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    National Mall: itinerary between the Smithsonian museums and the monuments of Washington

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    Martí Micolau

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    Il National Mall of Washington seen from above is a huge cross plan that collects all the most important monuments and memorials of the city and Smithsonian museums most famous and visited in the United States. Among the things to see in Washington it is certainly a must because it will allow you, among other things, to see the White House, the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial.

    Going all the way from top to bottom is quite a demanding undertaking (to take a complete tour looking at the most important buildings only from the outside it takes at least 3 hours) so, before moving, you need to have a general idea of ​​the opportunities you will have. opposite, especially if you only have one day to visit the American capital. So let's find out everything there is to see at the National Mall di Washington.


    • Where to start
    • Capitol Hill
    • National Gallery of Art
    • National Archives Building
    • National Museum of Natural History
    • National Museum of American History
    • National Museum of African American History and Culture
    • Washington Monument
    • White House
    • National WWII Memorial
    • Vietnam Veterans Memorial
    • Lincoln memorial
    • Korean War Veterans Memorial
    • Martin Luther King Memorial
    • jefferson memorial
    • United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    • Smithsonian Castle
    • Hirshhorn Museum
    • National Air and Space Museum
    • National Museum of the American Indian
    • Tour del National Mall
    • Where to Eat
    • Where to sleep in the National Mall area

    Where to start

    To compile this guide to the National Mall I used the United States Capitol as a starting point. If you also want to leave from here you can use the metro stop Capitol South Metro Station which is served by the Blue, Orange and Silver.

    Other metro stops that can be considered are the Smithsonian Station, which will drop you almost halfway down the National Mall near Smithsonian Castle, and McPherson Square Station, which may be the best choice if you want to start your journey from the White House. Both of these stops are served by the same metro lines ie Blue, Orange and Silver.

    The advice is therefore to get an idea of ​​the things you absolutely want to see and, based on that, better organize your travels by comparing yourself with our article on how to get around Washington. Also take into consideration the time of year: in summer Washington is very hot and, to take this walk, I recommend a good supply of water.

    Capitol Hill

    It is the palace where the two branches of the American Congress and where every four years the inauguration ceremony of the president who came out victorious in the elections is held. It is one of the few government buildings that can be visited, also for this reason it is worth not losing the opportunity.

    To find out all the ways of access, what you can see inside the building, the history and curiosities related to this place, you can read our article entirely dedicated to the United States Capitol.

    Are you headed to Washington? You discover...
    • The best areas to sleep
    • What to see in 1 day
    • How to get around the city
    • I National Mall
    • How to outline an itinerary based on the days available
    • The Best Time to Visit Washington
    • Where to eat in Washington

    National Gallery of Art

    Art lovers get ready because this stop is right for you. Renowned not only for its large permanent collection, but also for the temporary exhibitions of which you can consult the calendar by visiting the official website.

    The museum consists of two wings: in the east one are mainly exhibited works of modern art among which the works of Picasso and Pollock, while in the west one dominates the period from the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century, including a conspicuous series of works by Spanish Renaissance including the works of Correggio, Filippo Lippi and Raffaello.

    THEadmission is free. The museum is open every day of the week at the following times:

    • Monday to Saturday: 10am - 17pm
    • Sunday: 11-18

    They are present within the property well four coffee which can be useful if you are looking for a place to refresh yourself not straying from the National Mall.

    National Archives Building

    Here are preserved and exposed to the public those documents that not only founded the United States as it is today, but also realized the very idea of ​​modern democracy. We are talking about the Indipendence declarationand Constitution and Bill of Rights. These precious historical testimonies can be admired in the room called Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom.

    The building is open from 10 to 17:30 every day of the week. The closures are for Christmas and Thanksgiving. The entrance is participation but if you want to avoid the long lines at the entrance, which are practically omnipresent especially in high season, there is the possibility to book your entrance and skip the line. This convenience, however, has a price, you can find all the additional information by visiting the official website.

    National Museum of Natural History

    If you know the New York Museum of Natural History, here you will find its Washington alter ego. Particularly recommended therefore if you are traveling with children, who will surely be amazed in front of the splendid dinosaur skeletons and the imposing reproduction of a life-size African elephant.

    Are insects frightening you? So stay away fromO. Orkin Insect Zoo since there are enclosed an immense quantity of these specimens in their natural habitat. Know that there is even a demonstration of the meal of a tarantula, we have warned you.

