Planning a trip to Washington D.C.?
The monuments are one of the most popular tourist attractions in Washington D.C. In summer months when the city is warm and crowded, spend your days indoors and see the monuments at night.
Monuments at Night Tips
Wear good walking shoes because the best way to see the monuments at night is to get out and walk through each one. Plan to take time to read the inscriptions, pause and reflect, and appreciate the sacrifices being memorialized at each site.
You can see most of the memorials in about 3 hours. Plan to walk at least 3 miles if you see all of these memorials by foot. If you start on Ohio Drive, near the Jefferson Memorial, you can see the monuments in the following order and then walk around the Tidal Basin to return to your car.
- Jefferson Memorial
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
- Korean War Veterans Memorial
- Lincoln Memorial
- Vietnam Veterans Memorial
- Washington Monument
- World War II Memorial
- Martin Luther King Memorial
If you use the metro, take the orange, silver or blue line to the Smithsonian stop. You will have fairly easy access to the Washington Monument, the World War II Memorial, the Martin Luther King Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Plan to walk about three miles round trip from the Smithsonian metro stop to these monuments and back. If you want to see the FDR Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial, you will walk at least one mile further.
If you are feeling really ambitious and want to see all the monuments, park on the south end of Ohio Dr. and see the Jefferson Memorial before heading up to FDR and then to the main monuments. Street parking in the evening is free and fairly easy to find. If you are short on time or energy, you can park on Ohio Dr. across from the FDR Memorial and start there. Make sure to walk out to the Tidal Basin for a nice evening view of the Jefferson Memorial if you don’t have time to see it up close.
Biking around the monuments at night is a very efficient way to see everything without walking several miles. You may choose to do a bike tour through a company such as Bike and Roll. You can rent a bike through Capital Bikeshare and guide yourself around the monuments. Through Capital Bikeshare, you may pick up a bike with the swipe of your credit card near the Jefferson Memorial, FDR Memorial, or the Lincoln Memorial and return it at any number of locations in the city.
By tour bus
Several tour companies in Washington D.C. offer tours of the monuments at night. One benefit of a tour company is that you will likely get to see other parts of the city as well.
Allison has tried the Big Bus Night Tour of Washington D.C. and recommends it. Click the button to read her review of the tour.
Word of Caution
I have visited the monuments at night many times and never felt unsafe, but you should be aware that you may pass homeless people sleeping on park benches in the area. Most paths and walkways are lit, but it is dark around the Tidal Basin, which is the shortest route if you are trying to get to the FDR Memorial or the Jefferson Memorial. Be aware of your surroundings if you choose to walk along the Tidal Basin after dark.
Whether you see the monuments at night or during the day, these beautiful memorials are a must-see in Washington D.C.
Good to Know
The monuments and memorials are run by the National Park Service.
Hours: Open 24 hours a day, every day. Park rangers are on duty from 9:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m. daily to answer questions. Interpretive programs are available at some sites every hour on the hour.
Amenities: Bathrooms are available at the Lincoln Memorial, the FDR Memorial, and the Jefferson Memorial. At least one more public restroom is available along the walking path between the memorials. Food carts can be found on street corners in the area.
Parking: Parking is at a premium in Washington D.C. and towing and ticketing are strictly enforced. Make sure to obey posted parking regulations, or choose to use the Metro or another form of transportation.