Visiting Titanic: The Exhibition at National Harbor Near DC with Kids

Kids will enjoy touching a real iceberg. Brrr!
Kids will enjoy touching a real iceberg. Brrr!
11/3/23 - By Katie Sivinski

It's been over 100 years since the Titanic sank and 25 years since James Cameron's movie Titanic premiered, and people continue to be fascinated by arguably the most famous shipwreck of all time. Now DC-area residents can learn more about the doomed ship at Titanic: The Exhibition, open in National Harbor through March 17, 2024.

At Titanic: The Exhibition, visitors can experience what it was like to be a passenger on that fateful day through an audio tour that includes historical details from one of the world's Titanic experts, Claes-Göran Wetterholm. A visit will have you remembering details from the movie, confirming indeed how accurate it was in depicting the ship and the timeline of its sinking.

I recently had the opportunity to visit Titanic: The Exhibition and enjoyed the deep dive (couldn't resist) into the facts and stories surrounding the Titanic. Read on for some interesting tidbits I learned, as well as insider tips for planning your visit. Then check out our guide to visiting National Harbor with kids to make a day of it at this waterfront entertainment destination.

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Titanic: The Exhibition at National Harbor Near DC
See photos, passengers' personal belongings, handwritten letters, and other artifacts on display. Photo by Matt Hagan, courtesy of the exhibit

About Titanic: The Exhibition at National Harbor

Titanic: The Exhibition tells visitors the complete story of the Titanic, starting with the idea for and the building of the ship, moving ahead to life onboard for the passengers, and going all the way through the rescue of the survivors and the aftermath. You can also learn more about what it was like for first-class vs. third-class passengers on the ship. I was surprised to learn from the audio guide that even passengers in third class were probably wealthier than you'd think—a third-class ticket cost the equivalent of one year of rent at the time. Many on board had saved for years to immigrate to America.

Titanic: The Exhibition at National Harbor Near DC
This could be where Jack drew that picture of Rose!

It is well known that Jack and Rose from the Titanic movie were not real people. However, there was a couple on board that had eerie similarities to the characters, which you'll learn about at the exhibit. Two passengers named Kate and Henry bought second-class tickets under false names to travel together unmarried. Henry presented a sapphire necklace to Kate on the Titanic, which is on display in the exhibit. When the boat sank, only Kate got on a lifeboat. Nine months later she gave birth to their child.

Titanic: The Exhibition at National Harbor Near DC
Wander down a realistic replica of a First Class hallway inside the Titanic.

You'll get to see authentic replicas of many places on the ship, including the first-class hallways, the dining room, first- and third-class rooms, and many more. There are also photos, handwritten letters, passengers' personal belongs, and other items on display. The gift shop at the end of the exhibit includes books and other Titanic-themed souvenirs.

Bonus info: To see if a Titanic picture is authentic, check how many funnels on top of the ship have smoke coming out of them. The fourth funnel is a dummy funnel that wasn't actually connected to the engines and never put out smoke.

Titanic: The Exhibition at National Harbor Near DC
Marvel at a scale model of the Titanic.

Know Before You Go to Titanic: The Exhibition

Location

Titanic: The Exhibition is located at 254 Mariner Passage in National Harbor.

Length of the Experience

An audio guide is included for all visitors, and each of the numbered stops throughout the exhibit gives detailed information and emotional stories. Visitors can expect the full tour to take 80 to 90 minutes, but people are free to set their own pace and pause the audio guide while on the tour.

Age Range

Titanic: The Exhibition is open to all ages. I had hoped to bring my 10-year old history buff son, but as many plans go with kids, he got sick. Instead, I took my 5-year old.

While I'd recommend Titanic: The Exhibition more for kids ages 10 and up, my little guy had a great time. He really enjoy touching the real iceberg and seeing the replicas of the rooms and the ship models, though he was a little bored by the audio tour. There are no graphic depictions of the ship sinking or people drowning, if you're concerned about that.

Ticket Information

Tickets must be purchased online for a specific date and time—no tickets are available at the door. Ticket prices vary depending on the day of the week, and children 4 and under are free. VIP access (available for an extra cost) includes fast-track passes and a souvenir photograph at the mural of the grand staircase.

Parking

Parking is available directly across from the exhibit at the St. George parking garage. Parking is by the hour, with variable rates depending on how long you stay.

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Titanic: The Exhibition at National Harbor Near DC
Take a peek at a model of a first-class room.

More Important Information

There are restrooms in the exhibit, as well as benches throughout for guests who need a break. Titanic: The Exhibition is also wheelchair-accessible.

Overall, I really enjoyed my visit to Titanic: The Exhibition. I highly recommend it for history lovers and anyone else fascinated by the Titanic, including those like me who enjoyed watching the movie when it came out. Hurry and buy tickets before they sell out—and before the exhibit leaves town on December 10!

Photos are by the author unless noted otherwise.

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