Washington DC National Mall
The National Mall is at the very center of Washington DC
Most of the major attractions are located around or near this great public park. It extends 2.5 miles (4 km) from the Lincoln Memorial at the banks of the Potomac River to the US Capitol building on a low hill at the eastern end. It is approximately a third of a mile wide (0.5 km).
The great obelisk of the Washington Monument sits on a slight rise at the center of the Mall, The White House is situated a half mile north across an elliptical field. Many monuments, memorials and government buildings surround the Mall. Eleven of the Smithsonian Institute's museums are located on the eastern half of the mall.
Parking can be difficult to find
It is difficult to find parking in the Mall area on workdays when the government employees occupy their many offices in the surrounding buildings. Commercial parking garages are rare in this area. On weekdays, I suggest you park at one of the suburban "park and ride" lots and take the Metro subway to the mall area. Parking is a bit easier to find on weekends and holidays. There are many free parking spaces on Madison and Jefferson Drives in front of the Smithsonian museums, but they usually fill quickly. West Potomac Park just south of the Lincoln Memorial has many free parking spaces along its drives. There is a large garage at the Arlington Cemetery across the Potomac River.
It can be hard on your feet
Sightseeing can be quite tiring. The distances between all of the attractions around this great mall are rather extensive. You can spend hours exploring the monuments and wandering through the museums. Fortunately, the National Park Service provides a convenient solution. They sponsor Tourmobile buses that continuously circle the mall and cross the river to Arlington Cemetary. For less than $20, you can get on and off a Tourmobile bus at any one of the 24 stops around the mall area. It is a great way to tour the mall and to visit the monuments and memorials. You can purchase tickets at several kiosks around the mall or from the drivers.
You should plan at least one day to visit the Smithsonian museums. They are all located in close proximity of each other, so you won't need a Tourmobile pass on that day.
Written by: Mike Leco
Top Photo Credit: © Mike Leco / USATourist.com
Photo Description: A view of the Capitol Building in Washington DC.