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Self guided walking tour Washington DC Memorials and Monuments

7 Monuments & Memorials: A Self-Guided Walking Tour of Washington, D.C.

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My wife and I have fond memories of Washington, D.C. We spent our honeymoon there over a July 4th weekend. We watched fireworks. We leisurely strolled through the museums we liked. I remember it as if it were yesteryear.

Twenty years later, we returned to our Nation’s Capital for July 4th and this time with our kids. We arrived in D.C. late in the afternoon, and the first thing I planned was a 7-monument walking tour. My wife initially thought we were joining a tour. Well, you could spend $30-$35 per person, or you could take my self-guided walking tour and reward yourself with some burgers and desserts at Shake Shack afterwards.

On a cool evening, we walked the loop and stopped at each memorial to read, reflect, and take pictures. The entire route is about two miles and it took about two hours. We took Uber to the Jefferson Memorial for less than the cost of the Metro and began our tour there.

Here is the list in order for our self-guided walking tour of Washington, D.C.:

#1 Thomas Jefferson Memorial

#2 Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

#3 Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

#4 Korean War Veterans Memorial

#5 Abraham Lincoln Memorial

#6 Vietnam Veterans Memorial

#7 Washington Monument

Tip: For those who prefer to walk less, you can reduce the trip by half a mile by ending at the Vietnam Memorial. You won’t actually skip the Washington Monument because you will see it multiples times during this loop from different angles.

Start at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial

#1 Start at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Self-guided walking tour Washington DC - Thomas Jefferson Memorial

#2 Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

Self-guided walking tour Washington DC - Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

Self-guided walking tour Washington DC - Eleanor Roosevelt

I was glad to see Eleanor Roosevelt at the FDR Memorial.

#3 Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Self-guided walking tour Washington DC - Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

#4 Korean War Memorial

Self-guided walking tour Washington DC - Korean War Memorial

#5 Abraham Lincoln Memorial

Self-guided walking tour Washington DC - Abraham Lincoln Memorial

#6 Vietnam War Memorial

Self-guided walking tour Washington DC - Vietnam War Memorial

#7 Washington Monument

Self-guided walking tour Washington DC - Washington Monument fireworks

Washington D.C. Transportation and Accommodations

Like most families, you will spend most of your time in Washington, D.C. around the National Mall to see the White House, Smithsonian museums, and U.S. Capitol. One question you may be asking is: Should I rent a car?

When my wife and I went to D.C. for our honeymoon, we rented a car, and it sat in the hotel parking lot for most of the week. We drove to Georgetown one evening and Mount Vernon one afternoon to visit the home of George Washington. Parking is limited in the city, and everything is close enough that you don’t need your own car. If you do want to visit Mount Vernon, you can always join a tour or rent a car for one day.

I highly recommend staying within walking distance of everything. Walk, Uber, or take the Metro. Save yourself the hassle and expense of parking. It was great to watch fireworks on the 4th of July in the National Mall, and then walk back to our hotel.

Capital Hilton is conveniently located only a few blocks away from the White House. Roll out of bed and head down the street for your tour. Unless you have an invitation to stay with the President, it doesn’t get better than that. Happy travels!

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Eugene lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. He and his wife have taken their two children to about 15 countries for work and vacation. Eugene is…

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