Take a spectacular intergalactic journey as you view the ultra-clear Arizona sky with hands-on telescope viewing and take behind-the-scenes tours of world-renowned centers for astronomy research.

Starting at: $3,295 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 MMT Observatory, Mount Hopkins.   Credit: Howard Lester  A gibbous moon overlooks one of Smithsonian's telescope domes, opening to prepare for night observation.  Credit: David Aguilar  A 10-meter-diameter telescope, which searches for flashes of light created when gamma rays hit Earth's atmosphere. Credit: David Aguilar  Sky watching through one of many telescopes at Smithsonian's Whipple Observatory. Credit: David Aguilar  The Observatory's giant gamma-ray telescope. Credit: David Aguilar

Astronomy in Arizona

Featuring Smithsonian’s Whipple Observatory

5 days from $3,295

Take a spectacular intergalactic journey as you view the ultra-clear Arizona sky with hands-on telescope viewing and take behind-the-scenes tours of world-renowned centers for astronomy research.

or Call 855-330-1542

Tour Details

WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY

Arizona Astronomy… a trip for the mind and soul! 

- John H.

The excitement of learning in-depth astronomy made me feel like a kid - I was not the only participant who made this exclamation. 

- June V.

Been to China, Antarctica, Italy, Hawaii, Arizona - all with extremely competent, friendly, and helpful leaders - I'll be back! 

- Doublas C.

JOURNEYS DISPATCHES

See All Journeys Dispatches ››

Accommodations

* Click on hotel name to visit hotel web-site.

Arizona Inn

Tucson, United States

The Arizona Inn is a historic, boutique, resort hotel spread over 14 acres of gardens and lawns in the heart of mid-town Tucson, Arizona. The luxury inn has been continually owned and operated by the same family since its inception in 1930 under the careful eye of its founder, Isabella Greenway. Its casita-style rooms and suites have been maintained and restored ever since, keeping their original warmth, privacy, comfort, and charm while gaining all the modern-day resort amenities a guest might desire. All guest rooms feature writing desks, refrigerators, coffee-makers, 27" televisions with cable, DVD players, complimentary high-speed Internet access, voice mail, bathrobes, irons and ironing boards, and hairdryers.

Number of nights: 4



Activity Level

Activity Level 3:  Moderate / Active


Expectations: Five-day trip featuring late evening sky viewing at two observatories. High elevations range from 8,500 feet at the Whipple Observatory to 9,157 feet at the Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter. Both excursions to these observatories require taking smaller vehicles to reach the summit after reaching a certain point by motor coach. These high altitudes may be difficult for some guests, especially coming from sea level. At a minimum, many people are affected with shortness of breath, dehydration, and headache and/or nausea.  

Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit, lead active lives, are comfortable participating in long days of activities, and expect some physical exertion. 

Additional Information

Touring observatories will require participants to travel to mountain ridges. If you have any concerns about your health or traveling to higher altitude, please contact your physician prior to registering for this program.

Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory: 8,500 ft. elevation

Smithsonian’s Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory is located approximately 8,500 feet above sea level. There is a narrow roadway leading up the mountain from the Visitors Center, so it is necessary to leave our motor coach at the Visitors Center and ride in smaller vehicles to reach the summit. The ride from the Visitors Center to the ridge is about 30-40 minutes each way.

Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter: 9,157 feet

Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter is located in the mountains north and east of Tucson at an elevation of 9, 157 feet. We will travel by private motor coach and the journey will be entirely on paved roads.

Testimonials

WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY

Arizona Astronomy… a trip for the mind and soul! 

- John H.

The excitement of learning in-depth astronomy made me feel like a kid - I was not the only participant who made this exclamation. 

- June V.

Been to China, Antarctica, Italy, Hawaii, Arizona - all with extremely competent, friendly, and helpful leaders - I'll be back! 

- Doublas C.
Reading List
Moon Tucson (Travel Guide)
By: Tim Hull
Experience the distinct flavor of a thriving desert enclave with Old West roots and an artsy spirit. Inside Moon Tucson you'll find:The top sights and unique experiences: Visit remnants of ancient cultures or browse galleries of Pueblo art. Tour Mission San Xavier del Bac, stroll through Tucson's El Presidio Historic District, and see artifacts from the Old West in a ghost townGet a taste of the city: Eat traditional chiles rellenos and fresh handmade tortillas or try a Sonoran hot dog with all the fixings. Dance to live music and check out the street vendors at downtown's Second Saturdays, sip habanero-infused vodka, and stargaze at an astronomy barIdeas for recreation like hiking, biking, or horseback riding among the saguaro cacti, or stopping at a resort for a round of golf or a spa day Local insight from Tucson resident Tim HullExtensive coverage of the Santa Cruz Valley, the Border Region, and Southeastern Arizona: Go deep into Kartchner Caverns, hike the Huachuca Mountains, or kick back at a historic saloon in TombstoneHonest advice on when to go, where to stay, how to get there, and how to get aroundMaps and Tools like background information on the landscape, history, culture, plus full-color photos and easy-to-read mapsWith Moon Tucson's practical tips and local know-how, you can experience the best of this Southwest destination.Exploring the area? Try Moon Arizona & the Grand Canyon or Moon Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque. Hitting the road? Try Moon Southwest Road Trip.
DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Arizona & the Grand Canyon
By: DK Travel
The best things to do in Arizona and the Four Corners, including the magnificent Grand Canyon and the spectacular Monument Valley, are showcased with fantastic photography, illustrations, and detailed descriptions. Explore the diverse towns and cities of Flagstaff, Phoenix, and Tucson, before heading to admire Canyon de Chelly National Monument, known for its archaeological sites and spectacular scenery.Discover DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Arizona & the Grand Canyon.   • Hotel and restaurant listings and recommendations.    • Detailed itineraries and "don't-miss" destination highlights at a glance.    • Illustrated cutaway 3-D drawings of important sights.    • Floor plans and guided visitor information for major museums.    • Free, color pull-out map (print edition) marked with sights, a selected site and street index, public transit map, practical information on getting around, and a distance chart for measuring walking distances.    • Guided walking tours, local drink and dining specialties to try, things to do, and places to eat, drink, and shop by area.    • Area maps marked with sights and restaurants.    • Detailed city maps include street finder index for easy navigation.    • Insights into history and culture to help you understand the stories behind the sights.    • Suggested day-trips and itineraries to explore beyond the city. With hundreds of full-color photographs, hand-drawn illustrations, and custom maps that illuminate every page, DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Arizona & the Grand Canyon truly shows you this state as no one else can.Series Overview: DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Top 10s are handy travel guides that take the work out of planning a trip. Packed with amazing ideas, informative maps, insider tips, and useful advice, DK's Top 10 guides lead you to the very best your destination has to offer. The pocket size make these the perfect guide to take on vacation. Discover the history, art, architecture, and culture of your destination through Top 10 lists, from the best museums, bars, and sights to the places to avoid.
The Universe in Your Hand: A Journey Through Space, Time, and Beyond
By: Christophe Galfard
"If Ms. Frizzle were a physics student of Stephen Hawking, she might have written THE UNIVERSE IN YOUR HAND, a wild tour through the reaches of time and space, from the interior of a proton to the Big Bang to the rough suburbs of a black hole. It's friendly, excitable, erudite, and cosmic."―Jordan Ellenberg, New York Times besteselling author of How Not To Be WrongQuantum physics, black holes, string theory, the Big Bang, dark matter, dark energy, parallel universes: even if we are interested in these fundamental concepts of our world, their language is the language of math. Which means that despite our best intentions of finally grasping, say, Einstein's Theory of General Relativity, most of us are quickly brought up short by a snarl of nasty equations or an incomprehensible graph. Christophe Galfard's mission in life is to spread modern scientific ideas to the general public in entertaining ways. Using his considerable skills as a brilliant theoretical physicist and successful young adult author, The Universe in Your Hand employs the immediacy of simple, direct language to show us, not explain to us, the theories that underpin everything we know about our universe. To understand what happens to a dying star, we are asked to picture ourselves floating in space in front of it. To get acquainted with the quantum world, we are shrunk to the size of an atom and then taken on a journey. Employing everyday similes and metaphors, addressing the reader directly, and writing stories rather than equations renders these astoundingly complex ideas in an immediate and visceral way. Utterly captivating and entirely unique, The Universe in Your Hand will find its place among other classics in the field.
Cosmos
By: Carl Sagan
