National Mall

The National Mall was designed as an extension of the lawn from Capitol Hill, and quite an extension. This expansive parkway draws almost all of Washington, D.C.’s visitors every year. It was designed for the purpose it still holds – to showcase monuments and memorials to beloved presidents, heroes of war, and other influential Americans like the civil rights activist, Martin Luther King, Jr. Right now the only memorial to King is an inscription on the Lincoln Memorial where he stood while giving his speech, I have a dream. There are, however, plans for a larger memorial.

The Lincoln Memorial is perhaps the most familiar of the presidential memorials. It was modeled after a Greek temple and inspires similar reflection. President Lincoln’s most famous words are inscribed on the walls surrounding the famous seated statue of Lincoln himself. A similarly designed structure is the Jefferson Memorial, which you’ll find a little off the most common rectangular parkway known as the Mall. His figure is also in a pose of reflection to symbolize the Age of Enlightenment, and you’ll find his famous words inscribed in the walls as well.

The Washington Monument is recognizable from all over Washington, D.C., especially around the National Mall where it stands. Towering above every other structure in the city, this obelisk structure was designed to pay tribute to the prominence George Washington holds in American history.

Perhaps least known is one of the most beautiful presidential memorials and certainly one not to be missed. It is for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, featuring four rooms – one for each term he held as President. His four freedoms are inscribed, a 1930s breadline represents the era through which he led the nation, and fountains beautify the rooms.

The most familiar war memorial is undoubtedly the Vietnam War Veterans Memorial with its long, black wall and the names inscribed, though there are other parts to the Vietnam Memorial and other memorials as well. The Korean War Memorial also has many parts, including its own reflective wall – this one inscribed with images. The World War II Memorial is one of the newest, a beautiful circular memorial. It also has many parts, including the fountain at its center, and is a popular resting place and a beautiful tribute to those who died in the second World War.

During the day, we recommend a tour of the memorials with a professional guide. The details they can point out help you more fully experience each structure and all they represent. A tour of them at night is beautiful as well, however. It’s called an Illuminations Tour as each memorial is brightly lit after dark. While touring the monuments and memorials you’ll also want to include the 9/11 Memorial at the Pentagon. This amazing design tells the stories of those who died on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon during the 9/11 attack and of those within the Pentagon as well. This memorial is also beautifully illuminated at night.

The National Mall is a must for any D.C. tour. Be sure to ask for it on your customized Washington, D.C. school trip.