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National Mall

Updated: Aug 8, 2020

National Mall facing the Capitol Building
National Mall

Overview: A National Lawn

Constructed along with the city of Washington, DC in the early 19th century, this area of park land has had many distinct outfits throughout its history. Begining in the early 1900s, the park's trees and gardens were replaced with what the National Mall is today, a 1.9 mile-long grassy park in the middle of Washington, D.C. In roughly the center of the park, the Washington Monument stands as the area's main highlight. The Mall is easily accessible through the Smithsonian Metro Station located at the southern end of the park. While many people generalize the National Mall as the entire park area around the major memorials, the White House, and the Capitol Building, I have included this site separately because I believe it holds its own merit.

Washington Monument at dusk
Washington Monument Silhouette

The Destination: National Mall

The National Mall proper contains the open area between the Capitol Building and the Lincoln Memorial, not including those sites. The Eastern end of the mall is simply a long grassy field with gravel walkways and an American Elm tree-lined boulevard flanking each side.

In the center of the National Mall, grassy areas are used for a plethora of national and local events. For Example, the United States Presidential Ingauruation is held here along with a wide variety of protest events and national concerts. In the warmer months, you can see people jogging around the perimeter and enjoying a stroll in the park area. Many of the Smithsonian Museums are located around the outside of this portion of the mall including the National Museum of Natural History and the National Air and Space Museum. The Smithsonian Museums are designated as another separate site.

The Washington Monument is the prominent feature of the park towering a staggering 555 feet tall. It is tallest stone structure and tallest obelisk ini the world and was the world's tallest structure for five years from 1884 to 1889. Visitors can asend to the top of the monument for a beautiful vantage point over the National Mall and other federal areas. To get to the top, you can either take an elevator or climb the stairs. The monument is lit up beautifully at night and can be seen from many vantage points around the city.

Washington Monument in Washington DC
Washington Monument

On the western end, the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool is the main focal point of the area and at over a third of a mile long is the largest reflecting pool in D.C. Recently updated, this pool has become an iconic image of the capital and of the nation itself. The pool reflects picturesque views of the Washington Monument. There are also walking paths along the rim of the pool to connect the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial.

Travel Recommendations

On most days, weather permitting, there are tasty food trucks with a wide variety of options that are stationed inside the National Mall area. These can be ideal for anyone hanging out in the area or visiting other neighboring tourist attractions such as the Smithsonian Museums. The mall is large enough that it is generally not too crowded to simply walk around; however, long lines may form for the Washington Monument so get there early in the morning if you do not wish to wait. Additionally, many protests and events occur in the area which may affect the local foot traffic.


Jefferson Dr SW, Washington, DC 20560


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