It’s spring, one of the best times to visit the classic monuments on the National Mall. As the cherry blossom season draws to an end and the trees begin to leaf, it will be relatively quiet, with fewer crowds, so you can linger as long as you like and mull over famous inscriptions. With no summer haze, you may have some great photo ops. So make the most of a spring visit to these iconic American symbols.
The Washington Monument — Let’s get the bad news out of the way up front. You’ve heard about the flaky elevator that keeps stranding visitors? Well, it’s under repair until sometime in the spring of 2019. You can, of course, admire it from the outside. Built in the 1800s, it is still the tallest freestanding stone structure in the world. And there are seven other inspiring memorials to fill your day.
But there are seven other inspiring memorials to fill your day. Our thanks to Destination DC for the detailed guides to visiting each monument.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial — One of the most famous and gut-wrenching places on the Mall is the famous dark wall where visitors leave tributes under the names of members of the U.S. military who died or were MIA during the Vietnam War. There are actually three parts to the memorial–the Wall, the Three Soldiers and the Vietnam Women’s Memorial.
The Korean War Veterans Memorial — The 19 figures of a squad on patrol are eerily lifelike, frozen in time. Representing all branches of the armed forces, the statues are reflected on a wall, a symbol of the 38th parallel that is the border between North and South Korea.
The World War II Memorial — Opened in 2004, this monument to the 16 million Americans who served in this war was a long time in coming, and is now one of the most visited sites on the Mall.
The Lincoln Memorial — Next to the Washington Monument, images of President Abraham Lincoln’s 19-foot-tall statue may be the most recognizable symbol of the city–and the country. Dedicated in 1922, the monument occupies pride of place at the end of the Reflecting Pool, opposite the Washington Monument at the other end. It has been the setting for many important events, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963.
The Jefferson Memorial — Modeled after the Roman Pantheon (but smaller), this monument contains a bronze statue of Thomas Jefferson and walls bearing portions of the Declaration of Independence and his other writings.
The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial — Overlooking the Tidal Basin, this sprawling monument to President Roosevelt’s four terms in office captures some of the most important events in the country’s history, ranging from the Great Depression to World War II.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial — In 1963 Dr. King led the famous March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and delivered his memorable “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The following year he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to achieve racial equality in this country without violence. In 1968 he was felled by an assassin’s bullet. The monument honoring the fallen Civil Rights leader was dedicated in 2011.