A Relaxing Mini-Tour of Washington, D.C. Memorials

Relaxing is not a word that’s often associated with seeing the sights in Washington, D.C., yet it is possible. There are many beautiful museums and memorials to visit in Washington, D.C., an overwhelming amount, really. And the vast majority are free — see them all! And then you’ll be tired and maybe a little museum-ed out after a couple of days. Try our mini-tour of these memorials for a more laid back, relaxed approach.

Tour 3 Washington, D.C. Memorials Along the Tidal Basin

Where to Park Near the Washington, D.C. Memorials

First, show up at twilight. The crowds are smaller, the temperature has dropped, and the memorials are even more special lit up at night. If you have a car, you can often find parking along West Basin Drive SW, and this is an excellent location to start your tour. The closest metro stop (Smithsonian station) is about one mile from here. Honestly, I’d probably Uber to the memorials to stay with my relaxing theme.

Starting Your Walking Tour

The Martin Luther King, Jr., the Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and the Thomas Jefferson Memorials all line the Tidal Basin, are open 24 hours, and are located only about 3/4 mile from one end to the other, although you’ll have to double back to get to your car. The memorials are not enclosed, so it’s also a great opportunity to get outside after being inside museums all day.

I like to start at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, which is located a short walk north of the parking area. From here, it’s a relaxed stroll to the FDR Memorial. Remember, we’re sticking with our “relaxed” theme. Then, it’s a longer but very pretty walk to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.

Older children tend to appreciate the quotes that line the walls of each of these memorials, while younger children are particularly interested in the statues in the FDR Memorial, including those of people standing in a bread line, as well as FDR with his dog, Fala. And there’s plenty of space to just walk along the Tidal Basin under the cherry trees enjoying the view.

Washington DC Memorials Along the Tidal Basin
Enjoy beautiful views of the Tidal Basin as you tour 3 important Washington, D.C. memorials.

Activities for Kids at the Tidal Basin Memorials

The National Park Service does a terrific job of providing educational activities for kids. Their Junior Park Ranger program gets the kids involved by providing booklets that lead kids through each site with questions and searches. These booklets are available from the park rangers or the visitor’s centers. However, if you’ll be there in the evening when the visitor’s centers may be closed, download and print a copy of the National Mall Junior Ranger Activity Booklet before you go.

Unfortunately, the online booklet is not up-to-date with information on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, so you may want to pick up a hard copy earlier in the day. Once the booklet is filled out, you can mail it into the Park Service to receive the National Mall Junior Ranger badge.

Pack a picnic, take a deep breath, and head to the Tidal Basin to enjoy a relaxing end to a busy day in Washington, D.C.

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Washington DC Walking Tour | 3 Washington DC Memorials | Tidal Basin

Know Before You Go

  • Many of the monuments and memorials surrounding the National Mall are open 24 hours a day!
  • Driving through the city isn’t recommended – walking or taking the Washington Metro are great ways to navigate the city.
  • Be prepared for numerous security checks if you are visiting any government buildings!

This post was written by Hilton Suggests Team Member, Andrea L. Are you interested in traveling to Washington DC? Let us know if we can help you with any other recommendations. Tweet us for more great local travel tips!

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