Other Attractions Near the Washington Monument
Since the Washington Monument is practically in the center of the National Mall, other popular monuments, museums, and memorials are nearby. Parking is always at a premium in Washington, D.C., so your best bet is to walk to most of the attractions on or near the mall. Public and tourist transportation services also are available.
Numerous well-known sites lie within a 15- to 20-minute brisk walk from the Washington Monument. Here are some examples.
To the north and northeast:
- The White House
- The National Museum of Natural History
- The National Museum of American History
To the west and northwest:
- The Lincoln Memorial
- The Vietnam Veterans Memorial
- Across the Potomac River is Arlington National Cemetery
To the south and southeast:
- The Thomas Jefferson Memorial
- The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
- The Bureau of Engraving and Printing
To the east and southeast:
- The Smithsonian Institution
- The National Museum of the American Indian
- The U.S. Botanic Garden
- The Capitol Building
Arlington National Cemetery
The cemetery originally was an estate owned by George Washington’s adopted grandson, George Washington Parke Custis, and later by Curtis' daughter Mary Custis Lee, wife of a U.S. Army officer named Robert E. Lee. The U.S. government confiscated the property and later turned it into a cemetery for Union soldiers. The cemetery has since become hallowed ground in which America honors those who have lost their lives in service to their country.
The current site of the memorial didn’t exist until the late 1880s when engineers deepened the river and silt deposited along the banks. Construction started on it in 1914 and it was dedicated in 1922. In addition to the 19-foot-tall statue of Lincoln, the inner chamber displays inscriptions of Lincoln’s two most famous speeches, the Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural Address.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
To honor the 58,000 servicemen and women who gave their lives in service in the Vietnam Conflict. The polished black granite surface of the memorial reflects the surrounding trees. Added to the wall have been a statue of The Three Servicemen, a women’s memorial, and a plaque for these who died after their service.
The White House
The iconic color of what was originally called “The President’s Palace” or “The Presidential Mansion” was the result of a construction oversight. The sandstone walls proved to be excessively porous in their natural state, so they were whitewashed with a mixture of lime, rice glue, casein, and lead, giving the structure its distinctive color and name.
National Museum of American History
It opened in 1964 as the Museum of History and Technology and received its current name in 1980 in an effort better to reflect its mission of understanding the broad experiences of the American people. Its more than 3 million artifacts include an 1831 John Bull locomotive, the original Star-Spangled Banner flag, and Archie Bunker’s chair.
National Museum of Natural History
The 1,320,000-square-foot museum is one of the oldest buildings in the Smithsonian Institution. It houses more than 126 million specimens of plants, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, animals, and human artifacts. Its 1,000+ employee staff includes 185 natural history scientists, the largest assembly of such scientists at any institution in the world.
Although not precisely in the center of Washington, D.C., the Capitol rotunda (the large public area beneath the dome) is the symbolic city center. The city is divided into four quadrants (NE, NW, SE, SW) with the center of the rotunda serving as the point from which all addresses in the city are based.
U.S. Botanic Garden
It got its start in a malarial swamp that once sat 80 feet from the steps of the Capitol. A century of determined effort eventually transformed the site into a lush display of rare and beautiful plants from around the world. It was moved to its current location in 1933, and hosts more than 10,000 living specimens, some over 165 years old.
National Museum of the American Indian
This museum is one of three in the U.S. that is dedicated to the preservation of Native American culture. It is home to one of the largest and most diverse collections of Native art and historical and cultural objects, featuring 12,000 years of history and more than 1,200 indigenous cultures.
The Smithsonian Institution is headquartered in a castle-like structure built in 1847. It’s the nucleus of 19 museums, nine research centers, and one zoo, and is the largest such complex in the world. The Smithsonian Institution holds more than 137 million items, earning it the nickname of “the nation’s attic.”
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
When you begin the two- to three-hour self-guided tour of the main exhibition, you receive an identification card that tells the story of a random victim or survivor of the Holocaust to make your experience of the chronological events that led to the Holocaust more personal.
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
A free 30-minute tour is available most weekdays. The tour includes various phases of how your paper currency is printed. Security is understandably high and the Bureau operates its own police force to ensure the security of its facility.
Thomas Jefferson Memorial
The site of this memorial was originally a popular beach for Washingtonians and other locals. The site was considered for a memorial to former President Theodore Roosevelt in 1925, but the project never obtained funding. The idea of a memorial on the site was resurrected in 1934 when President Franklin Roosevelt re-envisioned the site as a memorial to Jefferson.