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The Ultimate Guide to Washington, D.C. — Monuments, Memorials, Attractions, and More

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Packed full of American history and culture, Washington, D.C., is one of the most visited cities in the country. Home to some of the most iconic buildings, monuments, and memorials in the world, this is a city that knows how to honor the fallen while still maintaining its status as the heart of democracy and freedom.

Many of the city’s most famous landmarks lie within the confines of or near the instantly recognizable National Mall. From presidential rallies to Hollywood movies and everything in between, the long, grassy mall and national parkland are among the most instantly recognizable locations in the country.

Monuments and Memorials in Washington, D.C.

Jefferson Memorial

16 E. Basin Dr. SW, Washington, D.C. 20242

The Jefferson Memorial is an ornate building dedicated to Thomas Jefferson, the primary author of the Declaration of Independence and the third U.S. president. On the National Mall, it sits on the banks of the Tidal Basin and was designed in 1925 by John Russell Pope to resemble the Pantheon in Rome.

Inside the opulent, white columns and open structure stands a 19-foot-high bronze statue of Jefferson himself gazing out toward the White House. The interior walls are daubed with quotations from many of his famous texts, with perhaps the most recognizable being found on the southwest wall — his belief that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Jefferson Memorial
Jefferson Memorial. Image Credit: David Mark via Pixabay

Lincoln Memorial

2 Lincoln Memorial Cir. NW, Washington, D.C. 20002

Built to honor the 16th U.S. president, this site memorializes Abraham Lincoln and his gallant efforts to save the nation during the American Civil War. On the extended axis of the National Mall, this memorial is perhaps one of the most iconic landmarks in Washington, D.C.

An imposing 190 feet long by 120 feet wide by 99 feet tall, the memorial is surrounded by 36 fluted Doric columns, 1 for each of the 36 states in the Union at the time of Lincoln’s death. It features a colossal statue of a seated Lincoln, which measures 18 feet high.

D.C. War Memorial

In West Potomac Park, 1900 Independence Ave SW, Washington, D.C. 20024

Standing nearly 50 feet tall, this circular, open-air monument was built to commemorate the 26,000 citizens of Washington, D.C., who served during World War I. Made almost entirely of Vermont marble, the structure was designed to be large enough to accommodate the entire U.S. Marine Band for tribute concerts for those who served in the war.

The memorial was restored to its original brilliant white color during renovations from 2010 to 2011, and visitors still come to take in the peaceful National Mall site and honor the 499 Washingtonians who died in service to their country.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

1850 West Basin Dr. SW, Washington, D.C. 20004

Dedicated to the memory of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, this monument is the second of 2 constructed across the city to honor the 32nd U.S. president. Visitors come to explore the 4 rooms of the memorial, designed to represent President Roosevelt’s 4 terms as commander-in-chief.

Take in the beautiful bronze sculptures of the president, first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and their celebrated dog Fala, as well as scenes from the Great Depression, surrounded by 21 famous quotes from the man himself. The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial is situated alongside the Tidal Basin in the National Mall and is both educational and awe-inspiring.

Washington Monument

2 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20024

Built to honor the first-ever U.S. president, George Washington, this 555-foot marble obelisk towers over Washington, D.C., and is one of the most iconic monuments in the U.S.

It was revered for being the tallest building in the world when it was first constructed in 1884, though the Eiffel Tower (1,083 feet with the antenna) overtook it 5 years later. It is still, however, the world’s tallest freestanding stone structure.

It’s on the National Mall, and visitors come from all over the world to take the elevator up to the famous viewing deck, from which they can take in the breathtaking views across the capital. The Washington Monument was recently closed for 3 years while construction on a new security facility and renovations to its elevator system took place. It has since reopened and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The monument is closed on Christmas and Independence Day.

Washington Monument
Washington Monument. Image Credit: David Mark via Pixabay

Eisenhower Memorial

1629 K St. NW #801, Washington, D.C. 20006

The Eisenhower Memorial was built to capture the 34th president’s devotion to public service, leadership, integrity, and democracy. Designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, the memorial features a one-of-a-kind stainless steel tapestry depicting the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. It also has bronze sculptures, monolithic stone blocks and carvings, and inscriptions that depict images from Eisenhower’s life.

