Today, more than 80% of global shipping involves containers. They're packed with everything from personal storage items in dry containers to heavy machinery on flat rack containers. For business owners shipping products, getting a container from point A to point B requires precise planning and high-level tracking. But that's easier said than done when global supply chains become over-congested, leading to loading time issues and delays.
That's bad news for business owners who are already under a massive amount of stress. The truth is that container storage delays can cripple a business, but there's a viable solution: drayage brokers in Washington, DC like RelyEx. Drayage companies provide unique solutions to minimize demurrage and help ensure the successful delivery of your freight.
With more than 30 combined years of experience and a solutions-oriented team, RelyEx has quickly become the first choice for streamlined, efficient drayage services. To understand the true value of RelyEx's offerings in the global logistics industry, it helps to understand first what drayage is and why it's used.
If you're a seasoned business owner who uses port drayage to transport your products, you know exactly how important the service can be. But if you were to poll a group of random people, you may get five different definitions of the term "drayage." That begs the question, how is one of the most crucial steps in the supply chain and most vital components of global trade such a confusing concept? When you break it down, it's not too difficult to grasp.
Drayage, by definition, means the transportation of freight from an ocean port to another destination. Today, drayage is also used to describe the process of transporting products and goods over short distances or over "the first mile."
While drayage often means short-distance movements during the supply chain process, it's primarily used in the container shipping space. Drayage loads usually have arrival and departure points in the same city and don't include long-haul, national transportation.
Because a drayage load can mean a few different things, confusion among carriers is common. Many carriers link drayage with going into a port, but that isn't always true. While all drayage loads typically originate from a port of entry, there are often several legs of a drayage journey before a container turns up at its final stop. Legs of a drayage load may include:
You may be thinking, what's so important about drayage? It's such a small step in the container storage transport process. In reality, it's an integral piece needed in the logistics industry and a crucial part of U.S. supply chain management.
To truly understand the importance of drayage, let's use flowers as an example. Most cut flower shipments enter the market from areas in South America until they end up at Dutch auction houses. Once there, wholesalers purchase flowers in bulk and send those products to retail outlets worldwide. Because flowers are perishable, they typically need to be refrigerated and are often shipped in reefer containers. These refrigerated vessels must maintain a certain temp to prevent loss.
Drayage companies like RelyEx allow flower shippers to send their products from Argentinian ports to airports in the Netherlands with peace of mind because their products are protected. The only way to accomplish this feat is with the help of swift, meticulous port drayage services. Drayage companies allow flower shippers to send their products from Argentinian ports to airports in the Netherlands with peace of mind, because their products are protected. The only way to accomplish this feat is with the help of swift, meticulous port drayage services.
If port drayage is compromised, it can cause delays and even fines. You know the packages you get delivered to your front door from apps like Amazon? Without drayage and drayage brokers, one or two-day shipping times wouldn't even be possible.
As a multi-billion-dollar industry in the U.S. alone, it seems like drayage shipping issues shouldn't exist. But the fact is inefficiencies and congestion are still major problems at ports. Whether it's a lack of carriers, absent chassis, or overburdened terminals, delays lead to missed deadlines, lost revenue, and worse.
But anytime challenges exist, so too do innovative solutions.QUOTE REQUEST
RelyEx was created because our founders saw a need in the logistics space for more reliability and efficiency. The reality of the shipping and logistics industry is that it has become very transactional. It's an odd evolution, because most businesses seek a third-party logistics partner that is accessible, transparent, and committed to providing solutions.
As the logistics space continues to grow, it creates newfound expenses and complexities. Clients like ours know that and need a supply chain partner who is genuinely interested in their business. By understanding the needs of our customers and carriers, we can provide the most reliable, effective drayage services possible.
Unlike some drayage companies in Washington, DC, we begin managing your containers before they ever hit the ports by mapping out the most efficient pathways of delivery. That way, our team can discover the best drayage pathways to expedite delivery time and reduce fees that cut into profits.
