The National Mall

Culture / Landmark / Outdoor Activity / Park
The National Mall """Let's go to the Mall"" has a different meaning in DC, where the National Mall brings in more than twenty-four million visitors a year – all without the help of an Apple Store." Washington, DC United States 38.8892791583685 -77.0378923416138
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The National Mall - Culture | Landmark | Outdoor Activity | Park in Washington, DC.
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Party Earth Review “Let’s go to the Mall” has a different meaning in DC, where the National Mall brings in more than twenty-four million visitors a year – all without the help of an Apple Store. Stretching from the Capitol Building on the... ... read full review

  • Neighborhood:

  • Address:

    Between Independence Avenue and
    Constitution Avenue from the Capitol
    to the Lincoln Memorial
    Washington, DC 20560

    Get Directions

  • Metro:

    Blue, Orange Lines: Smithsonian; Blue, Orange, Red Lines: Metro Center

  • Phone:

    Visitor Information: 202–426–6841; Park Headquarters: 202–485–9880

  • Links:

  • Hours:

    National Mall 24/7; Smithsonian Museums daily 10am–5:30pm

  • Recommended as:

    • Day Spot
    • Night Spot

Party Earth The National Mall Review

The Scene

"""Let's go to the Mall"" has a different meaning in DC, where the National Mall brings in more than twenty-four million visitors a year – all without the help of an Apple Store."

“Let’s go to the Mall” has a different meaning in DC, where the National Mall brings in more than twenty-four million visitors a year – all without the help of an Apple Store.

Stretching from the Capitol Building on the east side to the towering Lincoln Memorial on the west, this historic two-mile stretch of grass, fountains, and sculptures is also home to some of the most iconic buildings and institutions in the District, including ten Smithsonian museums along its outer edge and the eponymous Washington Monument near its center.

Conspiracy theorists assert the entire area is steeped in hidden Masonic code – ranging from fun factoids about how star alignment determined the layout, to global paranoia à la Dan Brown – and recent discoveries suggest the site of the National Museum of the American Indian used to be the locale of Civil War-era Hall’s Bordello, the largest brothel in the District.

Though they don’t offer specifics, management officials do admit secret passageways abound within the Mall, and more than a few witnesses claim to have seen the ghost of James Smithson – creator of the initial Smithsonian endowment – wandering the grounds.

Ghosts and global control aside, the Mall hosts everything from afternoon picnics and movie screenings to massive political rallies, and the gravel path that encircles it is just as likely to be awash with young field trippers as it is photo-crazed families, groups of outdoorsy friends, and politicos on a lunch break.

Guided bike and Segway tours weave somberly through the Vietnam Memorial, while rowdier students kick soccer balls or launch Frisbees at the ducks in the two-thousand-foot Reflecting Pool, and book lovers take to the hundreds of tree-shaded nooks to while away the afternoon, occasionally interrupted by activists or street performers with dogma or donation jar in hand.

Several information booths provide free maps and directions, while dozens of white truck street vendors serve up refreshments and souvenirs.

Once the museums close and the sun goes down, the National Mall tends to get quiet, but come the next morning, it all starts again.

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Tip from Emma:

Walk around the base of the Washington Monument and keep your eyes peeled for a lone manhole cover. If you lift the cover, you will find an exact mini-replica of the Monument in a shaft fifteen feet deep. This was used as a guide during construction to ensure the larger Monument was being built straight.

  • Crowd

    Young professionals, bikers, runners, athletes, activists, politicians, readers, guitar players, protestors, families, tourists, kids, and dogs, all ages.

  • Entertainment / Music

    Hundreds of events and programs include live concerts, Fourth of July celebrations, Earth Day observance and Blossom Kite Festival in April, Screen on the Green outdoor movies June through August, fundraising events, and walks.

    Full event calendar available here.

    Historic sites and museums include:

    The Lincoln Memorial.

    National Gallery of Art.

    National Sculpture Garden.

    Lincoln Reflecting Pool.

    Air and Space Museum.

    WWII, Vietnam, and Korean War Memorials.

  • Food / Miscellaneous

    Street vendors. Food courts in museums.

  • Prices

    Mall and all Smithsonian museums are free. Segway tours $70/person. Bike rental $35+/24 hours.