RETURNING TO TELEVISION AS AN ALL-NEW MINISERIES ON FOXCosmos is one of the bestselling science books of all time. In clear-eyed prose, Sagan reveals a jewel-like blue world inhabited by a life form that is just beginning to discover its own identity and to venture into the vast ocean of space. Featuring a new Introduction by Sagan’s collaborator, Ann Druyan, full color illustrations, and a new Foreword by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, Cosmos retraces the fourteen billion years of cosmic evolution that have transformed matter into consciousness, exploring such topics as the origin of life, the human brain, Egyptian hieroglyphics, spacecraft missions, the death of the Sun, the evolution of galaxies, and the forces and individuals who helped to shape modern science.Praise for Cosmos   “Magnificent . . . With a lyrical literary style, and a range that touches almost all aspects of human knowledge, Cosmos often seems too good to be true.”—The Plain Dealer   “Sagan is an astronomer with one eye on the stars, another on history, and a third—his mind’s—on the human condition.”—Newsday   “Brilliant in its scope and provocative in its suggestions . . . shimmers with a sense of wonder.”—The Miami Herald   “Sagan dazzles the mind with the miracle of our survival, framed by the stately galaxies of space.”—Cosmopolitan   “Enticing . . . iridescent . . . imaginatively illustrated.”—The New York Times Book Review
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
By: Neil deGrasse Tyson
Over a year on the New York Times bestseller list and more than a million copies sold. The essential universe, from our most celebrated and beloved astrophysicist.What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? There’s no better guide through these mind-expanding questions than acclaimed astrophysicist and best-selling author Neil deGrasse Tyson.But today, few of us have time to contemplate the cosmos. So Tyson brings the universe down to Earth succinctly and clearly, with sparkling wit, in tasty chapters consumable anytime and anywhere in your busy day.While you wait for your morning coffee to brew, for the bus, the train, or a plane to arrive, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry will reveal just what you need to be fluent and ready for the next cosmic headlines: from the Big Bang to black holes, from quarks to quantum mechanics, and from the search for planets to the search for life in the universe.
Sun Moon Earth: The History of Solar Eclipses from Omens of Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets
By: Tyler Nordgren
With beautiful illustrations and a detailed map, Sun Moon Earth has everything you need to get ready for the next solar eclipse.On April 8, 2024, millions of Americans will experience an awe-inspiring phenomenon: a total eclipse of the sun. In Sun Moon Earth, astronomer Tyler Nordgren illustrates how this most seemingly unnatural of natural phenomena was transformed from a fearsome omen to a tourist attraction. From the astrologers of ancient China and Babylon to the high priests of the Maya, Sun Moon Earth takes us around the world to show how different cultures interpreted these dramatic events. Greek philosophers discovered eclipses' cause and used them to measure their world and the cosmos beyond. Victorian-era scientists mounted eclipse expeditions during the age of globe-spanning empires. And modern-day physicists continue to use eclipses to confirm Einstein's theory of relativity.Beautifully illustrated and lyrically written, Sun Moon Earth is the ideal guide for all eclipse watchers and star gazers alike.
NightWatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe
By: Terence Dickinson
Revised Fourth Edition: updated for use through 2025. The first three editions of NightWatch sold more than 600,000 copies, making it the top-selling stargazing guide in the world for the last 20 years. The key feature of this classic title is the section of star charts that are cherished by backyard astronomers everywhere. Each new edition has outsold the previous one because of thorough revisions and additional new material. NightWatch has been acclaimed as the best general interest introduction to astronomy. The fourth edition has improvements over the 3rd edition in every chapter, including: The famous charts, ideal for stargazers using a small telescope or binoculars A complete update of the equipment section, including computerized telescopes An enlarged photography section, including how-to instructions for using the new generation of digital cameras for astronomical photography, both with and without a telescope The tables of future solar and lunar eclipses, planetary conjunctions and planet locations, updated through 2025. This edition includes star charts for use in the southern hemisphere. There are also dozens of new photographs throughout the book that show the latest thrilling discoveries made by current space observatories and probes.
100 Things to See in the Night Sky: From Planets and Satellites to Meteors and Constellations, Your Guide to Stargazing
By: Dean Regas
A handy field guide for the best stargazing experience whether in your own back yard, camping, or travelling—including information showing you which planets, constellations, stars, and manmade objects you can see with a telescope, or just your naked eye!The night sky is full of amazing things to see—from shooting stars and constellations to planets and satellites—but it can be hard to tell what you’re seeing, or where to look for the best view. 100 Things to See in the Night Sky gives you a clear picture of what you can see on any given night, either using a small telescope, or just your naked eye. Each object is presented as a separate entry, with background information on the makeup, appearance, and history of the object, along with easy-to-follow instructions on how to find it. For astronomy and space fans of all ages, this guide helps you explore the galaxy and see the stars—while keeping your feet on the ground.
See It with a Small Telescope: 101 Cosmic Wonders Including Planets, Moons, Comets, Galaxies, Nebulae, Star Clusters and More
By: Will Kalif
Have Fun Exploring the Stars with Close-up Views of Space Objects Right from Your Own BackyardTake the mystery and struggle out of discovering new worlds. With hands-on tips, tricks and instructions, this book allows you to unleash the full power of your small telescope and view amazing space objects right from your own backyard, including:• Saturn’s Rings• Jupiter’s Moons• Apollo 11's Landing Site• Orion Nebula• Andromeda Galaxy• Polaris Double Star• Pegasus Globular Cluster• And much, much more!
