Visiting the National Mall? Check out some great things to do while on vacation in DC. Get the most out of your time checking out monuments and memorials and museums.
Free Smithsonian Natural History Museum Parking
It is never easy to find free Smithsonian Natural History Museum parking, but it is not impossible either. Free 3 hours parking is available on Madison Drive between 7th Street and 12th Street NW. Some of the spaces are restricted zones, so make sure you check the signs. The fine for parking in a handicapped spot without a tag is $250. If you want a free spot on Madison Drive, your best bet is to arrive at 10:00 AM, which is when the Smithsonian Natural History Museum opens every morning. Later in the day, you will find it increasingly difficult to find a spot. If you do not want to deal with looking for parking, then arrange for a tour of the National Mall with Nonpartisan Pedicab. Free pickup from any downtown location, including museums, hotels, parking garages, Metro stations, etc.
National Mall Parking for the Natural History Museum — slightly further away
Free 3 hour spots are available on Jefferson and Madison Drives from 3rd Street all the way up to 14th Street. Once again, carefully read the signs to not park in restricted zones. If you park in a handicapped spot, you risk a $250 ticket. Parking in a taxi stand, a loading zone or other special zones will usually set you back $30 for a ticket.
There is also some parking along the cross streets — 3rd, 4th, 7th and 14th Streets all have metered parking as well. On 7th and 14th Streets, there are rush hour restrictions. If you do not move your car by 4:00 PM on weekdays, expect to have your car towed plus a hefty ticket.
CLICK HERE TO SEE THE TOP THINGS TO DO IN DC
Looking for things to see on the National Mall? Take a look at these things to do while visiting DC. Here’s how to take advantage of visiting all the monuments and memorials and museums that DC has to offer.
Constitution Independence Avenue Parking for the Natural History Museum
There is some free parking along the south side of Constitution Avenue and the north side of Independence Avenue. Be careful to never remained parked on Constitution or Independence Avenues from 4:00 PM – 6:30 PM on weekdays. The parking lane becomes a traffic lane during rush hour, and you have a 100% chance of getting a ticket.
Parking Enforcement on the National Mall
You can park on Madison and Jefferson Drives between 10:00 AM and 1:00 AM. Nobody is monitoring the 3 hour limit. However, after 1:00 AM, they will tow your car. So, you cannot leave your car here overnight. Similarly, if you arrive slightly before 10:00 AM, you will find little likelihood of a ticket or getting towed.
Parking at the Smithsonian — Commercial Parking Lots Nearby
You will find commercial parking garages on all the cross streets north of Pennsylvania Avenue. The nearest to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum is on 10th Street between Pennsylvania and E Streets. A popular garage that is open 24 hours and never runs out of space (except possibly on July 4th) is the parking garage under the Ronald Reagan Building. This garage is very centrally located. Day rates on weekends in 2016 are $13 weekends and $22 weekdays for 3-10 hours of parking. You can enter this garage from 14th Street between Constitution and Pennsylvania Avenues.
Handicapped Parking at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum
There are 2 or 3 spots right near the Natural History Museum on Madison Drive. The situation is not ideal. The handicapped entrance to the Natural History Museum is on Constitution Avenue. The handicapped parking is on Madison Drive. At the Madison Drive museum entrance, there is a tall staircase to climb. It is quite a walk to go around the building to enter on Constitution Avenue.
Click here to get great suggestions for parking on the National Mall.
Free tips for Smithsonian Natural History Museum Parking & More
Additional Information about Parking at the Smithsonian and Parking on the National Mall.
Touring the National Mall
Your best bet is to take a tour with Nonpartisan Pedicab. Many people say that a pedicab tour is the highlight of their visit to Washington DC.
Click Here to Learn the Best Way to See Washington DC
Taking the Metro to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum
This is a much better option. There are several nearby stations. On the Blue/Orange/Silver lines, both Smithsonian Metro and Federal Triangle are equidistant from the Natural History Museum. If you come in on the Yellow/Green lines, the Archives/Navy Memorial stop is not far away either. If you come in on the Red line, perhaps you should change trains to get on one of the other lines that are somewhat closer to the museum.
Opening Hours at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum
Summer hours are usually 10:00 AM until 7:30 PM. Occasionally, there are special events and the museum will close at 5:30 PM. During the rest of the year, the hours are from 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM. Even outside of the summer season, the museum will sometimes have extended opening hours until 7:30 PM
Tickets to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum
The Smithsonian Natural History Museum is always free. It is open every day of the year except Christmas.