Our valued drayage customers choose RelyEx because:
At RelyEx, we like to consider ourselves problem solvers. The nature of the container drayage industry presents new challenges every day, but we're firm believers that there's a solution to every hurdle we encounter. And while some drayage businesses implement a reactive approach, RelyEx customers choose us for our proactive mindset. We take pride in solving your company's drayage challenges to help you avoid frustrating fees, missed expectations, and delayed shipments. We strive to make every transaction successful and streamlined by partnering with shippers who prioritize transparent, prompt, and accurate communication.
RelyEx approaches your business from the customer's perspective - a unique approach that helps us provide high-quality, effective drayage services. We've been in the customers' shoes, know their pain points, and because of that, provide first-hand solutions to stressful supply chain issues. With over 30 years of collective knowledge, our team excels in:
Our varied, high-level drayage shipping experience helps us achieve our overarching goal: expertly managing your freight movement needs. That way, you can direct your time and focus on growing the core aspects of your business while we handle the heavy lifting. Throw in proactive planning to avoid bottleneck situations and strong communication for transparent customer relations, and you can see why so many companies trust RelyEx.
When it comes to shipping logistics, it only takes one mistake by a mediocre worker to disrupt your business. That's why, at RelyEx, we pride ourselves on forming and nurturing relationships with carriers who match our standards of care. Our founding partner started his career transporting freight for companies as an on-demand carrier. He uses that knowledge to maximize the resources of our carriers so that our customer's expectations aren't just met - they're exceeded.
Based in the port city of Washington, RelyEx has a keen understanding of the challenges of managing the inbound and outbound flow of containers. Our team of container drayage experts provides your business with unique solutions to nuanced shipping problems, minimizing demurrage and ensuring the successful delivery of your freight.
Customers choose RelyEx because:
Some drayage brokers don't care how customers feel about their service as long as they sign a contract and get paid. As a solutions-oriented team, RelyEx takes the opposite approach. We're motivated by the opportunity to overachieve for our customers and to provide them with the best logistics experience possible. With professional experience as carriers and shippers ourselves, we know the roadblocks and challenges you're facing. We excel at mapping out the best plans of action to solve those problems. But that's just the start.
Our tracking experts monitor and manage every aspect of your drayage shipment from booking to delivery, 24/7. Once booked, we look for the availability of your containers hourly once they're at port. When they arrive, our team acts quickly to access your storage containers when they're available.
Plus, RelyEx ensures your company's requirements are met by the carrier during loading and delivery and provide necessary documentation as fast as possible. With real-time tracking updates and access to our customer service professionals, your team has complete visibility throughout the shipping process.
Over the years, RelyEx has built a strong network of drayage carriers, transloading locations, and container storage spaces to provide you with the best possible options to match your drayage service needs. We know that searching for quality service presents an added layer of complexity and stress to our customers. That's why we work hard to take that off your plate by connecting you with our reliable shipping partners.
With a background moving freight as an on-demand carrier, our founding partner understands how to maximize the resources and equipment of our carriers to match your needs.
Like other industries, the global logistics space is complex. Mistakes will be made, and problems will happen. With those truths in mind, RelyEx has built its reputation as problem solvers. Unlike other drayage companies, we don't shy away from this industry's complexities because we take pride in solving problems. Even better, we aim to do what's needed to avoid those problems altogether.
As your logistics partner, we will provide your company with accurate, transparent, and prompt communication. If there are unexpected issues, we'll notify you immediately and will provide several options to remedy the problem. We even offer custom reporting for large clients who need at-the-moment updates and quick access to shipment documentation.
Why let the unpredictability of your industry dictate your success? With a background working in manufacturing, our founders are familiar with the demands of managing production schedules and sales orders. That experience makes it abundantly clear to us that every business and industry is different. If you struggle with seasonal surges or other factors, our team supports your business with a mapped-out plan and schedule, so you stay ahead of the game.QUOTE REQUEST
Based in the port city of Washington, RelyEx has a keen understanding of the challenges of managing the inbound and outbound flow of containers. Our team of container drayage experts provides your business with unique solutions to nuanced shipping problems, minimizing demurrage and ensuring the successful delivery of your freight.