Within a 4-acre park at the base of Capitol Hill, the Eisenhower Memorial is a grand civic space set right in the heart of Washington, D.C.

Korean War Veterans Memorial

900 Ohio Dr. SW, Washington, D.C. 20024

In Potomac Park, the Korean War Veterans Memorial is designed to commemorate those who served in the Korean War. Just a short distance from the Lincoln Memorial, this more recent addition to the park was dedicated on July 27, 1995, the anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended the fighting.

Unlike some of the more ornate memorials and monuments in Washington, D.C., the Korean War Veterans Memorial has a contemporary feel and encompasses different elements of the war. The memorial includes 19 stainless steel, 7-foot tall statues, a 164-foot long mural wall with over 2,400 photographs of the war obtained from the National Archives, and a pool of remembrance.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

5 Henry Bacon Dr. NW, Washington, D.C. 20245

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is another of the Washington, D.C., memorials on the National Mall. It was designed and built to pay tribute to U.S. armed forces that fought in the Vietnam War.

It is more than just a single structure and is divided into the Three Soldiers statue, the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, all dedicated to remembering all those who were killed or reported missing in action during the conflict.

On a tranquil, 2-acre site, it sees more than 5 million visitors every year.

Arlington National Cemetery

1 Memorial Ave, Fort Myer, VA 22211

In Arlington County, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., this 625-acre site is the final resting place of service members who died on active duty, veterans, and former prisoners of war who served honorably.

Visitors can come and respectfully join a graveyard tour where notable people, including presidents, Supreme Court justices, and countless military heroes, are buried. Arlington is home to the graves of numerous members of the Kennedy family, as well as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Robert E. Lee Memorial at the Arlington House.

The cemetery is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery. Image Credit: Mark Thomas via Pixabay

Women in Vietnam Memorial

5 Henry Bacon Dr. SW, Washington, D.C. 20007

As part of the wider Vietnam War Memorial site on the National Mall, the Women in Vietnam Memorial was constructed to honor the memory of the many women who served the U.S. during the Vietnam War. Around 265,000 women volunteered to join their brothers in arms in Vietnam and dedicated their own lives to care for casualties.

The multifigure bronze monument, which depicts 3 women in uniform, stands 6 feet, 8 inches tall and weighs 1 ton. Most visitors enjoy a moment of quiet reflection when visiting the Women in Vietnam Memorial to honor the compassion and humility shown by American women.

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial

1964 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, D.C. 20024

In West Potomac Park next to the National Mall, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial covers 4 acres and includes the Stone of Hope, a famous granite statue of Civil Rights Movement leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Close to both the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials, this modern-day monument is the first in the city to honor a man of color and is dedicated to preserving King’s legacy. The monument stands to remember the freedom, opportunity, and justice for which he stood.

World War II Memorial

1750 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, D.C. 20024

Built to honor the 16 million who served in the U.S. armed forces during the Second World War, as well as the more than 400,000 who died and all those who supported the war effort back at home, the World War II Memorial is a monument to the strength and commitment of the American people.

Officially dedicated on May 29, 2004, the memorial sits on National Mall land and is an elliptical plaza featuring a pool with fountains and water jets. It also features 24 bronze bas-reliefs illustrating the war in Europe on the north side of the plaza and the war in the Pacific on the south.

There are also bronze columns bearing American eagles, World War II victory medals, and inscriptions noting the victories across both Europe and the Pacific.

United States Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima Memorial)

In Arlington Ridge Park, Arlington, VA 22209

In Arlington County, Virginia, close to Arlington National Cemetery, the Iwo Jima Memorial is dedicated to “the Marine dead of all wars and their comrades of other services who fell fighting beside them.”

The memorial’s figures are shown raising a 60-foot bronze flagpole, and the statue is based on an award-winning Associated Press photograph depicting the famous flag raisers on Iwo Jima Island during World War II. The capture of Mount Suribachi brought an end to one of the most famous battles of the war and it is a fitting memorial to honor those who fought there. All major Marine Corps engagements since its founding in 1775 are also inscribed on the base.

The grounds of the memorial are open to visitors daily from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m.