LINE RIDER: An Arizona Ranger's True Story of Indians, Outlaws, Gamblers, and Stampedes
By: Joseph Harrison Pearce, J Washburn
Line Rider is the true story of the life of Joseph Harrison Pearce (1873-1958), written by his own hand. During his lifetime, the “wild west” from the storybooks still lived and breathed in one of the last places to be modernized—Arizona. Joe, as he calls himself, took various roles throughout his adventurous life, including sheep herder, cowman, courter, tracker, line rider, and, most famously, that venerated breed of law man know as the Arizona Ranger. His story leads him to encounters with cattle rustlers, gamblers, saloons, stampedes, horse thieves, Indian trackers, outlaws, and nearly every other subject that later made its way into western legend.But this story is absolutely real, told in his own voice in vivid detail.
A Natural History of the Sonoran Desert
By: Steven John Phillips, Patricia Wentworth Comus, Mark Alan Dimmitt, Linda M. Brewer
The landscape of the Sonoran Desert Region varies dramatically from parched desert lowlands to semiarid tropical forests and frigid subalpine meadows. Covering southeasternmost California, much of southern and central Arizona, most of Baja California, and much of the state of Sonora, Mexico, it is home to an extraordinary variety of plants and animals. A Natural History of the Sonoran Desert takes readers deep into its vast expanse, looking closely at the relationships of plants and animals with the land and people, through time and across landscapes. In accessible language, more than forty scientists and/or naturalists examine the region’s biodiversity, geology, weather, plants, and animals (from invertebrates to fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals), as well as potential threats to the species and habitats. The text is supplemented throughout with anecdotes, essays, photographs, maps, diagrams, and 450 finely rendered drawings. This new edition adds chapters on the Sky Islands, Sea of Cortez, desert pollinators, and conservation issues. Taxonomic nomenclature has been updated and new color plates and figures have been added. This comprehensive natural history, like the original edition, will surely become an invaluable companion for nature enthusiasts, birdwatchers, hikers, students, naturalists, and anyone interested in the desert Southwest. Published in association with the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.  
Universe
By: Robert Dinwiddie, Philip Eales, David Hughes, Iain Nicolson, Ian Ridpath, Robin Scagell, Giles Sparrow, Pam Spence, Carole Stott, Kevin Tildsley
From the fiery mass of the Sun's core to the black hole at the center of the Milky Way, Universe takes you on the ultimate guided tour of the cosmos. Full of stunning out-of-this world images reflecting recent advances in space imagery, you'll go on a journey from our solar system all the way to the farthest limits of space. With information on the nature of the universe, the study of cosmology, Earth's motion, modern telescopes, astrophotography, and even a comprehensive star atlas, this groundbreaking encyclopedia takes a dazzling and expansive look at the Universe and is a must-have for both students and astronomy enthusiasts. Includes a comprehensive star atlas that covers all the constellations and planetary charts showing their positions right up to 2019, with entries on each of the 88 constellations and notable celestial objects that lie within them, and a monthly sky guide showing the night sky as it appears throughout the year.
Solar System: A Visual Exploration of All the Planets, Moons and Other Heavenly Bodies that Orbit Our Sun
By: Marcus Chown
Journey through time and space with Solar System, a new and mesmerizing way to experience the magnitude of the universe through fascinating text, original graphics, and stunning photographs captured by space probes, some rarely- or never-before-seen. Never before have the wonders of our solar system been so immediately accessible to readers of all ages. Award-winning writer and broadcaster Marcus Chown combines science and history to visually and narratively explore our neighboring planets, dwarf planets, moons and asteroids, as well as all of the historical figures who aided in their discoveries. From the explosive surface of the sun to the frosty blue dunes on Mars; from the gargantuan rings of Saturn to the volcanoes of Io; from geological maps of bedrock on the Moon, to a simulation of what the Oort Cloud might look like, Solar System offers a window seat from which to view the beauty and magnificence of space.
Observatories of the Southwest: A Guide for Curious Skywatchers
By: Douglas Isbell, Stephen E. Strom
With its clear skies and low humidity, the southwestern United States is an astronomer’s paradise where observatories like Kitt Peak have redefined the art of skywatching. The region is unique in its loose federation of like-minded research outposts and in the quantity and diversity of its observatories—places captured in this unique guidebook.Douglas Isbell and Stephen Strom, both intimately involved in southwestern astronomy, have written a practical guide to the major observatories of the region for those eager to learn what modern telescopes are doing, to understand the role each of these often quirky places has played in advancing our understanding of the cosmos, and hopefully to visit and see the tools of the astronomer up close. For each observatory, the authors describe its history, highlights of its contributions to astronomy—with an emphasis on recent results—and information for visitors. Also included are wide-ranging interviews with astronomers closely associated with each site.Observatories covered range from McDonald in Texas to Palomar in California, with significant outposts in between: Arizona’s Kitt Peak National Observatory southwest of Tucson, the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, and the Whipple Observatory outside Amado; and New Mexico’s Very Large Array near Socorro and Sacramento Peak close to Sunspot. In addition to describing these established institutions, they also take a look ahead to the most powerful ground-based telescope in the world just beginning to operate at full power on Mount Graham in Safford, Arizona.With more than three dozen illustrations, Observatories of the Southwest is accessible to amateur astronomers, tourists, students, and teachers—anyone fascinated with the contributions that astronomy has made to deepening our understanding of humanity’s place in the universe, whether exploring the solar system from Lowell Observatory or studying the birth of stars using the army of giant radio telescopes at the Very Large Array. This book aims to inspire visits to these sites by illuminating the major scientific questions being pursued every clear night beneath the dark skies of the Southwest and the amazing machinery that makes these pursuits possible.
Under Desert Skies: How Tucson Mapped the Way to the Moon and Planets (Sentinel Peak Books)
By: Melissa L. Sevigny
President Kennedy’s announcement that an American would walk on the Moon before the end of the 1960s took the scientific world by surprise. The study of the Moon and planets had long fallen out of favor with astronomers: they were the stuff of science fiction, not science. An upstart planetary laboratory in Tucson would play a vital role in the nation’s grand new venture, and in doing so, it would help create the field of planetary science. Founded by Gerard P. Kuiper in 1960, the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) at the University of Arizona broke free from traditional astronomical techniques to embrace a wide range of disciplines necessary to the study of planets, including geology, atmospheric sciences, and the elegant emerging technology of spacecraft. Brash, optimistic young students crafted a unique sense of camaraderie in the fledgling institution. Driven by curiosity and imagination, LPL scientists lived through—and, indeed, made happen—the shattering transition in which Earth’s nearest neighbors became more than simple points of light in the sky.Under Desert Skies tells the story of how a small corner of Arizona became Earth’s ambassador to space. From early efforts to reach the Moon to the first glimpses of Mars’s bleak horizons and Titan’s swirling atmosphere to the latest ambitious plans to touch an asteroid, LPL’s history encompasses humanity’s unfolding knowledge about our place in the universe.
Smithsonian Handbooks: Stars and Planets (Smithsonian Handbooks)
By: Ian Ridpath
Authoritative text, charts and diagrams, photographs, and a systematic approach make DK's Smithsonian Handbooks: Stars and Planets the most comprehensive and concise pocket guide to observing the night sky.Each planet is illustrated and described in detail, with location charts and diagrams and a month-by-month guide to interesting features of the night sky. All 88 constellations are examined, along with objects they contain, such as notable stars, star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies. For those new to astronomy, a highly visual introduction explains many basic concepts and offers expert advice on the best methods and equipment for observation.This book is one of a series covering plants, animals, and other natural phenomena from around the world and is published in association with the Smithsonian Institution.
Smithsonian Space 2019 Wall Calendar
By: Smithsonian Institution
On July 23, 1999, NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory was launched aboard the space shuttle Columbia and deployed into orbit. With Chandra, the most powerful x-ray telescope ever built, scientists can explore the exotic realm of super-hot, high-energy x-ray sources, including exploding stars and black holes. In 20 years of operation, the Chandra X-ray Observatory has had a widespread, transformative impact on 21st century astrophysics. Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) is a joint collaboration between the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Harvard College Observatory. CfA scientists study the origin, evolution and ultimate fate of the universe. Space 2019 features extraordinary images from Chandra, along with informative text. This twelve month wall calendar has spacious grids, international holidays and moon phases. There are sections at the back of the calendar for emergency contact information and birthdays/anniversaries and a full-page 3-year at-a-glance. Earth friendly, printed with soya-based inks on FSC certified paper. 12 x 12 inches (opens to 12 x 24 inches).
24x36 World Wall Map by Smithsonian Journeys - Tan Oceans Special Edition (24x36 Paper Folded)
By: Smithsonian Journeys
Swiftmaps is proud to partner with Smithsonian Journeys to bring a new and exciting World Map series to the American marketplace. Featuring eye-catching bold and vivid colors complemented with rich vintage tan ocean tones that will make this the perfect reference piece --- sure to stand-out and highlight any home or business wall. The precise detail and digital accuracy shows color-matching visual shaded 3D relief and other physical features without sacrificing the maps readability. Now printed on high-quality 80 lb. paper and professionally FOLDED in a compact 8x10 inch size. FEATURES: 1) Africa centered allowing viewers to see continents complete and intact 2) Clearly labeled country and city names for easy location 3) Latitude and longitude indications 4) Shaded relief of ocean and land topography 4) Desirable Miller Projection. The Smithsonian Journeys wall map series serve not only as a handy reference piece, but as an eye-catching accent for any room or office. NOTE: each map is professionally folded to 8x10 inches and when unfolded the map is 24 inches high and 36 inches wide.
Travel Insurance