Demurrage is a charge issued by a port, carrier, or railroad company for storing containers that do not load and unload their cargo promptly. Once the daily limit of free time is exceeded, shippers are charged daily demurrage fees until their cargo is shipped. Though different ports have different policies, charges can range from $75 to $150 per container, per day, for a set number of days. Additional demurrage fees are incurred if a shipper exceeds the port's parameters.
Even when shippers maintain a tight schedule for unloading freight, external factors can play an uncontrollable part. Typically, shipping mistakes caused by human error trigger the most demurrage charges. Some of the most common causes of demurrage include:
Typically, shippers need four specific documents to clear shipments through customs: A Bill of Lading (or BOL), a commercial invoice, a packing list, and an arrival notice. Seasoned drayage brokers like RelyEx are used to preparing these documents, but new shippers tend to miss this step due to inexperience.
If a shipper only pays for part of their shipment, a vessel operator may refuse to release their freight until their bill is fully paid. Payment delays lead to cargo detention at the port of entry, which triggers demurrage charges.QUOTE REQUEST
Paperwork is needed when you're shipping goods with a drayage company. When documents like the Certificate of Origin or Bill of Lading arrive at their destination late, you can expect demurrage fees. RelyEx avoids this situation entirely by being proactive when submitting paperwork.
Additional causes for demurrage fees can include:
At RelyEx, we know first-hand how stressful supply chain problems can be for business owners. Though drayage shipping might seem minor on the surface, it affects every stage of your shipping process. And when inevitable hurdles manifest, RelyEx propels you over the proverbial roadblocks with a proactive mindset and a passion for challenging projects. We believe that all problems have a solution, and our unique vantage point allows us to provide first-hand solutions to customers in a wide array of industries.
When it comes to your business, don't settle for anything less than RelyEx. Contact our office today to learn more about how we make your shipping experience streamlined and stress-free.843-885-3082
Slide 1 of 30The Weekend Scene: What to Do Around DC Feb. 24-25...
Slide 1 of 30
The Weekend Scene: What to Do Around DC Feb. 24-25
Bloom Watch: DC's Cherry Trees Enter Stage 1
Last-Minute Mardi Gras Celebration Ideas in the DMV
The Weekend Scene: What to Do Around DC Feb. 18-20
Prince George's Author to Release New Rom-Com Book for Young Adults
World-Class Axe Throwing Competition Coming to Loudoun County
Beat the Bomb Brings Video Game Excitement to Real Life
The Weekend Scene: What to Do Around DC for Love, Football and Beyond
Food Fare: Kanpachi Crudo at DC's New Restaurant Inspired by Afrofuturism, Bronze
First Black-Owned Restaurant in Woodley Park Opens
The Weekend Scene: What to Do Feb. 2-5 Around DC
Wolf Trap Announces Summer Shows and New Festival
Studio Theatre's ‘English' Tells Iranian Stories
The Weekend Scene: Lunar New Year, Chocolate Fest and More to Do Around DC
Jurassic Quest Roars Into Dulles Expo Center
Arlington Chef Named Semifinalist for James Beard Award
‘Two Jews Walk Into a War' Playing at Theater J
The University of Southern California is enlarging its operations in Washington with the acquisition of a 60,000-square-foot building near Dupont Circle that will be home to a new D.C. campus.The $49.4 million purchase of the property at 1771 N St. NW, announced Wednesday, enables the private university in Los Angeles to establish an eastern hub for teaching, research, lobbying, recruiting, alumni networking and community outreach. The deal underscores that higher education institutions based elsewhere often find it desirable to estab...
The University of Southern California is enlarging its operations in Washington with the acquisition of a 60,000-square-foot building near Dupont Circle that will be home to a new D.C. campus.
The $49.4 million purchase of the property at 1771 N St. NW, announced Wednesday, enables the private university in Los Angeles to establish an eastern hub for teaching, research, lobbying, recruiting, alumni networking and community outreach. The deal underscores that higher education institutions based elsewhere often find it desirable to establish a prominent Washington address.