US Marines War Memorial
United States Marine Corps War Memorial. Image Credit: Skeeze via Pixabay

George Washington Masonic National Memorial

101 Callahan Dr., Alexandria, VA 22301

Dedicated to George Washington, who was a mason, the Masonic National Memorial was designed to mimic the look and feel of the now-lost lighthouse at Alexandria in Egypt, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Construction began on the memorial in 1922, but the interior work was not fully completed until 1970. It now stands as an homage to George Washington and his close link to the Freemasons.

Visitors can enjoy spending a peaceful couple of hours taking in the stunning architecture and well-kept grounds, as well as guided tours that teach about the character and vision of Washington.

The memorial is open Thursday through Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Pentagon Memorial

1 N. Rotary Rd., Arlington, VA 22202

Set in 2 acres of parkland and just southwest of the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia, the Pentagon Memorial is dedicated to the 184 people who lost their lives at the Department of Defense headquarters and on American Airlines Flight 77 during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

The site includes 184 bench-like memorials, each dedicated to an individual victim of the attacks. The names are inscribed on individual benches laid out in a pattern according to the victims’ birth dates. This is a poignant memorial to the innocent lives lost in one of the most shocking acts of terrorism the world has ever known.

United States Air Force Memorial

1 Air Force Memorial Dr., Arlington, VA 22204

Next to Arlington National Cemetery and overlooking the Pentagon, the United States Air Force Memorial honors the service of the men and women of the U.S. Air Force.

The site comprises the Runway to Glory at the memorial’s entrance, the bronze Honor Guard statue, the granite inscription walls, and the impressive and unique Glass Contemplation Wall.

The unusual design of the memorial, inspired by the spirit of flight, features 3 stainless steel spires that soar as high as 270 feet above the ground. The U.S. Air Force star is also embedded in the smooth granite floor beneath the spires themselves.

The memorial is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Albert Einstein Memorial

2101 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20418

This bronze statue sits proudly on the grounds of the National Academy of Sciences and shows the great Albert Einstein seated with papers in hand. Designed and created by sculptor Robert Berks, the Albert Einstein Memorial honors the memory of the world’s greatest physicist.

The uniquely designed memorial has many layers, and even the book in his hand shows the mathematical equations representing his 3 most significant theories: the photoelectric effect, the general theory of relativity, and the equivalence of energy and matter. The bench on which he sits also has famous quotes from the man himself engraved into it.

Albert Einstein Memorial
Albert Einstein Memorial. Image Credit: Leonid Andronov via Shutterstock

Women in Military Service for America Memorial

Memorial Avenue and Schley Drive, Arlington, VA 22203

Dedicated in 1997, the Women in Military Service for America Memorial is the first U.S. memorial to honor the women who have served in the U.S. military.

At the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery, this beautiful and moving memorial poignantly reminds us of the important roles women played as equals alongside their male counterparts during their service.

Situated within an existing classical building, the memorial now features a fountain with 200 jets of water, softly illuminated, horizontal glass panels atop the existing columns, and an upper floor that allows visitors to look down over the main gallery of the memorial.

This is a quiet and contemplative space that perfectly sets the tone for a visit to Arlington National Cemetery.

The memorial is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

African American Civil War Memorial and Museum

1925 Vermont Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001

Within the National Mall and Memorial Parks, the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum was erected to honor the service and sacrifice of the over 200,000 African-American soldiers and sailors who served in the U.S. Army and Navy during the Civil War.

The memorial is home to a Wall of Honor that lists the name of each United States Colored Troops member who served their country.

The exhibits in the on-site museum tell the story of the historic roles soldiers of color played during the conflict and explore the African American struggle for freedom throughout the history of the U.S.

The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed on Mondays and holidays.

American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial

150 Washington Ave. SW, Washington, D.C. 20024

Located near the U.S. Capitol Building and the U.S. Botanic Gardens, the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial was designed and erected to honor veterans of the armed forces who were permanently disabled during their service.

Dedicated by President Barack Obama in 2014, the 2.5-acre memorial features tributes and stories from servicemen and women, all told through a collection of 48 etched glass panels. A star-shaped fountain and a triangular reflection pool with a ceremonial flame make for a peaceful and serene centerpiece.