  • What to Wear / Dress Code

    Anything goes. Backpacks and purses will be searched at museums, but there is no dress code at any venue inside the Mall. Other than the occasional naked guy during protests, visitors are expected to wear clothes.

  • Hot Nights / When to Go

    During the day for the museums, local artists, and musicians, or to hang out on the grass. Evenings to see the monuments light up. Saturdays and Sundays for the biggest crowds.

  • Close By

    The White House (1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW).

The National Mall User Reviews

Average rating:
Gets more amazing each year!
Kim G. Aug 13, 2013
There's so many awesome things to get into while you're down here. Check out historical landmarks like the newly remolded monument that now lights up at night to so many different museums at the Smithsonian. People come for marathons, picnics, check out the sites, special events, or just a great path to run. Walk a little further and you'll see breathtaking water! I've been coming here for years and this is by far my favorite place to run or workout. I even come at night just to clear my head. I will never get tired of this place!
National Mall, National Pastime
Laura E. Jul 9, 2013
Anyone making their way to our nation's capital should make sure to stop at the National Mall. There is so much to do and see that everyone could find something to peak their interest. From the monuments to the museums and even the White House not too far away, it is just an amazing place to visit. The Smithsonian museums provide entertainment and learning opportunities for all ages and there are some pretty interesting and cool artifacts housed within those buildings! What little girl doesn't want to take a glimpse of Dorothy's ruby slippers or the First Ladies' dresses and dream about their future and what they could accomplish? Even going and lounging around is a different experience when in our nation's capital. I may be somewhat biased as I am a history nerd and love this type of stuff but the National Mall is definitely something any American should see in their life. It is inexpensive and an experience that just might change you - I know it did for me!
A National Treasure
Reza M. May 13, 2013
Only a handful of cities around the world can boast the same level of beauty, history, tradition and iconic buildings as the Washington National Mall. From the top of the steps at the Lincoln Memorial looking eastward, one can't help but feel mesmerized by the sheer beauty and breathtaking view, So many iconic buildings nested in a natural setting, anyone visiting the Mall will discover that spending even a whole week at the Mall may not be enough. From the Washington Monument in the center anchored by the Capitol Building on the east and the Lincoln Memorial on the west, from Smithsonian array of 14 museums to multiple war memorials, there may just be too many places to visit, if such a thing is possible, and all within walking distance of one another. Of course the beauty of the natural scenery surrounding the National Mall is absolutely majestic during the famous Tidal Basin Cherry tree blossom week in April of every year. In short, a visit to the Nations Capital without a National Mall visit will never be complete.
The Mall is a Must-See
Melaney R. Apr 7, 2013
For anyone visiting the east coast--or the United States--for the first time, the National Mall is an obligatory and fascinating stop that I think everyone should take while in Washington. Being in DC sort of demands a little bit of appreciation of all the Americana and grandeur one would expect from the nation's capital, and there isn't a singular place in the city to appreciate it better than the National Mall. Ringed with monuments and memorials, the mall is a place that you could spend a few days lost in, exploring the Smithsonian Museums (of which there are about 10 buildings surrounding the lawn, all of which have free entry). The Mall sits prettily adjacent to both the White House and the Capitol, and it's within walking distance of multiple Metro stations. I've lived in the DC area for most of my life but the Mall never quite loses its appeal; the historical importance of the place in combination with the hustle and bustle of hundreds of thousands of people there every day is thrilling.
Breathtaking
Maria P. Mar 27, 2013
The National Mall is absolutely stunning. As a history buff, I just love all the history involved within the boundaries, including the glorious Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. All of the museums, including the National Art Gallery and the Native American Museum gives the word historical a whole new meaning. The memorials, including the National World War II, Korean War Veteran and Vietnam War Memorials are explicitly striking and patriotic to observe what the soldiers of the United States of America have done for this country. Every monument, museum, and memorial are unique and beautiful in their own way, and honestly need dedication and time to be viewed. I'm a DC local and I still enjoy going to the National Mall and going to the monuments and museums to see what beauty is near my footsteps. The best times to come and witness this beauty is honestly any time of the year, but if you want to enjoy the nice weather of the District, come during the spring time, when the cherry blossoms are blooming and the winter blues are gone.
Beautiful and Impressive
