Let’s get this out of the way: there is no bad time to see the monuments and memorials on the National Mall. But what about DC evening tours? There is a lot of advice floating around that they are the best. Is it true?

The unsatisfying answer is: it depends. For a lot of visitors, it definitely is. Others might actually prefer a morning or afternoon tour. Read on for some important things to consider.

Evening vs after dark

It is really important to address the distinction between seeing the monuments in the evening vs. after dark. A lot of people assume that when you see a monuments tour advertised as an evening tour, it means that you’re going to see the monuments all lit up in the night sky. However, this depends heavily on the time of year that you are visiting. For example, on the shortest day of the year sunset in Washington DC is at 4:47p.m. and on the longest day of the year it’s not until 8:30p.m. If you visit in June or July, you can’t expect any tour to show you the monuments all completely after dark.

DC evening tours: pros and cons

One of the biggest upsides of doing DC evening tours in the summer will not be as hot. During June, July and August, the heat and humidity can feel oppressive. Coming to see the monuments when the sun is setting, rather than during the middle of the day, can help make it a little more comfortable. Another big upside to doing an evening monument is that it is a family friendly activity that you can do after dinner.

A big disadvantage to DC evening tours is that the Mall can very completely overwhelming during school field trip season from March through June. Every spring schools from across the country send their students on field trips to the nation’s capital. These groups tour the monuments after dinner because it’s one of the few evening activities that’s available for large groups of teenagers. For families with small children, evening tours might keep the kids up well past their bedtimes. Kids tire more quickly than adults and might struggle to finish an evening tour compared to one earlier in the day.

Coming to Washington DC and want to sign up for one of our evening tours?

Trip Hacks DC was founded by Rob, a veteran tour guide in the Nation’s Capital. Trip Hacks DC provides tips, tricks and travel hacks for planning your trip; and guided tours to show you around once you get here. Our tours are family and school group friendly and our guides specialize in the major Washington, DC sites. Click here to check out the upcoming tour options and to book your tour here today! Feel free to contact us if you have any tour questions.