The memorial is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

George Mason Monument

900 Ohio Dr. SW, Washington, D.C. 20024

This memorial to Founding Father George Mason signifies his importance as the author of the very first Virginia Declaration of Rights, a document that later became the inspiration for the U.S. Bill of Rights. Inside West Potomac Park, the monument depicts George Mason sitting in a pretty landscaped garden overlooking a tranquil pool.

Mason famously persuaded the forefathers of America to include individual rights in the Bill of Rights and, therefore, played an important role in the freedoms afforded to Americans today.

As it’s one of the lesser-known monuments in Washington, D.C., a visit here is a chance for quiet contemplation while being thankful for the opportunities available to Americans today.

Theodore Roosevelt Island

Potomac River, Washington, D.C.

Created as a memorial to America’s 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt, this 88.5-acre island and national memorial in the Potomac River are fascinating tributes to a great man.

As an outdoor enthusiast and an early champion of conservation, the island offers everything it is believed that Roosevelt would value himself, including 2 miles of trails through forest and wetlands. There is also a memorial plaza with a 17-foot statue of the president.

Visitors come to reconnect with nature, take part in guided tours or walks, or explore the human-made forest, swamps, and uplands. The island is open to visitors daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Theodore Roosevelt Island
Theodore Roosevelt Island. Image Credit: Rob Crandall via Shutterstock

U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

100 Raoul Wallenberg Pl. SW, Washington, D.C. 20024

Dedicated in 1993, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum is a living memorial to the Holocaust. On the National Mall, the museum’s mission is to educate visitors on the dangers of hate in modern-day society, as well as to demonstrate and document the atrocities of genocide.

The museum is home to a permanent exhibition that narrates the horror of the Holocaust using personal stories, belongings, and images. It also offers a program of events and exhibitions based on similar themes in the modern arena.

The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove

George Washington Memorial Pkwy., Washington, D.C. 20037

Dedicated to the memory of the 36th U.S. president, Lyndon B. Johnson, the location of the memorial grove was chosen by his wife following his passing.

On Columbia Island, the memorial grove consists of a Texas granite monolith surrounded by a winding network of walks and trails, as well as a grassy meadow that is considered to be a space for peaceful contemplation and rejuvenation.

Visitors come to enjoy this natural oasis not too far from downtown D.C. and to catch stunning views across the Potomac River, Washington, D.C., and beyond.

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial

450 F St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001

Opened in 1984, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial pays tribute to more than 21,000 federal, state, and local law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty, dating back as far as 1791. This memorial is a peaceful site that offers interactive video displays, free walking tour brochures, and a children’s activity tour.

Designed as a dedicated space for families, friends, and individuals to remember loved ones who made the ultimate sacrifice, the marble walls display the names of every fallen officer, with an online search facility for those looking to pay a personal tribute.

The museum is open Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s closed on Sundays and Mondays.

United States Navy Memorial

701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20004

The United States Navy Memorial is on Pennsylvania Avenue and was founded to honor and recognize the men and women of the Navy, past and present. This imposing building is one of the most visited destinations in the city of Washington, and visitors come to learn more about the Navy’s heritage and culture.

The memorial offers an extensive schedule of exhibits and programs. Visitors can also take in a movie in the state of the art theater, add their names to the Navy Log, or explore the large commemorative plaza with its granite map of the world and the famous Stanly Bleifield statue of The Lone Sailor.

The memorial is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Other Attractions To See in Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Capitol Building

First St. SE, Washington, D.C. 20004

The U.S. Capitol Building is one of the most instantly recognizable and symbolically important buildings in the world. It is the home of the U.S. Congress and the seat of the legislative branch.

Covering over 1.5 million square feet, with 600 different rooms and offices and mile upon mile of corridors, it is an impressive building holding the heart of the nation.

The U.S. Capitol Building is also home to a museum of American art and history, and it is one of the most visited buildings in the U.S. Guided tours are available of the Crypt, the Rotunda, and the National Statuary Hall. The Senate and House Galleries are not usually open to the public.

Tours are free of charge, and advance reservations are recommended, but some same-day passes are available at the information desk. Tours run from 8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Inauguration Day.

