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Washington D.C.'s National Mall & Memorial Parks - An Overview


National Mall, Washington, D.C.

National Mall, Washington, D.C.

© YoTuT via Flickr


The National Mall & Memorial Parks protects some of the older parkland in the National Park System. This premier park preserves some of the country’s most significant moments in history, providing visitors with ample opportunities to commemorate presidential legacies, honor the courage of war veterans, and celebrate the United States commitment to freedom and equality.


Approved on July 16, 1790, except for 42 acres transferred later from other agencies. Transferred from Office of Public Buildings and Public Parks of the National Capital on August 10, 1933.

When to Visit:

The public may visit the park 24 hours a day. Rangers are on duty at the Memorial Sites to answer questions from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. daily.

Getting There:

For visitors driving into Washington, D.C., keep in mind that parking is limited and can get expensive. Public transportation is a great option. However, Interstate 395 provides access to the National Mall and Memorial Parks from the South. Interstate 495, New York Avenue, Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway, George Washington Memorial Parkway, and the Cabin John Parkway will all provide access from the North. Interstate 66, U.S. Routes 50 and 29 provide access from the West, while U.S. Routes 50, 1, and 4 provide access from the East.

If you really want to limit your carbon footprint, there are many major bicycle trails that flow through Washington, D.C. There are also several Metro train and bus routes from the suburban areas surrounding the city.

If you are flying in from out of town, there are three major airports that serve the area: Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport, and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. All have limousine, taxi, or Metro services available that will connect with the National Mall and Memorial Parks.


There are no fees or permits required to visit the park. However, if you are planning a special event, such as a demonstration or would like to get permission for filming or photography, the National Mall & Memorial Parks Division of Parks Programs does issue 4,000 permits a year for special use. You will need to apply for a special permit, which typically costs $50. Call (202) 245-4715 for more information.

Things to Do:

From Ranger Programs to sporting opportunities, the National Mall & Memorial Park has a lot to offer. Check out some of these fun activities:

East Potomac Golf Course: The course is part of the National Park System and features three distinct courses with varying features and levels of difficulty.

East Potomac Tennis Center: Available year-round with both outdoor and indoor courts.

Tidal Basin Paddle Boats: View the Jefferson Memorial and Cherry Trees from the water! This is a great outing for families or a romantic choice for couples looking to soak in the sun.

East Potomac Aquatic Center: Located next to the Golf Course, this center features a heated public swimming pool.

Junior Ranger: Kids can pick up an activity book at the Visitor Center and explore the park to earn badges along the way. Once complete, the child will be certified as a Junior Ranger. Download the activity book now!

Major Attractions:

National Mall & Memorial Parks is responsible for more than 1,000 acres of land preserving many of the United States' more significant natural and cultural resources. When visiting be sure to check out the following: Washington Monument, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Ulysses S. Grant Memorial, D.C. War Memorial, World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, George Mason Memorial, Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House, East and West Potomac Parks, and Constitution Gardens. There are also 60 statues, and numerous other historic sites, memorials, and park lands to explore.


There is no lodging within the National Mall & Memorial Parks. However, Washington, D.C. has many hotel, motels, and lodging to choose from.


Pets are not allowed inside the Washington Monument, the Jefferson, Lincoln, and World War II Memorials, except for guide dogs for visually or hearing-impaired persons. Pets are allowed in the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial if they are leashed. Keep your pet restrained at all times by crating, caging or on a leash no more than six feet in length. Also be sure to respectful of the parks and clean up any waste.

Areas of Interest Outside the Park:

Ford's Theatre National Historic Site: On April 14, 1865, President Lincoln was shot while attending a show here. Museum contains portions of the Olroyd Collection of Lincolniana.

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park: Preserving America's colorful Canal era and transportation history, the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park is 184.5 miles of adventure.

Anacostia Park: Anacostia Park is one of Washington, DC's largest recreation areas with more than 1200 acres stretching along the Anacostia River from the Frederick Douglas Memorial Bridge to the DC/Maryland border.

Rock Creek Park: One of the largest and oldest urban parks in the U.S. (established in 1890), located in Washington, DC.

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