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A Walking Guide to Memorials in Washington D.C.

A Walking Guide to Memorials in Washington D.C.

TripBlog
Jan 29, 20212570

The District, as it’s affectionately known to residents, is the epicenter of American power and national prestige. New York City may get all the love, but Washington is where the real action takes place. This is where movers and shakers from around the world gather in the halls of power. Towering landmarks to American history line the National Mall, which is also home to some of the finest museums in the world. Washington is also replete with monuments and memorials dedicated to both American and world historical figures and events. In this guide, we’re talking a look at prominent memorials in DC from the Lincoln Memorial across the Potomac River to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington. This is your guide to visiting famous memorials and monuments in Washington D.C.

Table of Contents

Planning Your Visit
Monuments and Memorials Walking Tour
The Full Tour
The Short Tour
Crossing the Potomac to Arlington
Returning to Washington
More Recommendations
Rock Creek Park
President Lincoln's Cottage
United States National Arboretum
Final Thoughts

Planning Your Visit

A Walking Guide to Memorials in Washington D.C.

America’s national capital is home to a wealth of memorials and monuments. Many are internationally recognizable including the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. Others are more obscure, perhaps donated by foreign governments to honor one of their own with significant ties to US or world history. As you consider what you want to see when visiting Washington D.C., it helps to recognize that the vast majority of significant memorials are clustered near the National Mall. Anyone on a memorial tour of Washington can plan to spend most of their time in this area. In order to give yourself a bit more perspective on the city, we recommend booking in another part of the city if it’s convenient for you. Popular neighborhoods include Georgetown, Adams Morgan, and NoMa. These more residential areas are filled with great restaurants and tons of local flavor. Of course there’s nothing wrong with staying Downtown. It’s just that getting out of the federal district will really broaden your experience.

Monuments and Memorials Walking Tour

A Walking Guide to Memorials in Washington D.C.

No matter where you stay, it helps to have a plan for how to maximize the number of monuments and memorials you can visit. Fortunately, the National Mall is well-designed for a walking tour. Here’s are two you might consider. Take the subway (aka WMATA) to either the Farragut West or Farragut North stations depending on which line you’re riding. From there, walk two block southeast to Lafayette Square.

A Walking Guide to Memorials in Washington D.C.

See the statues to Major General Lafayette and former President Andrew Jackson. Snap a few photos of the north portico of the White House and then swing around either past the Treasury Department or the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and continue towards the Ellipse and the Washington Monument. From there you can follow essentially two different routes depending on the amount of time you have.

The Full Tour

A Walking Guide to Memorials in Washington D.C.

If time isn’t really a factor, continue south from the Washington Monument along the walking paths on the east side of the Tidal Basin towards the Jefferson Memorial. See the memorial to the nation’s third president and drafter of the Declaration of Independence. A far less well-known memorial to founding farther George Mason sits just to the southwest of the Jefferson Memorial. Pause here before continuing on around the Tidal Basin.

A Walking Guide to Memorials in Washington D.C.

During spring, the Tidal Basin is the prime location for cherry blossom viewing. Eventually, you will come upon the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. Note the differing design motifs and use of sculpture to represent historical events such as the Great Depression and World War II. Continue on to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial where you can pause for a good view back across the Tidal Basin. Cross Independence Avenue and visit the Korean War Veterans Memorial. The statutes of soldiers on patrol are quite stunning and realistic. From there proceed to the Lincoln Memorial and follow the rest of the short tour outlined below.

The Short Tour

A Walking Guide to Memorials in Washington D.C.

If you’re pressed for time, elect to forego the monuments along the southern part of the Tidal Basin and instead walk towards the World War II Memorial. Snap some photos of the Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool before moving on to the Korean War Veterans Memorial. When you reach the Lincoln Memorial, make sure to find the spot where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. Linger for a time inside the large memorial to Abraham Lincoln and read the words of the Gettysburg Address and Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address.

A Walking Guide to Memorials in Washington D.C.

Finally, continue around towards the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Make sure to see the Vietnam Women’s Memorial as well as statue of The Three Soldiers. Both make stunning and moving contrasts with the memorial’s black walls etched with names.

