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
Between Independence Avenue and
Constitution Avenue from the Capitol
to the Lincoln Memorial
Washington, DC 20560
Blue, Orange Lines: Smithsonian; Blue, Orange, Red Lines: Metro Center
Visitor Information: 202–426–6841; Park Headquarters: 202–485–9880
National Mall 24/7; Smithsonian Museums daily 10am–5:30pm
Capitol Hill, Washington, DC –
“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.
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.
Young professionals, bikers, runners, athletes, activists, politicians, readers, guitar players, protestors, families, tourists, kids, and dogs, all ages.
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.
Street vendors. Food courts in museums.
Mall and all Smithsonian museums are free. Segway tours $70/person. Bike rental $35+/24 hours.
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.
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.
The White House (1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW).