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Study Tours

Study Tours

Smithsonian Associates Study Tours takes the educational intent of our fabulous programming outside the classroom and on the road!

About our tours

Each tour is led by one of our Study Leaders with expertise in the subject matter along with a Smithsonian Representative to handle all the logistics and comforts of the group. The study leader imparts knowledge both formally and informally throughout the tour, with methods that can include a background lecture, handout materials, narrating site visits, and stimulating social engagement with all participants during the course of the tour.

Tour types

Study tours include day bus trips, multi-day and overnight tours, and shorter neighborhood walks or visits to specific sites. We offer over 70 study tours each year, and we hope you will join us!

Select a tour type to learn more:

Day bus tours visit destinations as close as Capitol Hill and as far as New York City or Maryland's Eastern Shore. Topics for these tours are wide-ranging and cover subjects such as military history, art, architecture, railroading, horticulture, gastronomy, and literature.

Popular day bus tours have included:

  • Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater
  • John Wilkes Booth's Escape Route
  • Western Maryland Scenic Railroad
  • Sultana Cruise & Historic Chestertown
  • The Cloisters of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Overnight tours give Study Leaders the opportunity to take a group a greater distance from Washington, DC. Study Leaders spend more time with participants and explore the subject in greater detail. The majority of these tours depart from Washington, DC, however for some tours the group meets at the destination.

Popular overnight tours have included:

  • Best of Brooklyn, New York
  • Berkshires Summer Sampler
  • Exploring Frank Lloyd Wright in Chicago
  • Corning Museum of Glass
  • West Virginia Railroad Spectacular

Walking and on-site tours last two to three hours. Participants meet directly at the tour destination and spend time with the Study Leader exploring that particular subject or neighborhood.

Popular walking and on-site tours have included:

  • Inside Smithsonian Libraries
  • Architecture on the National Mall
  • Dupont Circle and Embassy Row
  • Sunrise Hike at Great Falls
  • Roosevelt Island Walks

All upcoming Study Tours

Programs 1 to 5 of 21
Friday, July 26, 2024 - 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

Quilting is a tradition that has transcended the limits of culture and eras. Throughout the centuries, styles and techniques evolved, but the common thread in the creation of quilts was often their makers: women. Led by Alden O’Brien, textile and costumes curator at the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum, visit three museums to explore the role quilting has played in our society, including how it has been used to express emotion and act as a force of social justice.


Saturday, August 10, 2024 - 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. ET

Rise early and enjoy a delightful summer walk at Virginia’s Meadowlark Botanical Gardens with American Horticultural Society international travel guide Keith Tomlinson. The 95-acre setting features thousands of ornamental and native plants in numerous collections; lakes and adjacent forests that attract a variety of birds; a restored log cabin that embodies the colorful history of the garden; and a unique Korean bell pavilion.


Saturday, August 10, 2024 - 7:00 a.m., to Sunday, August 11, 2024 - 8:00 p.m. ET
In-Person Overnight Tour

The art of Impressionist-era creators is in the spotlight during a 2-day visit to three of Philadelphia’s outstanding collections led by art historian Ursula Rehn Wolfman. The Philadelphia Museum of Art exhibition “Mary Cassatt at Work” is devoted to the works of the Pennsylvania-born Impressionist, who challenged the conventional expectations of Philadelphia’s elite. “Matisse & Renoir: New Encounters at the Barnes” places masterpieces from the same period near each other and traces the development of these two artists. Showcased in an elegant Beaux-Arts–style building, the Rodin Museum’s collection of nearly 150 bronze, marble, and plaster sculptures represents every phase of Auguste Rodin’s career. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)


Friday, August 16, 2024 - 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. ET

Rise early and enjoy a delightful summer walk at Virginia’s Meadowlark Botanical Gardens with American Horticultural Society international travel guide Keith Tomlinson. The 95-acre setting features thousands of ornamental and native plants in numerous collections; lakes and adjacent forests that attract a variety of birds; a restored log cabin that embodies the colorful history of the garden; and a unique Korean bell pavilion.


Saturday, August 17, 2024 - 8:15 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. ET

The geography and environment of the Mid-Atlantic were shaped over hundreds of millions of years by influences including the impact of a massive meteor; four tectonic mountain-building events; ice sheets and tropical oceans; plants and animals; and at least 15,000 years of human habitation. Environmental historian Hayden Mathews interprets the many layers of the region’s natural history as he leads a tour to three sites in Calvert County, Maryland: Battle Creek Cypress Swamp, Calvert Marine Museum, and Flag Ponds Nature Park.