Visit the National Mall in Washington D.C.

7 miles  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by jack felsher

This adventure is within an hour drive of hundreds of thousands of people on the East Coast. Perfect for a day trip or partial day trip!

Everyone has so many things on their plates these days that take all their time up. It is hard to get away for adventures or to experience new things. The National Mall in Washington D.C. is within an hour from millions of people on the East Coast. This centralized location makes the National Mall a great opportunity for a micro adventure and simple day trip or partial day trip. I chose to take the day off of work in Sept and see what it was all about. The plan was to leave the house at 0730 about the time I would leave for work on a normal day and be home by 4:30, the time I would be heading home from work on a normal work day. From my house in southern MD, it is about an hour and a half to get to the National Mall. I chose to drive to the nearest Metro stop in Maryland, park in the free lot, and jump the train to the National Mall  (Smithsonian stop).

The National Mall is managed by the United States National Park Service. The National Mall and its monuments and memorials encompass over 1,000 acres of green space in Washington D.C. While the Washington Monument is still closed for repair until the Spring of 2019, there are lots of things to see. The only thing you should expect to pay for might be food and souvenirs. All access to the monuments and visitor centers are free to the public.

Most people are familiar with the larger more popular monuments and memorials on the National Mall like the Washington Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, and the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial, but there are so many additional less familiar monuments and memorials to see as well. For instance the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial, the George Mason Memorial and the Signers of the Declaration of Independence Memorial. A complete list of the Memorial sites I visited that day include:

John Paul Jones Memorial

Washington Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Korean War Veterans Memorial

John Ericcson Memorial

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Signers of the Declaration of Independence Memorial

Ulysses S. Grant Memorial

Constitution Gardens

District of Columbia War Memorial

Martin Luther King Jr Memorial

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

Thomas Jefferson Memorial

World War II Memorial

West Potomac Park

George Mason Memorial

 Bus tours, Segway tours or biking are just some of the different ways to experience the National Mall. I walked what turned out to be about a seven (7) mile circuit. I tried to plan appropriately to minimize back tracking but there were times where I learned of yet another obscure monument and had to go back in order to maximize the number of monuments experienced that day. Get a free map from any National Park visitor center and take a few  minutes to plan your route. There is a lot to experience, not to just see. Take your time. sit on the grass at the base of the Washington Monument. Sit next to the fountains of the World War II Memorial, and sit on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and look around. Don’t get rushed!

Make sure to dress for the weather, bring snacks, water and of course sun screen. There are various places to get food along the National Mall that range from street vendors to quick food like burgers and chicken wings from several National Park concession stands.

Also make sure to bring or purchase a National Park Passport. Your National Park Passport has a section dedicated to the National Capital Region (the RED tab in your Passport). There is a reason why the National Capital Region has its own tab. There is a lot to see in this area. My trip alone I was able to get 19 different Passport stamps for the places I visited. This took a full four pages of my Passport. Every visitor center on the National Mall will have a station to stamp your passport. There were a couple of visitors centers that had a larger stamp station which included stamps for all the monuments on the National Mall. These “special” stamp stations are located near the base of the Washington Monument, and at the Lincoln Memorial.

It was an exhilarating and full day trip. I had arrived at the National Mall around 9 A.M. and was back on the train around 3 P.M. heading home. Just as planned, I arrived home before 4:30 P.M. and had lots of new memories, a reinvigorated since of Patriotism and lots of new stories to share with my family.

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Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Handicap Accessible
Picnic Area


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Overall rating: 

Iconic place to be

This place has so much history. This is the place to go if you want to learn more about this nation and how it started. This is definitely a bucket list place to visit.

Foggy Morning or at night

Plan your visit on a morning with fog. It makes for an incredibly dramatic scene, especially in areas like the Korean War Memorial. And if you'd like to avoid crowds, come at night with a small group. There is lighting at each memorial and it gives you more time to visit each site (not rushed by the hot weather, crowds, etc).

🥇Top Contributor

4 months ago

So Much to See!

I wish I would have allowed more time fro this, there is soooo much to see. We saw the must-see spots, but the next time I'm in DC, I will 100% visit again (and make a day of it)!


🥇Top Contributor

5 months ago

Every American should at least come here once.

This is a great place to immerse yourself in the history of Washington DC. If you’re not into history, bike and running paths take you from point to point and museum to museum.


🥈 Contributor

almost 3 years ago

Tourists Everywhere!

As a Northern Virginia local, sometimes I take our Nation's Capital for granted. There is something special about walking around the grand marble monuments however and especially so in the morning and in the evening. During the day, tourists are EVERYWHERE and sometimes it can be slightly a nuisance if you're looking to just enjoy the day.

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