Best Way-Far-Off-The-Beaten-Path Museum
National Pinball Museum
3222 M St. NW, (202) 337-1222
You take the Smithsonian for granted. We all do. The buildings on the Mall host globally competitive collections of art alongside precious repositories of science and culture, but they’re also tourist central. Sure, the Hirshhorn offers endless intellectual stimulation, but if you don’t feel like dealing with the crowds, head over to Georgetown for some pinball. Yeah, pinball. The National Pinball Museum not only documents the history of the arcade favorite but offers plenty of playable examples as well. Quicken your wrist and hone your reflexes while taking in 140 years of culture. Read up on the evolution of pinball art while the kids enjoy interactive exhibitions. The museum also offers workshops that teach every element of pinball-making craft—from screenprinting to soldering. Curator David Silverman’s creation is an unexpected gem, a charmingly quirky counterbalance to the city’s otherwise high-minded museum culture.