    Entrance is free. If you want to visit the impressive butterfly exhibit you will have to pay a $ 6 ticket

    The museum is open every day of the year with the exception of Christmas. The opening hours are from 10 to 17.30. On special days there are special openings, to check them take a look at the official website.

    National Museum of American History

    How did the United States manage to become what it is now? If you want an answer to this question, all you have to do is enter the National Museum of American History and start a journey through the centennial American history.

    Much space is also dedicated to mass culture and how this over time has shaped part of Western values ​​in the contemporary era. The museum is renowned for exhibiting the original flag of the United States with 15 stars which, during the events of the war of 1812, inspired the lines of the American anthem.

    There are three shops where you can make some special gifts for your friends back home, and two cafes where you can refresh yourselves.

    The museum is open every day from 10am to 17pm with the exception of Christmas. The entrance is free. To check for special events that may change the opening hours, consult the official website.

    National Museum of African American History and Culture

    Recently built, this museum, located in a more modern architectural structure than those surrounding it, testifies to the importance that African Americans have had in the history of the United States, not only with regard to the civil rights movement but also in the culture of mass and in the music industry.

    Open from 10am to 17pm every day of the week with one closing day on Christmas day. The museum is free, but attention! To visit it you need to have a temporary pass in which you will have to indicate the day and time of your visit. For more information and reservations, you can consult the appropriate section of the official website.

    Washington Monument

    The obelisk dedicated to Washington that stands out over the entire area of ​​the National Mall. And the taller building of the whole city. To discover all the other curiosities and opportunities you will have to visit it, you can read our in-depth study entirely dedicated to the Washington Monument.

    White House

    You are at 1660 Pennsylvania Avenue, which is the home of the Presidents of the United States and the center of American political power. Further details on the subject can be found in our in-depth article dedicated to the White House.

    Are you headed to Washington? You discover...
    • The best areas to sleep
    • What to see in 1 day
    • How to get around the city
    • I National Mall
    • How to outline an itinerary based on the days available
    • The Best Time to Visit Washington
    • Where to eat in Washington

    National WWII Memorial

    Memorial dedicated to the American soldiers and civilians who served during the Second World War. Relatively recently built, it was opened to the public during the presidency of George W. Bush and is located in the central part of the National Mall.

    Impressive, especially in the evening with its lighting, is the Freedom Wall with 4.048 gold stars each representing 100 American soldiers who died in the conflict.

    The semicircle-shaped area of ​​the memorial is surrounded by 56 granite pillars (representing the American states and territories whose citizens served in the US military) and two triumphal arches placed at the end to represent the two theaters of war of the Pacific and Atlantic.

    Vietnam Veterans Memorial

    Another memorial commemorating the sacrifice of American soldiers who fought during the Vietnam War. Very well known because of its imposing wall in which all the names of the soldiers who died in the conflict are inscribed. The particularity of the Memorial Wall it is also that of being made of polished granite and thus reflecting the image of those who are in front of it. This is to underline that the wound caused by this conflict continues to continue even in the present, as well as a closeness between those who observe the monument and the fallen soldiers. The dark color of the granite is a further contrast to all the other monuments of the National Mall which stand out for their bright white.

    In addition to the Memorial Wall in the area there is the bronze monument The Three Soldiers, which depicts three soldiers representing the three major ethnic groups who served in the U.S. military, and the Vietnam Women’s Memorial which pays tribute to the women, mostly nurses, involved in the conflict.

    Lincoln memorial

    Mausoleum dedicated to one of the best known American presidents and the place from which Martin Luther King delivered his famous I Have a Dream speech.

    To find out in detail what to see and all the useful tips for visiting it, you can read our article dedicated to the Lincoln Memorial.

    Korean War Veterans Memorial

    We continue the visit of the memorials along the National Mall, this time we are faced with the innovative tribute to the American soldiers who fought in the Korean War. Freedom is not Free: this is the phrase that stands out on the Memorial Wall which also includes the depiction of the faces of the soldiers engaged in this conflict.

    Also of great impact is the steel representation of a patrol of 19 soldiers crossing a field that ideally refers to Korean soil.

    Martin Luther King Memorial

    The imposing granite sculpture stands out in this memorial dedicated to the champion of civil rights Stone of Hope which portrays Martin Luther King.

    Opened to the public in 2011, the entire complex is built on the basis of a sentence pronounced during the famous speech given on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope or "With this faith we will be able to snatch a stone of hope from the mountain of despair".