US Capitol flowers
The U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., is surrounded by pleasant lawns and gardens. Image Credit: Michael Y. Park

Supreme Court of the United States

1 First St. NE, Washington, D.C. 20543

The Supreme Court is the highest court of law in the land and is the last stop for a wide range of legal cases and controversies arising under the Constitution. The Corinthian-style white building, with its impressive 16 marble columns, is one of the most iconic buildings in America, and visitors flock to experience the grandeur and opulence of the highest seat of justice.

Visitors are encouraged to explore the court on a self-tour basis, and there is plenty of information on offer in the courtroom lectures, visitor films, and exhibitions. Court sessions are also open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis, though there can be very long lines outside the court building every morning.

The Supreme Court is open to visitors Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. It is closed on Saturdays, Sundays, and federal holidays.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

2700 F St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20566

As the national center for culture in the U.S., the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts — more commonly referred to as the Kennedy Center — is one of the most prolific multidimensional performing arts centers in the world.

The Kennedy Center produces a huge program of performances incorporating orchestral, chamber, jazz, folk, and pop music, as well as ballet and contemporary dance and theater. It can show over 3,500 performances every year.

First opened in 1971, visitors flock from all over the U.S. to enjoy watching touring productions, as well as homegrown talent, take to the stage in the heart of D.C. Opening times and ticket prices vary depending on the performance.

Library of Congress

101 Independence Ave. SE, Washington, D.C. 20540

As the largest library in the world, the Library of Congress serves as the official research arm of the U.S. Congress, and it is widely renowned as the oldest federal cultural institution in the U.S.

Tucked away within its hallowed walls are millions of books, newspapers, maps, manuscripts, photographs, and sound recordings. The library employs an army of research staff to help with inquiries from all over the world. Visitors can enjoy guided tours of the library, as well as enjoying a varied program of literary, musical, and cultural events year-round.

The library is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday through Wednesday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday. It is closed on Sunday and Monday. Entrance to the building is free, and there are a variety of prebookable tours available.

Library of Congress
Library of Congress. Image Credit: WikiImages via Pixabay

Smithsonian’s National Zoo

3001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20008

As one of the oldest zoos in the U.S., the Smithsonian’s National Zoo was founded in 1889 to save wildlife and their habitats and provide local visitors with engaging experiences with animals. The zoo is home to around 1,800 animals of 300 different species, with perhaps its best-known residents being the giant pandas.

The Smithsonian National Zoo was the first to establish a scientific research program, and it usually houses 30 to 40 endangered species at any given time. Visitors come to spend time with the animals, learn about conservation, and enjoy overnight campouts, holiday festivities, and much more.

The grounds are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the exhibit buildings from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (in summer) or to 4 p.m. (in winter). There is no charge to enter the grounds, although paid tickets may be required for some seasonal events.

Hot Tip:

For more things to do that might appeal to young travelers, check out our guide to visiting Washington, D.C. with kids.

Between 3rd and 9th streets along Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001

The National Gallery of Art is considered to be one of the world’s best museums, with a collection spanning over 140,000 works of art and exhibits. Set inside a historic building in a prominent location on the National Mall, the Gallery is as famous for its sculpture garden as it is for the wondrous works inside. In the winter, its pool becomes an ice rink, bringing the holiday spirit to D.C.

In addition to a wide range of permanent works and exhibits, the museum also plays host to a variety of temporary exhibitions and free programs, including lectures, concerts, films, and family activities that are offered year-round.

The gallery is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Entrance to the building is free, but paid tickets are required for the ice rink and some other seasonal attractions.

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

600 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, D.C. 20560

Having first taken up residence in the National Mall near L’Enfant Plaza in 1976, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum is now the fifth-most visited museum in the world.

Over 6 million visitors come every year to see some of the most famous air and spacecraft in the world, including the Apollo 11 command module, the Spirit of St. Louis, a model of the Starship Enterprise of “Star Trek” fame, the Wright Brothers’ airplane, and much more.

The museum has a varied program of events and exhibitions year-round, and visitors can be sure never to miss a moment using the on-site digital guide facility. Entrance to the museum is free, and it is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily.

