Walking the Washington Mall

posted by Sharon May 20, 2018 42 Comments

The two-mile green strip of land in Washington, DC that reaches from the Capitol building to the Lincoln Memorial is a National Park and a great place to walk and enjoy.  Here are some of the highlights and landmarks right down the center of this Washington Mall. And a word of warning: On a map, this looks like a small park you can easily jaunt along from end to end. Those two miles seem very long when you’re on the ground, especially in 90+ degree heat, but we walked the distance on more than one day of our recent trip. The sights are worth the effort!

Poet Walt Whitman wrote in the 1800s that the Washington Mall is a place of “democratic vistas, where the American people assemble to play, attend cultural events, or petition the government for change.” So much of American history has taken place within these two miles, and it’s amazing to be here in person.

At one end is the distinctive Capitol Building. When you are in this lawmaking arm of the government, you are said to be “on the hill.” It’s not steep, but it does anchor one end of the Mall. The cornerstone of the building was laid by President George Washington in 1793, though construction stalled and the Capitol finally opened in 1819.  It’s a large building, and we weren’t sure what is the front and what is the back. When we toured, we went in the “side” entrance. It doesn’t really matter. This is a majestic building from any angle.

Washington DC Capitol

Washington DC Capitol Washington DC Capitol Washington DC Capitol Washington DC Capitol Washington DC CapitolNext to the Capitol is the lovely Library of Congress. Library of Congress, Washington DC

Next door is the Supreme Court. We didn’t go in, but it’s comforting to know that two arms of the government are right across the street from each other. Checks and balances are evident here. Washington DC Supreme Court

Washington DC Supreme CourtWashington DC Supreme CourtWashington DC Supreme CourtFrom far and near you can see the Washington Monument, soaring 555 feet in the sky. When it was completed in 1885, it was the tallest structure in the world. A steam-powered elevator whisked visitors to the top. The monument is currently closed for renovation, but you can circle around it and use it as a landmark if you’re lost (yes, we got lost!). Washington DC Washington Monument

Washington DC Washington MonumentWalking around the Washington Monument, you come to the impressive World War II Memorial honoring the 16 million Americans who served in uniform in the war. Granite columns representing each of the states and territories at the time of war curve around a fountain. A wall of 4,048 stars, each standing for 100 people, represents the more than 400,000 Americans who paid the price to win the war. Washington DC World War II Memorial

Washington DC World War II MemorialDSC02395Washington DC World War II MemorialWashington DC World War II MemorialWashington DC World War II MemorialWashington DC World War II MemorialWashington DC World War II MemorialWashington DC World War II MemorialWashington DC World War II MemorialSecret detail: An etching of Kilroy was Here, a World War II graphic, is hidden behind the Delaware column. It took us more than one trip to find it! Washington DC World War II Memorial

Now you have reached the famous reflecting pool between the Washington Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. Washington DC Lincoln Memorial

Rallies, concerts, and parties take place around this pool. The most well known is likely the all-day event when Martin Luther King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. When you get to the stairs, look for the notation in the landing for the exact spot where King stood on that day. Washington DC Lincoln Memorial

 

On to the Lincoln Memorial. Lincoln sits looking out on the Washington Mall, with the words of his Gettysburg Address etched in the wall beside him. Seeing my favorite president larger than life in this stately memorial was so moving. Washington DC Lincoln Memorial

Washington DC Lincoln MemorialWashington DC Lincoln MemorialWashington DC Lincoln MemorialHere is the view from the top of the Lincoln Memorial steps. Washington DC Washington MonumentSee the Capitol Building WAY in the distance?

We were able to come back to the Lincoln Memorial at sunset our second day here. Walking the Mall gives you a feeling for how fragile the country is, how close it came to being split in two, what problems are still not solved, and how all arms of the government are imperfect but work to balance each other. It’s quite a perspective, and beautiful, too. Washington DC Lincoln Memorial

Washington DC Washington MonumentHow about you? Have you visited Washington DC? Did you walk the Mall?

For more information and to plan a trip, visit the National Park site. Washington DC Lincoln Memorial

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Walking the Washington Mall

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42 Comments

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Jessica May 20, 2018 at 8:54 am

Looks like you had a great day exploring! I visited DC when I was in the 8th grade as part of a school trip, I remember everything being so big and grand! I’ll definitely have to go back and explore now as an adult. Thanks for sharing!