“So many of our students are deeply interested in the workings of our democracy,” said USC President Carol Folt. “We wanted a vibrant East Coast center. We said this is the place for us to be.”
Many universities have made a similar calculation, planting their flags and logos in the corridors of downtown, near embassies, federal agencies, the White House and Capitol Hill.
New York University and Texas A&M University both operate on L Street in Northwest Washington. Arizona State University runs a center at 18th and I streets, while the University of California’s D.C. outpost is on Rhode Island Avenue near Scott Circle.
Johns Hopkins University is finishing a renovation of a major building, 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, that it recently purchased. The building was once home to the Newseum and will soon be the location of the university’s School of Advanced International Studies and other D.C. academic enterprises. The Hopkins building dwarfs many of the others, with about 400,000 square feet in a prime location between the Capitol and the White House. It is expected to open in time for the fall semester.
“Expanding our presence in the nation’s capital doubles down on making our data-driven research capability across all disciplines more readily available to national and global decision-makers, in service of our commitment to democracy and human advancement,” Lainie Rutkow, vice provost for interdisciplinary initiatives at Hopkins, said in a statement.
Washington “is a very hot market for colleges and universities,” said Andrew Flagel, president and chief executive of the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area. A D.C. address gives schools visibility in an affluent and highly educated region as well as proximity to power. “I’m in front of the people who do earmarks,” Flagel said, referring to special provisions in federal spending bills. “I’m in front of the people who do research grants.”
Several prominent schools call Washington home, including American, Catholic, Gallaudet, Georgetown, George Washington, Howard and Trinity Washington universities, as well as the University of the District of Columbia. In nearby suburbs are, among others, the University of Maryland at College Park and George Mason University in Northern Virginia.
USC, with about 49,000 students, has long had offices in Washington, with hundreds of students, faculty members and others flying back and forth every year from Los Angeles. But the new D.C. campus, Folt said, will take the presence to another level, perhaps tripling or quadrupling the transcontinental traffic for the school’s community, known as the Trojans. “We got a very excellent place that suits our needs for a very reasonable price,” she said.
The seven-story building on N Street, with a curved glass curtain in front, was purchased from Stream Realty Partners of Dallas, according to USC officials. For many years the site was home to the National Association of Broadcasters.
Washington, like many cities, has struggled to bring its downtown back to life after the massive office closures that occurred in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic. D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said in a statement that she hopes the USC campus will help catalyze the northern part of the business district. “We cannot wait to welcome Trojans to the nation’s capital as together we fight on for D.C.’s comeback,” Bowser said.
USC said it plans to start using the building almost immediately. The facility will support research and teaching in cybersecurity, computer science, journalism, public policy, political science, health sciences and other fields. “There will be hundreds of students, staff, faculty and alumni streaming in and out of the Capital Campus year-round in ways that our previous space did not allow,” USC officials said in a statement. “In addition, we hope to establish collaborative programming with other universities in the area.”
ToplineAmazon paused construction on a section of its second headquarters in northern Virginia, multiple ...
Amazon paused construction on a section of its second headquarters in northern Virginia, multiple outlets reported Friday morning, as the company reassesses its head count following a hiring freeze and a massive round of layoffs amid an “unusual macroeconomic environment.”
The country’s second largest employer hit the brakes on the second phase of its campus in Crystal City, Virginia—across the Potomac River from Washington D.C.—though Amazon real estate chief John Schoettler told Bloomberg the company remains committed to its northern Virginia campus.
The first phase of the campus, called Metropolitan Park, is still on track to open in June, with roughly 8,000 employees expected to work there, though it has space for more than 14,000 employees, Schoettler said.
Rather, the company will pause construction of a section of its campus known as PenPlace, which includes three 22-story buildings and a 350-foot spiraling tower called the “Helix.”
$2.5 billion. That’s how much money Amazon invested in the northern Virginia headquarters. Virginia, meanwhile, had committed roughly $800 million in tax breaks and roadway improvements in return for Amazon bringing thousands of jobs to the area.
Following a multi-year battle between multiple major cities in a bid to lure in the company, Amazon announced in November 2018 it would split its second headquarters between Virginia and Long Island City, New York, with a smaller operation center in Nashville. Other major cities including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Austin were among the 20 cities that made bids for HQ2, though only three—New York City, Nashville and northern Virginia—were selected as finalists. In its bid, New York reportedly offered tax credits worth $48,000 per new job, while Arlington, Virginia, agreed to offer $22,000 cash grants per new job. Amazon abandoned plans for New York, however, after the proposal faced heavy opposition from local officials and from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who argued local taxpayer money should not be used to incentivize a major corporation. After the Virginia site was chosen, Amazon submitted plans for its 2.8 million square foot “helix” tower, outdoor amphitheater and public park in February 2021, even as work-from-home continued to dominate corporate work one year into the pandemic. Amazon also submitted plans for three other 22-story office buildings, with 100,000 square feet of retail space and 2.5 acres of public open space.
Amazon CEO Andy Jassy confirmed in early January that the company had implemented a major round of layoffs affecting more than 18,000 positions, including employees laid off in a previous round of cuts two months earlier. In a statement, Jassy attributed the cuts to an “uncertain economy” following the company’s decision to hire “rapidly” as more consumers turned to online shopping during the Covid-19 pandemic. The layoffs at Amazon were the biggest round of cuts at a U.S. company this year, as employers feared high inflation and recent rounds of interest rate hikes could throw the economy into recession. Last fall, Amazon also announced plans to implement a multi-month hiring freeze, as the company contended with an “unusual macroeconomic environment.” Amazon had employed just over 1.5 million employees, including both full-time and part-time positions, as of the end of the third 2022 financial quarter—making it one of the biggest companies in the U.S.
Sign up for The Weekend Scene newsletter to get our full guide to cherry blossom season on Wednesday.Did you know there's a special word in Japanese just to describe cherry blossom viewing? It's hanami — and there's no better way to spend a few hours in D.C. right now.Washington, D.C.'s, most famous cherry trees along the Tidal Basin are ...
Sign up for The Weekend Scene newsletter to get our full guide to cherry blossom season on Wednesday.
Did you know there's a special word in Japanese just to describe cherry blossom viewing? It's hanami — and there's no better way to spend a few hours in D.C. right now.
Washington, D.C.'s, most famous cherry trees along the Tidal Basin are approaching peak bloom, and you can see beautiful cherry blossoms throughout D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia.
The cherry trees are blooming early this year after one of D.C.'s mildest winters on record — the National Park Service has predicted peak bloom to fall about March 22-25.
Here are spots to see the cherry blossom trees in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Remember to tag @nbcwashington in your photos on Instagram and Twitter or email email@example.com for a chance to be featured.
Tidal BasinSouth of the National Mall
The epicenter of cherry blossom spring fever is the Tidal Basin. Peak bloom is when 70% of the Yoshino trees in this area have flowers — it's a spectacular sight to see, but expect some crowds. Your best bet is to take public transit, bikes or scooters, then walk along the Tidal Basin Loop Trail.
Stop by the welcome area at West Basin Drive SW for merchandise shopping, refreshments, kids' activities, a pet comfort station and all the information you need to enjoy the trees. During peak bloom, live performances will be featured on the ANA Stage from 12 to 6 p.m.
From the Water
The pedal boats have returned to the Tidal Basin. Rentals are available 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Each boat can hold up to four people (with a weight limit of 500 pounds). A one-hour rental costs $38 on weekdays and $40 on weekends. Bookings are available into October.
Add a boozy twist to your paddling experience with the Potomac Paddle Club. You can bring your own beer, wine, seltzer and canned cocktails aboard their pontoon peddle boat starting March 25.
Is kayaking more your speed? Cherry blossom tours from Thompson Boat Center in Georgetown and The Wharf Boathouse begin March 24 — but you can rent kayaks to go blossom-spotting on your own now. Thompson Boat Center in Georgetown and The Wharf are your best bets for bloom views.
