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Things to do in Washington, D.C. - The National Mall | Don't Ever Look Back

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Highlights of Washington, D.C.

Highlights of Washington, D.C.

We spent two nights in Washington, D.C. and like most tourists to the area we headed straight for The National Mall, a park at the heart of America’s capital city.

The Smithsonian Institute is the primary tenant in The Mall and home to nineteen free museums – enough to keep you occupied for several days. However the two of us visited The Mall on a beautiful sunny day so we kept ourselves outdoors and visited the Western section of The National Mall.

Starting at The White House, you can visit all five of these monuments within a few hours as they’re located within 2 miles of each other. A great way to see D.C. if you’re on limited time!

The White House

The White House

The official residence and office of the US President is located just north of The Mall and is a must-see for any visitor to Washington, D.C. Both the North Lawn and the South Lawn of the White House are viewable and you can even take a self-guided tour via your Member of Congress (foreign visitors can contact their embassy in Washington, D.C. for more information).

Washington Monument

Washington Monument

The Washington Monument officially opened in 1888 and is the world’s tallest stone structure, standing impressively in the center of The National Mall.

Unfortunately entrance into The Monument has been unavailable since it was damaged during the Virginia Earthquake in August. During our visit it was being assessed by engineers and it was quite surreal to see two people hanging off the top of this huge structure by ropes. Could you imagine doing this?!

Engineers on the Washington Monument

National World War II Memorial

National World War II Memorial

The newest memorial in Washington, D.C. (opened in 2004) honors the 16 million that served in the U.S. Armed Forces as well as the 400,000+ who died during World War II. It really is a beautiful memorial and you need to take your time to walk around it so that you can fully appreciate what it commemorates.

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Perhaps the most impressive of all the monuments in Washington, D.C. is the Lincoln Memorial, perched overlooking the reflecting pool across to the Washington Monument. The memorial honors the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, and is quite the sight to see!

Note that the reflecting pool is currently undergoing maintenance and won’t reopen until 2013.

Korean War Veterans Memorial

Korean War Veterans Memorial

The Korean War Veterans Memorial commemorates those who served in the Korean War and is hidden away just southeast of the Lincoln Memorial. It features 19 very realistic stainless steel sculptures and when reflected on the wall there appears to be 38 soldiers which represents the 38th Parallel.

Have you visited any of these attractions in Washington, D.C.?


  1. Posted November 7, 2011 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Aww my home! Whenever I have visitors in DC I usually walke them from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial. It’s QUITE a hike but it covers most of the monuments and sites DC is most famous for.

    Of course my favorite monument, The Jefferson Memorial, is a little bit out of the way, but so so worth it.

    • Posted November 7, 2011 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      We were going to do that hike but it was over 80 degrees outside so started at The White House instead. Definitely worked up quite a sweat doing just that!

      There really is so much to see in DC that you could easily spend a week here – it’s a little disappointing that we stayed such a short time but have vowed to come back once the reflecting pool reopens.

  2. Jess
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    I absolutely love Washington DC – I’ve explored almost every Smithsonian – love the Air and Space Museum (I read somewhere it’s the most visited museum in the US?) and the American History Museum as well as the fab art galleries. Although, I do agree with the above poster the Jefferson Memorial is my favourite. I also enjoyed my visit to Arlington Cemetery nearby in VA, enjoyed is the wrong word, appreciated maybe? It is sad and solemn but a good place for reflection on where we’ve been and where we are.

    • Posted November 9, 2011 at 7:52 am | Permalink

      We do know that the Smithsonian is the largest museum complex in the world so it wouldn’t surprise us if it’s visitor numbers are right up there as well. We’re disappointed that we didn’t get to see the Jefferson Memorial now (but just another excuse to go back to DC, right?!).

      Cemeteries are always a good place for appreciation and reflection – people should never forget the past, particularly when history has been shaped so much by those who are buried there.

  3. Posted November 8, 2011 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    I like the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, too. I was just there in May, and loved walking the mall at night and photographing the monuments.
    Erik recently posted..Northern California- Day Ten (part two)

    • Posted November 9, 2011 at 7:53 am | Permalink

      Very nice! We hear the memorials are extremely beautiful at night – did you post these photos on your blog? Would love to see them!

  4. Posted November 8, 2011 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Love seeing a post so close to home 🙂 Glad you were able to see the sights before it got to be too cold! Is the national Christmas tree up yet? It’s always unattractive so I’m hoping they get it right one year 🙂
    Heather recently posted..Macaron Day Postponed

    • Posted November 9, 2011 at 7:55 am | Permalink

      The Christmas tree wasn’t up when we visited (it was back in October) but how could they possibly get a Christmas tree wrong?! Maybe one year soon it’ll be looking great!

  5. nikomus
    Posted November 8, 2011 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    It’s only through picture I saw Washington DC. We Asian people also wishes to step even outside the White House and roam around Washington DC. You got one of the most beautiful places in the world.

  6. Posted November 9, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    We basically visited the same sights when we were in D.C., and we were happy to discover the public bike rental system, because walking up and down the National Mall is quite tiring!! It was around 95 F when we were there and so it was good to get on the bikes and get to see the rest of D.C. with a little breeze 🙂

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