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Image Credit: Sean Pavone via Shutterstock

U.S. National Arboretum

3501 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002

Just a mile or so northeast of the Capitol Building, the U.S. National Arboretum offers 446 acres of beautiful botanical gardens, works of art, and conservation projects. Established in 1927, the Arboretum has grown extensively over the years.

It is now dedicated to understanding and promoting the environmental importance of ornamental plants. It is also a breathtaking oasis in which to spend time out of the city.

The Arboretum is open year-round. Visitors can explore the plants and exhibits on display in the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum or take a tour of the many different gardens, taking in inspiring pieces of modern art along the way. The Arboretum is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, and entrance to the gardens and the museum is free.

Washington National Cathedral

3101 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20016

The Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the City is an Episcopal cathedral and one of the most ornate buildings in the city of Washington, D.C. With the first foundation stone laid by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907, the cathedral took a lengthy 83 years to complete and now plays a prominent part in the Protestant faith and the life of the nation.

Visitors are welcome to appreciate the cathedral’s stunning Gothic interiors, beautiful works of art, and rich history. Hours vary depending on the day but are usually from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Admission to the cathedral starts at $15 for adults, and both guided and self-guided tours are available.

The National Mall

900 Ohio Dr. SW, Washington, D.C 20024

Running all the way from the Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial, the National Mall and its tree-lined parkland and avenues are some of the most iconic sites in D.C. It’s one of the most visited national parks in America, and you can enjoy a self-guided walking tour, taking in a host of monuments, museums, and attractions along the way.

There are no fees to enter the National Mall and Memorial Parks and most of the sites within them, but the Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site and the Washington Monument have an entrance fee, either payable at the door or in advance.

The National Mall is open to the public 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, though park rangers are only available during daylight hours.

Best Tours To Experience Washington, D.C.

If you’re short on time or just want a more organized approach to visiting the city, consider one of these great tours.

Washington, D.C.: Monuments by Moonlight Nighttime Trolley Tour

Duration: 2.5 hours

Get Your Guide Rating: 4.6/5

On this 2.5-hour nighttime trolley tour, take in the most famous attractions in D.C. under the moonlight. Your tour guide will regale you with interesting facts and amusing stories about the capital’s colorful past, as well as the spooky tale of the Hope Diamond and the lost souls and restless spirits that can still be found across the city.

During the tour, you will take in the FDR Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, as well as glimpses of some of the more grisly history that the city has to offer.

Find out more about the Washington, D.C.: Monuments by Moonlight Nighttime Trolley Tour, along with photos, prices, and availability.

Washington DC Nightime Trolley Tour
Image Credit: Get Your Guide

Washington, D.C.: See the City Segway Tour

Duration: 3 hours

Get Your Guide Rating: 4./5

Explore the city with ease on this 3-hour National Mall Segway tour, which will see you sliding past some of the world’s most famous attractions. Segways are a great way to cover more ground than walking alone and are suitable for riders of all abilities.

Your guide will tell you tons of local knowledge as you glide along Pennsylvania Avenue, which is home to the National Archives, FBI Headquarters, and the Navy Memorial.

Stop by to wave at the president as you go past the White House, and slow down to take in the impressive Capitol, the heart of American democracy. You will also catch a glimpse of the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Smithsonian Castle, and many more of the city’s most famous landmark buildings.

Explore the Washington, D.C.: See the City Segway Tour, along with photos, prices, and availability.

National Mall Segway Tour
Image Credit: Get Your Guide

3-Hour Taste of Georgetown Walking Food Tour

Duration: 3 hours

Get Your Guide Rating: 4.8/5

Sample the real flavors of Washington, D.C., on this 3-hour walking tour of the Georgetown neighborhood. In the oldest part of the city, your guide will take you to taste Southern Comfort in the same Prohibition-era bar where John F. Kennedy proposed to Jackie Bouvier and show you the best establishments to sip tea near the canal.

Tantalize your taste buds and warm your soul with socially conscientious street food that helps to feed refugees. Rest happy knowing that a portion of your ticket charge will be donated to Bread for the City, a charity that provides locals with food, clothing, and medical services.

Click to learn more about the 3-Hour Taste of Georgetown Walking Food Tour, along with photos, prices, and availability.