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sallie rainville May 20, 2018 at 12:13 pm

So envious of this trip! We’ve slept in every state and yet have never been to Washington DC. A serious omission.

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Tamar Strauss-Benjamin May 20, 2018 at 12:48 pm

There is always something to see on the Mall!

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Jill Foley May 21, 2018 at 5:28 am

Beautiful! I’m currently planning a trip to take my kids this fall. I’ve been several times, but it was over 20 years ago.

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Carol May 21, 2018 at 6:25 am

Great post Sharon! Love that first photo and of course all the others too.

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Eileen May 21, 2018 at 10:14 am

Hello, what a wonderful tour of Washington DC. Your photos are awesome. Thanks for sharing your visit.
Enjoy your day and new week ahead!

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A ShutterBug Explores May 21, 2018 at 1:50 pm

Wow! Fantastic photography of the DC Mall ~

Happy Day to you,
C & Z

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Margy May 21, 2018 at 3:37 pm

A wonderful photo essay. When I was working in education I was fortunate enough to go to several meetings in Washington DC. Those were memorable trips. – Margy

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Jesh StG May 21, 2018 at 5:14 pm

All the buildings and monuments you captured are significant, but I’m most taken by the wall of stars, for that speaks of the strength America exudes in the world. Many thanks for sharing these familiar monuments with us at All Seasons! Great Post!

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Photo Cache May 21, 2018 at 7:42 pm

Everyone should visit DC. I know I have to start making plans.

Worth a Thousand Words

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Fun60 May 21, 2018 at 8:50 pm

I wasthere acouple of years ago and walked the Mall. I wished Icould have spent longer in Washington as there is so much to see and explore. Your photos are excellent.

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Lady Fi May 22, 2018 at 1:50 am

Wonderful shots.

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Mandy May 22, 2018 at 4:25 am

I’ve been to DC a number of times, but you’ve still managed to show me details I’ve never found on my own. Like, for example, where King stood when he did his “I Have A Dream Speech”. Lovely photos, as always. 🙂

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beatravelling May 22, 2018 at 6:27 am

Loved sightseeing in Washington DC. Everything is right there in one spot, almost. Heading over in the fall again. #mondayescapes

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beatravelling May 26, 2018 at 9:32 am

Shared on StumbleUpon 🙂 #theweeklypostcard

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Patrick Weseman May 22, 2018 at 9:34 am

A place that I truly would love to visit, Thanks for sharing these wonderful photos.

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California Globetrotter May 22, 2018 at 11:49 am

I don’t think I realized just HOW massive it is! I’ve never been to DC and its always looked big and impressive, but the Capital building looks gargantuan! Beautiful pictures as usual! #CityTripping

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Claire at Tin Box Traveller May 22, 2018 at 11:58 am

You’ve captured these iconic landmarks wonderfully. I haven’t been to Washington but I hope to one day. Thanks for linking up with #MondayEscapes

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Angie May 22, 2018 at 6:32 pm

Sharon – your words about the Lincoln Memorial brought a tear to my eye – it is also my favorite building in all of D.C. Re-reading the Gettysburg Address, I found that most of it could certainly apply to our situation today … God forbid that government of the people, by the people, for the people should perish … We have to been to D.C. several times, with our children, and it is always has a big impact on all of us. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

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Lisa May 23, 2018 at 4:43 am

Washington DC is so high on my list! All the buildings look so majestic!!! #WanderfulWednesday

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Amanda May 23, 2018 at 7:22 am

Oh man, this brought me back! I lived in DC for about two years roughly 6 years ago (wow – can’t believe it’s been that long!). Visiting the Mall was always a favorite. Living in such an awesome city really helped when friends and family would come to visit! It was so wonderful how everything was free. Did you visit the Newseum? That museum isn’t free, but to this day it’s still my favorite museum!

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Sarah May 23, 2018 at 10:17 am

Thanks for sharing your trip and these photos! I have still never been to DC but would like to go one day.

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Kelleyn Rothaermel May 23, 2018 at 9:07 pm

D.C. is such a great city to visit! So much to see and do! Have a great week!

