and space travel. Little astronauts and their families can even sign up for Astronaut Academy, a free interactive game that highlights what it’s like to travel to Mars, on select Saturdays.
The Udvar-Hazy Center also offers daily free tours of the museum led by aviation experts. And even if you opt out of the tour, many of the museum’s docents are retired military and civilian pilots and aviation specialists. Take advantage of their knowledge as you tour the museum.
Visiting the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located at 14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway in Chantilly, VA, just minutes from Washington Dulles International Airport. Regular hours are 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.. In the summer, the museum extends its hours until 6:30 p.m. The center can be reached by car via I-66 or the Dulles Toll Road. See detailed directions here. There is an on-site parking lot that charges a $15 fee. The center can also be reached via Metro. Take the silver line to the Wiehle-Reston East station and transfer to the Fairfax Connector Bus No. 983. The bus stops directly in front of the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.
There are so many Smithsonian Museums in Washington, DC covering topics from American history to Asian art, discover them here.