Crossing the Potomac to Arlington

A Walking Guide to Memorials in Washington D.C.

As you finish the main part of the monuments walking tour, you’ll have several options open to you. One option is to walk back around the Lincoln Memorial and across Arlington Memorial Bridge. The bridge offers fantastic views of the Lincoln Memorial, the Potomac River, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and more. Continue over the bridge and enter Arlington National Cemetery. Once the estate of Confederate general and traitor Robert E. Lee, Arlington National Cemetery is the Union’s most hallowed ground and the final resting place for several former presidents, prominent figures, and regular soldiers.

A Walking Guide to Memorials in Washington D.C.

Make sure to budget at least two hours in order to visit the significant sites including John F. Kennedy’s Gravesite, Arlington House, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. When you’re ready, exit the cemetery to the north by following the Custis Walk trail. You’ll pass the Netherlands Carillon before reaching the US Marine Corps War Memorial. Famous for its vivid depiction of the flag raising on Iwo Jima during World War II, the memorial is a fitting place to end your walking tour.

Returning to Washington

A Walking Guide to Memorials in Washington D.C.

To head back to Washington, the Rosslyn WMATA station is only about 600 yards north of the Marine Corps memorial. Alternatively, you can double back through the cemetery to Arlington Cemetery station. Or walk again across Arlington Memorial Bridge towards the National Mall. Taking WMATA has the advantage of allowing you a bit of rest from the walking.

A Walking Guide to Memorials in Washington D.C.

If you’re feeling ambitious, you can get off at the Smithsonian station and visit one of the museums. However, recent COVID-19 restrictions have resulted in most of the Smithsonian museums having to remain closed. A better alternative might be to ride back to Farragut West station and transfer to the red line heading north. Enjoy meal or drinks in the trendy Adams Morgan neighborhood before heading back to your hotel for the night.

More Recommendations

If you have more than one day to spend in Washington, you might consider adding in a few of these additional sights as well.

Rock Creek Park

A Walking Guide to Memorials in Washington D.C.

Rock Creek Park is a large urban park in the northwest corner of Washington DC. It features excellent running and walking trails. You can easily spend a couple hours here walking or finding a nice spot to sit and just enjoy being outside in a relaxing atmosphere. You also might recognize some of the locations in the parks from famous films or TV shows as it’s often a popular filming location.

President Lincoln's Cottage

A Walking Guide to Memorials in Washington D.C.

Despite the name, President Lincoln’s Cottage never actually belonged to the former president; however, he did tend to reside there during the summer months in order to escape the trappings of official Washington. Visitors can tour the grounds and cottage and see Lincoln’s study. Reservations are required now in order to keep visitor numbers reasonable and enable appropriate physical distancing. Tickets cost $15.00 for anyone 13 and above. Discounts for children and military service members are available as well.

United States National Arboretum

A Walking Guide to Memorials in Washington D.C.

Located in Northwest Washington, the National Arboretum is another lovely outdoor scenic space featuring lots of lovely trees, plants, and shrubs. Like Rock Creek Park, this is a good place to enjoy some fresh air and a walk or jog. As the arboretum is considered federal property, masks are now required under the terms of the Executive Order signed by President Biden on January 20, 2021.

Final Thoughts

A Walking Guide to Memorials in Washington D.C.

Whether it’s your first visit or you’ve been to DC many times, it’s always a moving experience to tour the major national monuments and memorials. Consider organizing your tour in line with the recommendations we provided here for convenience. There is no right way to see memorials in DC and you will want to adapt things to your particular tastes and time limits. One thing is for sure, however, and that’s the fact that DC is a city brimming with monuments and memorials. A visit to the nation’s capital wouldn’t be complete without checking at least some of the boxes on this list. No matter what you decide to do, we hope you found this guide to monuments and memorials in Washington DC helpful. Safe travels and enjoy!

Disclaimer: This article has been used directly from the Qingqi Qiu Platform, the copyright belongs to the original author. If there is any discrepancy with the copyright please contact us directly and we will immediately delete the content.Index for Network Information Infringement Protection
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