3-Hour Taste of Georgetown Walking Food Tour
Image Credit: Get Your Guide

African American History Tour and Museum Entry

Duration: 3.5 hours

Get Your Guide Rating: 4.8/5

Discover the city’s culturally diverse history in this 4-hour tour, which includes the often untold stories of its African-American heritage.

Starting with a visit to Cedar Hill in Anacostia, you will learn more about the famous freed slave and abolitionist Fredrick Douglass before continuing to his home and then Howard University, one of the oldest Black universities in the U.S.

This tour also includes a drive through LeDriot Park, Shaw Neighborhood, and the U Street Historic District before visiting the National Council of Negro Women, the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum, Freedom Plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue, the White House, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial before a final stop at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Discover more about the African American History Tour & Museum Entry, along with photos, prices, and availability.

African American History Tour & Museum Entry
Image Credit: Get Your Guide
Hot Tip:

Read our comprehensive guide to the best museums in Washington, D.C. for more information.

Top 10 Hotels Near the National Mall

The National Mall is home to some of the most famous memorials, landmarks, and attractions Washington, D.C., has to offer. To ensure you have enough time to explore as many sites as possible during your stay, cut down your commute and choose from any of these first-class hotels close by.

Willard InterContinental Washington

Since the Willard InterContinental first opened its doors in 1818, it has been a stately institution loved by those who really want to immerse themselves in all of the city’s history. With opulent interiors and cozy guest bedrooms, this hotel has plenty of red velvet and gold trimmings, dark wood furniture, and ornate touches to take you back in time.

Enjoy a drink at the famous Round Robin Bar, which gets very busy on weekends, or take a break from the madness with a trip to the on-site Elizabeth Arden Spa. Guests of the Willard InterContinental Washington can also enjoy a bite at the Café du Parc or enjoy live music and afternoon tea at Peacock Alley.

Willard InterContinental Washington
Image Credit: Booking.com

Salamander Washington D.C.

This waterfront hotel offers elegant luxury and one of the best spas in Washington, D.C. The well-appointed bedrooms offer city or waterfront views.

Guests can enjoy cocktails and afternoon tea in the lounge. The Salamander Spa boasts a relaxation room, an indoor heated swimming pool, and a wide variety of traditional treatments and massages in beautiful, upscale surroundings.

Salamander Washington DC
Image Credit: Booking.com

Hilton Washington D.C. National Mall

As one of the newest hotels in the city, the Hilton Washington D.C. National Mall is tucked away in a modern building with sleek lines and seamlessly styled interiors. Large windows offer views out across the city and let light in, while bedrooms are calm and welcoming with upscale furnishings and high-quality linens.

Guests can enjoy contemporary bistro dining at L’Enfant Grill or sip cocktails and local beers at L’Enfant Bar. The hotel also offers a seasonal outdoor swimming pool on the roof and a 24-hour fitness center. Modern comfort and a central location make the Hilton Washington D.C. National Mall a great base from which to explore the city.

Hilton Washington DC National Mall
Image Credit: Booking.com

Hyatt Place Washington D.C./National Mall

This sleek, modern, midrange hotel offers affordable, comfortable accommodations in a central location. Guest rooms are designed to make you feel right at home, with separate living and sleeping areas. High-quality linens and en suite bathrooms add a touch of luxury.

Guests are welcome to relax and enjoy a dip in the outdoor saltwater pool or work out in the 24-hour fitness center. When it’s time to take five, the bar offers locally sourced light bites, beers, and wine, and the Market has grab-and-go items for guests on the move.

Consider staying at the Hyatt Place Washington D.C./National Mall for its convenient location.

Hyatt Place Washington D.C.
Image Credit: Booking.com

Kimpton Hotel Monaco Washington D.C.

In a landmark building in the heart of the city, the Kimpton Hotel Monaco offers 4-star opulence with period features. With soaring ceilings, bold interiors, and first-class amenities, visitors love the spacious bedrooms and luxury touches, as well as the on-site fitness center and in-room spa services.

After a long day exploring D.C., head downstairs for dinner and drinks at the Dirty Habit restaurant and bar. The restaurant serves craft cocktails and locally sourced food. If you are feeling sociable, you can join your fellow guests for the nightly wine hour before heading out to enjoy D.C. nightlife.

Kimpton Hotel Monaco offers boutique-style accommodation in an excellent location.

Kimpton Hotel Monaco Washington DC
Image Credit: Booking.com

Grand Hyatt Washington

Offering well-appointed bedrooms with an urban ambience, the centrally located hotel also offers an on-site fitness center, room service, and a concierge to help you navigate your way around the city.

When you want to fill up before heading out, the delicious farm-to-table menu at Cure Bar & Bistro offers food and beverage pairings, while the CABINET offers lazy brunches and lunch on the weekends. There is also a Starbucks Reserve coffeehouse, too, for quick grab-and-go snacks and beverages.

Sleek, modern accommodation awaits at the Grand Hyatt Washington.

Grand Hyatt Washington
Image Credit: Booking.com

Hamilton Hotel

Offering cool, contemporary luxury, the Hamilton Hotel Washington D.C. offers accommodations paired with first-class amenities. Bedrooms are well-appointed, with larger suites available for families and business travelers. The communal spaces are warm and inviting, with an effortless sense of urban cool.

Enjoy drinks at the Society microbar, where experienced mixologists deliver craft cocktails, or dine on upscale bar snacks in a luxurious setting. For a fuller plate, book a table at Via Sofia, an Italian restaurant that offers a modern twist on a traditional Mediterranean menu. The Hamilton Hotel also offers a Starbucks for on-the-go snacks and libations.

Hamilton Hotel
Image Credit: Booking.com

State Plaza Hotel

This midrange hotel is a refined urban retreat tucked away on a tree-lined street close to the National Mall. Art deco-style interiors and residence-like accommodations make this all-suite hotel perfect for families or business travelers visiting D.C. It has fully equipped kitchens, separate living and dining areas, and high-quality furnishings.

The on-site cafe offers an American bistro-style menu and local foods. Guests are welcome to dine on the patio that overlooks the city or mix and mingle at the daily happy hour at the bar.

The State Plaza Hotel is also an excellent choice for couples visiting the area.

State Plaza Hotel
Image Credit: Booking.com

Holiday Inn Washington-Capitol

This clean, comfortable, and convenient hotel represents great value for money for visitors looking to make their money go further in the city. It is in an enviable position close to the National Mall and a host of other attractions. This Holiday Inn has modern bedrooms good for families, adventurers, and business travelers alike.

The hotel also is home to the Capitol Bistro and 21st Amendment Bar & Grill. The Holiday Inn Washington has an on-site Starbucks for a quick coffee fix before you head out to explore D.C.

Holiday Inn Washington-Capitol
Image Credit: Booking.com

Final Thoughts

Washington, D.C., is a city that is primed for respectful recognition and peaceful contemplation. From the world-famous memorials and monuments in the National Mall to the smaller, lesser-known tributes scattered across the city, it’s easy to see why over 22 million visitors come to pay their respects every year.

In addition to its better-known links to government and justice and the country’s rich cultural history, D.C. is also an energetic city with a vibrant nightlife scene, great shopping, amazing restaurants, and some of the most beautiful urban parks and spaces in the United States.

Are you looking for more cities? Explore our ultimate travel guides to Rome, New York, Tokyo, Paris, London, Hawaii, and Melbourne.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which presidents have memorials in Washington, D.C.?

The following presidents have memorials in Washington, D.C.:

  • Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Lyndon B. Johnson
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  • Theodore Roosevelt
  • George Washington

How long is the National Mall in D.C.?

The National Mall spans 1.9 miles between the Capitol steps in the east and the Lincoln Memorial in the west.

Can you walk the National Mall?

At just under 2 miles long, the National Mall is easy to walk and open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It also contains many memorials, making it a perfect place to walk.

Is the National Mall safe at night?

Given the cultural, historic, and political nature of the buildings and memorials in and around the National Mall, the area is heavily policed. Although muggings have happened, the National Mall is safe at night, though, of course, like anywhere, you should still be mindful of your surroundings and take the usual precautions, like not being ostentatious with money or jewelry, traveling in pairs or groups, and avoiding deserted or badly lit areas.

Amar Hussain's image

About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.

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