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10 Things to Know About the Mall in Washington DC


Here is a guide to everything you need to know about the Mall in Washington DC.

1. What are the main attractions on the Washington Mall?

© Smithsonian Institution

The National Mall is home to ten of the museums of the Smithsonian Institution offering a variety of exhibits ranging from art to space exploration. Other major attractions include the national monuments and memorials, the U.S. Capitol Building, the National Gallery of Art and the U.S. Botanic Garden. The Mall is a national park with landscaped gardens and expansive open spaces that are often used for public events.

2. Should I drive or take public transportation? Where can I park near the Mall?

© Miller Taylor

The National Mall area is the busiest part of Washington DC. The best way to get around the city is to use public transportation. Metro Stations near the Mall include Smithsonian, Federal Triangle, Metro Center, Gallery Place-Chinatown, Capitol South, L'Enfant Plaza, Federal Center SW, Archives-Navy Memorial, and Arlington National Cemetery. See a map and directions to the National Mall. Parking is very limited in this part of the city. For suggestions of places to park, see a guide to parking near the National Mall.

3. What are the best things to do with kids?


The most popular Smithsonian Museums for kids are the National Museum of Natural History, National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of American History. Young children will enjoy a ride on the carousel, near the Arts and Industries Building. Paddle boating on the Tidal Basin is a fun and family friendly activity and a great way to relax while sightseeing in the nation's capital. See also, 15 Best Places to Go with Kids in the Washington DC Area and Washington DC for Teens.

4. How long does it take to walk across the Mall? Are there transportation options?

© Getty Images

The distance between the Capitol, at one end of the National Mall, and the Lincoln Memorial at the other, is 2 miles. That’s a long walk for most people. The best way to see the national memorials is by taking a sightseeing tour. All of the Smithsonian museums and memorials in Washington, DC are equipped to accommodate visitors with disabilities. Handicap parking spaces are limited in some areas. The best way for the elderly to get around may be to rent a mobility scooter. Read more about Disabled Access in Washington, DC.

5. When are the most crowded times to visit the Washington Mall?

© Rachel Cooper, licensed to About.com, Inc.

The Mall in Washington DC is the most crowded on the 4th of July, Memorial Day weekend, during the National Cherry Blossom Festival and for major political rallies and special events. See a guide to National Mall Events in Washington DC. The best way to avoid crowds is to visit on weekdays and early in the day.

6. Where should I eat?

© Getty Images

The museum cafe's are expensive and often crowded, but are the most convenient places to dine. There are a variety of restaurants and eateries within walking distance to the museums. See a guide to restaurants and dining near the National Mall.

7. Where are the bathrooms?

© Stuart Gregory

All of the museums and most of the memorials on the Mall have public restrooms. The National Park Service maintains several restroom facilities in West Potomac Park. During major events, hundreds of porta potties are set up to accommodate the crowds. See a map of the restrooms on the National Mall.

8. What hotels are most convenient to the Mall?

© Tanya Constantine

A variety of hotels are located near the National Mall in Washington DC providing accommodations to meet the needs of visitors from around the world, ranging from family-friendly suites to luxury hotel rooms. See a Guide to Hotels Near the National Mall.

9. Do you have photos of the Washington Mall?

© Noel Hendrickson

Sure, here are a few photo galleries:

10. What is the history of the Washington Mall?

The establishment of the Mall dates back to the early design of the City of Washington as a “federal city”. See a brief summary of the history of the National Mall and learn about the L’ Enfant Plan, the McMillan Plan, 20th century developments and the National Mall Plan for the future.

See Also, On the National Mall in Washington DC

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