If you only do one thing in Washington, you have to walk down the National Mall. There's more to see and do in this one strip of grassy parkland than you'll find in a number of lesser cities put together. From the US Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial, there's two miles where you can find the 18 world class museums of the Smithsonian Institute; world famous memorials to the Vietnam War, World War 2 and Martin Luther King; iconic monuments, especially the obelisk of the Washington Monument itself. And just off the Mall you will find other incredible sights tucked in close-by, like the White House and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.
For many people this is Washington DC. It gets 24 million visitors every year. In April school groups descend on the Mall for their annual visit. It's such a enormous, captivating place that many people don't go anywhere else.
This was always meant to be, but almost didn't happen. The original designs of the city by Washington's first town planner, Pierre L'Enfant, were discarded after disagreements, and the grand central avenue that became the National Mall was dropped. Then after about half a century the federal agencies started to build something that resembled the original designs, and over the course of the next century the National Mall started to take shape. By 1966 it was entered in the National Registry of Historic Places.
A few of our most famous and popular landmarks are in various stages of construction/renovation. You will notice scaffolding.
1. Washington Memorial- closed since the 2011 Earthquake, crews will erect scaffolding around the entire exterior of the Monument to seal cracked panels and reinstall a lightning protection system. Expected completion 2014
2. Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool- The pool was drained to fix leaks, install filtration and widen the sidewalks. Reported this week that algae was growing in the reflecting pools, therefore, they are going to take more time to make sure the chemicals they use are right. Dont dip your feet in the reflecting pool. The Reflecting pool will be emptied and cleaned for a bit longer (updated October 2012).
3. The National Mall- installation of drainage to protect from flooding. Expected completion January 2013.
4. US Capitol- Expected completion September 2012. There is scaffolding around the dome skirt to fix water damage. Crews are repainting and sealing.
5. US Supreme Court- The west front of the building has scaffolding for cleaning and repairs. No specific date given for completion, but should be fairly soon as they have been at it for a year.
6. White House Visitor Center- Will close for renovations until October 2013. A temporary facility will be opened in the meanwhile.
7. National Museum of American History- West wing of the building will be undergoing renovation. Popular exhibits will be relocated for display.
Visit the National Mall on 4th July, American Independence Day and you will be able to attend all kind of events, live pop concerts in the afternoon culminating in a tremendous firework display. The place will be crowded as the locals celebrate their freedom from their colonial power, but you will see plenty of British flags fluttering in the wind, as well as flags from all over the world. The Mall contains many war memorials, gardens, museums and extends as far as Constitutional Avenue, Pennslyvania Avenue in the north and Maryland Ave, Independence Ave in the south, 12th and 14th st east and west and contains such buildings as the National Art Gallery and Smithsonian. To explore it all you will need a week (and even then you will have to rush).
Maybe the best illustration for a common Portuguese joke about USA ("In America everything is so big that even the smallest things are big", or its more fun variant "In USA everything is so big that even to cross the street you need to use your car") is this immense garden. Stretching 3 kilometers from the Capitol to Lincoln memorial monument, it is dotted with many monuments, including Washington memorial, a high obelisk marking the centre of a cross, with the white house in one end and Jefferson memorial in the other.
If you want to see it in detail (and you must, of course) reserve a full day, and, don't forget... use your car.
We signed up for the Capital Sites after Dark tour. What a great way to see everything from the National Mall, Capital, White House, Monuments and Supreme Court. We loved this 3 hour adventure that took us about 8 miles.
Our guide was fantastic! knowledgeable, enthusiatic, just the best.
It’s the Capital Sites Tour like you haven’t experienced before. The stories are interesting, the illuminated views are fabulous and you’ll be amazed at how much ground you can cover as evening falls in Washington, DC. You’ll see many of the memorials (Washington, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam Veterans and Lincoln) as well as the White House, the National Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian Institute. The tour guide can also help you plan the rest of your visit by highlighting hot spots and must-see exhibits. Riders are equipped with reflective vests and safety lights.
The Smithsonian Institute holds an annual festival honoring just a few of the many ethnic groups that have contributed to America. Exhibits focus on their countries of origin. They feature local arts, crafts, music, storytelling, and much more.
This year, the featured places were Virginia, Northern Ireland, and the Mekong Delta in Southeast Asia. Be sure to allow several hours for visiting the Festival. It goes from 11:00 am to 5:30 pm, and lasts from the last weekend in June through the first weekend in July.
Surrounding and within close proximity to the central green space known as the National Mall, are many of the numerous free historic sites and monuments for which D.C. is famous. The White House and its lawn anchor the northernmost end of the Mall, the aforementioned U.S. Capitol building anchors the far east end, theJefferson Memorial anchors the far south end, and the Lincoln Memorial anchors the far west end. At the center stands the tallest structure in Washington D.C., the famous white obelisk known as the Washington Monument. Between the Washington Monument and the Capitol are several museums. The National Museum of Natural History, the National Archives, and the National Gallery of Art line Constitution Avenue along the Mall’s northern edge. Facing them, the famous museums of the Smithsonian Institution line Independence Avenue along the Mall’s southern edge. Since my visit, the Holocaust Memorial and Holocaust Memorial Museum have also opened just west of the Smithsonian. While we did not go there, we visit tour the Bureau of Printing & Engraving, which is located about a block to the south. Between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial is a long reflecting pool that is also in close proximity to other somber memorials that honor American lives lost during World War II, the Vietnam War, and the Korean War.
The National Mall is very much a place of memories. Here you'll find monuments to many of our great leaders. Memorials abound for those who served in the various wars. Walking the mall from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument provides many great vistas and many of these memorials.
The Lincoln Memorial towers over you head, with Lincoln looking down from high up in his chair. The view east, up the reflecting pool to the Washington Memorial (oblisk) takes in the new World War II Memorial. You'll have to decide which way to go, as the Vietnam Memorial, the famous black wall down into the ground is to the left (north) and the Korean War Memorial is to your right (south). Both are unique and graphically display the impact of war on those who fight them.
This is a 400-foot wide green expanse that stretches for 3 miles from the Potomac river to Capitol Hill. At one end is the Lincoln Memorial & at the other the US Capitol. Dominating the centre is the Washington Monument. On the mall there are many other monuments & it's lined by a selection of museums. The mall is now a national park and as well as housing festivals it's also a place used for political gatherings. It was quiet while I was there apart from joggers & people playing sports. Apart from its historic setting, I just enjoyed the peace & quiet of it. A great place to sit in the sun & take a break from the sightseeing.
What a wonderful place to bring the whole family. So many wonderful facts and artifacts. I think everyone will recognize something in here that onced touched their lives in one way or another. Great exhibits!!
Open daily, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Closed December 25. Admission is free. Summer hours: from May 28-Sept. 6, 2004, the museum will close at 6:30 p.m. daily.
The National Mall is the large, grassy, open area between the Capitol Building and the Lincoln Memorial. This area include many of Washington DC's most famous attractions including the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, many of the largest Smithsonian Institution museums, the US Capitol building, the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial and the United States Botanic Garden. New additions to the Mall that are under development include the National Museum of African American History and Culture as well as the Martin L. King Monument.
The idea for the national mall was proposed in L'Enfant's original plan for the city, but it underwent many changes before reaching its current design. Leading up to the 1900s the mall housed the city's main train station, and later it had barracks for soldiers defending the city. In 1901 the Mall underwent its largest changes with tons of fill used to extend the mall to the Lincoln Memorial and to created the Tidal Basin.
The mall is the site of numerous famous events in American history such as Martin L. King's "I have a dream" speech and Presidential inaugurations. Every day you will see thousands of joggers, and people playing baseball, rugby, soccer, and kickball on fields around the edges of the mall.
The Signers of the Declaration of Independence Monument sits on the Mall, but it seems to be seldom visited because it is off the main path between the World War II Monument and the big monuments around the Lincoln Memorial. This monument, created in 1984, honors the 56 men from the Thirteen Colonies who signed the Declaration of Independence. The signature of each man is reproduced on granite blocks on a small island in the middle of Constitution Gardens.
Constitution Gardens were also created in 1976 to commemorate the 200 year anniversary of the American Revolution. This area was formed by fill from dredging the Potomac, and after World War I it housed temporary Navy barracks. Finally in 1971 the barracks were removed and the park created. Constitution Gardens were named in 1986 on the 200th anniversary of the ratification of the Constitution.
A walk down the National Mall is all in a day's work, and worth the effort. You can explore the World War II Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Capitol building, and a dozen other monuments/statues/memorials/fancy buildings of some kind at your own leisurely pace. Don't bother booking a tour. Just take time to walk, stop, and smell the roses. Comfortable shoes are a MUST, and don't forget to bring your camera and plenty of water.
In the heart of D.C. connecting the Capital building, Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial is a green open-are National Park and recreational strip called "The National Mall". It was originally conceived by Peter Charles L'Enfant during the construction of Washington D.C. in 1791. Because of its size and width, open expanse - its often the site for many protests and rallies. Most popular rallies in the area were the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedoms, a massive rally for African-American civil rights, at which Martin Luther King Jr gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. In 1969 it was home to the largest officially recorded rally known as the Vietnam War Moratorium. In 2004 the Nation of Islam leader Min Louis Farrakhan was the Million Man March. In 2007 tens of thousands of Iraq War protesters converged here as well. This green strip also serves as a popular spot for picnics, walks, jogs, and kite flying. Each year several events are held here including 4th of July celebrations. In July and August there are annual Screen on the Green movie festivals. Rating: 5 stars out of 5. Visited 2007 and 2008.
The Mall is a bit like Disneyland, in the sense, that there is no way to fully experience it all in just one day. Part of the original design for the federal city, the massive open space park stretches from the US Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial and around the Tidal Basin to the Jefferson Memorial. It is also where you will find the museums of the Smithsonian, the Vietnam Memorial, the Reflecting Pool and the famous Washington Monument. It was intended to be a place to remember American heroes, to celebrate freedom and to be a forum to exercise freedom in the form of protests and rallies.
The National Mall is usually the center of every visitor's trip to Washington DC. This tree-lined area of parkland stretches two and a half miles from the Potomac River to the United States Capitol on Capitol Hill and is adjoined by the White House. At one end of the National Mall, known as West Potomac Park, the Lincoln Memorial faces the Reflecting Pool with a good view of Arlington Memorial Bridge, Constitution Gardens, the Tindal Basin and the Washington Monument. Further towards Capitol Hill are a number of museums and galleries, among which are many of the Smithsonian Institution's museums, including the National Museum of Natural History, the National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of the American Indian, and the Smithsonian Institution building. Numerous festivals and concerts take place on the lawn throughout the year. A gravel path encircles the Mall and is a great place for a sightseeing run or walk. You just might run into a Senator. Certainly any visit to Washington DC should start here on the Mall.