NASA Centers to Visit for an Out of This World Vacation

Other NASA Visitor Centers

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

There are three major NASA visitor centers that are not associated with a particular NASA facility, but are worth a visit if you're nearby.

The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum

NASA fans visiting New York City this summer should consider paying a visit to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, home to the very first space shuttle, Enterprise. The museum is built on the retired aircraft carrier Intrepid, which served as a NASA recovery vessel in the 1960s. It's a great destination for fans of spaceflight and aviation.

General admission to the Intrepid museum is $33, and viewing the shuttle is included in the price. Children under 5 are free, and there are reduced admission prices for seniors and kids ages 5 to 12. Members of the museum get free admission to all exhibits. While you're in the area, consider also taking a trip to the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History.

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum is a prime destination for fans of spaceflight, space exploration and aviation. Check the complete list of exhibits to get an idea of just how much the museum has to offer. The museum's main facility is in Washington, D.C., but there is a second facility in Chantilly, Virginia, that houses the space shuttle Discovery, which flew 39 missions — more than any other shuttle.

Admission to both facilities is free. Check the museum's website for hours of operation and other details. The Udvar-Hazy Center has lots of other artifacts and vehicles from the history of space and aviation, as well as an IMAX theater.

California Science Center

For vacationers on the West Coast, the space shuttle Endeavour is on display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles (less than an hour's drive from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena). The science center is a massive, hands-on museum with some other spaceflight artifacts, including the Apollo-Soyuz command module that joined American and Russian spacecraft together in orbit in 1975; the Gemini 11 capsule that flew two human passengers into space in 1966; and the Mercury-Redstone 2 capsule that took Ham the chimpanzee into space.

Admission to the center is free, but visitors must pay for admission to IMAX movies and special exhibits.

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Doris Elin Urrutia
Contributing Writer

Doris is a science journalist and contributor. She received a B.A. in Sociology and Communications at Fordham University in New York City. Her first work was published in collaboration with London Mining Network, where her love of science writing was born. Her passion for astronomy started as a kid when she helped her sister build a model solar system in the Bronx. She got her first shot at astronomy writing as a editorial intern and continues to write about all things cosmic for the website. Doris has also written about microscopic plant life for Scientific American’s website and about whale calls for their print magazine. She has also written about ancient humans for Inverse, with stories ranging from how to recreate Pompeii’s cuisine to how to map the Polynesian expansion through genomics. She currently shares her home with two rabbits. Follow her on twitter at @salazar_elin.