Taylor W. Mar 5, 2013
You can't go to the nation's capital without exploring certain national landmarks (at least in my opinion; show some interest in your national history!), the national mall definitely being one! It's probably pretty cold in the winter, but in spring the weather is beautiful. You can sit outside and enjoy nature, visit one or more of the seemingly innumerable museums lining the sides (catering to diverse interests from art and history to science), or you can go check out the famed national monuments in the immediate area (the Lincoln Memorial, The National WWII Memorial, The Capitol Building, the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial and the perhaps lesser-known memorial but my personal favorite The Korean War Veteran's Memorial. It features statues of a troop of soldiers with all their gear moving together in a group as they would in war). The Washington Monument is also not terribly far off if you wanted to walk over and check that out as well. Honestly, just go to the national mall! It's amazing and you won't regret it!
A Must-See!
Emily S. Feb 22, 2013
I love going to the National Mall! I've lived in DC all my life, and it still never gets old. It's definitely best to go during the spring or summer, and even the fall. Well, obviously...who likes to walk around in the cold of winter? I love it especially when it's warm out because you'll see abundant bikers and volleyball players, families and kids with ice cream, couples and tourists; the works. It really feels alive. Going in the summer at night is also an awesome option; the cool white marble of the monuments and buildings look beautiful lit up in the dark. Going to the Mall is great if you just want to have a nice walk, but also if you're looking for something to do. The Lincoln Memorial is probably what I would call...epic. Once you climb the many marble stairs that lead up to Mr. Lincoln, you get to see him in the flesh--er--stone--and it's just downright impressive. Something you can't appreciate until you really see it. It's huge! And on the walls are carvings of his second inaugural address and the Gettysburg address, which both feel extra special to read in the presence of the grand statue. The reflecting pool right by memorial is definitely worth a stroll around as well; it's beautiful and relaxing. The Washington Monument directly across from the Lincoln Memorial (though a bit of a walk--but nothing daunting) is also definitely worth a visit! It's exciting as you walk towards it and you see it getting larger and larger, a great structure in the sky. The war memorials (Vietnam, Korean) are also definitely a beautiful and sobering visit, and if you're in the mood for a museum, the Smithsonian Museums are a very walkable distance away. Definitely a must-see for DC first-timers, and a source of recurring fun even if you've been there multiple times.
Spacious and beautiful
Kelly J. Jan 28, 2013
One of my favorite places to walk around! It's amazing to look at the capitol building from the monument side, and vice-versa - it's not often that you see such a long stretch of uninterrupted view in a city. Nice place to hang out, take pictures, throw a Frisbee around, and it has enough space to not be terribly crowded (except, of course, during significant events).
Best Mall ever!
Elyse H. Dec 12, 2012
The mall is amazing! There really is nothing as fantastic as being in the center of our country’s history. When I interned on Capitol Hill and when we had lunch we would just come here to lie in the sun! There’s always so much going on here too. It’s impossible to get bored! Even if you’re just staring at the Washington Monument! The museums are amazing here, too! There’s so much art to see and it’s all free! I love the Native American museum. It’s in a super cool building right on the Mall and it’s so great to see a culture just come to life like it does in the museum.
The National Mall
Ann A. Dec 10, 2012
The National Mall, situated in the heart of the nation's capital, is a great way to learn about the nation's history in one location. Stretching from the U.S. Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial, the National Mall's main attraction is the Smithsonian Museums. The Smithsonian was established in 1846 by James Smithsonian, whose crypt is actually located in The Castle, a magnificent building situated in the middle of the Mall that used to serve as the main Smithsonian Museum. After the Smithsonian collection expanded into the 19 museums on the Mall today, The Castle was converted into a visitor's center. One of the most popular museums on the Mall, especially for school tour groups, is the Air and Space Museum. Here, exhibits about the nation's accomplishments in air and space travel are displayed, including the Wright Brothers' plane and equipment used in the Apollo missions. Another great Smithsonian museum to visit is the American History Museum, where the nation’s most prized artifacts are housed. Visitors can see Lincoln’s stovepipe hat, first ladies’ dresses and Theodore Roosevelt’s teddy bear. The must-see exhibit here is The Star-Spangled Banner display, which holds the very flag that inspired the National Anthem. Admission to the Smithsonian Museums is free! However, there is no public parking and street parking is limited. The best way to access the National Mall is via the Smithsonian or Federal Triangle Metro stop. The middle of the Mall has a park-like atmosphere, with open grass space for a plethora of outdoor activities from throwing a Frisbee around to relaxing under the shade of a tree. Hot dog stands line the length of the Mall, so refreshments are easy to find. Overall, the Mall is a great way to spend a day learning about our nation’s history and accomplishments.
