Seeing the memorials and monuments in DC on the National Mall is one of the most popular things to do in Washington. Here are seven tips to consider when you visit.
1. See the monuments in DC in the morning or the evening
Locals will tell you that it’s better to see the memorials and monuments in DC after sunset. However, morning is a fantastic time to see them as well. Most museums open at 10:00 a.m. and the National Mall is very peaceful and relaxing in the hours beforehand. The National Mall is generally the busiest between about noon and 3:00 in the afternoon. Come in the morning to beat the crowds or in the evening to beat the heat.
2. Eat before you go and don’t forget water
The National Mall is not exactly known for good dining options. It is probably best to just eat before you come down to the National Mall. If you are visiting in the morning, wake up and have a nice breakfast. If you’re coming in the evening, find some dinner first or a snack to tide you over. Remember to bring water with you on a hot summer day. You are absolutely going to want to bring that stay hydrated.
Water fountains on the National Mall are infamous for not working. This gets frustrating when the water is warm. There are a few concession stands and food trucks around the national mall where you can buy a bottle of water. But it is easiest and best if you come prepared.
3. Sign up for a guided tour
This is the best way to see the memorials and monuments in DC. There are no shortage of tour options. Guided tours include walking tours, bike tours, Segway tours, bus tours, boat tours and so many more! There are private tours like the ones we offer, which are limited to a single group. And on the other end of the spectrum there are “pay what you want” tours that are open to everybody. These often do not even require a reservation and you can pay what you want at the end of the tour.
4. Download the National Mall app
If you decide not to go the guided tour route, then having the National Mall app on your phone will be a big help when seeing monuments in DC. The most useful thing about the National Mall app is that it shows you the location of all the sites. It also shows you some of the smaller monuments that you might not even know you want to see. You can use the app and tap on any of the sites so that when you go to the Washington Monument or the Lincoln Memorial, you can learn a little bit about it.
5. Figure out the most efficient route
On a map, the monuments memorials can look pretty close to each other. It’s an illusion. If you do want to see them all you’re going to do a lot of walking. On our monuments tour it is about three miles from start to finish using the most efficient possible route. If you don’t plan ahead, you can wind up walking for even more miles! If you don’t plan to do a guided tour, grab a map in advance and plan out your route for the day.
6. Take advantage of public transportation
In this case this is not about Metro. In 2015, DC launched a Circulator bus route on the National Mall. It is a big red bus and easy to spot. The route has stops at Union Station, the museums, Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, the MLK Memorial, and Lincoln Memorial. The best thing about Circulator is that it’s cheap and the SmarTrip card that you bought to ride Metro works on Circulator too.
7. See the less popular sites
Don’t skip less popular sites like the Albert Einstein Memorial or the DC War Memorial. A few of our personal favorites include the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence Memorial and the George Mason Memorial. It is not even like these are off the beaten path. They are right there on the National Mall!
Coming to Washington DC and want us to show you around?
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.