Top 10 Things to Do at the Smithsonian in 2009

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10. Recession buster! Can’t make it to Cabo this year? Put on your flip-flops and floral print shirts and enter the Smithsonian’s very own tropical oasis, the Butterfly Pavilion at the National Museum of Natural History. It promises 95 degrees F and 80 percent humidity.

9. Prepare a Smithsonian-wide scavenger hunt for your kids, nieces or nephews with clues leading to treasures like Dorothy’s ruby slippers, a giant squid and the Wright Flyer.

8. After seeing Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, opening May 22, try to retrace the steps Ben Stiller must have made in filming it.

7. Enter the National Museum of American History’s National Anthem singing contest on YouTube, which will launch in February, for a chance to win a trip to DC and the opportunity to perform your rendition of the "Star-Spangled Banner" on Flag Day, June 14.

6. Eat a meal from every region—Northern Woodlands, South America, Northwest Coast, Meso America and the Great Plains—featured at the National Museum of the American Indian’s café.

5. Sleep over at the Smithsonian National Zoo through its Snore & Roar program. How many people can say they’ve camped out next to a lion’s den? Check this out.

4. Enter a kite in the 43rd Annual Smithsonian Kite Festival on March 28, 2009. Just make sure its bridle is on the right way. I speak from experience. And, speaking of festivals on the National Mall, go to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which runs June 24-28 and July 1-5.

3. Meet Secretary Clough, the Smithsonian Institution’s new Secretary as of 2008—even if it’s just through reading ATM blogger Beth Py-Lieberman’s interview with him.

2. Attempt a Stephen Colbert-esque quest to get your portrait in a Smithsonian museum. (You didn’t hear it here!) Or, at least, take a snapshot with his portrait (above), which now hangs next to Dumbo the Flying Elephant on the National Museum of American History’s third floor.

1. Propose to your girlfriend in front of the Hope Diamond in the National Museum of Natural History. Tell her that you wanted to get her the 45.52 carat blue diamond, but the museum just wouldn’t part with it.

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