The National Mall (Daylight)

While many of the monuments in D.C. are called out as individual sites, I have perfected the art of seeing as many memorials as possible on my walks on the Mall after work.  The National Parks site calls out Constitution Gardens, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr Memorial, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington Monument, and the World War II Memorial.  There are plenty of monuments to see, and I hope as a resident of D.C. that I can give you some insider secrets.

I spend a lot of Fridays roaming the National Mall after work, and I love it on Friday nights as the sunset comes on.  What I have noticed over time is that most people do not get too far past the Lincoln Memorial, which is a real shame, because the Franklin Delano Roosevelt is my personal favorite!  I take the following route when I walk, utilizing the Foggy Bottom Metro Station (Blue, Orange, Silver), although many people start towards the mall from the Smithsonian or Federal Triangle stations.

1. Albert Einstein Memorial
The Albert Einstein Memorial is one of my personal favorites, even though it is actually just before the National Mall.  People treat poor Mr. Einstein as a jungle gym, and he is also popular for drunk photo ops.  However, I love stopping to see him!

2. Vietnam War Veterans Memorial
A very simple Memorial honoring soldiers from Vietnam.  It can be hard to read the names at sunset, but it’s incredible how many names are on this memorial.  While the wall is the main part of the Memorial that most people visit, be sure to stop at the Vietnam Women’s Memorial and the Three Servicemen Memorial as you head back towards the Lincoln Memorial.

3. Lincoln Memorial
The one that everyone has to see and for a good reason.  Once you see Mr. Lincoln and read his quotes, I recommend heading to the back of the Memorial to look out towards Arlington Cemetery.  It’s much quieter on this side.

4.  Reflecting Pool

While it was still in the high 80s, the crowds are usually down on Friday evenings after 6 PM on a hot day, allowing you to take some great photos.

5. Korean War Veterans Memorial
This Memorial, in my opinion, is hands down the most moving one for me.  I always find myself on the bench reflecting on this Memorial.  It’s not to be missed and often has veterans visiting the site.

6. D.C. War Memorial (World War I)
This one is so small that it is easy to miss!  Keep an eye out.

7. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
This Memorial is really interesting, as a large-stone Mr. King looks out over the Tidal Basin.  The quotes are wonderful, and it’s a very unique site.  Coming from the D.C. War Memorial, you will approach from the back of the Memorial.  Be sure to look at it as you start down the Tidal Basin as well.

8. Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
This Memorial is my personal favorite, particularly during Cherry Blossom season!  The water falls and walls are beautiful, the quotes are fantastic, and it does not see nearly as much foot traffic as the other Memorials.

This is a great photo op if you bring your dog along! (Hudson has many a selfie here!)

9. Thomas Jefferson Memorial
As you need to take a long walk to the Jefferson Memorial or a tour bus, many people skip this beautiful Memorial.  I usually stop and take a little break here, looking out over the Tidal Basin and enjoying the breeze.  It’s well worth the walk!  At this point, you have walked 3.2 miles if you started at the Foggy Bottom metro.  Good job!  You have a 1.3 mile walk ahead of you to the Washington Monument.


10. Washington Monument
Two days after I moved to D.C., the elevator in the Washington Monument was closed indefinitely, making this Monument far less interesting to me.  However, during the Cherry Blossom kite flying Festival, it is the place to be!  It is also the starting point for many a protest. Pro Tip:  The best view of this Monument is from far away!  Pro Tip #2:  You can get all of the Memorial cancellation stamps at the Visitors Center for your National Mall passport!

11. World War II Memorial
This monument is huge and really cannot be summarized in pictures or words.  Be sure to visit in the summer, as this one is drained in the cold months.

12. Constitution Gardens
Constitution Gardens is essentially a giant pond, but you can see baby ducklings in June!  In your overall quest to see the monuments, you have finished another 1.4 miles!

Plenty of events take place on the National Mall throughout the year.  I came down every few days during the Cherry Blossom Festival, and I loved the Smithsonian Folk-life Festival, which was circus themed this year.


On my walk back to the Metro, I love to stop at Captain Cookie and the Milkman, which specializes in ice cream and cookies at all hours of the day.  Almost every snack is under $5 (My personal favorite being the ice cream cookie sandwich for $4)!  What could be more perfect after a long day on the Mall?

Thanks for reading my blog, and please subscribe for more National Park adventures!  I still need to see the National Mall by night (A whole different experience according to some), and I will be sure to post when I do!

Next week I will not have a blog post because I will be spending some time in Sarasota (Vacation) and Naples (Conference), Florida!  I am hoping to see some of the National Park areas in southern Florida during my visit.

Have questions about my walking tour?  Post in the comments below!


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