Always wonderful even after many visits
Christina W. Dec 9, 2012
There is really no place like the National Mall. I grew up in DC, so I have been there many many times. And despite that, I still return to the Mall almost every time I go back to visit. The museums are wonderful (and free!), and there are always new exhibits all over the place, making multiple visits to the Mall totally worth it. In addition, the place is lovely in the warmer months, with the majestic Washington Monument at one end and the Capitol building at the other. There are often events happening at the mall, from international food festivals to free movies in the summertime. On top of that, the beautiful green lawns are well maintained, making it an excellent spot for a midday picnic or an impromptu game of pickup frisbee.
When going to the mall actually means something
Tara R. Dec 9, 2012
When I was a kid I was disappointed that The Mall wasn’t an actual mall, and that when we would go it meant we had to visit all these museums and important buildings and boring things. Now that I’m older if not necessarily more mature, The Mall is a spot I voluntarily seek out, because now I like the free museums, the gleaming white monuments, and the well-kept green grass spread out beneath the Capitol. I’ve been to a couple protests around the Mall, too, and those are always inspiring—seeing Americans care about their governments’ policies and ready to do something about it.
Our Great Nation
Kaitlin P. Nov 14, 2012
The National Mall is one of the most important landmarks in our country! It exhibits all of the important wars in which we have fought and many people have lost their lives. It also hold so much history and has places to celebrate many of our great presidents. The National Mall is a must when visiting Washington DC especially if it is your first time going! It is absolutely beautiful any time of the year but it is especially pretty in the spring especially near the Jefferson Memorial because all of the cherry blossoms begin to bloom. Such a fun place to visit as a tourist because of the beauty and history associated with it!
Worth your while!
Ariel C. Nov 7, 2012
The National Mall is the perfect tourist destination! Even if you aren't into the whole tourism thing, it's still really really cool to see! Of course there are all the cool monuments that we all know about and then there are all the museums! My favorite is definitely the National Air and Space Museum but there are a bunch of really cool ones to choose from. The main downside to the National Mall is that it is almost always crowded, there are buses full of children left and right. I think it's every school near DC's favorite place to plan field trips. But this place will definitely be worth your while and don't forget your camera!
The best thing to do in DC other than drinking!!
Deepak H. Oct 5, 2012
I love this place. It is huge park like area with lots of Museums and of course the Washington Monument. Of course this is the first stop after the White House for all the tourists. Most of the museums are free to enter and it is a really good and educated way to spend a day in DC before you go start partying in the evening and impressing that hot girl on the bar about space travel (that you just learned in the morning at the National Air and Space Museum). What can I tell ya? Whoever thought, you would pull by going to a museum? Anyhow, the springs and the summers are pretty awesome to just sit around, walk around the museums and just while away time!
A Patriot's Dream
LaShawn T. Oct 2, 2012
Perhaps D.C.'s second iconic spot, yes even more than White House, The National Mall offers tourists and locals the opportunity to express themselves in whatever way moves them. Located between Constitution Ave and Independence Ave, the National Mall is a large, open park strip that runs from the Lincoln Memorial all the way to the US Capitol Building. On any given day you can come across a family picnic, a school field trip, performances from local street vendors or even a political rally. If you're lucky enough to visit during the summer you can treat yourself to an outdoor movie during Screen on the Green. After visiting one of the ten Smithsonian museums or the plethora of memorials dedicated to Korean, Vietnam, or 2nd World War soldiers, you'd be hard pressed to leave without a renewed sense of patriotism. Your trip to D.C. would be considered incomplete by many if this iconic location was not on your itinerary.
An obvious must-see, but must-see nonetheless
Nick T. Oct 1, 2012
There are tourist destinations, and then there are places all tourists need to go. The Mall is the latter. The museums, attractions and history surrounding the Mall should be enough of a draw, but if it isn't - the daily protests, live music, people-watching, etc. should do it. Other than the eminent risk of being overcome by a 200 kid school tour group, there is not much to complain about as far as the Mall goes. In a city with unlimited tourist sites, I'd say the Mall ranks near the top in must-sees.
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