For the convenience of our travelers, Smithsonian Journeys includes an on-tour Provided Insurance Plan through Travel Guard with the price of your tour. This travel insurance plan includes On-tour medical evacuation insurance (up to $100,000), emergency medical expense coverage (up to $25,000), dental expense coverage (up to $500), travel medical assistance and worldwide travel assistance (U.S. Residents only, not including U.S. Territories). Travel must be more than 100 miles from the Insured’s primary residence.

In addition, you may want to consider purchasing travel insurance to protect your investment from unforeseen events, such as missed flight connections, lost luggage, and cancelled plans. There are many plans you can consider. For your convenience, you may visit www.TravelGuard.com/SmithsonianJourneys or call Travel Guard at 1.800.208.6142 to learn more.

Terms and conditions

Mission

Smithsonian Journeys engage travelers in the mission of the Smithsonian – “the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” Like the Institution, our tours enrich our guests’ lives and satisfy their curiosity about the world. Your participation benefits the work of Smithsonian’s 19 museums, National Zoo, and nine research centers, helping to preserve our national treasures and shape the future through science, research, and exhibitions.

What Is Included in the Tour Cost

  • Expertise of a Smithsonian Journeys expert, tour director and local guides throughout the tour
  • All gratuities for the expert, tour director, on-tour guides and drivers
  • On-tour emergency evacuation insurance (up to $100,000), medical expense coverage (up to $25,000), dental expense coverage (up to $500), travel medical assistance and worldwide travel assistance. (U.S. Residents only)
  • Pre-tour information, including a reading list
  • Transfers and luggage handling abroad for all travelers whose arrival(s)/departure(s) coincide with the scheduled group transfer(s)
  • All on-tour transportation, unless otherwise noted
  • All accommodations for the duration of the tour
  • Meals, as noted in the itinerary (B-breakfast; L-lunch; D-dinner; R-reception)
  • All sightseeing and visits as noted in each itinerary

What Is Not Included in the Tour Cost

  • Passport and all visa fees and photos; immunization(s); and any other travel documentation fees as required
  • Optional travel insurance, including cancellation/delay/lost baggage insurance
  • Personal items, unless otherwise stated, such as wine, liquors, a-la-carte orders
  • Expenses incurred by our tour operator in making any individual travel arrangements in conjunction with the tour
  • Airline baggage and other airline fees and associated taxes, unless noted in Tour description
  • Communication Charges (e.g.: phone, internet, etc.)
  • Other items noted as optional or not specifically mentioned as included

Registration

To submit a reservation request, please use our secure online system at SmithsonianJourneys.org or contact a Cultural Travel Specialist, at 1-855-330-1542 Mon-Fri 9 am - 7 pm; Sat 9 am – 4 pm (Eastern Time). Submitting an online request does not guarantee space on a tour.  You will be notified by a Reservation Specialist of your status once your request has been received and processed.  
 

To complete your reservation, the following information is required.
In accordance with the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Secure Flight program, for all international tours, passport information is required, including the following:   Full name as it appears on your passport, Date of birth, and Gender (for further information, please visit www.tsa.gov).

Payments

A deposit of $500 per person is required to reserve a space on a tour.  All payments may be made by credit card or check to the tour operator.  Deposits are applied to final payment of the tour price.

Final payment is due 95 days prior to departure, unless otherwise noted.  Balance is due upon invoicing.  If full payment is not received by the final payment due date, your place cannot be guaranteed on the tour.

Late Registration

Any registration received within 95 days of departure is considered “on-request” and is subject to specific confirmation. Some tours are more restrictive. Payment in full must be made immediately by credit card, or by check sent by overnight mail to the tour operator, before confirmation is possible.

Once confirmed, cancellation penalties apply as set forth below. If confirmation is not possible, all payments made will be refunded in full. Late registration confirmation procedures apply to any traveler who is transferred from the wait list to the tour within the designated late registration period for that tour.

For additional information, please contact a Cultural Travel Specialist, at 1-855-330-1542 Mon-Fri 9 am - 7 pm; Sat 9 am – 4 pm (Eastern Time), at SJReservations@si.edu or SmithsonianJourneys.org.

A Note about Costs

All prices are based on two persons sharing a room/cabin. All prices are quoted in U.S. dollars. Tour costs are based upon current airfares, tariffs, currency values, and on the basis of a presumptive minimum number of travelers. While we will do everything possible to maintain the listed prices, they are subject to change.   Due to fluctuations in oil prices, a fuel surcharge may be added to your tour fee (e.g. internal flights, cruises, etc.).  Details and costs will be advised prior to departure.

Wait List

If the tour of your choice is fully subscribed, you may choose to be placed on a wait list by contacting a Cultural Travel Specialist, at 1-855-330-1542 Mon-Fri 9 am - 7 pm; Sat 9 am – 4 pm (Eastern Time), at SJReservations@si.edu or at www.SmithsonianJourneys.org/Contact. Individuals on the wait list will be contacted if space becomes available and can inquire about tour status by contacting a Reservation Specialist. If you choose to withdraw from a wait list, please notify us.  

Cancellation and Refund Policy

Following enrollment, a traveler’s withdrawal from the tour for any reason, including, but not limited to, illness, injury, family engagements, work-related issues, or geopolitical concerns, etc., will be deemed a cancellation. Please understand that there will be no exceptions to our cancellation policy.

Per person cancellation fees are based on date of written notice to Smithsonian Journeys. Tour operator will refund on the following basis:

  • Cancellations within 7 days of booking:  Full Refund (unless it is within final payment date, 95 days before departure)
  • Cancellations after 7 days of booking:  Full Deposit Retained
  • Cancellations made within final payment date, 95 days before departure:  No Refund
  • Cancellation by Smithsonian Journeys:  Full Refund or Credit

Air Service

For tour packages that include round-trip international airfare, rates are based on economy class from designated departure cities as shown. Airfares from other cities are available upon request. Airline upgrades at additional cost may be available on request for the international portion of your flight. Since international and domestic air schedules are subject to change at any time, we recommend that if you choose to make your own airline reservations, you do not purchase nonrefundable tickets or those with high penalties for changes. Neither Smithsonian Journeys nor the tour operator has any liability for any loss resulting from tour cancellations or changes in international gateways, travel dates, or airline schedule changes. If an air schedule requires an overnight stay in a gateway city, the cost of the overnight will be at your expense. For tour packages that include round-trip international airfare, we will be happy to help with arrangements. Please note that seat assignment on your international flight is usually done at airport check-in. The tour operator is unable to guarantee any seat assignments.

When planning our tours that include international round-trip airfare, the tour operator contracts with those airlines that they feel provide the level of service, routings, and value necessary for your entire trip. While another airline may offer a more direct connection, it may be at a price unavailable at the lower group rates that enable us to offer you the best possible travel value. Please note that frequent flyer mileage credits are issued at the discretion of the airline(s) and may not be available for the flights on your tour. If you prefer to make your own airline reservations, “land only” pricing is available on most of our tours.

Individual Arrivals and Group Transfers
A designated group flight is not included on most tours. However, transportation from the arrival airport to the ship/hotel is included in your tour cost if you arrive in time to meet the scheduled group transfer. Your first tour bulletin will thoroughly explain the details of the options available for your individual flights.

Air Tickets Purchased Independently of the Tour
We urge you to check airline cancellation penalties before purchasing airline tickets since international departure times and flights can change. Tours also can be canceled due to low enrollments. Neither Smithsonian Institution nor the tour operator accepts liability for cancellation penalties related to domestic or international airline tickets purchased independently in conjunction with a tour.

Travel Insurance

For the convenience of our travelers, Smithsonian Journeys includes an on-tour Provided Insurance Plan, through Travel Guard, with the price of your tour. On-tour emergency evacuation insurance (up to $100,000), medical expense coverage (up to $25,000), dental expense coverage (up to $500), travel medical assistance and worldwide travel assistance (U.S. Residents only). It also includes up to $25,000 medical and up to $500 dental expense coverage, and 24-hour worldwide travel and medical assistance. Please click here to view complete coverage details.

Please visit www.TravelGuard.com/SmithsonianJourneys or call Travel Guard at 1-800-208-6142 to learn about additional (optional) coverage.

Travel Documents

For all international departures, a passport valid for at least six months after the completion of your tour, and with at least six blank visa pages, is required for U.S. citizens on all tours in this catalog. If your tour requires a visa or other entry documents, we will send you the appropriate information after you make a reservation. You are responsible for obtaining these documents. If you are not a U.S. citizen, please contact your embassy or consulate to ensure you obtain the proper documentation.

Physical and Medical Considerations

Please note that these tours require that participants be in good physical condition. You must be capable, without assistance, of walking a minimum of two miles over uneven terrain and of climbing stairs that may not have handrails. Participants should have sufficient stamina to keep pace with an active group of travelers on long days of touring. If you have any questions about your ability to participate in a tour, please call us at 855-330-1542. Some tours have additional notes regarding physical and medical considerations, which may be discussed with the Cultural Travel Specialist at 855-330-1542.

Itinerary or Program Modifications

Smithsonian strives to improve tour itineraries and their features. If improvements can be made, or unforeseen circumstances beyond our control make changes necessary, we reserve the right to vary itineraries and to substitute hotels. Every effort will be made to carry out the program as planned but alterations may still occur after the final itinerary is sent. Please note that weather conditions may force changes to the advertised sailing schedule on cruise programs. The ship’s captain has the authority to change the ship’s schedule.

Accommodations

Smithsonian chooses hotels based on a combination of their location, service, atmosphere, and price. On adventure tours and programs in out-of-the-way places, best-available hotels are used. In most cases, hotels have elevators and meeting rooms for Smithsonian lectures. Program prices are based on two persons sharing a room with a bath.

