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National Mall Washington DC: 10 Tips for First Timers

National Mall, located in Washington DC is home to iconic monuments including the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. At the eastern end is the domed U.S. Capitol, and the White House is to the north. It’s also flanked by Smithsonian museums, and its lawns and pathways are often filled with students, joggers and cyclists. If you’re headed to the National Mall for the first time read this guide to learn everything you need to know for a successful trip.

the national mall

The National Mall Washington DC

  • Time needed: 3-5 days
  • Cost: $- Nearly everything is free
  • How to get there: Car, bus/tranist, or Ride share

I recently returned from a trip for Virginia and Washington DC. It was my first time visiting the nation’s capital and as an immigrant from Canada it was very exciting to see all the historic monuments as well as the White House and Capitol Hill.

A nice surprise about the National Mall is that everything is in one neighborhood, making all the historic landmarks and museums very accessible. Another bonus of the National Mall- nearly everything is free!

On a map things do seem a little bit closer together than in person when you are walking around so just be aware if you aren’t in the best physical shape.

I love walking and I spent about 4 hours checking out most of the monuments and walked about 8 miles. However if I get the chance to go back again I will either rent one of the electric scooters or use the hop on- hop off bus to make sure I get to see everything.

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Is the National Mall free?,

Thanks to the no-admission museums on the National Mall to go with its monuments and memorials, the National Mall boasts an impressive lineup of free museums. Because just about everything is free, the National Mall is a great place for a family vacation.

Ways to Get Around the National Mall

  • Private tour bus.
  • Hop on- Hop off bus- There are plenty around and it only costs a couple of bucks.
  • Electric scooter- There are scooters parked around town that you can simply rent and hop on to do your exploring.
  • On foot- The old fashioned way- but you will have very tired feet.

What Metro stop is the National Mall?

The L’Enfant Plaza Metro Station is located on the south side of the National Mall near the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Although it is a long walk, the station provides the easiest access to the Tidal Basin, the Jefferson Memorial and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial.

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What monuments are on the National Mall?

  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial.
  • Korean War Veterans Memorial.
  • Thomas Jefferson Memorial.
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. …
  • National World War II Memorial.
  • Washington Monument.
  • Lincoln Memorial.

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Why is it called the National Mall?

The term “mall” originally meant a place where people played pall-mall, a game similar to croquet. By the mid 1700s it had come to mean a tree-lined park where people went to walk and socialize. During the 1800s, it was sometimes called a “mall” but also just “the public grounds.” The term “Mall” became the accepted name in the 1900s. In 1902, the McMillan plan officially described it as “The National Mall.”

Can you see the White House from the National Mall?

Technically no, but it is super close. Walk north from the Washington Monument for few blocks and you will get to the White House. There is an couple of areas that you can get a view of the front of the White House to take pictures.

How long does it take to walk the National Mall?

The distance between the Capitol at one end of the National Mall and the Lincoln Memorial at the other is two miles, which is quite a long walk for most people. However, if you pace yourself and take time to stop and see things along the way, you should be able to walk around the entire park in under a day.

Is National Mall safe at night?

The National Mall is very heavily policed and very safe. Muggings have occurred at night and received major press coverage due to their sensational nature, but they are extremely rare. Use the most basic common sense and you’re guaranteed a lovely evening late into the night. Use the same precautions you would when visiting any new city.

Is the Smithsonian free?

Admission is free for all Smithsonian museums and the zoo in Washington, D.C., and the American Indian Museum’s George Gustav Heye Center in New York. Tickets are not used for general admission with the exception of the African American History and Culture Museum.

Have you visited the National Mall Washington DC? Let me know your best tips in the comments!

national mall washington dc

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Yona Williams
    January 30, 2020 at 1:30 am

    We’re going to plan a trip soon to the National Mall to see the Martin Luther King, Jr. statue. I’ve been there years ago, but there’s so much more we want to do.

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