The cherry blossom water taxi offers audio tours on its Georgetown-Alexandria Sightseeing Route, Georgetown-Wharf Sightseeing Route and Washington Monuments Route through the City Experiences App.
Several cherry blossom cruises are available — including ones during the National Cherry Blossom Festival fireworks.
American University4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.
The American University campus in Northwest D.C. is a designated arboretum with over 3,000 trees of all types — including collections of cherry trees.
Congressional Cemetery1801 E St. SE, Washington, D.C.
This dog-friendly cemetery has both Okame (Taiwan) cherry trees, which bloom on the early side, and Kwanzan cherry trees which typically bloom about two weeks after the famed Yoshino ones at the National Mall.
Oxon Run Park1200 Mississippi Ave. SE, Washington, D.C.
This park could give the Tidal Basin a serious challenge: More than 200 cherry blossom trees have been planted there.
The Wharf760 Maine Ave. SW, Washington, D.C.
Stroll down The Wharf or sit down on a restaurant patio, then look out across the Washington Channel for some cherry blossom views. You could also rent a kayak or canoe or board the Cherry Blossom Water Taxi. Bonus: Visit on April 1 for Bloomaroo, a family-friendly festival with live music, art and fireworks.
Hains Point1100 Ohio Dr. SW, Washington, D.C.
The Hains Point Loop Trail is one of the most bike-friendly places to see cherry blossoms. The four-mile loop offers views of the Anacostia River, Potomac River, Washington Channel and The Wharf. Bike this tree-lined trail and see several different kinds of cherry trees including Okame, Takesimensis and Kwanzan.
Stanton Park226 4th St NE, Washington, D.C.
This family-friendly park in the Capitol Hill neighborhood is filled with cherry blossom trees. Plus, it has a playground, a statue of Nathanael Greene and is within walking distance of the Supreme Court and the U.S. Capitol.
U.S. National Arboretum3501 New York Ave NE, Washington, D.C. 20002
The Arboretum has its own collection of cherry trees alongside numerous other plants. You can find a self-guided tour here.
Check out this map to find cherry blossom trees throughout the District.
All the Neighborhood Cherry Blossom Trees in the District
Cherry trees on non-federal land in D.C., color-coded by type of tree and sized according to the tree's diameter. Click on the magnifying glass at the bottom of the map to search for your address.
Source: D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT) Street Spatial Database (SSD) Credit: Anisa Holmes / NBC Washington
Brookside Gardens and other Montgomery County ParksVarious locations
25 of Montgomery County's public parks have cherry blossoms trees — here's how to use their interactive map to find one. You can even look for a specific species.
Brookside Gardens is a standout spot because it has 26 Yoshino and weeping cherry trees that are particularly impressive — look in the Gude Garden.
South Germantown Recreational Park and its HeartSmart Trail — bring your dog on Saturday, April 1 from 9-11 a.m. for the Petals and Paws event.
Centennial Park (Howard County)1000 Clarksville Pike, Ellicott City, Maryland
Cherry trees have been planted in three spots in Centennial Park in Howard County. View some from your car, or walk the Lake Loop. Here's a map.
National HarborOxon Hill, Maryland
National Harbor, in Oxon Hill, Maryland, now boasts 200 cherry trees of their own. Rent a paddleboat for a little extra adventure.
Fort McHenry2400 E Fort Ave, Baltimore, Maryland
The grounds of Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland, host cherry blossom trees.
Stroll through this Montgomery County neighborhood filled with cherry trees. Kennedy Drive, Dorset Avenue and Kenwood Avenue have some of the best views. The Kenwood trees often bloom three to four days after the Tidal Basin trees, according to Bethesda Magazine.
Arlington National CemeteryArlington, Virginia
More than 400 cherry trees grow throughout the Arlington National Cemetery. Most are Yoshino trees, but weeping Higan cherry trees, Kwanzan trees and more bloom annually.