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Vanessa May 24, 2018 at 4:00 am

You picked a gorgeous day for the walk – absolutely stunning!

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Stephanie May 24, 2018 at 6:02 am

I’ve been there many times, but I every time I collect so many beautiful memories that get me back there again. It is a perfect destination for family hangouts.

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Sharee (Inspire Family Travel) May 24, 2018 at 6:49 pm

We visited the U.S pre-kids and unfortunately did not have an opportunity to visit Washington DC. I loved all your photos of the area as it brought it to life for me, and it’s still on the cards for us to visit in the future. #FarawayFiles

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Clare (suitcases and sandcastles) May 25, 2018 at 10:42 am

Such iconic buildings, Sharon, and I really appreciated learning more about some of the history. I’d be most impressed by standing in the footsteps of Martin Luther King. The sight of the White House is such a familiar one, not just from the news but also from TV shows like the West Wing and House of Cards. I’d love to visit one day. Thanks for sharing this with us on #FarawayFiles

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Charlotte May 25, 2018 at 11:28 am

I hope to experience Washington one day, thank you for the nice post!

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Alice V May 25, 2018 at 4:26 pm

Lovely photos and thanks for providing those bits of history!

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Lady Fi May 25, 2018 at 8:55 pm

Fabulous buildings of this impressive area!

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Rob+Ann @TravelLatte(.net) May 26, 2018 at 4:55 am

Great post! We love walking the Mall, and your great photos take us right back to our times there. So glad you captured the World War II Monument. It’s one of our favorites and, we think, one of the most moving. Thanks for linking up with #TheWeeklyPostcard.

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Anda May 26, 2018 at 12:45 pm

I was in Washington DC this past spring and took some good pictures of the Lincoln Memorial too. However, the ones you took have better angles, which makes me very envious. I simply love these grandiose monuments in DC. #TheWeeklyPostcard

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Tracy May 27, 2018 at 2:49 am

When we were there Capitol Hill was scaffolded and no water or fountain – we loved Washington though so will just have to return!

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Elizabeth (Wander Mum) May 27, 2018 at 5:21 am

Sounds like a really sobering trip and thanks for pointing out all the small details. Need to make this trip. Thanks for linking #citytripping

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Camila @ Adventitious Violet May 28, 2018 at 2:23 am

I remember visiting DC when I was in high school and visiting the mall really stuck with me! It was so amazing, first it was beautiful and lush and green, but the history of it! I think it’ll stay with me forever!

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dorothy May 28, 2018 at 4:02 am

I had no idea about the “Kilroy was here” etching, you have to love the humor. Also, when you think about it, two miles can seem like a good walk especially when you are exploring buildings too.

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Urska | sliva May 28, 2018 at 10:03 pm

The Washington Mall looks very impressive. Great photos!

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Kay L. Davies May 29, 2018 at 9:24 am

I have seen the Washington Mall and the Lincoln Memorial, but only in passing, on my way to visiting a friend farther south. I did, once, long ago, take a whirlwind tour of Washington with another friend driving. At the time, however, she was only interested in finding the infamous Watergate Hotel. Therefore, I’m pleased to have had an opportunity to see more, thanks to your blog!
Kay
An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel

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Laura May 29, 2018 at 3:10 pm

I was there a few years ago visited the mall. I wish I had more time to spend and explore not only the mall but the city also.#theweeklypostcard

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Hilary May 29, 2018 at 8:32 pm

As always great photos! I visited Washington DC 11 years ago, and was surprised at how powerful it was to see all these amazing and iconic buildings in person. I’d like to take my kids now that my little one is older. I’m thinking next spring. Thank you for sharing on #farawayfiles

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Angie (FeetDoTravel) May 30, 2018 at 4:39 pm

How fascinating! So much if American history along this Mall, I never realised until I read this post. I would definitely do this walk, it’s the iconic Lincoln Statue Memorial I want to see. Pinned and thanks for sharing #feetdotravel

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Jessi (Two Feet, One World) June 3, 2018 at 2:35 am

Beautiful photographs! I look forward to seeing these incredible monuments for myself one day 🙂 #WanderfulWednesday

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