One of my children’s favorite museums is the National Museum of the Marine Corps near Washington, DC. The museum is chock full of memorabilia, vehicles, weapons, and uniforms, all from the Marine Corps’ involvement in wars since the American Revolution. When you’re headed up I-95 towards our nation’s capital, don’t miss this striking museum!
The Marine Corps has been involved in our nation’s wars since the American Revolution (as the Continental Marines). Officially founded in 1798, the Marine Corps has a long and storied history in our nation’s military affairs.
The museum opened in 2006 and has reopened after closing for COVID. Part of its mission is to provide the public with a readily accessible platform for the exploration of Marine Corps history.
Anyone who has driven the stretch of I-95 between Fredericksburg and Washington, DC has seen the spire of this museum. It looms over the trees along the interstate and is meant to evoke the flag bearers in the Iwo Jima statue in Washington.
The museum is free so it makes a great short or long stop when you’re tired of traffic. My children could spend hours in the galleries, looking at the weapons, uniforms, and other memorabilia.
The striking architecture is met by an awe-inspiring lobby where your kids can see real military planes, helicopters, tanks, and other vehicles. My kids love running from one side to the other, noticing every detail.
The museum often has adorable photo opportunities where your child can appear as a soldier!
The exhibits will take you through the history of the Marine Corps from its beginning to current day. Wander through and learn how the Marines were involved in the American Revolution, World War I and II, Korean War, and Vietnam. The exhibits are immersive and well-done, transporting you and your children into the cold Korean landscape or the hot jungles of Vietnam. Find out more about the exhibits here.
The legacy walkway will take you from exhibit to exhibit and lead you to some of the more recent parts of history, including 9/11. The museum is still undergoing an expansion so these stories will be told more fully in the coming years.
My kids absolutely love going to this museum, and we have been several times. The children’s gallery is currently closed due to COVID but even the youngest of children will find something to pique their interest in the hands-on exhibits. There’s even more places to explore – a theater, the laser rifle range (currently closed), and two different restaurants. Don’t miss walking the grounds to see moving statues and memorials to those who gave their all. There’s also a playground on the grounds as well.
The National Museum of the Marine Corps is a great place to visit when you’re touring our nation’s capital! Get out of the city and plan a trip to honor the members of our nation’s military.
- Cost: Free
- Recommended for: all ages
- Tour time: 1-2 hours
- Gift shop located onsite
- Transportation: Easily accessible by automobile on I-95 between Washington, DC and Fredericksburg, VA. There is plenty of free parking onsite.
- Dining options: The museum has two restaurants, Tun Tavern and Devil Dog Diner. A nearby restaurant is The Lazy Pig BBQ or bring a picnic to the next door Locust Shade Park.
- Nearby hotels: Look for hotels near Quantico, like this Courtyard by Marriott. The museum is a perfect day trip from Washington, DC so be sure to check out my guide to hotels in our nation’s capital!
- Nearby attractions: Check out the museum’s recommendations here. This museum would pair well with a visit to the newly opened National Museum of the US Army, located about 30 minutes north at Fort Belvoir, or with visiting the Iwo Jima statue near Arlington Cemetery.
Books to Read:
All links are Amazon affiliate links.
- 14 and up:
- 10 and up:
- 6 and up: