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Washington, District of Columbia, United States

Walking Tour of Monuments and Memorials

A scenic walk from the White House, along the National Mall, around the Tidal Basin to the Capitol

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 (5 votes, 2 reviews)
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 5.7 miles / 9.2 km
Duration: 1-3 hours
Family Friendly
 
Overview: This is a great way to see all of the Monuments and Memorials of Washington DC, each unique and important in its own way. The walk starts at the White House and continues through the National Mall, along the Reflecting Pool, around the Tidal Basin, and eventually ends at the US Capitol Building and Supreme Court. This tour will take you through many significant eras in the history of the United States, including the Revolutionary War, Vietnam War, Korean War, World War II, past several memories to inspiring presidents such as Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Jefferson, and past all three branches of government.

On top of that, it is a scenic walk and quite relaxing depending on the time of year and the weather. After completing this walk, you will have seen most of the tourist destinations in Washington DC (other than the museums that surround the National Mall).


Tips: For a shorter version of the tour you can end at the Washington Monument after looping around the Tidal Basin rather than walking down the entire length of the National Mall towards to Capitol Building.

Points of Interest

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The White House

The White House is the official residence and office of the President of the United States and the first family. It is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and was built between 1792 and 1800. In 1814, during the war of 1812 it caught fire and much of the interior was damaged.

There are several sections of the White House, spread out over 6 floors (4 above, 2 below ground), including the Executive Residence, West Wing, Cabinet Room, Roosevelt Room, East Wing and Old Executive Office Building.
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The Washington Monument

Built in honor of George Washington, the Washington Monument is hard to miss as it stands 555.5 ft tall in the middle of the National Mall. Anyone can go to the top free of charge but you may need to wait a while to get your free ticket. Once at the top, you can see up to 30 miles in an direction on a clear day.
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World War II Memorial

The World War II memorial, located at one end of the reflecting pool commemorates all those who sacrifices for the United States during World War II. It is designed by Fredrich St. Florian and contains pillars representing each of the 50 states, surrounding a fountain in the middle. It is lit up at night, and you can see the Lincoln Memorial across the reflecting pool in the distance.
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Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Designed by Maya Lin, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial honors the men and women who were lost while fighting for the United States during the Vietnam War. While walking along the wall it is difficult not to feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of names carved into the wall.
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Lincoln Memorial

Perhaps the most famous and most-highly visited Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial stands on the end of the National Mall opposite the Capitol Building. it is dedicated to the memory of Abraham Lincoln, who most people claim as their favorite US president of all time for all that he stood for and accomplished in his time. The Memorial stands as a symbol of freedom, remembering the Civil War and Abolition, of which Lincoln was such a strong supporter.

On either side of the large statue of lincoln are two famous speeches, carved into the stone walls.
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Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool

At the foot of the Lincoln Memorial stands a reflecting pool where you can see the reflection of the Washington Monument further down the National Mall. Roughly 24 million visitors a year visit the National Mall, and many make it to the reflecting pool to take one of the better-known pictures of Washington DC.

In 2009, President Barack Obama held his inaugural celebration on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, with around 400,000 watching around the reflecting pool and the tidal basin.
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Korean War Veterans Memorial

19 steel sculptures are positioned here reminding visitors of the cost of defending freedom. The memorial remembers the Korean War, where the United States helped to defend the freedom of South Korea.
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FDR Memorial

Walk around the Tidal Basin to find the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, which has the most square footage out of any of the other memorials. It is located along Cherry Tree Walk (visit here in Spring to see the full effect of the blossoming cherry trees).

As you walk through the memorial, you will walk through 12 hears of American History, separated by four sections, representing Roosevelt's four separate terms in office.
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Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Thomas Jefferson played one of the larger roles as a founding father during the birth of the United States and his words and ideals have shaped America ever since.

In this Memorial, Jefferson stands tall as a symbol of liberty (for which he fought throughout his life) looking out over the Tidal Basin.
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Holocaust Memorial Museum

It is by far the newest Memorial along this tour but should not be missed. This memorial serves to honor and remember the victims of the Holocaust. At the museum, you can listen to an audio montage of stories from the few who survived.
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United States Capitol Building

The United States Capitol Building is arguably the most important building in Washington DC. It was built in 1793 and has been rebuilt, destroyed, and remodeled many times. Other than the Washington Monument, no other building is allowed to be taller than the Capitol Building, and the city plan and street numbers are all based around the building as the center of the city.

This is where the Legislative Branch of the United States government runs (both the House of Representatives and the Senate).
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United States Supreme Court

The United States Supreme Court is the highest judicial body in the United States. The 9 justices are appointed by the president and serve a life term (it only ends upon death, resignation, retirement, or impeachment). Most legal disputes are first heard at local and state courts, but may reach the Supreme Court if the matter has a large impact on the interpretation of the Constitution, the most important document in the United States Government.
Pictures in this guide taken by: chris, kozik, mojenn, Robert_Magyar, jane, mnico, carl0395
Reviews
chris
This is a great way to see all of the highlights in DC. I was only here for a couple of days but felt that I saw most of the things I wanted to see during this walk. The walk itself is very nice and relaxing while walking between the monuments, especially along the National Mall and around the Tidal Basin.
Visited on Oct 02, 2009

by chris on Mar 21, 2011
krbose
great Guide!

by krbose on May 07, 2010

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chris
chris
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