Founder's Park351 N Union St, Alexandria, Virginia
At Founder’s Park in Alexandria, you can take in the fresh air, look out at the water and bask in cherry blossoms galore.
Meadowlark Botanical Gardens9750 Meadowlark Gardens Ct, Vienna, Virginia
Nearly 100 acres of a wide array of plants comprise Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Fairfax Station, Virginia, but in the springtime, it becomes a haven of cherry blossoms for you to see.
Old Town Alexandria
The 100 block of Wolfe Street, near the waterfront and Roberdeau Park, is a good place for a selfie, according to Visit Alexandria. With cherry blossom-themed food and drink, art installations, special tours, shopping events and more, Old Town is a cherry blossom destination.
Van Gogh Bridge on Lake AnneThe Green Trail, Reston, Virginia
This spot is for the photographers: The few cherry trees around the bridge make a gorgeous photo backdrop. To get there, follow Reston's Green Trail over Lake Anne.
Want to know what's up for your weekend? Sign up for The Weekend Scene, our newsletter about events, experiences and adventures for you and for your family around the DMV.
Here are 15 of the best museums in Washington, D.C. to check out on your next trip to the capital.The nation’s capital is home to beautiful government buildings, gardens, and more than 70 museums. The Smithsonian, the largest museum complex in the world, includes the National Zoo and 21 museums, and all are free for visitors, although some require timed reservations. An...
Here are 15 of the best museums in Washington, D.C. to check out on your next trip to the capital.
The nation’s capital is home to beautiful government buildings, gardens, and more than 70 museums. The Smithsonian, the largest museum complex in the world, includes the National Zoo and 21 museums, and all are free for visitors, although some require timed reservations. And beyond the Smithsonian, other museums covering a wide range of interests are spread throughout Washington, D.C. with opportunities for enrichment, education, and entertainment.
If your last trip to Washington, D.C. was a class trip, it’s time for a return visit. Plush hotels, new restaurants, and lovely scenery make the nation’s capital a great vacation destination for visitors of all ages. Here are 15 of the best museums in Washington, D.C. to check out on your next trip to the capital.
Related: 27 Best Museums in the U.S.
The newest addition to the Smithsonian, this museum tells the story of America through the lens of African American life, history, and culture. The eight-story museum commemorates historical figures and events in African American history, with priceless objects that include Harriett Tubman’s shawl, Nat Turner’s Bible, a cabin where people who were enslaved lived, and other objects that bring stories to life and encourage discussion and understanding.
This engaging museum encourages children to explore science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) through hands-on experiences. Video programs, experiments, and exhibits entertain and educate with fun for a wide range of ages. For infants and toddlers, a cloud and flight-themed area encourages movement and connection. “Weather Worlds” is an immersive digital experience that allows visitors to control weather with hand gestures that trigger everything from rain to tornadoes and blizzards.
Opened in 1993, the National Postal Museum’s exhibits and programs are focused on the preservation and study of postal history from colonial times to the present. The museum celebrates the beauty and lore of collecting stamps, and its William H. Gross Stamp Gallery is the world’s largest gallery dedicated to philately, with stunning displays of interest to both casual and experienced collectors. The website features a variety of hands-on activities and coloring pages for kids.
This independent nonprofit museum holds the largest collection of international espionage artifacts on public display. Opened in 2002 to educate visitors on the shadow world of espionage and the changing role of technology in intelligence, the museum visit starts with a briefing film and stories of secret missions. Visitors can play the role of a spy with a new identity, badge, and undercover mission that is tracked as they travel through the museum, with a debriefing at the end.
Thousands of works at the National Portrait Gallery include visual, performance, and new media art depicting presidents, poets, film stars, scientists, and more. The Gallery strives to present a complete narrative, acknowledging the history of slavery, racism, and inequality in the United States. The collection ranges from pre-colonial times to the present, with a life-sized portrait of Abraham Lincoln, a collection of sports champions, and presidential portraits including those of former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama.
