Visiting the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC

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Can you believe that today is the last day of Black History Month? This month was pretty epic especially with the release of Black Panther.  There was one line in the movie that was so profound and brought back feelings from my visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. 

Bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from ships, ’cause they knew death was better than bondage
— Killmonger, (Michael B. Jordan

If you've been to bottom floor of the museum then you understand why this line was so powerful and why many of our ancestors chose to free themselves from bondage. The National Museum of African American History and Culture isn't a slavery museum but celebrates our history, achievements, growth, and culture. Scroll down to read my tips on how to ensure you have a great visit. 

 

Getting Tickets

Although admission to the museum is free, it can be difficult to obtain timed entry passes. As soon as you know the dates of your visit, go online to reserve a timed entry pass because they sell out very quickly. Same-day timed entry passes are available online at 6:30 a.m EST daily until they sell out. You can also obtain walk up passes after 1 pm only on week days. 

If you're a blogger, submit a media ticket request on the NMAAHC website. I submitted my request on a Sunday evening and received a response by Monday morning. I requested tickets 1 month prior to my visit.

Planning Your Visit

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I arrived to the museum on a Saturday morning around 11 am and it was PACKED! There was a long line to enter the Sweet Home Cafe and some of the exhibits were congested. I ended up visiting the museum again on a Sunday and had a totally different experience. There wasn't a crowd and I felt like I could roam freely. I recommend setting aside a full day (8 hours) to see everything the museum has to offer. Keep in mind that you may be able to see everything in less time but it really depends on your walking speed and how much information you stop to read. 

Military Tickets

Active duty personnel, veterans and first responders may enter the museum with one guest simply by showing military, work ID, or badge. My father-in-law is a veteran and was able to walk in the museum simply by showing his ID without requesting tickets in advance.  

The Exhibits

I hate spoilers so I won't post too many pictures of what I saw in the museum. I definitely recommend working your way from the bottom of the museum floor up to the top in order to gain the full experience. My husband and I spent so much time on the bottom floors that it took us a day and a half to explore the entire museum. 

Sweet Home Cafe

I'm sure you've heard great things about the museum's Sweet Home Cafe. Please believe the hype. I'd honestly be cool with simply going to the museum just to eat at the cafe again. Here's a few tips for eating at the Sweet Home Cafe. 

  1. Eat Early. Lines can get intense around lunch time. If you're visiting on a weekend its best to go to the cafe as soon as they open to avoid long lines. Keep in mind that the cafe runs out of popular items like fried chicken and macaroni and cheese. 
  2. Share. The food at the cafe is amazing, but pricey. My husband and I were able to share a fried chicken dinner and decided to order extra sides. 
  3. Visit the Cafe Twice in One Day. The cafe is less packed in the afternoons around 3, but has the tendency to run out of items later in the day. Try visiting early to order popular items before lunch, and make an afternoon stop to try desserts and items you didn't get the first time. 
  4. Finding Side Dishes. Keep in mind that the cafe stations are broken up into regions. You may have to visit a different region station in order to find the side dish you want. For instance, I wanted yams and instead of being located at the South station, they were at the Creole Coast. Be sure to visit all the stations to make sure you find what you're looking for before deciding on one thing. 
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I had a ball visiting this museum and although it was emotional at times, I left with an incredible sense of pride. Don't forget to leave without visiting the reflection waterfall (it's hidden but is nearby the cafe) and stopping by the gift shop. 

Have you visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture? If so, what did you think?

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