    The piece of granite in which it is carved Martin Luther King in fact it is detached from a mountain that represents despair, from which emerges the hope depicted in the leader of the movement for civil rights of African Americans.

    jefferson memorial

    Tribute to one of the founding fathers of the United States of America. The figure of Jefferson was so important in the political history of the country that it guaranteed him a place among the faces of the four presidents carved on Mount Rushmore. You can find everything you need to know to visit the structure by reading our article dedicated to the Jefferson Memorial.

    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

    You are standing in front of what is the official United States museum / memorial about the holocaust tragedy. You will find a lot of original photographic and documentary material from the historical period in question, as well as personal items that belonged to the deportees to the extermination camps.

    The general itinerary is not recommended for children under the age of eleven, precisely because of the images and themes that are dealt with there, for which a path structured in a different and more accessible way is in any case provided.

    The museum is open every day from 10 to 17:20 with the exception of September 19 on the occasion of the anniversary of Yom Kippur and on Christmas day. In the summer period the opening hours are usually extended until 18:30 but for safety check the official website.

    Entrance is free, but in the months that go from March to August, due to the high influx of tourists, to visit the permanent exhibitions of the museum it is necessary to have a pass in which you indicate the day and time you want to enter. All the info is available on the official website.

    Smithsonian Castle

    The headquarters of the Smithsonian Institution which manages 19 museums around the world including most of those present in the National Mall.

    Built in red bricks, from the outside it looks like a real castle with an architecture that stands out considerably from the buildings that surround it. The building also serves as a visitor center and there you can get information about the National Mall museums and the foundation.

    In addition to the presence of some temporary exhibitions, apart from the Castle Café where you can buy food or take a break, there are not many other reasons to visit it.

    Entrance is free and is open from 10am to 17pm every day of the week. Closed on Christmas.

    Hirshhorn Museum

    Museum of contemporary art and sculpture that immediately catches the attention for its peculiar ring shape. The entrance is free. The museum is open from 10am to 17pm every day of the week. Closed on Christmas.

    National Air and Space Museum

    If you are passionate about airplanes and space travel for you it will be the most beautiful place in the world.

    Among the works exhibited that attract thousands of fans every year there are hundreds of specimens of both commercial and military aircraft and spaceships including the Apollo 11 command module and the aircraft of the Wright Brothers. Inside the building there is also an IMAX cinema, a planetarium and a flight simulator (for a fee).

    Despite being the second most visited museum in the world the entrance is anyway free. It is open from 10am to 17pm every day of the week. Closed on Christmas.

    Are you headed to Washington? You discover...
    • The best areas to sleep
    • What to see in 1 day
    • How to get around the city
    • I National Mall
    • How to outline an itinerary based on the days available
    • The Best Time to Visit Washington
    • Where to eat in Washington

    National Museum of the American Indian

    With a definitely original architecture, it is built in a material that recalls Adobe as a tribute to the ancient Pueblos of New Mexico. Once inside, a real window will open for you on the history and traditions of the Native American peoples who inhabited what is now the United States of America.

    The usual Café is called Mitsitam, which in the language of some Indian tribes means "let's go eat!" and does not offer the usual menu but a selection of typical dishes of the natives. It can therefore be an excellent opportunity to try something new. Even the inevitable store will give you the opportunity to make (or make yourself) special gifts that recall the culture of the American Indians.

    The museum is open every day of the week except for Christmas from 10am to 17pm. The entrance is free.

    Tour del National Mall

    Since entry to all the monuments and museums on the National Mall is free, you may be wondering what the advantage of taking a paid tour of the area is.

    One of the positives to consider could be having the option to skip the queue to access the most important monuments (if you have little time this is an advantage that should not be underestimated). Also, have one available tourist guide, for many it could be a considerable help in understanding all the most important information of the place you are visiting. Lastly, there is certainly the advantage of not having to walk all the way.

    More information on the Washington Vip Tour

    If, on the other hand, you want to rely on a means of transport that will buy you some time in your exploration of the National Mall, you can consider rent a bicycle or a more modern one segway.

    Where to Eat

    Unfortunately, staying strictly in the National Mall area, there are no places to eat something. If you don't want to go too far, the advice is to rely on the restaurants and cafes that, as we have seen, are present in all the museums and to read our in-depth study dedicated to where to eat in Washington DC.

    Where to sleep in the National Mall area

    The recommended areas to look for accommodation near the National Mall are definitely those of Capitol Hill and L'Enfant Plaza which also have the advantage of being well served by the subway.

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