Washington is a city that brings good memories. Winter is my preferred time of the year to escape the crowds and have the place for myself.
If you have over one day to visit, I recommend starting your journey visiting the Arlington National Cemetery and the West Side of the National Mall. Below is a 10-mile walk, which you can cover in perhaps 10 hours.
This cemetery is the United States’ largest military cemetery and serves as the final resting place for over 400,000 military veterans and their immediate family.
The cemetery conducts between 27 and 30 funerals every weekday.
Many consider the services at Memorial Amphitheater to be the nation’s official ceremony honoring American service members.
The president of the United States traditionally gives an address during Memorial Day ceremonies at the amphitheater.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a tribute to unidentified fallen soldiers who fought in World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a large white sarcophagus guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by Tomb Guard sentinels from the elite 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment.
At John F. Kennedy’s funeral on Nov. 25, 1963, Jacqueline and Robert Kennedy lit an eternal flame that remains alight today. Two of Kennedy’s children and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis rest alongside the president.
The walk continues to the Mall by going through the Arlington Memorial Bridge. Symbolically, the bridge shows the strength of a united nation by joining a memorial on the north side of the Potomac River (the Lincoln Memorial) with one on the south (Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial).
Walking along National Mall’s Tidal Basin you will reach the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. It shares a direct line of sight between the Lincoln and Jefferson's memorials.
The Stone of Hope features a 30-foot statue of Dr. King, emerging from the Mountain of Despair.
His sculptor, Lei Yixin, a Chinese master sculptor who in the past carved two statues of Mao Tse-tung, carried out most of the work in China.
Continuing along the basin takes you to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, transporting you to a trying time in American history, an era rife with economic depression and international conflict.
The memorial chronicles FDR’s twelve years in office, from 1933 to 1945, through a series of sections designed to feel like rooms, spread out over 7.5 acres (3 ha).
Each room depicts one of FDR’s Presidential terms and the historical events that took place during that time, through quotes, sculpture, and landscape elements.
On your way to the Jefferson Memorial, you can sit at the often overlooked George Mason Memorial. An important Founding Father, he withheld his signature from the United States Constitution because it did not abolish the slave trade and lacked necessary protection for the individual from the Federal Government.
The Thomas Jefferson Memorial honors the third President of the United States. The memorial resembles the Pantheon in Rome, an adaptation of Neoclassical architecture favored by Thomas Jefferson himself.
The structure shelters a 19-foot bronze statue of Jefferson. Jefferson and his revolutionary generation fervently believed in the Age of Enlightenment, an 18th-century European intellectual movement that stressed liberty and equality as natural human rights. However, Jefferson’s legacy is complex because he was also a slave owner.
On your way back to the wall you can step aside from the tidal basil to admire the architecture of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing building and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The latest serves as a living memorial to the Holocaust, one of the worst tragedies the world has ever seen.
Back to the Mall, the Washington Monument gives you the choice to head towards the Lincoln Monument or the United States Capitol. Construction of the Washington Monument started in 1848 and ended in 1884. Built using the shape of an Egyptian obelisk, when completed, it was the tallest building in the world at 555 feet (169 m), in 1889 the Eiffel Tower dwarfed it with a height of 984 feet (300 m).
Across the Washington Monument is the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), one of the most-visited Smithsonian museums.
It is a 10 story building (five above and five below ground) and its exhibits have won critical praise.
Heading towards the World War II Memorial marks the start of one of the most iconical walks across the National Mall.
The World War II Memorial is for the Americans who served in the armed forces and as civilians during World War II.
It consists of 56 pillars and a pair of small triumphal arches surrounding a square and fountain (currently under maintenance).
The Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool is the largest of the many reflecting pools in Washington, D.C. It is a long and large rectangular pool directly east of the Lincoln Memorial, with the Washington Monument to the east of the reflecting pool.
The grand Lincoln Memorial towers over the Reflecting Pool, anchoring the western end of the National Mall.
Climb the stairs leading to the interior and lookup. There, etched into the wall, is a memorable quote: “In this temple, as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the Union, the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever.”
Below the quote sits a 19-foot tall, 175-ton statue of President Lincoln, himself looking out over the Mall of the country that he fought so hard to preserve and unite.
The Lincoln Monument and the reflecting pool hosts many of the 24 million visitors a year who visit the National Mall. Depending on the viewer’s vantage point, it dramatically reflects the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Mall’s trees, and/or the expansive sky.
The monument design is inspired by ancient Greek temples. There are 36 columns, each one representing one state in the U.S. at the date of President Lincoln’s death. The memorial itself is 190 feet long and 119 feet wide and reaches a height of almost 100 feet.
To the left of the statue is Lincoln’s great speech, the Gettysburg Address. To the right is the entire Second Inaugural Address, given in March 1865 — mere months before his death.
Southeast of the Lincoln Memorial and south of the Reflecting Pool is the Korean War Veterans Memorial. It memorializes those who served in the Korean War.
The memorial also features a United Nations wall, which lists all 22 members of the U.N. that contributed to the war efforts, as well as a granite wall that states “Freedom Is Not Free.”
The statues represent the different branches of the military, Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines. On a sunny day, you can see the reflection on the wall of the 19 statues.
Nearby is the Pool of Remembrance, which has inscriptions that list the number of soldiers killed, wounded, missing in action and held as prisoners during the Korean War.
On the other side of the pool, is the Vietnam Women’s Memorial. It commemorates the 265,000 women that served in the Vietnam War, many of whom worked as nurses. The 2,000-pound bronze structure stands 15 feet tall and depicts three women attending to a wounded soldier, reflecting the unity required during the conflict.
Nearby, is the Three Soldiers statue. It sits a few feet from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. The sculpture’s 3 soldiers represent the diversity of the US military by including a Caucasian, African American, and Latino American. Together, they face the Memorial Wall.
Inscribed on the black granite walls are the names of more than 58,000 men and women who gave their lives or remain missing.
On a winter day, this will mark the end of one of a two-day walk on the National Mall, but nearby there is much more to see. In a grove of trees at the southwest corner of the grounds of the National Academy of Sciences near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial sits the Albert Einstein Memorial.
Engraved as though written on the papers held in the statue’s left hand are three equations, summarizing three of Einstein’s most important scientific advances, the theory of general relativity, the photoelectric effect, and the equivalence of energy and matter.
The Discus Thrower is a copy of the Discobolus of Myron. It was a gift from the Italian government to commemorate the return of looted art objects, after World War II.
Unknown to most tourists, nearby is a bronze sculpture called Full Count. It took eight years for the life-size group to be made in bronze.
It represents the quintessential moment in the game of baseball when anything is possible. As the pitcher contemplates what pitch he will throw to home plate, 60 feet 6 inches away, he reveals to the batter little of his intent, while the umpire acts as a judge in this ancient rite. It is a classic duel set in a precise field of play.
The Kennedy Center serves as the official home for the National Symphony Orchestra and the Washington National Opera.
It also plays host to a range of ticketed events including Broadway productions, dance performances, comedy shows and a range of concerts, which come from internationally known groups.
The cheapest seats are at Millennium Stage in the Grand Foyer, where free concerts, dance performances, and other shows take place at 6 p.m. every night of the year.
The steps of the Opera House offers a commanding view of the Grand Foyer, including the eight-foot, 3000-pound bronze bust of President John F. Kennedy. This serves as a reminder that the nation’s premiere performing arts center also stands as a living memorial to the 35th president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
The REACH is a place that bridges the gap between audience and art.
The Reach is designed for chance, you can wander and watch a cellist rehearse, or get a glimpse of ballet while walking outside.