This historic site and museum is located on 250 acres in the northwest Washington, D.C. neighborhood of Petworth. Abraham Lincoln actually lived in the cottage and developed the Emancipation Proclamation there. The cottage is open daily, and advance ticket purchase for guided tours is recommended. Self-guided landscape tours of the grounds and the Armed Forces Retirement Home are available.
The Heurich mansion was built in 1892-94 for German-American immigrant Christian Heurich, whose brewery was the largest in Washington, D.C. The city’s best-preserved example of Richardsonian Romanesque residential architecture, the mansion included many technological advancements of its era, including electric lighting, burglar alarms, and metal speaking tubes. Visitors can explore the lives of the family, household staff, brewery workers, and the craftspeople who built the home. Tours are available by reservation from Thursday through Saturday, and there’s a backyard biergarten.
One of Washington’s most popular museums, the National Museum of Natural History celebrates the natural world, from dinosaurs to rare gems, mammals, sea life, plants, insects, and the history of the planet. More than 147 million specimens and artifacts make up the museum’s collection, and exhibits include the Butterfly Pavilion, Hall of Fossils, Eternal Life in Ancient Egypt, Nature Photography, Insect Zoo, and Bone Hall.
Visitors can explore thousands of plants, both indoors and outdoors, in a variety of environments at the United States Botanic Garden. In the Garden Court, colorful flowers and foliage include plants that help create fibers, food, beverages, fuel, cosmetics, and more. A tropical forest, desert, primeval garden, and orchid collection of 3,000 specimens show the diversity of plant life. Plants native to Hawaii, the Mediterranean, and rainforests are there, along with medicinal and rare, endangered plants.
Built between 1798 and 1800 by enslaved workers for a Virginia family, the building was designed by the first architect of the United States Capitol, William Thornton. The house served as temporary quarters for President Madison after the White House was burned in the War of 1812, and the Treaty of Ghent was signed there, ending the war. Recognizing the building’s national importance, the American Institute of Architects restored the building and established its national headquarters there, and visitors can now check out the museum.
One of Washington’s most popular destinations, the museum features the largest collection of aviation and space artifacts in the world. Open every day (except Christmas Day), the museum offers two locations, one on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. and one in Virginia. Exhibits explore early flight, space travel, stories of the Tuskegee Airmen and the Wright Brothers, commercial aviation, the moon landing, the planets, and more. Free timed-entry passes are required.
Opened in 2004, the museum features more than 825,000 photographs, documents, and artifacts telling the story of Native Americans from past to present. Exhibits include “Nation to Nation,” describing treaties between the United States and tribal governments. Another exhibit focuses on Native American images in history and contemporary life. The Mitsitam Cafe (Mitsitam means “let’s eat!” in the Native language of the Delaware and Piscataway peoples) features Indigenous cuisines of the Americas and ingredients found in both traditional and contemporary dishes.
This museum opened in 2020, highlighting the power of words and language. Its interactive galleries and exhibits bring words to life and inspire a love of language through humor, puzzles, and games. As visitors enter, a Speaking Willow tree sculpture sets the stage as murmurs in hundreds of languages can be heard. Songwriting, advertising, poetry, jokes, and famous speeches are explored. Visit Lexicon Lane for clues to a puzzle, great for family and group fun.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is dedicated to helping people understand what happened, so that it may never happen again. Recordings and testimonials from victims, witnesses, and survivors tell the tragic stories of the Holocaust (1933-1945), and according to its website, “The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum teaches millions of people each year about the dangers of unchecked hatred and the need to prevent genocide.” Nearly 50 holocaust survivors volunteer at the museum, sharing their personal histories and acting as tour guides. Free timed-entry tickets are required for museum visits.
The museum nurtures a collection of bonsai with special emphasis on specimens from Japan, China, and North America, in addition to providing education about bonsai. The Yee-sun Wy Chinese Pavilion houses the penjing (a scene or landscape in a container) collection, demonstrating an art form developed more than 1,000 years ago. The Japanese Pavilion contains masterpiece trees donated by the people of Japan in honor of the U.S. Bicentennial.