The Washington Mall is the two-mile green strip of land in Washington, DC that reaches from the Capitol building to the Lincoln Memorial is a National Park. It’s 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 sits 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. 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.
The Library of Congress
Next to the Capitol is the lovely Library of Congress.
The Supreme Court
Next door you’ll find 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.
From far and near you can see the Washington Monument, soaring 555 feet in the sky. On completion in 1885, it stood as 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!).
World War II Memorial
Walking around the Washington Monument, you come to the impressive World War II Memorial. This honors 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.
Secret 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!
Now you have reached the famous reflecting pool between the Washington Memorial and the 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.
On to the Lincoln Memorial. Lincoln sits looking out on the Washington Mall. Read 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.
Here is the view from the top of the Lincoln Memorial steps. See the Capitol Building WAY in the distance?
We came 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.
How 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. And these guides have so much helpful information on visiting Washington, D.C.
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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!
So envious of this trip! We’ve slept in every state and yet have never been to Washington DC. A serious omission.
There is always something to see on the Mall!
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.
Great post Sharon! Love that first photo and of course all the others too.
Hello, what a wonderful tour of Washington DC. Your photos are awesome. Thanks for sharing your visit.
Enjoy your day and new week ahead!
Wow! Fantastic photography of the DC Mall ~
Happy Day to you,
C & Z
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
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!
Everyone should visit DC. I know I have to start making plans.
Worth a Thousand Words
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.
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. 🙂
Loved sightseeing in Washington DC. Everything is right there in one spot, almost. Heading over in the fall again. #mondayescapes
Shared on StumbleUpon 🙂 #theweeklypostcard
A place that I truly would love to visit, Thanks for sharing these wonderful photos.
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
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
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.
Washington DC is so high on my list! All the buildings look so majestic!!! #WanderfulWednesday
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!
Thanks for sharing your trip and these photos! I have still never been to DC but would like to go one day.
D.C. is such a great city to visit! So much to see and do! Have a great week!
You picked a gorgeous day for the walk – absolutely stunning!
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.
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
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
I hope to experience Washington one day, thank you for the nice post!
Lovely photos and thanks for providing those bits of history!
Fabulous buildings of this impressive area!
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.
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
When we were there Capitol Hill was scaffolded and no water or fountain – we loved Washington though so will just have to return!
Sounds like a really sobering trip and thanks for pointing out all the small details. Need to make this trip. Thanks for linking #citytripping
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!
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.
The Washington Mall looks very impressive. Great photos!
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!
An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel
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
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
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
Beautiful photographs! I look forward to seeing these incredible monuments for myself one day 🙂 #WanderfulWednesday
It’s just my dream to visit Washington DC and the US in general! The architecture looks very impressive! Great guide for inspiration!
This is such a great guide to a place I have always wanted to visit. One day I’ll get to DC. I live places with a lot of history and this is definitely one of those
Beautiful photos! I loved DC when we visited. I have to go back, though. The Washington Monument was being worked on when we were there so we weren’t able to go inside. Your photos are making me want to go back now!
Your sharing of information not only enlughtened me, i am also feeling great rightnow. Thanks for a good post!
Great post!! I lived in DC for 6 years and the Mall was always one of my favorite places to go!