Singles and Roommates
Hotel rooms are always reserved for single travelers; however the number of single rooms available on a tour may be limited. Therefore we recommend that you register early. Please note that a single supplement will apply for a single room. If you are traveling alone and wish to share a room, we will do our best to find someone of the same gender and smoking preference to share with you. If you are matched with a non-smoking roommate, it is mutually agreed that you cannot smoke in your hotel room. When a roommate cannot be found, the single supplement will be charged. 

Children

All tours, except family programs, are designed for adults. Some may be suitable for older children. Regardless of age, children must pay full price unless otherwise noted, and a parent or guardian must accompany those under 18.

Special Travel Arrangements

Participants may wish to extend their stay in the group hotel. Please note that the tour operator can assist you in making post-tour arrangements only. We regret that we are unable to help with pre-tour arrangements.

Photography
Participants on tour may be photographed for the educational and promotional purposes of the Smithsonian Institution. Photographs may be printed in publications and posted on websites to promote Smithsonian Journeys. Travelers who prefer that their image not be used must advise the tour manager at the beginning of the tour.

Smoking Policy
For the comfort of all participants, we ask that there be no smoking during all group activities, including excursions and meals. On certain cruises, there is no smoking aboard the ship. Your pre-tour bulletins will provide further information.

Preparing for Your Journey

Prior to departure, you will receive Tour Bulletins containing both general and tour specific information to help you prepare for your travel experience. These bulletins will include:

  • Passport and visa instructions
  • Flight information
  • Weather, clothing, and packing suggestions
  • A suggested reading list
  • General information about the countries you will visit, e.g. the food, customs, medical precautions, and currency.
  • Information about your Smithsonian Journeys Expert and tour staff
  • Baggage tag(s) and name badge(s)
  • Final itinerary
  • Participant list  

RESPONSIBILITY STATEMENT AND LIABILITY DISCLAIMER

Read Carefully: Responsibility Statement and Liability Disclaimer
Smithsonian Journeys are managed by professional tour operators hired as independent contractors. The use of tour operators allows the Smithsonian to offer its members a wide array of educational travel opportunities. The tour operator acts only as an agent for the respective suppliers by making arrangements for transportation, accommodations, and other services. Neither the Smithsonian Institution nor the tour operator shall be held liable for personal injury, death, property damage or accident, delay or irregularity arising out of any act or omission of these suppliers. The Smithsonian Institution and the tour operator reserve the right, without penalty, to make changes in the published itinerary whenever, in their judgment, conditions warrant, or if they deem it necessary for the comfort, convenience, or safety of tour participants.

The Smithsonian Institution and the tour operator also reserve the right, without penalty, to withdraw the tour announced, to decline to accept any person as a participant in a tour, or to require any participant to withdraw from the tour at any time, when such action is determined by tour staff to be in the best interests of the health, safety or general welfare of the tour group or the individual participant, subject only to the requirement that the recoverable portion of the total amount paid that corresponds to the cost of unused services and accommodations be refunded, if any. If your tour does not include airfare, your Tour Bulletins will provide information about when participants are recommended to purchase airline tickets. The Smithsonian Institution and the tour operator accept no liability for the purchase of non-refundable airline tickets to/from the tour departure city if a tour is canceled or otherwise modified subsequent to the participant’s purchase of those tickets. Baggage and personal effects are at all times the sole responsibility of the participant.

Dates, schedules, program details, and costs, although provided in good faith based on information available at the time of publication of the brochure or catalog, are subject to change and revision.

AS A CONDITION OF ACCEPTANCE OF ANY APPLICATION, EACH APPLICANT MUST AGREE TO THE STATEMENT SET FORTH BELOW:

The undersigned has read carefully the Responsibility Statement and Liability Disclaimer set forth above, the schedule of activities for this tour, as well as the terms and conditions of application and participation as set forth in the tour brochure(s), and recognizes and accepts any risk associated with the tour and the conditions, including the refund policy, set forth in the tour brochure(s). The undersigned further acknowledges that there are many risks and uncertainties inherent in any travel tour, including but not limited to the hazards of various modes of transportation, forces of nature, acts or omissions of foreign governments, terrorism, war or insurrection, theft, illness, and damage to person or property due to the negligent acts or omissions of tour staff or others. In consideration of, and as part payment for, the right to participate in the tour, the undersigned, on behalf of himself, his dependents, heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, agrees to release the Smithsonian Institution, its Regents, officers, employees, representatives or agents, the United States, and the tour operator and its officers, employees and agents, from liability for personal injury, death, property damage or loss suffered by any person in connection with this tour, even if caused by the negligence (but not the reckless, willful, or fraudulent conduct) of tour staff or other related persons or entities. In addition, by registering for this tour, the applicant certifies that he or she is mentally and physically capable of full participation in this tour.

By registering for a Smithsonian Journey, the participant agrees to the Responsibility Statement and Liability Disclaimer and the Terms and Conditions herein.